the Sack & Dagger
Tuesday, September 3 2013
location: Tall Pines Cabin, rural Hope Township, Hamilton County, New York
The weather had taken a turn for the chilly this morning, for the first time necessitating socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Gretchen and I had been burned on our last trip to Lake Edward and so had remembered to bring those things, though there were a number of things we'd remembered for that trip that we'd forgotten on this one. For Gretchen that included crossword printouts and for me it included art supplies, though I hadn't remembered to take art supplies to Lake Edward either.
Gretchen looked like she would be sleeping in this morning, so I took the dogs on the short "poop walk" that she customarily takes them on. I started out at the water's edge at the place where wooden steps lead down to the east bank of the Sacandaga, and from there we continued along the water's edge southward (downstream). I was wearing flip flops with socks, so I had to stay completely out of the water. Mostly I jumped from stone to stone both within the beach and occasionally out into the water, but in one place I was forced to climb up on the bank and walk among the low bush dogwoods with their metallic blue berries. The dogs and I left the water's edge at the redneck campground described yesterday. Again, there were almost no humans in evidence. But we did see a small fat white dog which Ramona chased down and insisted on befriending (though it initially tried to get away on its short Corgy legs). And then a greyish midsized mutt came running in from elsewhere down the access road, evidently after having gone on off on his own to explore the neighborhood. Suddenly realizing he'd been remiss at his duties as watch dog, he started barking. But then Eleanor ran up and befriended him and the barking stopped.
Later in the morning, after we'd had coffee and Trader Joe's British crumpets, I changed into short pants and forded the two nearest channels of the Sacandaga and briefly explored the largish island that looks like the western bank from the cabin. In so doing I came to the realization that the landform across the next channel west from there is also not the Sacandaga's western bank. It's yet another island (43.341129N, 74.271827W).
I found some interesting granite cobblestones and erected a couple cairns and then returned to the cabin.
Unfortunately, neither of the dogs had come with me on that last expedition, which was a bit of a waste, because on some level this entire trip to the Adirondacks is something we do for their benefit. So later when I executed another series of channel fording, I was sure that at least Ramona came along. Though it was slow-going and occasionally painful for my feet, we managed to ford all the channels (some of which were dry) and make it conclusively to the Sacandaga's western bank. The clearest indication that we'd left the Sacandaga was that the terrain suddenly sloped upward. Ramona and I climbed to one terrace and then another (along the way I accidentally brushed my bare leg against a stinging nettle), but then we ran into a series of granite cliffs that I didn't have the energy to climb (having been exhausted by the various channel fordings), so we turned back towards the river, going down a shallow gorge cut by a small stream (43.343407N, 74.271655W).
On the subsequent fords back to the cabin, I managed to experience at least one incident with the fractal arrangement of cobblestones on the bottom that I thought might result in discomfort lasting at least a day. But I was wrong; it turns out that feet complain disproportionately to the injury they suffer.
Gretchen had a number of irons in the fire, so to speak, when we left for this second Adirondack vacation of the summer, and so again today she wanted to drive to nearby Wells to make use of the available cellphone signals and mail some packages at the Wells post office, assuming they actually had such a place.
The Wells Post Office was a busy place with no real parking lot. Cars just pulled over on the side of the street in front of it, people got out, did their business, and drove away (although, this being a small town, some people lingered for awhile in front chatting). I witnessed all this from across the street, where I parked and waited for what seemed like a long time. Gretchen was filling out a customs declaration about Joseph's now-surely-moldy suit, which she was shipping back to southern Québec. There was also a letter she'd just handwritten that needed to be mailed to Jule, a prisoner at the Woodburne facility.
When all that was done, I drove us north on 30, beyond the edge of the village, looking for a nice place to park within the umbrella of the local cellphone towers. Not finding such a place, I pulled over at a parking spot along the Sacandaga. We all walked down a steep, heavily-littered path to the water to see if it was anything special but it wasn't. The water was also noticeably colder, as we were now upstream from the warming influence of Algonquin Lake.
There was another hiking opportunity at a place called Pumpkin Hollow, so we drove up there and parked and then started walking down one of the two available trails. Since we didn't expect to be hiking long, we took the trail headed towards Pine Orchard (where we'd gone yesterday) but from the other direction. The trail passed a small pound (which may be an arm of something called Willis Lake) and a couple of increasingly-marginal homesteads (the last of which was completely abandoned) and then headed off between the White Pines across thick beds of accumulated needles. Not long into our walk, Gretchen suddenly remembered that she'd forgotten to write a return address on the letter to Jule. So we immediately returned to our car and drove back to the post office in Wells. But the woman working there was a bitch and refused to look through the letters to find the one Gretchen needed to put a return address on. Normally Gretchen can get people to do what she needs them to do even when it's technically against the rules, but I'm guessing the woman at the Wells Post Office was a little too much like one Elizabeth DeMar Mueller.
As we were driving up and down the stony Sacandaga River to Wells and back, it occurred to me that someone in Wells (or perhaps Northville) should open an Irish pub called "the Sack and Dagger." Initially I didn't think about the phallic implications of this, but when I told Gretchen she thought of this immediately. She thought the coat of arms above the door should be a highly-stylized picture of a scrotum and a penis (perhaps with decorative shamrocks, pots o' goah'ld, and leaping leprechauns).
Back at the cabin, Gretchen whipped up a Mexican meal mostly of chili and toasted soft corn tortillas (a good purchase at Trader Joe's).
At around sundown, I went for a repeat of the walk I'd gone on first thing this morning, though only Ramona came. Near the place where the steps lead down to the Sacandaga, we saw a flotilla of ducks swim by. They were an unusual species that looked like loons except they quacked and were much smaller. I wondered if perhaps they were mergansers, which I only know from bird field guides.
We left the water's edge at the boat landing for a small well-build cabin adjacent to the redneck campground. Along the path to that landing was a small amount of Poison Ivy, the first time I'd seen it on this entire trip. It's been odd not to have to worry about Poison Ivy when bushwhacking up from the banks of a river; back in the Hudson Valley, that is precisely the habitat where Poison Ivy grows thickest.
The two campground dogs were cooped up in a fenced-in area as we walked around the place, and all they could do was bark. As always, there were no humans in evidence.
Perhaps because of a mood swing caused by the absence of Celexa in her system, Gretchen decided to take a narcotic "happy pill" this evening, and she offered one to me too. Within a half hour or so we were both feeling good (though I wasn't feeling too good). The drug put me in a mood to just sit there on a couch and talk (or listen) about various things including Gretchen's disappointment with poetry and writing in general. In the course of helping a famous elderly poet get his affairs in order, she recently stumbled into a case of gross nepotism and it made her wonder how important talent really is to success in a field with so little in the way of objective tests.
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