hot June lupper
Wednesday, June 8 2011
Temperatures peaked at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit today, which, at this time of year, could be considered unseasonably hot. We don't have air conditioning, so the only relief from such conditions is cold showers, hanging out in the basement (which is always cool), or visits to a swimming hole. So this afternoon, Gretchen and I went to the Secret Spot on the Esopus, where we met up with our friend Tara (who originally introduced it to us). Tara calls it "the Bass Hole" which, if you're not listening carefully, sounds like an insult. It's the place where she and Brian got married, so she considers it sacred in a Buddhist-hippie kind of way.
The topography of the Esopus river bed had changed over the winter; it was now possible to wade the length of a long stretch that had previously had a depth of well over our heads, though a new deep swimming hole had appeared 150 feet upstream. Since we were there mostly to retreat from the heat and socialize, we mostly just lay in the water and talked. Tara was telling us about a fire walking ceremony she'd been to (she hadn't participated) and she also described a ritual where two people face off with a spear running from one person's chest to the other's throat, with the idea that you press the spear until it shatters (its shaft being made of some reliably-weak material). Tara finds all this stuff full of portent and energy, and we try to listen to what she's saying without being critical. But the truth of the matter is that, with the exception of homeopathic quackery, we don't have any other friends who are into woo-woo nonsense.
As we relaxed in the water, Eleanor and Sally went off to do the sorts of things dogs do when they're unsupervised at a swimming hole: chasing varmints, swimming back and forth across the creek, and (in Sally's case) excavating a large hole. Eleanor kept checking in by wading out to us and licking the water from our shoulders and necks. (She also likes to lick water out of my leg hair when I get out of the bathtub).
While Tara and Gretchen talked, I gathered a good number of small pebbles from the creek bed. These tended to be bright white chunks of quartzite, speckled granite erratics, and brick-red pieces of sandstone. I also found a number of pieces that had come from boundaries between two strata having wildly different coloration.
Gretchen had a coupon for a new bar/restaurant/beer shop called Hopheads in High Falls, so after leaving Tara at the Secret Spot, we drove there for beer and lupper. Hopheads is located in the former site of Morning Brew Café, and may actually be owned by the same people. It might simply be the inevitable result of adding a liquor license to a coffee shop. Hopheads has three distinct parts: in the cheerfully natural-lit front room: a retail section where exotic beers are on display, in the artificially-lit back room: a dining area, and visible to both: a bar. Calling itself Hopheads, I expected lots of IPAs, and in that department the retail section did not disappoint, although it stocked few from the Pacific Northwest (they had a variety of ales from Lagunitas from Northern California, but they're easy to get elsewhere). As for vegan options, they had a "vegan sandwich" featuring two vegetables Gretchen cannot stand (avocado and cucumber), so she had to cobble together her lupper from bread, overly-sweet pickles, and oddly-candied nuts (there was a weird Indian spice in that last one). As for beer, she liked the Belgian wheat that was on tap. I was kind of meh about the IPA, but they also had Lagunitas' Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale on tap, which is one of my favorites. Gretchen thought there was something subtly wrong with the ambiance in the dining room and eventually decided that the problem was the lack of windows. This begs the question: why did the owner decide to put the retail part of Hopheads in the cheerful front room and the dining room in the dreary back room?
I'd tried to mow the grass earlier today but, owing to the heat, had only been able to do about half of it. Between that and the Secret Spot, I managed to get a little sunburn on my back. I've also developed a mild case of Poison Ivy rash around my ankles, in the middle ventral surface of my right forearm, and along the dorsal surface of my left middle finger. This all dates back to the exposure when gathering firewood in Bearsville five days ago, though it would have been far worse had I not washed myself thoroughly the moment I'd returned home. Evidently there had been enough of a delay between exposure and scrubbing off (as much as two hours) that the allergens had had a chance to soak their way in amongst my skin cells.
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