This Side of the Pond – Jan. 2

By Sarah Pridgeon

Like most people, I begin each January with a batch of New Year Resolutions. And just like everybody else, by the end of the month I will have watched most of them fall by the wayside and there will be some that I’ve forgotten about completely.
It occurs to me that this can partly be traced to my neglect of writing these resolutions down. I ponder ideas throughout the Christmas season and make tentative commitments to one or two of them, but I never make a note of my decisions.
I also tend to opt for the usual suspects when it comes to my yearly resolutions – they’re never particularly imaginative. I try to give things up that are bad for me and start doing things that are good for me; every year the same list of possibilities (along with the frankly unlikelies).
And yet my life is quantifiably different to the one that I used to lead, which makes it a little less likely that I will end the year certified in kickboxing or fencing. I already gave up smoking and I no longer need to pledge not to stay out too late at night lest I end up stuck travelling home on a London night bus while it makes its circuitous way across what seems like several continents.
So this year I have decided to do things differently. This time, I have set my sights on a list of resolutions that should help me adapt more effectively to my new lifestyle and end 2014 as a fully functional human being, rather than a baffled newcomer to all things Wyoming who is far too often in need of assistance.
I have also decided to share these resolutions with you, on the assumption that doing so will make me more likely to stick to them. If, come next December, I have failed to carry through with these promises, I encourage you to send Santa a heads-up.

I will learn to drive in the snow more effectively. In addition, I will pay attention when my loved ones explain the difference between high and low four wheel drives and will not simply pick a setting at random and then deliberately ignore the groaning engine. By the end of the year, I will have ceased to rely on a facial expression of fear and regret whenever I am asked to leave town during snowfall. I will no longer burst into tears if there is more than an inch of snow outside my front door of a morning.
I will never again complain about the weather. I will no longer wish it was summer when the cold rolls in and then grumble that I am too hot when the snow melts. I will also prepare myself for both conditions adequately and carry sunscreen instead of gloves when the sun comes out. While I am aware that the weather can change on a dime in this county, I have yet to find a scarf helpful in August.
I will become more practical in my thinking. Next time someone suggests that a new shelf might look nice in my office or that something in the house needs fixing, I will not simply stare at them in stupefaction. My people may not have the slightest idea how to wield a hammer or what bits and pieces are to be found inside a kettle, but this attitude will no longer suffice. I will learn to be relatively self-sufficient and cease to point at things and wait for somebody else to make them better.
I will spend more time outdoors. I now live in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet and yet I have allowed life to become so busy that I rarely take advantage of it. I will do so kitted out with water, emergency supplies and sustenance rather than a fashion handbag and a pair of sunglasses.
I will take another stab at growing my own produce and choose vegetables that are likely to grow in these climes, rather than insisting that several rows be taken up with English peas and carrots.
I will learn to use a gun without shooting myself or anybody else in the foot. I will attempt to quell my fear of this inevitable outcome for long enough to be taught more than the basics of not pointing the barrel at the dog.
I will learn that living alongside mountain lions and bears does not mean I should be restricted to the back yard. I will resume my wanderings in the outdoors without worrying that an enormous cat is lurking in the undergrowth with its eyes firmly fixed on my jugular.
I will try to ride a horse again, despite the failures that marked my childhood experience. I was perfectly adequate as a rider until my instructor bade me perform a “round the world,” in which one passes oneself around and underneath the horse’s middle. Realizing part way through the process that this was the most foolish stunt I had ever been asked to attempt, my immediate reaction was to let go of the animal and land squarely on my head. Though too much time has passed to apply the wisdom of climbing back into the saddle, I will follow instead the dictate of “better late than never.”
I will find a way to adapt to the cuisine in my new home without feeling the need to try every interesting dish that passes in front of my eyes. I have already discovered that my metabolism is not naturally equipped for American ingredients and must alter my habits accordingly. This may be the most difficult resolution to stick to: though the Devils Tower is an awe-inspiring sight, the breakfast dish named after it is equally irresistible.
I will purchase a cowboy hat.

My cards now on the table, I can greet the new year with the confidence that I will end it as a more useful person than I began. And in the meantime, I wish every one of you the very best for 2014 – may your own resolutions be as successful as I hope mine will be.