Entries in Hudson River (12)


Post-Irene Paddle

The first thing I noticed was that my usual launch in Tivoli was over a foot thick with water chestnut, laced with bottles, Styrofoam and other debris. The water chestnut pulls up in the fall, forming green rafts on the water. But these plants had been ripped off by the winds and water of hurricane Irene (or tropical storm Irene?). So I slipped my kayak into the water at the small dock. It had weathered the storm—still in place—but was slick with a layer of mud. Clearly it had drowned in the storm. The water was chocolate brown, more silty than usual and scanning the wide river I could see flotsam, logs, and other debris drifting swiftly south with the current.

I stepped into my boat, noting the cold at my ankles was not the fall-warmed water of a few days earlier.  I struck south, passing a wooden dock, sloshed up on shore. Swallows zipped across the water and landed on the wires next to the train tracks. A great blue heron took flight. In many ways, it was just another day for the birds, and for the baby map turtle I saw taking in the last of the day’s sun. But for me, the river was transformed. I recognized everything: the Catskill mountains in the distance, the puff of trees in front of me that is Magdalen Island, the houses on shore that peer down at the river. But the texture of the river was foreign. There was a sense of dereliction, I want to say of lawlessness. It was as if the river itself was not following its own laws, but also that those who live in and on the river had given over to new ways of being, one where anything could and did float off in the river.

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Why I Love a Storm

At six thirty in the evening my young friends Sasha and Liza knock on my door. I have a headlamp attached to my forehead to guide me in making dinner, something exciting like rice and beans. “We’re collecting food that might go bad and making dinner at the bar,” Sasha explains. The bar has gas burners so they can still cook. Many have electric powered stoves so they are out of luck. We are not supposed to have power for the next two to three days so things will no doubt start to turn in the fridge. It’s a great idea. But I have almost nothing in my fridge. So I take them out to my garden and give them tomatoes and chard, some basil. Who knows what they will cook up, but I love that what they want to do is feed everyone after a long day of wind and rain.

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