Life in the time of COVID-19 continues to be a challenge for everyone. Numbers are up all over the world. Los Angeles County has experienced a nearly 75 percent increase in the two week period leading up to the holidays. The Omicron variant is thought to account for as many as 70 percent of the new cases, according to county data. 

Topanga has been hit hard over the holidays with a troubling spike that some are blaming on indoor holiday gatherings. That’s a pattern that is emerging almost everywhere. A cascade of travel delays and flight cancellations has complicated holiday travel. State and county health officials warn that the hospitals may soon be overwhelmed and there are concerns that new restrictions may be put in place if the exponential growth continues.

As we enter the third year of this exhausting and tragic marathon it’s easy to feel discouraged, but the new year offers the promise of good things, too: change, discovery, hope. 

2022. It sounds like the future, doesn’t it? The future the post-WWII generation was promised but never got, the one with flying cars and moon bases and self-sustained cities under the ocean and in orbit. And yet, the future really is here and in many ways it’s even stranger and more wondrous than the one we thought we would have. 

On Christmas morning, after years of delays, the $10 billion space telescope James Webb was successfully launched. If all goes as planned, the Webb will look deeper into space than humans have ever been able to see. It may even be able to capture images from the beginning of the universe. 2022 promises to be a year of astonishing new discoveries.

Closer to home, kitchen composting is coming. Senate Bill 1383 takes effect January 1. It requires all residents and businesses to separate compostable green waste into a new bin that will be provided by each community’s waste service. The new statewide mandate has the potential to greatly reduce both the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills and the methane that organic waste generates. We’ll take a closer look at some of the other new laws in our Newsbeat section. 

Change is also coming to local voters, as our congressional, assembly and county supervisor district are rearranged as part of the once-every-10-year reapportionment process. Whether the new maps are a good thing or a bad one will be put to the test by voters. The latest maps can be accessed online at https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org For the county map, visit https://redistricting.lacounty.gov

Abundant rain over the past two weeks is already generating changes in our mountains. Waterfalls and creeks that haven’t flowed in two years are full of water. The green flame of new growth is already spreading over hillsides blackened by fire. While the rainy season may be short this winter, we’ve already had enough rain to ensure that wildflowers will bloom, and wildlife will have more resources than they did last year, when the drought was extreme. Some parts of the Santa Monica Mountains have already received nearly 12 inches of rain, more than twice the total for last year.

New Year’s Day is a time for remembrance and auld lang syne, and that is poignant this year. 2021 was a year of loss for so many. New Year’s is also the one time of the year we collectively pause to reflect on the future. We may face it with trepidation, because this continues to be an unusually challenging time, but we can also carry with us the hope that the new year will bring blessings and joy along with its challenges.

“No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” —C.S. Lewis

Stay safe, be well. Happy 2022!