MARTHA SEZ: ‘By spring I will have forgotten where I planted them’

What a relief! The 2020 presidential election is over. Sort of.

Since spring, President Trump has been publicly announcing his intention to legally challenge election results in the event of his defeat. His idea, as I understand it, is that his victory was certain unless the Democrats cheated, manipulating the vote to tip the scales in their favor. So far, Trump has not conceded to President Elect Joe Biden. Maybe he never will.

Everyone I’ve talked to about this says “I’m tired. I’m so tired.”

The year 2020 (the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese zodiac) is the most unpopular year I can remember. Everyone is sick of it and ready for it to be over, while at the same time hoping that 2021 will be an improvement.

I arrived here in Keene back in 1991.Years ago, I wrote: “November. Yes, it’s a grim month here in the town of Keene. Leaf season is forgotten, except for raking. Talk has shifted to firewood–cords, stove cords and face cords–and creosote, and the tourists have gone home to leave us to it. Some will be back later for Christmas, skiing and ice climbing. Local businesses cut their hours as winter closes in. A few deer hunters come in from out of town, but for the most part we year rounders have the gray skies and bare tree limbs and mud to ourselves.”

The tourists and summer people still come here to hike, hunt, ski and climb, but they no longer go home after Labor Day, or even after Columbus Day. Many have moved to the Adirondacks since advances in technology allowed them to work remotely. After 9/11, and especially now, in the time of the COVID 19 pandemic, people feel safer here in the Adirondacks than in the city. Businesses no longer close or cut their hours for the winter in recent years, although the pandemic has had some similar effects.

Another thing–you don’t hear people standing around discussing firewood at the post office the way you used to. Maybe more modern heating methods have taken hold in the North Country. Then again, maybe I’m not hearing those conversations anymore because only two people are allowed in at the same time. Wearing masks that cover their mouths and noses, mind you. Once again, this is due to the pandemic.

It is also difficult to learn the town news, both fact and fiction, now that the bars are closed because of COVID.

And no Bulky Days this year! Bulky Days is a special time usually designated by the town board each spring and fall to allow local residents to dump unwanted belongings at the Keene Transfer Station at no charge. Everyone loves Bulky Days; it is practically a town holiday. Have I mentioned that the Keene Transfer Station and Norton Cemetery are the loveliest pieces of property in town? The transfer station is known as the world’s most scenic dump. Yet, because of COVID, 2020 will go down in history as the year without Bulky Days.

I still haven’t finished planting my tulip and daffodil bulbs. Luckily, though, today is unseasonably warm and sunny for November, so I’ll get them into the ground. By spring I will have forgotten where I planted them, and I’ll be surprised and delighted when they come up. Remind me to put up a deer fence.

I have noticed that Northerners in general tend to take a grim view of life, assuming that there is a punitive aspect to even the simplest pleasures. Back before COVID, when people used to stand around and engage in conversation at the PO, the remark “Nice day!” would invariably be met with the rejoinder “We’ll pay for it later!”

We are still stuck in the Year of the Rat for several months before the Ox appears on the scene Feb. 12, 2021.

The rat is full grown now, a skittish, tricky, sleek, scampering, scuttling fellow with a long, gray tail. You’ll only see him out of the corner of your eye.

The ox, on the other hand, is hard working, honest and reliable. Here’s an ox joke for the kids: He is out standing in his field! And it’s true. Nothing very mysterious or here-today-gone-tomorrow about the ox. There he is, right where he said he’d be. Not exciting, but maybe what we’re ready for.

Until then, try to enjoy what’s left of the Year of the Rat.

You’ll pay for it later.


(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the Lake Placid News for more than 20 years.)