Auld and New

This year we base our annual "News" Year Letter around two images having to do with depictions of passing time. Both are mementos of how we spent last year.

The first set (along the right side) was taken at the Cathedral of St.-Jean in Lyon, where Steve introduced Janet to a 14th century (pre-Copernican) clock -- one of the oldest astronomical clocks in Europe. The clock depicts the earth at the center of the solar system with the sun rotating around it in a 24-hour cycle. Using a system of interlocking gears, the clock keeps track of the time of day, day of the week, the phase of the moon and religious festivals. At the top of the clock, moving figures of angels and animals enact the Feast of the Assumption three times a day. Clocks of this kind were built in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. (A precursor is the Antikythera mechanism, 150-100 B.C., thought to be associated with Archimedes. See Freeth et al. 2008 for more.)

The trip to Europe involved a celebration of the 100th birthday of Lévi Strauss at the new Musée du Quai Branly in Paris and a related meeting at Oxford University of anthropologists who work in South America. (Janet has been president of the latter organization for the past three years and was pleased to be passing on that responsibility to incoming president Rick Reed.) While in Europe we visited our dear friends Judy and Bernard, who treated us to splendid cooking and music in the wonderful Jural mountains of eastern France. We had not seen them for over two decades -- a period of time that seemed almost inconsequential until we saw sons Henri and Christien, now impressive young men (whose infant photos we peeled off our fridge upon returning). We very much enjoyed singing, talking, and eating together, much as we had in the Auld Days. Among other outings, Judy treated us to a silk-painting studio in Lyon and to the Cathedral of St-Jean.

The second photo depicts Alberto, a teacher in the village Kokraimuro, on the Xingú River in Brazil, where Janet traveled with a group of students. This is the third visit of the group to the Kayapó territories, and the first involving a partnership between the University of Maryland and the University of Brasilia (UnB). This year's visit included a puttering river boat trip (6 hp motor) up the Xingú in which we camped on white sand beaches and swam in crystalline waters. We were guests of the Kayapó in two villages, Kokraimuro and Pukararankru (see our Flikr site for more photos of those visits). Teacher Alberto introduced us to Kokraimuro, a fairly large Kayapó village with a Men's House at its center. There we sat and talked with the villagers, exchanging humorous and sometimes ribald, stories. Friends and collaborators Laura Zanotti, Rudolfo Salm, and Barbara Zimmerman, assisted with leading the trip, and five Kayapó pals who are Auld-Timers from Aukre village -- Irio, Ikaruru, Castelo, Ieke, and Tiago came along to translate and keep spirits high.


The photos well exemplify the comings and goings of our year. As we get aulder we find we like to mix it up, valuing both the auld and the new. We're having fun -- Big Time.

The most important things in our lives have been, and continue to be, our friends. We are glad to count you among them.

Please accept our wishes for New Year of peace, health, and happiness.


We wish you a very happy new year!

- Steve Mount and Janet Chernela