Cold Spring Diary: “First Sun-Day”

by David St.-Lascaux


Plymouth Rock Barred, Rhode Island Red, Arauncana

Sunday, 16 February 2014

THE SUN RISES on this midwinter’s day against the thicket of Taconic hills. The ground is well covered by a half-meter of pristine snow; the trees are bare.

I haven’t seen the sun rise since May, when my fiancée and I vacationed in Stonington, Maine. I’m not going to miss New York this time around; despite eight tall windows, our first floor apartment had no direct sunlight, ever, and the dog shit (that is what it’s called) everywhere on Midtown’s East Side pavement finally got to even a dog lover like me. As much as each of these, the neurological pain on the soles of my feet was the clincher: What’s the point of walking if it’s on concrete or asphalt?

Despairing of the consumer bread-and-circus habitat, we’ve been researching agrarianism, reruralization and what are called locavore living and intentional communities. Hoping to find kindred spirits who have succeeded against the grain of automotive and electric desolation, we’ve been exploring the neighborhoods outside Gotham over the last year – Columbia and Dutchess Counties in New York, the northeast corner of Pennsylvania, and, most recently, Litchfield County in Connecticut, and the southwest corner of Massachusetts. It’s been an education.

Our explorations – our adventures – have brought us to a loft in Putnam County just east of the Hudson River diagonally northeast of West Point. It’s our plan that “the Library,” as we have named our new home (the last two being – ironically named – “Versailles,” a one-room garden apartment, and “Heaven,” our high ceilinged ground floor digs), will be our jumping off point in our quest to locate a permanent home for sustainable, light-footprint living for ourselves, and, we hope, our families. Here, we will have a garden and the pleasure of enjoying our landlord’s on-premises chickens – a flock of twenty-four that includes Rhode Island Red, Australorp, Plymouth Rock Barred and Arauncana, judging from the colorings of eggs.

I make coffee and look out the second story window into the trees lining Route 9, aka the Albany Post Road. Having just read James Howard Kunstler’s entirely depressing, if informative, twenty-one-year-old The Geography of Nowhere, I imagine this thoroughfare before the advent of self-and-oil-dependent-mobility (the “auto”-mobile being the first psychologically marketed selfish meme, preceding Apple’s iThings, whose names were intentionally designed to be irresistible to the subliminal, self-centered “I”; meanwhile Socrates, of γνῶθι σεαυτόν – gnothe seauton = know thyself – fame, rolls violently over in his grave), a sliver of time in the history of the earth, but more than any living human can remember. More on this later.

My morning-sleepy gaze is instantly rewarded by a blaze of birds – first a sequence of flickers, departing in distinctive, rollercoaster sine wave flight; then a pair of crested titmice in the lower bushes; a pileated woodpecker in pterodactyl silhouette; and, finally, exigent, displaced robins, come north too early. A gray squirrel comically, busily cavorts in the tree opposite the driveway. In the time lapse Sunday morning calm, the sun glides reassuringly across the room. Change is rarely easy, and moving here has not been without trepidation. Last night the full moon cast its bluish beams, and in the predawn hours we awoke to its veiled setting through our bedroom’s curtains. Although it has its phases, its reliability also consoles.

MY URBANITY NOT YET SHAKEN, I turn the radio on, having earlier confirmed that the community has an excellent classical station, whose name I’ve not yet learned. It soothes and swells to fill the Library’s soaring space, replete with clerestory cupola and a pair of propeller-sized ceiling fans. The radiant heat emanating from the polished concrete floor gives quiet comfort. My fiancée awakens and exalts in the simple pleasure of seeing the sun. It’s a new day; we’ve arrived at a new place.

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February 27, 2014: “Spring Lambs”

Text and photo copyright © 2014

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