Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer on the river

I do enjoy residing temporarily on the shore of the St. Lawrence River in the brevity of Northern New York’s summer. ( although I’m pretty sure he didn’t coin the phrase; Dr. Jerry Jacobson used to say, “we have two seasons up here; winter and the 4th of July.”) It’s a smorgasbord for the senses. For example, imagine you’re sitting in a wicker arm chair enjoying a refreshing breeze caress you while you read an engrossing novel under two fragrant cedar trees. A piercing scream from above interrupts your reverie and you look up in time to witness an osprey explode into the river with talons outspread and moments later emerge with a bass clutched tightly as he wings off to the nest atop the telephone pole up the hill a 1/2 mile or so away to feed the young ones.

The ubiquity of the flocks of ducks and geese swimming by with their hatchlings never grows old. Devising schemes to deter the geese from coming up on your lawn to feed and deposit fertilizer for you to squeeze between your toes becomes a challenge I willingly accept.

I find the Loon with it’s plaintive cry more preferable to the Cormorant. And the stealthy Blue Heron as he stops to stare into the depths looking for a meal is appealing in it’s gangly grace.

The ever-present sea gulls with their screeching chatter does wear on my nerves, but I do admire their skill in flying against the wind and being able to spy a crawfish 2 feet underwater from ten feet above and dive precisely to snatch the delicacy and then watch as another gull swoops in to try and steal it away.

The magnetism of the huge lakers steaming their way up and down river is a sight that demands your attention and sends you scurrying to grab your camera and binoculars. I’m especially enthralled when one of these ships glide slowly past the cottage in the dark of night and all you see is their few running lights and the chorus of the engine chugging accompanied by the clackity clack of the train passing along the opposite shore.

And one must add to all this the visits from friends, neighbors and most particularly your family who come to barbecue, drink ice cold beverages, and watch the grandchildren frolic and swim in the frigid waters or make friends with the neighbor’s grandchildren.

Even the less than ideal weather can create memories and stories to repeat year after year as you gather at the picnic table; the hail storm that comes up suddenly and unexpectedly sending your friend’s daughter jumping into the river to retrieve your kayak which had been pulled offshore by the surging waves, while everyone else grabs plates, dishes, and food trying to dodge hail dashing to the protection of the camp. The wind so strong the the camp shakes on its precarious foundation sends pangs of fear to those seeking safety inside. And then 10 minutes later when calm has returned, going outside to fill martini glasses with the marble sized hail laying an inch deep on the lawn.

Simple pleasures, year after year, bring the greatest joys. Such as watching the sunset every night.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Summer heat wave

Summer in New York State is a beautiful time of year.  It’s common in July to experience a least one torrid heatwave, and this past week proves my point.  When I’m at the cottage on the shore of the St. Lawrence River and the temps soar into the high 80’s or higher and the humidity climbs to above 60% it’s easy to find relief by simply jumping in the river and let the mid-60s water temp cool me down.  That practice, alone, makes sleeping much more tolerable.

However, I spend a part of each week in an apartment in south western NY. When the summer heat wave of July arrives there my west facing 3rd floor apt., (top floor) absorbs heat like bread baking in an oven. For example, this past Tues. when I arrived at my apartment building at 4pm, the outside temp was a blistering 88 degrees. With the trepidation of knowing my apartment would be a sweat box I entered into a stifling hot apt. Where the thermostat registered 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The apartment is equipped with an air conditioner, I think it was installed when the building was erected, and for 4 years this was my only avenue of surcease. To say that this appliance made living conditions in the apartment comfortable would be like me telling you that letting one ice cube melt and evaporate would cool the apt. to comfortability. The only thing this machine did abundantly was devour electricity and quintuple my electric bill.

Last year while working with one of our surgeons I mentioned my dilemma concerning this uncomfortable state of affairs. He went on to tell me about a free standing mobile unit air conditioning unit that he had purchased for his home. Being in dire need of surcease from my sauna like living arrangement I decided to purchase one of these units. They come in different sizes, big enough to cool an entire apartment/home to room size. I ordered one which would cool a room of the size of my bedroom. It took me a couple of hours to easily install this life saver. And after turning it on it took a couple of hours to cool my bedroom from 84 degrees to 68 degrees. Voila; nirvana.

So when I arrived last Tues. in my 90 degree apartment I immediately made my way into the bedroom, turned on the cooling unit and closed the door on my way out and went out onto my balcony. At 8pm when I reinterred to seek a restful sleep, the temperature in the bedroom was 73 refreshingly cool degrees.

The electric bill you ask? Well it just so happens that I received said bill yesterday and I’m delighted to say that it was only slightly above my usual.