between the Deeps
Sunday, June 29 2014
I awoke this morning at 6:00am to the sound of Gretchen giggling with with giddy excitement as she came into the bedroom. She was carrying the trap she'd set yesterday behind the Greenhouses' shed. And in that trap was none other than "Fatty" (or "Oscar," as we'd tentatively named him). Unexpected success! Oscar had been calm in the trap when Gretchen found him, and he'd completely licked the bait bowl clean. But being returned to the bathroom he'd somehow managed to escape from 18 days ago put him in a foul mood. He started yowling and immediately climbed up to the window to see if he could use whatever screen-removing technique he'd managed to devise earlier. But Gretchen had closed the window sashes themselves, so even if Oscar could lift the screens out, there was no hope of him escaping by his earlier route.
It was still early in the morning, and Gretchen went directly back to bed. I was feeling agitated by the excitement of Oscar's recovery, but I didn't want to begin my day quite yet. So I said what the hell and took an Ambien. When I awoke about three and a half hours later, it took awhile for the Ambien fog to lift.
After Sunday morning coffee, I took the dogs back into the forest a little east of a place about a third of a mile down the Farm Road, just south of the Chamomile Swamp. There I cut up a fairly heavy load of dry Chestnut Oak and hauled it home. I found that it is significantly easier hiking with a heavy backpack on a road suitable for vehicular traffic (the Farm Road) than it is to hike on even a well-maintained forest trail. Evidently there are just enough unpredictable features on the surface of a trail to make the physical and mental work of taking steps significantly more taxing.
It was a hot day, so Gretchen and I decided to drive out to Little Deep (the swimming hole off Zena Road east of Woodstock) and go for a swim. The Little Deep parking lot was full, indicating all the best creekside places would be taken. But today we decided to continue walking westward up Sawkill Creek to see where the trail went. We assumed it went as far as Big Deep, but we didn't expect to come across a spectacular stone dam with two spillways creating twin artificial waterfalls and a large, hitherto-unknown swimming hole (42.03807N, 74.091711W). The dam looked to be derelict, with a number of uprooted trees stuck on it and several large rocks missing from the sides of the spillway. Gretchen immediately went swimming, though I found the water too cold to do anything more adventurous than wading in to a depth sufficient to piss my pants. The great thing about this new spot was that it was enough of a hike in to eliminate the white trash landwhales and little children who tend to crowd both of the Deeps. There was a guy there when we arrived, and a number of young women showed up not long after, but it never felt crowded there at the dam. Gretchen absolutely loved it there, remarking several times, "I can't believe we only live ten minutes away from this."
Eventually we continued our walk westward toward Big Deep. When we climbed up along the north end of the dam, I was surprised to see how small its reservoir was. Not only was it narrow, but it was badly silted-up along the sides, and a large swath further to the west had turned into a bog thick with reeds. Evidently the reservoir had been abandoned and the dam's floodgates removed so as to keep the water level behind it as low as possible. Another indication of the deadness of the dam was a little shed just upstream from it atop some sort of structure. Its roof contained several enormous holes.
As we approached Big Deep, the human population along Saw Kill's shoreline began to increase, starting with a fat man slightly-hidden from the trail whose huge erection made Gretchen giggle.
At Big Deep, it looked like a non-pointillist take on Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," though a bit more 21st Century redneck than 19th Century urban Paris. There was a dog across the creek on a very long rope, and he kept running at full tilt and into a sudden jerking halt. It looked like the result of typical white trash dog husbandry, and this suspicion wasn't dispelled when the dog was eventually joined by the round, tattoo-festooned young man who was his caretaker. Ramona and Eleanor swam across the water and played with the dog for a bit; we soon learned that the dog's name was Marshall. Eleanor quickly grew bored and swam back to the north side, trampeling on a towel belonging to two older women ("We're from Woodstock, it doesn't bother us," one of them said when Gretchen apologized.) Meanwhile Ramona was having a great time with Marshall, who had been released by his rotund tattooed human and was now chowing down on a bagel he'd stolen from someone's picnic basket.
Other than a few close-calls with Poison Ivy and some wrong choices made at forks in the trail, we made it back to our car without incident.
Back at the house, I took some time to make a gift for Ray, whose 47th birthday would be coming on July 1st. Tonight we'd all be going out to the Indian Garden to celebrate. The gift that I made was a tiny (5 inch by 5 inch) painting of Ray and Nancy based on a photograph of them sitting at a table in the Egg's Nest in High Falls (ironically, I while I generally dislike the Egg's Nest, I particularly hate eating there when in the company of Ray; there's something about the slowness of the inevitable dessert course that enrages me). The result, which I barely finished before we had to leave for dinner, looked like this:
At the Indian Garden, the usual Ray and Nancy people showed up (Deborah and Sarah the Vegan) along with Ray's friend Eric from the City. The restaurant had a buffet prepared for tonight, and though we normally try to avoid Indian buffets, it seemed unusually fresh and "not stepped on" (as they might say in the Wire). We were the only customers in the restaurant, so the buffet was only really there for us. So everyone except Deborah ordered the buffet. Deborah figured she could get by on just a dosa.
One of the gifts Ray received was a collection of Mad Libs from Sarah the Vegan, and so of course we filled out three of them. When there was a need for a "liquid," I offered "santorum." Sarah had never heard of the term, and so Gretchen explained the whole thing to her. She also looked up "santorum" in Google and was delighted to see that a page connected to its Dan Savage definition still had higher placement than any site controlled by Rick Santorum himself.
For some reason after dinner it took a very long time for our group to make it from the table and out to the cars. We stood for a long time on the porch in front of the restaurant talking about nothing that interested me. Eventually I went to the car to get an antacid and returned to the front of the building from the other side. Everyone was still there. I hate such lingering departures, but I couldn't complain; it was Ray's birthday, and he loves that shit.
Worse than that, though was the decision someone made for all of us to drive to Uptown Kingston and stand around in front of that little house that Gretchen and I have been considering as a possible investment property. While we stood there, a couple middle aged white guys walked past us going one direction and then returned with beer, going the other. "What's up, guy?" one of them asked. Meanwhile, the conversation focused on the dull logistics of buying and operating rental property. It was torture to stand there with nothing to contribute and no drink in my hand. Eventually I sat on the curb, though it was only about three inches above the level of the street. At least the night was beautiful, with the kind of heat and humidity that might have been unpleasant had a good breeze not been blowing.
When we got home, Gretchen asked if something was wrong. "No," I said, "I just need a little me-time."
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next