Summer has definitely arrived in the town of Keene. Lines at the Valley Grocery go right around the store at closing time. People are arriving in town in cars and SUVs and on motorcycles.
"How was your winter?" old friends and acquaintances call to each other. Every year there are also more visitors who have never been here before.
The libraries are buzzing with activity, while concerned citizens meet to discuss how to abate the buzz and make everybody hush. Presumably, they feel that all of the more pressing issues the town may once have faced have been satisfactorily dealt with, leaving shushing people in the library at the top of the list.
This task is about as difficult as shushing the Ausable river during ice-out. The comparison is pretty accurate at any time of year, but especially now.
"My winter was OK. How was YOUR winter?"
Traffic on state Route 73 is steady and often too fast, except when it is brought to a standstill at the new, temporary traffic light at the intersection of 73 and 9N to Elizabethtown (Spruce Hill Road), known around here simply as "the Intersection," as if it's the one and only intersection of two roads on the face on the earth.
There is plenty going on now, and there will be plenty going on for some time to come. Except of course when you're waiting in your car at the intersection. Have you ever made the green light? I don't mean sliding through as the yellow changes to red. I haven't.
Generally speaking, where I live, in the hamlet of Keene
Valley, it is quiet in the middle of the night and early morning. On those occasions when I wake up and stare out the window, there is an eery stillness all around, and the eeriness is more pronounced when the moon is full. Bears and raccoons and deer and coyotes wander unperturbed through the streets and yards of the dreaming inhabitants.
It's different now that July is here. People are abroad in
the streets, making noise and disporting themselves at all hours.
Last night I awakened to the sound of a loud voice right outside my bedroom window. I put on my glasses and peered out to behold a man lurching around the front yard, clearly illuminated by the street lamps and the moonlight.
His method of ambulation was curious. He would raise one foot high as he stepped, then fall forward as if surprised to find the ground level, prevent himself from falling headlong by catching
himself with a few staggering steps, and then start the whole process again. Whoa! Oopsie daisy.
Either he was shouting into a cell phone or regaling himself with a spirited one-sided conversation. As I watched, he stopped, looked all around, and then urinated behind a bush. This task accomplished, off he went, veering south and shouting out his observations once again as he hitched up his pants.
Mind you, I live in a nice area. This is not the behavior one expects to witness in Keene Valley, I can tell you. But it's summer.
In the winter, Keene Valley is a dark and silent place. Were it not for lighted windows here and there and a pervasive smell of woodsmoke, one might suppose the hamlet to be uninhabited. The difference between the winter solstice and the summer solstice is like night and day.
For years, I have speculated about what would happen if all of the local residents who serve the tourist trade were to take the summer off and enjoy the beauties and pleasures of the Adirondacks in summer. Many have had few chances to hike the peaks or pick berries or fish or swim or play tennis because summer is the time to make money. Make hay while the sun shines.
I have one friend who may finally spend a leisurely summer, after many years of waiting table, cooking, cleaning and just generally working night and day from Independence Day right through Columbus Day. It will be interesting to see whether she can learn to relax during the months of July and August, or if force of habit will devil her into taking on some new set of tasks.
I wonder what I would do first if I didn't have so many jobs?
Ssshh! You made me forget what I was going to say. A person can't hear herself think around here. It's not funny.
Have a good week.