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Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Farm

In Champlain Valley, Memoir, What's the story? on May 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm
Rock Harbor Rhubarb

Rock Harbor Rhubarb

We walked down the road from the tennis court and stopped off at my parents’ house, still closed up for the winter. It would be several weeks before my parents arrived in Rock Harbor for the summer, and by then the asparagus would have gone to seed, so we picked enough for dinner and enough extra to bring back to the city for another meal.

I also picked a fistful of rhubarb to sauté with maple syrup for dessert. Susan disliked rhubarb, but I loved the lip puckering tartness. The taste transports me instantly to The Farm.

My parents, living and working in New York City, had purchased an 1840s farmhouse on 85 acres in Greenwich, New York five months after getting married. I was born less than two years later.

Although The Farm served primarily as a weekend getaway for the next five years, it dominates the geography of my earliest childhood. A stream of nostalgia gilded memories flow from this pastoral source: exploring the time-worn barns, absent livestock except for those conjured up by my energetic imagination and the swallows which darted in and out, building nests in the rafters, gliding like darts through dusty sunbeams; vegetable gardening with my mother; tending apple, pear and quince trees with my father; eating fresh rhubarb, strawberries and blackberries; discovering deer and raccoons and snakes and even a snapping turtle.

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Vintage Adirondack

In Adirondacks, Daily Munge, History & Heritage, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 24, 2011 at 11:11 am

My bride and I credit the Adirondack lifestyle for luring us away from Manhattan in 2006 to become North Country full-timers. But what exactly is the Adirondack lifestyle?

Actually it’s not so easily defined, perhaps because there are so many different perspectives on what makes living (or even vacationing) in the Adirondacks desirable. High Peaks, Great Camps, cozy little lodges, Champlain Valley, agriculture, hunting, fly fishing, ice fishing, back country adventures, extreme sports, and the list goes on. Although a portrait of our Adirondack experience will evolve out of these blog posts, I won’t attempt to define the Adirondack lifestyle. Though often attempted, any single face of of the Adirondacks is an abstraction. The real Adirondack experience is vast, rich and dynamic. It is precisely this richness and diversity which appeals to us. It is precisely this evolving character which inspires us to get involved with the people and organizations that have welcomed us.

Griffin by Lake Champlain

Image by virtualDavis via Flickr

The video above, the first in a series of three, is called Land of My Dreams and it was apparently created by Joseph J. Harley in the late 1940’s. It captures a nostalgic (if extremely dated) caricature of Adirondack rustic “camp” lifestyle during the mid 1900s.

The story takes place on Bluff Island in the Adirondacks, Saranac Lake, New York. My great grandparents had a house that Joe built himself from scratch. The DEC took the house down after a law was made that people could only camp on certified islands in the lake. Joseph J. Harley was an amateur film maker who made many other movies and won awards for them. (YouTube.com)

Douglas Yu (@tourpro) over at Adirondack Base Camp put me onto this quirky vintage short, but he wasn’t able to share much more about the film or Harley.

I couldn’t find much information about the filmographer, but at one point he was President of the American Cinema League.

Many of the artifacts that I’ve collected since purchasing Rosslyn fall into this hazy no-man’s land of vintage collectibles (postcards, magazine advertisements, newspaper articles, brochures, videos, etc.) It’s challenging or impossible to determine the background for many of the artifacts, and they occasionally include dated or peculiar elements such as the “black face” character in the the second video. And yet, taken together they provide a context for the quirky tale I have to tell. I’ve decided that this blog is the perfect way to preserve and share these artifacts, characters and stories which don’t find their way into my Rosslyn Redux memoir or the Redacting Rosslyn monologues.

By collecting these artifacts into a “digital museum” I hope to showcase some of the esoteric ingredients of the Adirondack lifestyle which seduced us, aggravates us, intrigues us, perplexes us and inspires us in this new chapter of our lives.

Tasha, Tennis and Wildlife

In Memoir, What's the story? on May 20, 2011 at 9:00 am
Tasha Testing the Territory

Tasha Testing the Territory

Tucked into a meadow surrounded by forest, the tennis court was starting to show a quarter century of soggy springs and icy winters. The net drooped, but we decided not to tighten it and risk breaking the rotten netting. Besides the droop better accommodated our rusty tennis skills.

