the River, the town, the people
the lake, the village, the people
the stream, the hamlet, the people
Holly Aubert came to the town to work in the paper mill.
These are false starts, rhythms picked up from a new environment in relocation of mind, word, breath. These impressions, all description and history, have been outweighed by the present incessant rain. The interminable nights recalled the West Indies, specifically Dominica, dubbed the Nature Isle for its wild tropical beauty. Dominica held the balance with its sun-drenched days punctuated by showers moving through the isle, ensuring rainbows. It's rainbow time somewhere in Dominica.
I have heard of one rainbow here in upper New York state. It appeared briefly, weeks ago. But this is secondhand information. The showers they predicted are pellets, really small bullets pounding the land and swelling the waters without respite. Crazy weather, weather we've never seen so bad for years, weather without mercy for the dollars sunseeking tourists might bring into the village set up for them.
Lake George Village is a hybrid of Coney Island tacky and Key West shuffle. Taffy and tee shirt shops are tucked into the rows of restaurant pubs enticing the parade of walkers promenading Canada Street. The sparse sunny days bring throngs from urban scenes for the scenery and "the beach", a spit of dirt fronting one shore and a stretch of sand on another. Bikinis and kids embellish the view, but it's no Cape Cod dune or Caribbean sunset.
None of this was here forty years ago-the village was just that, easier to imagine Natty Bumpo paddling the lake toward one of the hundred isles upstream. The foghorn sound of the Minnie-Ha-Ha's steam whistle recalls that era as it travels the saturated air for miles, echoing the lonely streets.
There are a few people aboard: the attached-at-hip couple seamlessly wedded to their vaca-vision; the photographer out to capture weather in his professional bid; the kid of the concession lady risking capture over the cost of daycare. Tomorrow the bipolar scribbler with his pocket of index cards will take their place; he rides every Wednesday, his clerical holiday, along with the handful of campers who, fueled by strong coffee and wet tent, brave whatever weather for the covered decks.
I am not one of them. I am in my cabin northeast of the street rucus, within a walk of the lake shore. I came on this northway to meet writers at the college conferences, retreats, and cultural climaxes of a verdant upstate summer. I wanted to hand out my business card, be inspired. I've been obsessed with writers since an early age when my mother, a diva failed by musicians and a valium habit, decided I was a genius. There was no school for that then, so she signed me up for piano lessons with M. Michel. M. Michel played the glorious European organ in the magnificent North end cathedral built by franco quarters and dollars. He was blind in one eye, a victim of Holocaust madness, and he would gaze mystically into the distance and stroke the keys, producing marvelous music after each weekly lesson. Maman wanted me to compete in her stead with the memory of Miss Jay. Miss Jay and Lorette had gone to parochial school together. It was there that they learned, respectively, voice and piano. Miss Jay had gone on to study in Paris and to sing light opera; Lorette had gone on to marriage to a hard-working franco-american around whom she built a life. Her Debussy and Chopin sheet music lingered on the piano until M. Michel left. I would run through the obligatory scales, she would accompany me, and then play for hours. I loved the Malaguena-it framed her longing for who she was meant to be. Lorette was always happy when I memorized a poem in my schoolbooks. I liked the gypsy caravan the best-it was wild and free, two things I determined I would be.
The rainy summer has so far ensured that I would remain free of the writing world's infrastructure, isolate and wild in the woods.....and writing. It wasn't always that way.