Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Recalling Some Good Times
The Solstice, a full moon, and an eclipse -- all in a single event. It's been 372 years since these three came together, and I slept right through it. How could I? Well, it's been that kind of week. Fraught. I hardly got outdoors at all this week, which to a nature addict like me is mighty distressing. There were all the demands of holiday preparations -- baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, etc. -- and then my computer started acting up, which required an 80-mile round trip to (horrors!) a major shopping mall the week before Christmas. Then my long-haired cat got diarrhea, which required me to grab him each time he left the litter box so I could wash his behind before he jumped on the sofa. And sometimes I failed to do that. As I said, not a good week.
But the worst thing of all was that our friend Warren died. That sure kicked the stuffing out of the week. When a friend of 40 years is just . . . well, gone, 40 years of his memories of you disappear as well. We were all young when we met, our children grew up together, his wife and I worked together at Skidmore, he and my husband were avid intellectual companions, all our years here in Saratoga were spent with him as our friend. And now we are old, and one by one we disappear. Sad.
To console myself, I've been remembering some happy times we had together this year, starting last February when we went out to the river to look for eagles. And wonder of wonders, we saw one!
Because Warren had always been such an avid outdoorsman, we tried to get out for a nature adventure each week after that, although there were times when his illness interfered. Luckily, I wrote a blog post about many of our trips, so I have a partial record of some of the places we went. (Just click on the colored word to revisit the original posts.) In early March, we crossed the Hudson to follow the river roads to Ft. Miller and Ft. Edward, inching along the river banks, windows rolled down, binoculars scanning the water to look for waterfowl. Warren was excited when he spied these Goldeneyes.
A couple of weeks later, we drove through the Saratoga Battlefield, walking out to the top of a hill to enjoy the view of the mountains beyond the river. Warren was an accomplished cyclist who had cycled the battlefield roads many times. But today we walked, and at a slow pace, which allowed us to stand and study a bluebird flitting about in a thicket.
That same day, we continued south along the Hudson until it met the Mohawk River at Cohoes, where we stopped to marvel at the majestic Cohoes Falls.
In April, we walked through a nature preserve adjoining Ballston Creek, where the forest floor was carpeted with more Spring Beauties than I've ever seen in my life.
Our goal at Ballston Creek was to spy on a heronry with a number of occupied nests. When a muddy path impeded our approach through the woods, we drove around to an industrial area on the other side of the creek, where we caught a great view (thanks to great binoculars!) of a Great Blue Heron perched over its nest.
On May 17, a gorgeous spring day, we drove up to Lake George and had lunch at a lakeside restaurant in Bolton Landing, where the food was so-so but the view was magnificent. We then continued north to Hague, where we walked in the woods to view a lovely little waterfall. I cannot find the photos of these events in my hard drive files, but the photos are there on my blog for that day, which can be accessed by clicking here.
I know that on June 7 we went for a walk along Kayaderosseras Creek near Ballston Spa, because the evidence is there on my blog for that date. But I don't remember where I stored my photos of that day's excursion. I do remember, though, that Warren was entranced by swooping swallows, while I was puzzled by odd little snails all over the vegetation.
At this point my blog posts about our adventures stop. I know we went out several times more during the summer and fall, but I also remember that Warren was hospitalized a couple of times during these seasons because he had fallen and injured himself. It could be, too, that after those falls I did not take photos during our outings because we either stayed in the car or I had to assist him while walking. One summer outing I do remember was driving up into the hills above Saratoga Lake, passing by horse farms where mares and their foals were grazing in emerald-green meadows. I also wanted to show Warren this barnyard with its amazing floral display -- all weeds! -- where I had taken this photo the summer before. But we were disappointed to find that the flowers had already faded. All the flowers bloomed a few weeks early this summer.
Almost every time we went out, we stopped for something to eat. Sometimes a whole lunch, other times just some ice cream at Stewarts. I guessed that Warren's health was truly fading when he said no, he didn't want ice cream. He really loved his ice cream. And I really loved my friend. How lucky I am that we had these good times together.