My sister was at the inauguration. At the very last minute the pieces fell together rather than apart. One of her friends from down South, an unlikely organizer for our president, had been given tickets to some venue and yet, no one to go with. Robin found a hotel room just outside the capital. That is the second miracle. (And here’s to many more.)
Last week was an interesting time to be a Canada goose. They got sudden notoriety when people realized they are in the air all the time and as happens when animals touch the verge of human realm, sometimes get in the way of traffic, in this instance a jet that afterward safely landed on the water.
Just one day before the airliner went down, a friend tried furiously to “save” a goose that had become frozen in a pond which will remain nameless. This doesn’t usually happen to geese. Most likely this one was injured to start with and doomed.
No one knew exactly how thick the ice was, so my friend was wary of walking out. The hesitation resulted in the arrival of a police officer and a fire chief and a great amount of precautions that took the whole day to execute and ended with my friend in a wet suit, in a boat, pushing herself across the ice with an oar toward the goose.
The goose, upon seeing this approaching vessel, panicked so thoroughly that he ripped himself out of the ice and flew to the far side of the pond. At this point everybody went home, happy to let nature take her course.
Other than that, what stood out was the cold. We had a wonderful blast of winter last week, with both cold temperatures and snow. I had hoped to join my husband at his family’s home in Aquebogue one night, but chickened out. I made it as far as King Kullen and then had to turn back. It was not because of the roads—I could have made the trip at 20 mph—but everyone else wanted to go 45.
On my way back home, as I rounded the bend at Dunham’s Corner going about 7.5 mph, I saw what I first mistook to be very light snow. I slowed even further. It did not fall as snow normally does. It did not float as if on a breeze. The snow hung in the air, just a handful of crystals, tiny, prismatic squares suspended. And only very slowly, spiraling, glinting, falling.
By the time I pulled over, the phenomena was over. The sky was clear, and not a suspect cloud, not even a wisp, could be found against the icy, increasingly black and starry night.
The cold came on so suddenly that much of the north end of Sagg Pond was still open water. As a result, it was creating its own small storm steaming into the air, just as I’ve seen it do in April or June, building a linear, low cloud system along the pond’s dribbling corridor.
Having seen the highways that night, I was curious to see the striking difference. The field behind my house was transformed by the snow, a solid white blanket dimly lit by its own radiance. I headed toward the pond. Halfway there, I met the fog. It was sooty grey and opaque but no more than three feet high and in a band just moments wide.
Along the pond, everything was coated. The phragmite could have been dipped in glass, as a thin, transparent sheet of ice wrapped each slender stem. I stayed there for a few minutes, inspecting the goldenrod and other weeds, their skeletons so lavishly encrusted. When I went back up the grass strip toward home, the fog bank had vanished. And there again, were the little squares of hanging snow.
In the morning, the thermometer read negative two. Everyone had slightly different readings. From negative 13 in Westhampton all the way to 6 above. The wind wasn’t blowing and that made all the difference. Some started tinkering with their iceboats. Others headed for the sledding hills where the course got faster by the hour and by the day. “Real winter” is what people like to call it.