nasaphoto Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech   Throughout my life, the view from every January has been a vague, shadowy expanse of months wheeling out untried and untrod. The only certainty was that the next year would be full of unexpected things. And here we are again – plunging into the deep waters of a new year, (and my goodness, they are cold this time). But it has occurred to me that this year looks different. Two milestones are visible from here; they stand so tall and stark, the landscape of the unknown year seems to curve around them. Firstly, I will be gainfully employed. The Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab has recently been awarded an $18 million grant to implement and lead a program that works to raise the standard of living of people around the world through healthy agricultural practices. As the communications coordinator for this program, I’m looking forward to new adventures and challenges. We will be working with farmers and researchers in two groups of countries: one in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania) and one in Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Nepal, and Bangladesh). We’re going to be fighting pests and diseases that plague farmers who grow rice and horticultural crops. The Nepalese project will also map the effects of climate change on biodiversity. The projects in eastern Africa will tackle pest infestations in countries where farmers with limited resources are predicted to be heavily affected by climate change. Much of our resources will be dedicated to reducing malnutrition by working with farmers who grow staple crops like maize, wheat, and chickpea in Ethiopia; rice and maize in Tanzania; and vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania. Secondly, my husband and I will be welcoming a new person into the world! We’re expecting a baby in late June. At this point, it still seems like a hazy what-if. But, with each passing week, our terror and elation seem to be taking a more solid form. We’ll be walking in the woods, watching a movie, cooking dinner – regular stuff – and suddenly look at each other in astonishment, asking, “Where would the baby be right now?  Strapped across my back in a baby carrier, there in a high chair, here between us.” It’s wonderfully odd to think about. I read recently that “becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live.” I like this simile because it helps me get a handle on the intimacy of the coming transformation. As usual, everything will change, but this time it’s happening in my domain. I’m not jetting off on an exotic internship, or going to a new school. A new person is coming, and although we do not know them yet, we will love them and they will remake our life. That’s quite a new beginning. “And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” Rainer Maria Rilke