election day, 2004
Tuesday, November 2 2004
Gretchen and I went to town hall in Hurley and voted this morning at around 10am. There was no line and we were number 144 and 145 in our precinct, though I don't know how many people it includes. Afterwards we walked Sally and Eleanor along the Esopus downstream from the iron bridge on Wynkoop Road. With the leaves off the trees, we could see more the Esopus. In this region it's a wide, lazy river, more a haphazard series of interconnected ponds than a straightforward channel. We were impressed by the size of one of these ponds, which was hundreds of feet across in two dimensions and included a sizeable island. Further downstream the Esopus was narrower and Sally swam all the way across to the other shore and back again, an aquatic feat she never would have attempted a couple years ago. "Sally's discovering her Labrador heritage!" Gretchen exclaimed.
While I was in New Paltz on a housecall I decided to buy some additional booze for tonight's presidential election returns. I thought it would be a shame if I woke up tomorrow and Kerry was president but I didn't have a wicked hangover. So I bought mid-shelf tequila.
Tonight we'd be having a few people over to watch the election returns come in. Gretchen was making some snacks and I was checking all my usual sources for any tantalizing shred of exit polling data. Voter turnout looked to be at an all-time high, which was widely said to be good for Democrats. It was all looking very promising. "We're going to win this thing," I remember thinking, "maybe by a substantial margin."
One of our friends from Eagle's Nest Road came over briefly, then our lawyer friend Peter from the Rondout in Kingston. Finally we were joined by the Meatlocker People.
The first returns were from overwhelmingly red states such as Indiana and, well, the South. Seeing all that red on the map put us on edge, at least until the Northeast called in. Gretchen flipped between various networks trying to get real information, but the prognosticators were being very cautious in declaring victories. They were forced to pad their commentaries with such obvious statements as "Bush is doing well in the South but Kerry seems to be holding the Northeast." The only entertaining way to watch the returns come in was provided by Comedy Central in its extended Daily Show: Indecision 2004, Prelude to a Recount. Even when things started looking a little grim (I was noting on the liberal blogs that Florida seemed likely to fall into Bush's column), Jon Stewart managed to somehow keep things cheerful.
Our party disbanded well before the Ohio or Florida were allocated. I remember going to bed feeling hopeful, but also with a sinking sense that maybe it was a lost cause. By this point I'd drunk enough tequila to get a hangover in either case.
Sally in an Esopus Valley corn field. Click to enlarge.
Sally and Eleanor.
One of the larger ponds in Esopus Creek.
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