Hello, March, You're already failing me.
To quote The Farmer's Almanac, "Meteorologically speaking, however, in the Northern Hemisphere the official spring season always begins on March 1 and continues through May 31." Of course, by the calendar, spring begins on March 20th, on the Vernal Equinox. I'm wondering if, in twenty days, the weather will be substantially warmer? In Providence? It wasn't last year, when we had snow at the start of April and the brutally cold weather strayed as far as May.
If Neil had not invited us to overwinter here in the cabin in Woodstock, I wouldn't have made it this year. I very almost did not make it last year (which is why I came here, this year). The mountains and the trees, getting away from the filth of winter in a city, all of that helped. But even this "better" way to endure winter is still a matter of endurance, and I'm worn out. The white hell outside the windows, you know? There's been more than a foot of snow on the ground here, consistently, for well over a month, and we've hardly seen temperatures rise above freezing, with nighttime lows often well below zero and dangerous windchills. People in Woodstock are talking about what a hard winter its been. This isn't usual for here. Well, it wasn't usual here. What's "usual" is changing everywhere, isn't it?"
But the snow, maybe more than the cold, that white relieved only by bare trees, stark walls, grey roadways, rock, that white – it may be worse than the temperatures. The way the white conspires with the hideous blueness of the sky. There's no denying its beauty. But that doesn't make it any easier to endure. There's a madness in days and days and days surrounded by white. There's a vertigo and a rising panic. Boundaries that keep us sane and moving begin to fray and tear. This, from one of my favorite Jack London stories*:
Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his finity – the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of the storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heaven's artillery – but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggot's life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe comes over him--the hope of the Resurrection and the Life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence – it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.
Yesterday, I needed to get out again, and so we drove back to Saugerties. The day was colder, though, than was Friday. I took a lot of photos, and rather than dryly recount the day, I'll post a few of them with comments.
We stopped a while at Saurgerties Town Beach, an epithet that, yesterday, seemed on beyond absurd. Esopus Creek is frozen hard. For the first time in my life, I walked out across a body of water. View to the southeast.
From the "beach" parking lot, view to the northeast, the Hill Street Bridge, red as a fire engine.
Crossing the Hill Street Bridge, and all I could think was, If only there were girders to keep the whole sky at bay. See R.E.M.'s "Fall on Me."
View from Lynch's Marina on East Bridge Street. It's gonna be a while before anyone launches boats here again. View to the east.
There were a lot of ice fisherman out, which is, to me, a strange, strange thing to be. View to the east.
Looking north, the same church that I photographed on Friday, the very appropriately named St. Mary's of the Snow, founded in 1881 and "closed on June 20, 2013 by the Archdiocese of New York during its consolidation of education programs due to decreased enrollment and increased cost of programs." And I have this quote from corucia, from yesterday's comments: Wide carnivorous skies and church spires. They weren't built that way to reach up to God and honor him, they were built as a guard against the time those carnivorous skies would fall down on the world. Knives reaching up in defiance and fear.
Cantine Dam at the falls, built in 1825. Above and below the dam, the Esopus was frozen solid. I watched, trying to figure out why the scene looked so peculiar, and I finally realized that there was no mist, no spray. The water slipping out from under the ice and over the dam was freezing as it fell. The dam is 25 feet high. View to the southeast.
On Main Street. Not sure how many people recall J.J. Newberry five and dimes. This one is now an antiques co-op. There was one in Birmingham, complete with lunch counter. Like other five and dimes (V.J. Elmore, Woolworth's, etc.), they belong of a vanished and more civil past. Looking south.
The sign says it all. View to the southwest.
I love this mural, at the corner of Main and Market streets. View to the northwest.
There's a truly marvelous bookshop, Inquiring Minds, at the corner of Main and Partition. I have seen few bookshops this wonderful.
Then there's the Orpheum, just a little farther up Main. It looks wonderful, but they clearly need to try for a better class of films. View to the northeast.
The Orpheum's box office. View to the northeast.
Another shot of the Newberry building, view to the south or southwest.
I could live in Saurgerties, were it not for the winters.
All photographs Copyright © 2015 by Caitlín R. Kiernan and Karthryn A. Pollnac
And now I need to go finish with Sirenia Digest #109, which goes out today, having missed February by one day.
* "The White Silence," 1899
Note: Esopus Creek is a is a 65.4-mile-long tributary of the Hudson. There's a little pond on the property here. The run off from it flows into the Sawkill – another Hudson tributary, 19.7 miles in length – in Woodstock. The Sawkill flows into the Esopus, flows into the Hudson, flows into New York Harbor (a hundred miles or so south), flows into the Atlantic. Beginning at the pond on Neil's land, which was dug in 1914.