Happy Old Year!

Happy Old Year is the name of a 2020 Thai film which explores reactions to the Marie Kondo method of tidying and decluttering. For me, it is something different. It signals the sweeping out of the Old Year – a reminder of my friends and acquaintances in Asia who have customs and traditions that date back centuries tied to this holiday.

In Japan, my friends have been deep cleaning their residences. This is oosouji or ‘the big clean’. Traditional foods were meticulously prepared days in advance so that everyone could stop and enjoy three days of holidays together. I remember being in Narita and having a very special soba or noodle dish on New Year’s Eve one year. Many of you will be acquainted with the thick white soba noodles but, Toshikoshi soba is made with a thin buckwheat noodle.

It is so delicious and can be either served with shrimp or with corn to be vegetarian. Eating this dish is to help bring good luck for all of the coming year. You have to slurp – very loud – pulling the noodles up between your lips. This is absolutely the best manners in Japan.

Many on the first day of the new year go swimming in the frigid waters of the lakes or the ocean while watching the first sun rise of the year. Money is given to children in small envelopes in Japan just as it is during the Lunar New Year celebrated in other countries. Everyone tries to visit their home shrine on New Year’s. There were few New Year’s Day traditions when I was growing up in Oklahoma but the one that could not be missed was eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck. The basis of these traditions is to start afresh – pay your bills, settle any quarrels you have with someone so that there is nothing lingering into the New Year where everyone wants to have the very best of luck.

No matter how you transition from 2021 to 2022, I wish all of you the very best of happiness. I cannot tell you what a delight it is to get your notes or comments but, most of all, it is marvellous to know that all around the world there are people who recognize the joy that our beloved birds and animals bring to our lives.

Everyone in the garden brings their special wishes to you for 2022.

Dyson wishes that you always have some extra food in the pantry – just in case!

Dyson also wishes you a warm coat for winter!

Little Red wishes you a warm and comfy home with lots of snacks.

Today, the 34 European Starlings that came to the feeders wish that everyone has something as delicious as Bark Butter for their treat.

Mr and Mrs Blue Jay and Junior wish that everyone gets to feel the love of family and friends.

Sharpie hopes that everyone has a good meal once in awhile.

Mr and Mrs Little Woodpecker and Hedwig wish everyone good health and happiness.

I want to wish you a peaceful new year full of laughter, smiles, good health, and lots and lots of birds to bring joy to your heart.


  1. Salliane says:

    Hi M
    Hard to believe another year has passed. Looking forward to a brighter 2022 filled with happiness, peace, and good health.

    Happy New Year!!
    Thank you for all your informative blog of all our feathered and furry friends 🙂

    1. Does time seem to go by faster??? I could not believe it either! Thank you for your good wishes, Salliane. I hope that 2022 is a good year for all the birds and animals. Fingers crossed. I am very grateful to have met you. Wishing you the very best.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann! And a big Happy New Year to Dyson, Little Red, and all the others too! The photos of them eating is so cute and sweet! Looks like some of the snow has melted down some. I love all your animals you post. Thanks for them!
    Have a Blessed and Happy New Year and thanks for all you do for the animals and for all you do for all of us with your newsletters!

    1. Awww. You give me tears – happy tears that our paths crossed with the love of all these little creatures. Thank you so much for your blessings, Linda.

  3. Akane says:

    Happy New Year to you.
    May happiness and success be with you throughout the new year.
    That’s great. That’s right. Thank you for introducing Japan , I am honored. The Japanese New Year has a particularly special custom. Soba noodles eaten at the end of the year have the meaning of living a long and thin life. At the beginning of the year, we eat osechi. I grew up in Yokohama, but the contents and tastes vary from region to region.
    May this year bring good fortune to all nests. Thanks for the newsletter!

    1. Akemashite omedetō, Akane. I remember fondly the beautiful divided stacking trays with the pickled vegetables. So delicious. Akane, there is something very special about renewing traditions every year. It keeps the culture, the language, the art, and the food from ancient times alive in the present. It was my honour to have good friends to teach me and the ability to return to your beautiful country several times. Everyone was so very kind. Thank you for all of your good wishes for me and for the nests. I wish you the very best of health, happiness, and the best of fortunes for 2022. I am so grateful that we have met and that you are enjoying the birds.