The twelve foot tall fence around the court sagged along the north side. A tree that had fallen across it a few years before had been removed, but the stretched steel mesh retained the memory. Several young maple trees grew along the crumbling margin of the court and protruded inside the fence. Towering maples, oaks and white pines surrounded the court on three sides, lush with new foliage that whispered in the wind. Birds and squirrels chattered in the canopy. Ants paraded across the court’s puckering green surface, and a pair of small butterflies danced in a rising and falling gyre. Tasha sniffed around the perimeter of the court, her obligatory inspection as head ball girl for our sylvan Roland Garros.

We started to volley back and forth, balls collecting quickly on both sides of the net. It felt great to be hitting a tennis ball again, and – like every spring – I vowed to spend more time on the court, perennially optimistic that a solid tennis game was within my reach.

The sound of our rackets making solid contact with the fresh balls encouraged us and prompted Tasha to abandon the grasshopper she had been badgering. She headed out onto Susan’s side of the court and started to lunge at balls, attempting to catch them in her mouth. We tried to be more creative in our placement, trying simultaneously to avoid hitting her and to protect the nice new balls from her slobbery maw.

Soon enough she discovered that she could simply take her pick from the balls that were collecting beside the net, and she plunked down in the middle of the court to enjoy a new chew toy.

“Maybe we should have brought the hopper of old balls, so it wouldn’t matter if she chewed them…”

“Home run!” Susan cheered, sending a ball soaring over the fence into the woods. Excited, Tasha got up and padded over to the fence where she stood, looking for the ball in the woods.

Soon, enough balls had vanished over the fence that we headed out to see how many we could recover.

“Hey, come check out this snake!” I called out to Susan after startling a small garter snake in the tall grass near the woods.

“Tasha, come! Grab her. Don’t let her get close to it!” Susan’s words came like machine gun fire as she sprinted toward me. “It might be poisonous!”

“It’s just a garter snake,” I said. “Tasha’s fine.”

“Are you sure it’s not a rattlesnake? Where is it?” she asked, next to us now, grabbing Tasha by the collar and pulling her backward, away from the grass where the snake had already vanished.

“It’s gone.”

“Gone? Where? Why didn’t you keep your eye on it?” Susan hustled Tasha back toward the tennis court.

“Relax. It was a garter snake, Susan. It’s harmless. Nothing to worry about.”

“How do you know? What if you’re wrong?”

Tasha shags a tennis ball

Tasha shags a tennis ball

When I returned from the woods with most of the balls, Susan had our tennis rackets tucked under her arm. Tasha was leashed.

“I’m ready to go,” Susan said.

“Because of the snake?”

“No. I’m just ready. I’ve played enough tennis.”

“Okay.”

Susan asked me to walk ahead, checking for snakes. I laughed, then obliged, walking a few paces with exaggerated caution.

“Stop!” I bellowed, freezing and pointing into the grass ahead. “I think I see one…”

“That’s not funny,” said, repressing a smile.

“Wait, do you hear that rattling noise?”

Susan laughed. Tasha pulled at her leash, excited, ready to help me search for snakes.

“Well, you never know,” Susan said. “Tasha’s a city dog. She might try to attack a rattlesnake.”

“Because that’s what city dogs do?” I laughed.

Tasha, our twelve year old Labrador Retriever, enjoyed bark at wildlife, maybe even an abbreviated mock charge in the case of deer, but she had little interest in tangling with animals, birds or snakes. Frogs intrigued her more, briefly, until she realized they were not toys. A sleepy cluster fly could entertain her for five or ten minutes. But Tasha would leave rattlesnake attacking to younger, more aggressive beasts.

Hickory Hill and Rosslyn

In Artifacts, Daily Munge, Historic Essex, History & Heritage, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 19, 2011 at 7:00 am
The Ross Mansion, Essex, NY

The Ross Mansion, Essex, NY

I recently happened on this antique postcard of the Ross Mansion (aka Hickory Hill) which was built by the parents of W.D. Ross, the original owner of Rosslyn in the early 1820s. It still presides handsomely at the intersection of Elm Street and Church Street. I’m still sorting out the Ross family tree, intricately woven into the history of Essex, New York, and I’ll do my best to paint a clear picture as it emerges. For now, a couple of interesting references include:

History of the Town of Essex

Henry H. Ross (Wikipedia)

Honorable Henry H. Ross (Lancet Portrait Gallery)

Ross, Henry Howard (Biographical Directory of the Unites States Congress)

The interesting connection between Rosslyn and Hickory Hill is illuminated in Living Places: Essex Village Historic District.

