Thursday, June 8 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
The smoke from distant Canadian fires began to dissipate today and by late this afternoon the sun was shining with most of its normal intensity. Those clouds had apparently continued south, though, and friends from Virginia were saying it had become bad down there.
A little after 4:00pm, Gretchen and I left for the cabin in the Adirondacks to get an early Thursday start on our weekend up there. Part of the reason for this was that Gretchen would be leaving the cabin for a few hours on Saturday to attend a Bard Prison Initiative event in Albany. On the drive to the cabin, we decided to stop on the way at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, mostly to get plants for the pots at the cabin. Of course, while we were there we also charged the car (since the electricity there is free) and bought some produce and various ready-to-eat foods. Because our interests were running a bit extravagant (we got a $32 nearly full-grown tomato plant and I got a 25 oz. St. Bernardus Prior 8 Belgian Abbey Ale), we managed to blow over $200. When we returned to our car, I let the dogs out to romp around the parking lot as usual, and Ramona soon found a sardine tin with some sardine still in it, which she carried back into the car and proceeded to lick in the back seat. I let her finish and then took the tin away, but for the rest of the drive to the cabin the car smelled like old sardines. After I'd done my best to clean the sardine grease from my fingers, I started drinking a bottle of cold-pressed coffee that had me feeling pretty zippy by the time our drive was over.
We didn't encounter much Canadian wildfire smoke along the way, though off in the distance I could see patches of it mixed in with the clouds over towards the Finger Lakes region (the eastern edge of which can almost be seen from a few high spots along Route 67 between Amsterdam and Johnstown).
We hadn't been to the cabin in three weeks, so all the plants doing their best to colonize the building site had had some time to grow in the most frenetic part of the growing season. Judging from the pools of water and dense foliage, there had evidently been a lot of rain recently. Our building site was now dominated by dozens of three foot tall sweet clovers (which I may have referred to in the past as "bush clover"). There were so many that Gretchen was concerned they were crowding out other things, but I assured her they were just part of a succession that would quickly eliminate them. For now, though, their deep roots are fixing nitrogen to make the soil more hospitable to other, hopefully native, vegetation. The dominant vegetation last summer was probably lambs quarters, though there are hardly any of them at all so far this year. The most persistent plant is probably equisetum, that is, horsetail. I know from experience that it can persist for many years until it is eventually eliminated by increasing shade from bushes and trees.
The air at the cabin seemed completely smoke-free, which came as something of a relief, especially to Gretchen. She'd been under the impression that going north would be going closer to those fires in Canada, and that the smoke would only get thicker. But if you look at the map of where the smoke is going, it appears to be following distinct streams that curve about chaotically, carrying smoke for hundreds of miles past many unaffected airmasses.
When I opened my laptop for the first time at the cabin, the very first place I navigated to was PalmerReport.com, a center-left blog that provides level-headed political news and analysis. They were announcing that Donald Trump had been indicted for mishandling documents (that is, keeping them and doing his best to avoid returning them after he was no longer president). PalmerReport is great, but it's a shoestring operations, so I tried to confirm the story elsewhere. But all the major news sites were still leading with the Canadian smoke and Ukrainian counteroffensive stores. But then, a minute or so later, the NewYorkTimes was running with the indictment story, which had apparently been broken by Donald Trump himself. Given his poor track record with the truth, it was probably wise for the big news organizations to wait for confirmation.
The biggest disappointment among the things we'd bought at the co-op were the cherries, which were almost flavorless aside from a little sweetness and a trace of sour. They were nowhere near as good as any of the cherries I'd recently bought in Virginia.
Later Gretchen made us noodles with a cream sauce, satueed mushrooms, and somewhat undercooked broccoli.
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