It’s hard to concentrate on course preparation with this right outside the door:
Judy, the dogs, and I enjoyed yesterday’s gorgeous late-summer weather on a walk along the Esplanade from Kenmore Square to the Public Garden, then back through the city. At least 15 people stopped us to ask “what kind of dogs are they?” (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. Tollers, for short.) We stopped for coffee at the Newbury Street Starbucks near Mass. Ave, where Chordially Yours, a female a cappella group from BU, serenaded passersby, human and canine. The dogs know the location; a now-graduated dog sitter used to take them to the adjacent JP Licks for ice cream, buying a small dish for each to eat on the sidewalk. They got no ice cream from us.
Speaking of metaphors . . .
We lost power in Maine early Sunday afternoon. The storm felled an oak tree across our road, taking out the power lines and blocking the way. Without that immediate problem we would have lost power anyway, as the entire area went dark Sunday afternoon. One wire lay on the ground. The oak lay suspended on the others, with its top hung up in other trees. Without the potential for electrocution removing the tree would have been a bit dicey–it will spring and move when either end is cut free–but I would have done it. I don’t mess with electricity. I left the tree alone.
Neighbors shared our Sunday dinner–pasta with tomato sauce from tomatoes just picked from our garden, cooked on the gas stove–and as darkness fell we played Scrabble and read by flashlight.
Monday’s weather was glorious. When I swam at 7 am the lake–roiling, churning mud washed from its banks, choked with broken branches and torn pipe weed 12 hours earlier–was perfectly still. The air, its temperature in the low 60’s, felt scrubbed clean and the sky was free of clouds. The water, still a bit turbid, was remarkably clear given it’s recent chaotic pea-soupy condition. It promised to be a wonderful Maine day, with two large overhanging questions: when would the fallen tree be cleared, and when CMP restore power?
I prepared to deal with things as they were, without total success. I pictured the day unfolding–a bike ride around the lake (I’d walk the bike through the woods around the felled tree and downed wires), a few hours work preparing for the semester until my laptop battery died, swimming, reading on the dock, more Scrabble, grilling all of the meat in the freezer, dining outside by candlelight as the sun set. Very idyllic, but I could not forget that my fully-powered house was 150 miles away.
I considered this as I headed to bike. Walking through the woods around the blocked road the solution began to form. Most of the trees were saplings spaced many feet apart, and it seemed possible to cut a large enough path between the large trees to squeeze through my truck. The bike ride confirmed that power would likely be out for a while. There was not much tree damage but the electricity was out all around the lake, which meant the outage was widespread, which meant that three houses with blocked access on our dead-end road would be a low priority.
Meanwhile Judy had already lined up a ride to Portland where she and Nate could catch a bus back to Boston. The bus was not an option for me–or more accurately, for the dogs–and the appeal of remaining powerless at the camp for what could be many days was waning fast. I called the neighbor who owns the land where I’d bypassed the road and explained that I wanted to remove just enough trees for my truck to fit. He said “like I give a shit about those trees.”
I enlisted the support and help of another neighbor and we went to work. Two hours later we’d driven out my truck and the neighbor’s Volvo wagon. (Getting it through required widening and regrading the path a bit.) I relaxed once I knew we were not dependent on anyone else’s help to leave. We enjoyed the rest of the day on the dock. I took a long swim. We emptied the refrigerator and freezer. We were on the road shortly before 6 pm.
Now, almost 72 hours after the storm hit, the power in the camp is still out.
After licking drippings from beneath the grill Cleo smelled like last week’s swordfish. An hour ago I shampooed her with phosphate-free and lake-friendly castile soap while she jumped off the dock retrieving sticks. As soon as she came out of the water she rolled joyously in the dirt. This is what she looks like now:
This week’s morning-swim air temperatures (6:30-7 am): 58, 58, 58, 58, 62, and 56 degrees Farenheit. I don’t know the lake’s temperature, but at this time of the morning it is much warmer than the air.