“Hickory Hill” on Elm Street, and “Rosslyn” on the Lake Shore Road represent the residences of the wealthy merchants and lawyers who dominated Essex in the early days of its prosperity. Two-and-a-half-story brick structures whose design combines Georgian and Federal elements, both “Hickory Hill” and “Rosslyn” were built before 1830. The building of “Hickory Hill” (1822) built by Henry Harmon Ross for his bride, was taken from a five-bay design in Salem, New York. It displays great grace and lightness in its Palladian window, Neo-classic portico, and elegant cornices. Its setting in its own spacious grounds on the ridge which overlooks the village and the lake adds much to its beauty. “Rosslyn”, the William D. Ross house, originally constructed as a three-bay side hall dwelling, was expanded (1835-40) into five bays. Presently restored to its appearance in 1840, it commands a superb view of the lake and the Green Mountains in Vermont.

Another genealogical reference appears in Ancestry.com:

DANIEL ROSS: born February 23, 1764, Duchess County, NY; son of Daniel Ross (c 1740- c July 22, 1795) and Jerusa Howard; married Elizabeth Gilliland June 1784; one of the original settlers of Essex, NY on lands given to his wife by her father William Gilliland; had five children- Elizabeth, William Daniel, Henry Howard, Edward D., and Sara Jane; divorced Elizabeth c July 1815; Captain of Militia, Justice of the Peace, merchant, first Essex County Judge, and most prominent citizen; died at the home of his son Henry, Hickory Hill, Essex, NY March 10, 1831 at 67.

ELIZABETH GILLILAND ROSS EVERTSON: born 1764 in New York City; first child of William Gilliland (c1734-1796) and Elizabeth Phagan (c1740-1772); married Daniel Ross June 1785; had five children noted above; divorced c July 1815; married John J. Evertson by April 1, 1823; Evertson died by 1829; after Daniel’s death in 1831, she returned to her son Henry’s home, Hickory Hill, Essex, NY and died there August 3, 1847 at 83.

I will be adding Ross family references that I only have in print over the coming months. For now, here is an interesting if somewhat garbled snapshot of William Daniel Ross from Caroline Halstead Barton Royce as recorded in Bessboro: a history of Westport, Essex Co., N.Y. (Note: corrections are mine and possibly erroneous.)

William Daniel Ross dealt in lumber, iron and ship-building in Essex ; his wife was a sister of John Gould, Aid on Gen. Wright’s stafi; and his brother, Henry H. Boss, (afterward Gen. Ross,) was adjutant of the 87th at the battle of Plattsburgh.

If you can point me toward accurate history, genealogy, etc. for the Ross family of Essex, New York, please contact me. I would be much indebted to you. Thank you in advance.

Lingering Longer at Rock Harbor

In Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain, Memoir, What's the story? on May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm
Rock Harbor view of Lake Champlain and Vermont shoreline

Rock Harbor view of Lake Champlain and Vermont shoreline

Back at Rock Harbor I packed the car while Susan prepared tuna melts. The temperature had warmed to the mid seventies, and a light breeze was blowing off the lake. We ate lunch on the deck, one last indulgence before locking up and heading back to Manhattan.

Perched a hundred feet above the lake, the deck offered a stunning panorama of Lake Champlain’s mid-section, known as the narrows. At just over a mile across, the narrows are the wasp’s waist of the 125 mile long lake that at its broadest spans 14 miles across. Across the field of sparkling topaz Vermont farmland extended to the Green Mountains. The Basin Harbor Club’s whitewashed cottages winked through heavy foliage along the shoreline. Several sailboats glided north. A motorboat buzzed lazily, weaving in and out of the coves along the New York shoreline.

I remembered the summer five years ago when Susan and I first explored these same coves together – waterskiing, drifting, skinny dipping – enjoying a whimsical summer fling before heading back to separate lives and responsibilities on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

“I was thinking,” Susan interrupted my reverie. “I don’t really have to be back in the city until noon tomorrow…”

I smiled. We both knew that she really meant, Do you want to stay another night and drive home tomorrow? Though not habitually subtle, Susan had a tendency to suggest rather than request. So, an offhand, “It’s getting late, we really should feed Tasha,” actually translated into, Can you please feed Tasha dinner? Or, “It would be nice to have a fire in the fireplace,” meant, Would you build a fire?

“Great! Let’s stay.”

“Really?” Susan sounded surprised.

“Sure, it’s a perfect day for tennis.”

