As part of the Drollerie Press Blog Tour, I warmly present Sarah Avery, author of Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply and Closing Arguments, blogging July’s tour topic: Summer!
Earth of Birch and Hemlock
Summer is a place, an itinerary, a road trip, and the kin who greet me there. Summer is the Adirondacks, precisely because summer in those mountains is less summery than in any of the places I’ve actually lived. When the heat and humidity at home grow unbearable, I pack out and flee north to a place that’s, well, all humidity, but at least no heat. Evening brings sweater weather. Make it a wool sweater; you’re going to get rained on. Summer calls for a fire in the Franklin stove. Bring the firewood in to dry.
Up the patrilineage, my people were mostly lumberjacks and blacksmiths until quite recently, when teaching became the family trade. We clear-cut the Adirondack forests, and forged the tools for the cutting, until the lumber companies ran out of profitable woods and sold it all into a park. Not long after, the ice-harvesting companies that cut up frozen lakes to sell in chunks in New York City lost everything to the advent of refrigeration. It was a boon to us–a lumberjack great-uncle turned landscape painter saved a stretch of lakeshore from the death throes of the Utica Ice Company, and the cabin he built has been the center of our cosmos ever since.
A century of protection has let the hills grow green again. To an outsider’s eye–and mine is an outsider’s eye, never having overwintered in this place where I can only name a few of the leaves and birdsongs–the clear-cutting years might never have happened.Set your foot on the ground here, and your step dips slightly into a softness of decomposing trees–layer upon layer of them, in a soil so full of little air pockets that running raises a hollow, drum-like thump.
Set your foot in the water here, even in August, and you will not doubt that the wealth of this land was its ice. It takes the memory of the heat I left at home to get me in up to the shoulders, and then it takes a fey mood to get me to dunk my head. Better to take out a boat.
Better, when it rains, as it will, to take out the notebook and sit on the rickety boathouse balcony, to look out over the water and across the breathing green world of the real into whatever it is I’m writing. I’ve embarked from the boathouse for a thousand other worlds. Summer is a journey by water, summer is the characters who greet me on the other side.
For more about Sarah Avery visit her blog: Ask Dr. Pretentious