Our post office has won recognition for being an accident-free site. The plastic banner, which has hung in the front window between streamers of holiday tinsel, is beginning to react to the sun and roll up. I joked, but meant it, when I said to Ray, the postmaster, that they should begin to sell coffee in addition to very safe postage.
It is quiet in Sagg. January should be quiet like this. It’s only over the past few years that we’ve failed to let our air go dormant in winter. Due to demand for housing, the brittle sky stayed noisy, more, even, than the usual din of summer or spring.
Very familiar and equally endless was the thwack, thwack, thwack of the nail gun as it stung its nails into green, dry wood. So, too, was the hum of the accompanying instrument, the air compressor recharging. From somewhere else, the pinging-thud of a well going in. On Daniels the back-up alarm of a bulldozer. And on Highland Terrace the baritone whine of a router. Whatever the sound, and from wherever it arose, it carried.
I do not know why sound travels so well in Sagg. At night, it has always been a game to whistle or shout and then listen to the series of echoes fading out, as if sent down a canyon.
Now there is a reversion and the calm, while familiar and even favored, is not altogether calming. Dawn, dusk, and all day on certain stormy days, present an audio caricature of rural life, little but roosters crowing and shotguns blasting.
Then, through the snowstorm, comes the artificial call of men begging geese. The difference is so obvious to my ears—the man barks into his reeded instrument. He hollers, it nearly squeals. He is straining to be heard for as far as possible. His sound is too loud, too sharp, too agitated and yet I watch, mystified, as small flocks are diverted toward the shaky call. Then I wait for the welcome they receive.
I do not know if the number of hunting blinds being maintained on Sagg Pond correlate to the number of carcasses washed up along the beach; more than ever in both cases. This suits the seagulls just fine. Little dogs visiting from Manhattan, terriers who are trusted to romp in the off-season, think the feathery spoils are delightful as well.
The New Year started on a sad footing. No sooner had sleep been rubbed from the eyes that word began to spread—from the Candy Kitchen out into the community—that Christian Wolffer had died. This was a fact that did not easily take hold. No matter how many times one heard it, one was inclined to keep checking, waiting for the certainty with which the story was initially told to be denied.