My work was portable, so Monday mornings rolled out more or less the same whether we were upstate or downstate. Up early, take Tasha out, feed Tasha, feed myself, fire up my laptop and get to work. In Rock Harbor I could let Tasha out the front door in my bathrobe and then let her back in five or ten minutes later when she barked at the door. In Manhattan, I got dressed, chatted with the doormen, walked Tasha around the block on a leash, chatted with the doormen again and then scarfed down a banana or some cereal at my desk in front of my computer. Breakfast at 430 East 57th Street and Camp Wabetsu might have tasted the same, but the view from the kitchen window in Rock Harbor – this same IMAX movie we were experiencing right now – tipped the scale. Often Tasha and I were accompanied by a bald eagle sitting in the dead pine tree 25 feet away, waiting to plunge down and grab his own breakfast. Or a fox patrolling for mice. Or a herd of white tail deer browsing saplings and tender spring shoots.

“You won’t be anxious if you can’t work tomorrow morning?”

Translation: You won’t be annoyed if I sleep in and we get a late start? Now we were getting to the crux of it.

“No problem. I’m okay with missing a morning’s work while we drive down in exchange for some tennis this afternoon and another relaxing night here. But let’s make sure we get up early and leave on time, okay? I don’t want to miss a whole day’s work because we got a late start.”

This was a familiar conversation. We always craved more time at Rock Harbor and always found it hard to leave. The Champlain Valley effect. It kicked in each time we drove up, right after passing the last Lake George exit on Route 87. It felt like the first few deep breaths after a good visit to the chiropractor. Maybe it was the clean air or the spectacular views. Or the absence of traffic. Or the anticipation of a slower rhythm.

We agreed to postpone our departure, and I unpacked the car while Susan cleaned up from lunch. A couple of phone calls and a change of clothes later we headed up to the tennis court to burn off the tuna melts and Doritos.

Meadowmount and Rosslyn

In Adirondacks, Boathouse, Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 17, 2011 at 8:44 am
Rosslyn Boathouse, by Steven Rochen

Rosslyn boathouse photographed from Essex ferry dock (photo credit Steven Rochen)

What a pleasure to discover on Monday morning that the newest friend of the Rosslyn Redux Facebook page was Steven Rochen. Who you might ask? (Though, if you’re a Meadowmount School of Music alum, you probably already know!) Mr. Rochen first crossed my radar back in February of this year when I happened upon an interesting photograph of Rosslyn’s boathouse. The following was originally posted in “Rosslyn Boathouse in August 2005“:

Another Rosslyn boathouse sighting, this time discovered via Google Earth. The photo was taken by czechsteve on Panoramio.com on 2005/08/12 which is approximately one year before my wife and I purchased Rosslyn. The wooden Chris Craft on a mooring between our boathouse and the Essex ferry dock belonged to our neighbor, but he has since replaced it with a sailboat which is visible in more recent photographs.

If you go click through to the original photo and enlarge it, you can see the degree of disrepair that we inherited when we took ownership and began restoring this stately old maritime structure.

I have contacted the photographer to suggest a title because the image is currently untitled.

Update: Today is Wednesday, February 2, 2011 and I’ve just heard from the photographer:

I have added a title to your boathouse picture. Thanks for your input – I have seen that boathouse for many years (I’ve been coming for summers in the Adirondacks since I was a teenage student at the Meadowmount School of Music coming from Texas to study violin.)

Was the boathouse there in 1980? I don’t remember when I first saw it from the ferry crossing but I have always enjoyed seeing it – that is why I took the photo years ago…I can’t wait to see what you have done…

All best wishes! Steven Rochen – a.k.a. czechsteve!

Wonderful response. I’m excited to have made the connection, and I’m hoping that I may one day have the chance to meet Steven Rochen and give him a tour of the boathouse which has intrigued him for decades.

Rosslyn for Sale

In Adirondacks, Boathouse, Historic Essex, House, Lake Champlain, Memoir, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 16, 2011 at 11:16 am
Rosslyn for sale, November 2004

Rosslyn for sale (photo credit Jason McNulty)

Susan and I were driving back to Rock Harbor after visiting Rosslyn, an early 19th century home in Essex, New York, which our realtor had just shown us for the second time in several months.

It was spring. At least a dozen sailboats speckled Whallons Bay as we wound south along the edge of Lake Champlain. Small white caps, light wind, bluebird skies above. Two fishing boats trawled between the beach and Split Rock where a glimpse of Vermont was visible within the cleft.

We veered away from the lake and up Couchey Hill toward one of the most picturesque views of in the Champlain Valley. Hurricane, Giant, Dix and the Jay Range were silhouetted against cloud specked blue skies to the east. An undulating patchwork quilt of hayfields and tree lines stretched to blue green foothills clumped against the Adirondack Mountains.

