Friday evening. 6:50 p.m. 37 degrees. On 17K. Passing the airport. Fog. The red and blue runway lights refracted, vivid in color as gemstones. No other colors but black and gray and the ghastly yellow of far off halogens left in the world. Three Canada geese come out of there and fly across the road, looking as they do in flight as they are pulling themselves along by their necks. Black as bats.
Sunday. 8:07 A.M. 21 degrees. Heading off to Lowes. Voluble cardinal high up at the end of one topmost branches of the big maple behind the garage. Mostly silhouetted against the still rising sun but lit underneath, a ruby curve of breast and belly like a piece of hard candy.
Meanwhile, north of Boston, another sign spring is coming. The weather has been warm enough the snow has melted enough that Uncle Merlin has finally been able to make progress clearing his walk and steps. The tenant is saved! He’s a superhero of a landlord.
7:30 PM. 36 degrees. Snow’s been melting all day. On 300, heading east. Smelled it before seeing it. First dead skunk of the season. The smell fills the car as I pass over and it stays with me for at least half a mile. I don’t mind. I feel bad for the skunk and wish the odor was due to his having sprayed a dog or a coyote and not his having been too slow crossing the road. But I’m glad for the skunk smell. It’s the smell of spring arriving at last.
The truth is Art the Wonder Dog isn’t a fan of snow. In fact, he regards it with suspicion and resentment as if it’s fallen with the sole purpose of playing a trick on him. You can see that in his posture. But it makes for a cheerier picture if you imagine he’s getting ready to go bounding off into the drifts to play, happily burying himself, disappearing in over his head, until all you can see is the tip of his tail and his ears. So there you go.
We’re having a little snow out our way too. How’s by you?
Photo by Uncle Merlin. North of Boston. Around eight this morning. Monday, February 2, 2015.
6:33 A.M. Still dark, although the sky is lightening. 19 degrees. Trash pick up day. Maybe it’s my mood or the time of the year but listening to the garbage trucks making their rounds isn’t lifting my spirits the way it usually does. Instead of feeling hopeful and energized by the thought of a new day beginning with work to be done that I’m raring to do, I’m just feeling sorry for the garbage guys and gloomy and anxious on my own behalf about going out in the cold and gray to begin the same old dreary routine. No snow or freezing rain in the forecast at least.
10:15 AM. One degree here in Schenectady where I’m picking up the guys from three days of R & R at the old Mannion Homestead. No wind. Sunshine. Bright blue sky. Coming in to town through the park. Clean white snow sparkling under the pine trees. Tempted to drive around and around the park for the rest of the morning just for the view.
9:15 A.M. Sunday. Sun and blue skies have returned after taking all day yesterday off. Chilly. Barely 50. A breeze that comes and goes. We’re not past peak foliage yet but leaves are dropping. When the breeze picks up, leaves swirl and fall, and there are rust colored blankets at the bases of maple trees, brown drifts at the edges of the road, and raked piles of pale gold and fading red waiting to be bagged dotting lawns here and there . The air is aromatic with that distinctive tangy whiff of fall, acrid, earthy, a hint of burning, the slow fire of decay that somehow still smells of life.
10 AM. New York City. Wish I could walk because I’d much rather have hiked the fifteen or so blocks from Grand Central to the Sheraton Towers where the Clinton Global Initiative’s being held instead of cabbing it. Absolutely gorgeous day and even the little bit of it that slipped in through the cab’s open windows is delicious. What I really wish is that I could have walked to Bryant Park and spent the day at a table in the shade there and covered the whole shindig virtually from there. So I was surprised when the young volunteer checking me in at the Sheraton and handing me my press pass said cheerfully, “It’s cold out there, isn’t it?”
I couldn’t help a chuckle. “You’re cold?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “I wish we could have summer back!”
Tuesday. 8 a.m to 11. Traveling west along the Mohawk. Trees developing a definite rusty look. Leaves aren’t as vibrantly green as they were only last week. A few of the early turners, the ashes and poplars, have turned, some partially, some wholly, but they’re isolates and the sporadic flashes of buttery yellow they provide as I drive by aren’t enough to brighten a landscape that’s looking droopy and withered. No need to rush the season, though. October and peak leaf watching will be here soon enough. Meantime, there’s this to look at it. In the tops of some of the maples, patches of old rose pink and pale orange, shining with translucent color like stained glass in the early morning sun.
8:49 p.m. 83 degrees. Warm with only the slightest of breezes but not humid. A perfect summer evening to be twenty years old and in love or at least in erotic enthrallment and locked in conversation on a porch with the object of your attraction, bringing a certain Edward Hopper painting to life.
Not a bad night to be middle-aged and by yourself on a porch, drinking an iced tea.
I’m not on a porch. I’m in the car, parked in the lot at McDonald’s. But I am drinking an iced tea. Unsweetened. With lemon and two Splendas.
Tuesday. 5:30 a.m. On the road, headed north. Wipers going. Air full of dew. Windshield wet as if driving into rain. The road ahead still dark as night but the sky’s lightening. Where the trees open up to the east I can see across fields to the mountains on the far side of the Hudson. No sun yet but there are fingerpaint smears of pale orange sky along the horizon. To the west white mist filling the orchards. First day of class. Four hours to Syracuse.
5:29 PM. 77 degrees. Very low humidity. Soft summer breeze. Very comfortable sitting out on the shaded back deck, listening to a father playing with his small children in a pool off far off to my left, behind the line of trees at the end of the yard, watching a pair of catbirds playing tag in the sparse and twisted branches of a nearby spruce, ugly as you’d think a tree can get and yet still sturdy and handsome and a pleasure to look at. One of the catbirds has just lit on the deck railing, giving me an inquiring look. “And what do you think you’re doing, bub?” I start to tell him about the tree. He gives himself an impatient shake and flies off. “Boring!”