miracle of steel gossamer
Sunday, June 1 2014
After Sunday morning coffee, Gretchen and I rounded up the dogs and drove out to Sarah the Vegan's new residence, a modest rental house on a fancy estate on the west bank of the Hudson not too far south of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. Though we were late, Sarah was still puttering around in the kitchen, so while she finished up, Gretchen and I walked past the big house down to the Hudson itself. They main house (which happened to be empty today) was surrounded by an expansive immaculately-mowed lawn, because that's how big houses always are in modern America, though the house itself was not in immaculate shape. It looked to have sustained damage either from woodpeckers or squirrels. And there's also that tennis court down too close to sea level that was destroyed by Irene and Sandy. On the shore of the Hudson, the house had its own dock which featured an elaborate winch for raising and lowering boats out of water (though not for the purposes of transferring them to or their contents to land). The dock featured an absolutely exquisite view of the Hudson. The Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge hovered like a miracle of steel gossamer high above the water, and though the river was mostly silent, occasionally a motorboat would power by. (One of the Hudson's two channels hugs close to the west bank, so the boats would pass close by.) There were a number of large birds not far out on the water that looked like grebes. "This is how the 1% live," I mused. Gretchen agreed.
Both Gretchen and I took the opportunity to wiggle our toes in the Hudson, the first time any parts of us had been below sea level since Curaçao. The water was a little colder than we expected. I also tasted it and it wasn't noticeably saline. Supposedly salinity makes it no further north than Newburgh. Another flavoring agent, PCBs, comes from Hudson Falls in the north, though it's mostly a problem through biomagnification.
On the walk back from the river, I swang in a large old-style chain & metal pipe swingset. As we passed the main house, Gretchen peaked in the windows. It included an indoor pool and a large cork-floored yoga studio. There was also a perfectly-tended raised-bed garden, though it seemed to take up a lot more room than it needed to given the actual size of the beds.
Sarah had made little savory scones, a fresh lettuce salad, something containg green beans, and also a sort of creamless potato salad. Though her heart is always in the best possible place, Sarah usually manages to get something a little wrong when preparing food for others. Today the problem was portion size; there was just barely enough food for the three of us. Of course, that was partly of function of the fact that one of the people eating was me. Had we all been like Sarah, she could have fed a dozen people. While we were tucking into our plates with gusto (the food was good, particularly when a fancy beet-red sauerkraut was sprinkled over it), Sarah kept just sat there with her plate in her lap, talking. She has a problem that neither Gretchen nor I have: an inability to eat while talking.
We were eating at a little table out in the yard while cotton from the Cottonwood trees snowed down around us. While Eleanor kept close, Ramona was up the steep, densely-brush-covered slope above Sarah's house digging for varmints and (in the process) contaminating her fur with Poison Ivy volatiles (which only affect humans). At one point Ramona saw something interesting enough to bark at, causing me to fear she was about to have an altercation with the Raccoon that Sarah has seen hanging around. But most of her interests were subterranean and the only thing she managed to drag out of the forest was a deer antler (which is always an impressive find).
As always happens, conversation gradually transitioned to Sarah's love life (or lack thereof). She just hasn't been impressed with any of the available guys (or girls, she swings that way too) of either New York City or the Hudson Valley. Indeed, her problem is that guys she doesn't have any interest in seem to pick up signals from her she is sure she is not sending. This led into a conversation about what Gretchen or I would do if we were single right now. I said that I'd have to get a partner because I can't take care of myself (which is sort of true; since living on my own, I've had the almost-unbroken companionship of either a girlfriend or supportive housemates).
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