Half an hour can vanish in a single breath while watching a sunny day expire here. Even at midday the view is an open-ended invitation to linger.

But with minds and mouths racing, we did not even slow down on our way back to Rock Harbor. We were sorting engagements, worrying over deadlines and synchronizing schedules for the week ahead. After a quick lunch, we would drive back to Manhattan. Although the trip could be as quick as five hours, Sunday afternoons were typically slower with increased traffic around Albany and returning weekenders adding to the congestion.

Re-roofing and Flood Proofing

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain, Renovation & Rehabilitation, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Rosslyn boathouse when re-roofing was 50% complete in the summer of 2010

Rosslyn boathouse when re-roofing was 50% complete in the summer of 2010

Last summer (June-July 2010) our biggest concern with Rosslyn’s boathouse was restoring the roof. It’s hard to imagine that a year later our biggest concern is saving the building, pier and waterfront from finally-receding-but-increasingly-rough Lake Champlain flood waters! What better way to distract our anxieties than to look back on drier times?

The cedar shingle was suffering from many years of neglect. Covered with moss and rotted completely through in many areas, it was possible to watch clouds passing overhead (and fireworks) by standing in the second story and looking through the rot spots in the roof! Friend and former neighbor Michael Leslie headed up the project of stripping the expired shingles, rebuilding the rotted beams, sub-roof and related trim including the window overlooking the lake. The following comes from a blog post last July as we rounded the halfway mark.

The hardest part of re-shingling Rosslyn dock house is now behind us. Special thanks to Michael Leslie, Jerry Spooner and Jim Spooner for their progress so far.

In a bizarre twist, David Hislop asked me yesterday, “What’s the story with the dock house?” Hmmm… The story? Well, that’s what I’m writing: Rosslyn Redux. Coming soon to a digital download near you. 😉 Turns out he was referring to the roof. “People are asking why you’re re-roofing it AGAIN.” Again? Apparently a half dozen people have asked him this question. Easy answer. We’re not. It hasn’t been re-shingled since the early/mid 1980’s, but after a quarter century of rain, snow, ice, sun and wind, many of the shingles have rotted through and the roof is leaking, especially the southern exposure. We’d known that we would eventually have to strip the old shingles, but we had delayed as long as practical. Let’s hope the new roof lasts as long as the old one!

Although the re-roofing project took considerably longer than anticipated (this formula has become the rule rather than the exception during the process of renovating Rosslyn), it was worth every second when the beautiful work was complete. And doubly so last winter when snowstorms battered the little structure and again this spring when rain lashed at the roof. For the first time since buying this property in the summer of 2006 my bride and I could stop worrying about the boathouse that seduced us half a decade ago! The foundation had been restored. The structure had been restored. And now the roof had been restored. Life was good…

Perhaps we were too pleased? Perhaps hubris slipped into our homeowner psyche’s? Perhaps. Or perhaps nature’s far more powerful and far more fickle and unpredictable than we can possibly imagine. I’ve commented elsewhere that nature is a formidable foe and a loyal friend. I genuinely believe this, and yet this spring has reminded me that a boathouse built on a pier in the waters of a lake is not natural. It is a valuable architectural artifact. It is an indulgence. But it is not natural. And despite my resolve to balance my lifestyle with healthy stewardship of the natural environment, I never before stopped to contemplate how unnatural this structure really is. Although I’d likely discourage construction of a new albeit similar structure in fragile habitat like Lake Champlain, I never once stopped to consider Rosslyn’s beautiful boathouse a violation of nature because it already existed. It’s part of the architectural heritage of Essex, NY. In fact, we felt a responsibility to restore the boathouse. Indeed I still do, despite my newfound recognition that it contradicts my conventional bias.

Life is complex, and contradictions are everywhere. I don’t pretend to know all the right answers, nor even very many of them. But I’m beginning to suspect that the silver lining of Lake Champlain’s destructive flooding this spring is that I’ve been forced me to recognize and grapple with the contradiction in preserving Rosslyn’s boathouse despite the potentially adverse environmental impact. It has reminded me that conviction is handy but not infallible, that conviction must be balanced with questioning and humility.

So, I’m finally flood proofing my optimism! I’m still soggy and still anxious about the waves rolling through the interior of the boathouse and crashing against the rapidly eroding bank supporting Route 22, but I’m beginning to see that the glass is half full after all. And Lake Champlain? It’s still overfull!