      1. Akane says:

        Thank you for your Japanese writing and your prayers for me😊.
        I am honored by your compliments on both Japan and Japanese food.
        The first time I saw a bird’s nest in Live was a bald eagle in Big Bear. After that, I wanted to know more and found this blog on the internet and learned about the Osprey and loved it.
        I am sad to say that in Japan, there is almost no Live at the Bird’s Nest.
        I am hoping there will be lots of good news this year.
        I also love Dyson the squirrel😊.

      2. Dear Akane, It is my pleasure. That is interesting about no live bird nests. I wonder why. I have seen individuals make boxes for the small falcons on YouTube on the balconies. I so wish Jackie and Shadow would have success at Big Bear! We hope for the best. Dyson is very special. I am so glad that you love him!! Enjoy these days of the new year.

  4. Akane says:

    As far as birds are concerned, I think Japan is behind the curve.
    As far as I know, live feeds are only available during the breeding season for swallows and storks, and falcons are live-streamed by hotels. Other than that, there are no other birds.
    Dyson is so cute!
    Hopefully Jackie and Shadow will hatch this year. Yes, I enjoy it! Thank you very much.

    1. It is the big hotels in my City – although small by your standards – are also the ones who run the streaming cams for the falcons. There is a lady in Osaka (I believe) that has a streaming cam for a kestrel (small falcons) family on her balcony. I will try and find it for you when they begin streaming again. We adore Dyson. His mother was very sweet. She would come and sit on us and take peanuts. She could carry two at a time!

      1. Akane says:

        Are hotels and buildings suitable for growing Falcons? The hotel that is broadcasting LIVE in Japan is called the Izumiotsu Falcon Club. As far as I know, this is the only LIVE broadcast of a falcon in Japan.
        I did not know about Osaka. If you notice it, please let me know. Thank you for taking the time to tell me about it.
        Dyson’s mother is very cute. I can see her puffing out her cheeks.

      2. The falcons like to have their nest on the simple cliff ledge with sand or pebbles. They will also raise their eyases in boxes lined with gravel made by humans. They want to be high up so they can see danger coming. Where I live the boxes are on the highest hotel roof. We do not have many falcons. They are trying to have more and more. The female – the leader – is 19 years old. They fly to Texas or Mexico for the winter! Even Sharpie should not be here in the winter but he has been coming to the garden for 5 years now. He must have a nice place to sleep! I am looking for those sites for you but I found something interesting to share. There is a cafe in Tokyo where you can watch falcons while you eat. It is called the Falconer’s Cafe. It is at Tokyo, Mitaka, Shimorenjaku 1-11-8. The bus is the Odakyu Bus and you get off at the Shimorenjaku Stop. Here is their website. http://falconerscafe.web.fc2.com/index.html. I do not know anything about it but thought it was interesting. You might know this area. I don’t.

      3. i found one beautiful very short film on Vimeo about The Last Falconer. He lives on Hokkaido. I hope that you can see this. It is a nice film.


  5. Akane says:

    Thank you for teaching me thoroughly.
    I wished I could learn more about birds and love them more by watching Live broadcasts in the nature of my country.

    Thank you for telling us so well.
    We don’t have much Live broadcasting in my country, but I am happy to see great nests from all over the world.

    The cafe you told me about is interesting. It is located in a distant suburb of Tokyo, but I would like to visit it someday.
    I apologize for taking time out of my busy schedule to answer so many questions.

    1. Akane says:

      Thank you for the wonderful short film on the ministry.
      I watched it immediately. It was wonderful. The falcon is an invaluable partner for men. I was very moved by it.

      1. Dar Akane, I am so glad that you enjoyed it. That is a beautiful hawk. We have hawks like that living in the far north of my province. They rarely come south to where I live. I hope to be able to find the one of the woman and the falcons. I will keep looking.

    2. Oh, Akane. You will learn so much by watching the birds. They are very good teachers. We will continue to look for cameras in Japan. We have only a few in Canada. Some are not good and only 2 where I live and then only when the falcons are here in the summer. I would like to put out a camera and see what Dyson and Hedwig do at night but it is too cold for the batteries. They freeze! Your questions are always welcome, Akane. That is how we learn and if I don’t know then I learn something too. Please do ask them! Have a lovely day.

Leave a Reply