Serious About Life and LatviaNew Year's 1997-1998
I had spent the previous two New Year's in Vermont and in Quebec with friends. So, this year, 1997, we were thinking, let's be brave. Let's go to Iceland! Unfortunately, we read that pretty much everything closes there at the end of August or September. And so, we wound up splitting up this year, the rest of my friends to Vermont again, while I headed to Latvia to see my mom (still visiting from the summer), my relatives, and even new Latvian friends! And I took the fewest pictures ever. Finally, that tourist stuff is wearing off, time to get to business! Latvia twice in one year—who would have thought?!
In summer, the sun never sets on the flight across, and bright daylight greets our arrival. Arriving in winter, it seems like we've taken a wrong turn and arrived at Space Moon Dock, like some Disneyland ride gone terribly awry.
Light quickly races toward the horizon after about 3:30pm or so. Here we just take a peek down the street in Vecriga ("Old Riga"), down past the rebuilt Universalveikals (department store) on the left.
I must have at least two dozen pictures of the Latvian Freedom Monument. As long as it still stood during the Soviet occupation, there was the sense that all was not yet lost, that there was still hope for freedom. And so it came to pass, that the sun sets this winter's night on an independent Latvia.
Technically, if you go by the old calendar (which lasted in Latvia until 1916!), it's not Christmas yet. But, for the rest of the world, it has already passed, and the tree awaits being lit one more time for its guest from afar. My cousin Gaida gets the matches out to light the candles as her grandson Bruss looks on. Did you know the first Christmas tree appeared in Riga in 1510?
My mom has been here since the waning of summer. After coming to Latvia for seven years now, it's good for us to finally be able to all join each other for the holidays. As at any such get-together, it's important to record all for posterity. Here my mom gets her camera out to catch Maris and Velga, their daughter Mara and son Dzintars.