Imagining Rosslyn Boathouse, Spring 2006

In Boathouse, House, Lake Champlain, Memoir, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 12, 2011 at 10:44 am
Rosslyn Boathouse at Sunrise

Rosslyn Boathouse at Sunrise

“Coffee? You don’t even drink coffee,” Susan said.

“I know. I know it doesn’t make any sense. But I’m walking through Rosslyn early in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee…”

I hadn’t drunk coffee since college, and I’d obviously never wandered around Rosslyn at the crack of dawn either. But I kept having this vision.

“It’s just barely sunrise. You’re still sleeping. I’m up, drifting from room-to-room, slowly, haltingly, studying the way the sunlight illuminates each room. And those green walls in the parlor? They vibrate in the morning light, like new maple leaves in the springtime.”

I described the shaft of sunlight stretching across the workshop floor. I described the calm, the quiet except for an occasional creaky floorboard. I described Tasha, our Labrador Retriever, padding along with me, anxious for breakfast.

“Tasha sighs and lies down each time I stop. And I stop a lot… to watch the morning unfolding, to watch the sunlight shimmering on the rippled lake, to watch the boathouse clapboards glowing yellow orange for a few minutes as the sun rises above the Green Mountains.”

“I was imagining the boathouse too,” Susan said. “Not like today, but like it was ours, like we lived at Rosslyn. I was thinking, the boathouse’s just begging for a hammock. Don’t you think? A big, two-person hammock in the open-air part, under the roof. Can you imagine lying in a hammock in the evening, listening to the waves?” Susan paused, lost in the idea. “And think of the dinner parties,” she continued. “A table set for four. White linens and candles and sheer curtains billowing in the breeze…”

Boathouse in Early 1990s

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm
Rosslyn Boathouse, by Bill Amadon

Rosslyn Boathouse, by Bill Amadon

I’ve just concluded a Champlain Area Trails (CATS) board meeting on a high note. Or, to be more precise, a fellow board member finished the meeting on a high note by handing me this handsome painting of our boathouse during drier times.

Bill Amadon, master gardener, trail builder and painter, has created several other romantic images that adorn Rosslyn’s walls, but the timing for this image couldn’t have better. After a difficult week of record-breaking Lake Champlain water levels flooding Rosslyn’s boathouse, Amadon’s painting reminds us of the structures past and future. Soggy today, this weather-worn icon will endure long into the future.

Today I noticed Amadon photographing the flooded boathouse before our meeting. I wonder if he’ll memorialize the flood with another beautiful painting. And if so, hopefully we’ll be able to look back on the history making floods of 2011 with nostalgia. But for now, we’re still struggling to get through the high water risks. This morning my bride and Doug Decker, the carpenter-turned-jack-of-all-trades-handyman who caretakes Rosslyn removed about 2,000 pounds of waterlogged driftwood, tree trunks and miscellaneous debris floating from our waterfront.

As we pack our bags for four days in the Utah desert, our feelings have been mixed. On the one hand, we welcome the escape from rain and flooding. On the other, we depart with heavy hearts, anxious with the knowledge that we won’t be here to intervene if the wind picks up and the waves begin to batter the submerged boathouse and shoreline. A 40-50 food tree with a trunk almost 18″ thick lurks just south of the boathouse, too heavy and too entangled in shoreline brush to be removed. Heavy winds out of the south could dislodge the tree and heave it repeatedly against the boathouse. The damage would be grave. Or a heavy wind out of the east could further erode the banks that are already badly undermined and failing. Large trees are at risk of collapsing into the lake, and the pavement of Route 22 which runs above the bank is already cracking as the lakeside begins to collapse.

These are the worries. These are the anxieties. And yet we are leaving. Our trip had been scheduled long before the floods, and we’re unable to change or cancel them. And so we throw ourselves upon the mercy of nature and our friends to preserve our property. Doug will spend the days until we return on Monday evening working upstairs in the boathouse, finishing trim woodwork and oiling the fir beadboard. He’ll be able to keep a close watch on the wind and waves and debris. If circumstances threaten, he will attempt to remedy the problem by redirecting or removing logs. Or by resecuring materials that are loosened by the waves. If conditions worsen further, several friends have offered to come and help out. In short, our friends and neighbors are lending a hand. So we can depart tomorrow morning confident that those who care about us, those who care about the boathouse and property will intervene if needed.

Amadon’s painting provided just the confidence boost I needed to board the plane, a memory rekindled for what the boathouse looked like in the past and what it will hopefully look like again this summer. Thanks to all who’ve helped us through this experience!

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