March 1st, 2015

The Red Tree

"Concrete river, I hear your voice. Concrete river, I see your face. Whisper to me." (11.5 Vicodin)

It's snowing again. Currently, the temperature here is 21˚F, but it feels like 16˚F. I'm sick from the amoxicillin I was given to take between the two stages of the root canal. I want to go back to bed, but I'm doing my best to do the opposite. Here's a small challenge, make this a proper paragraph by uniting those seemingly unrelated subjects, by revealing connections that may not be obvious. No, fuck it. I'll let it stand.

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.

Collapse )

And now I need to go finish with Sirenia Digest #109, which goes out today, having missed February by one day.

Aunt Beast

* "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.