dwindling northmost ruins
Sunday, July 16 2006
After another day of drywall installation Gretchen and I went to a birthday party for CAS Kathy down near High Falls at the residence of her boyfriend David. Our friends the photogenic vegan Buddhists from Woodstock drove as far as our place and we carpooled from there, taking all the usual back roads.
David's house is in a large clearing far from the nearest road in among the dwindling northmost ruins of the Shawangunk Formation, famous to rock climbers nationwide. There are some dramatic 80 foot cliffs right there on his property and they'd even be visible from his house if he had chosen to place it in the spot he picked for his garden (surrounded by high fences to keep out the deer).
There are also two artificial spring-fed ponds on the property as well as a large berry patch. The lowlands are swampy and dominated by the skeletons of dead trees that have yet to fall, killed off at some point by beaver activity (either flooding or gnawing).
David's house is a marvel of craftsmanship. It's not large, but its efficient use of space is a wonder to see firsthand. Built-ins abound, and the flooring of the second floor can be lifted up to make way for a massive first floor cathedral ceiling if David happens to be in the mood. In the center of it all is a massive fireplace surfaced with random bits of native Shawangunk stone. According to Kathy, nearly all the wood used to build the house was made from trees cut down to make the clearing. A friend actually loaned a portable saw mill for the job. It's all very impressive, but I can't say I'd ever want to do the same thing. I don't think I'll ever have the arrogance - that's the word I'd use - to clearcut acres of forest and then build a house in the resulting clearing. I know that the house I live in consists of lumber harvested from somewhere. But I could never stare a forest in the face and then cut it all down. It would be like killing someone I knew.
Dinner was comprised largely of barbecued vegetables, so the three dogs present, ours and Kathy's Murphy, had to content themselves with non-barbecue hijinks. During dinner we talked about various subjects that were largely, thankfully, somewhat remote from the vegan orthodoxy of most of those present. We did, however, talk about various hell-in-a-handbasket subjects such as the recent flare-up of fighting between Isræl and Hezbollah.
Stories were also told of how two of the couples present got together: ours, and also that of a lesbian couple. One half of that lesbian couple is a German woman who explained how she had always known, since an early age, that she wanted to move to America. Soon after arriving here, she exploited a new and still-buggy green card lottery system (flooding it with over 600 applications mailed from many locations) to secure permanent residency status.
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