It’s the end of July. The sky should be bright blue and the sun shining through the haze formed by rising heat. Yet, clouds swish across the sky pushed by the blowing wind. The tops of surrounding skyscrapers are barely visible through the grayness that shrouds the city. Down below, the streets bustle with the comings and goings of gawking tourists. I wonder if the overwhelming pedestrian and vehicular traffic makes them uneasy. When I travel, I want to spread my arms wide. I want my toes free of pulleys and wheelies that constantly trip passersby in this congested realm.
Birds fly high, crickets chirr, and squirrels continue storing their winter supplies. My naked toes greet the light of day. It matters little that the autumn sun sets earlier for a true Indian summer has enveloped the northeast. Brisk winds greeted October early in the month and frost covered our grounds. But now, the air lacks the chill that cut through thin jackets—holdouts for hardy souls who refused to acknowledge the calendar. I embrace this glorious reprieve, a miracle bestowed on our land. Wiggle toes, wiggle joyously before the ground gets too cold and traps our skin beneath layers.
When days grow longer, so long that the sun barely sets and water flows again, circulatory systems pump anew and all that was hidden surfaces. Pete emerges from his home and assesses winter’s damage. The roof needs repairs, a window or two need replacing, the truck needs new brakes. He schedules part-time jobs—waiting tables, guiding tours, pumping gas. Enough, just enough to make his own repairs, stock up for the long winter, and save the prudent 20 percent. When the days get shorter and tourists leave, he breathes again, at peace that he earned his place in this world.
On my first, and perhaps only, visit to Cold Spring, I searched for a little something commemorating the disappointing day trip up the Hudson. The leaves had not turned and antique shops resembled secondhand flea markets. I stumbled upon a quaint shop devoid of customers. A bell tinkled when I opened its door. The scent of leather greeted me as well as rows of colorful leather goods. I tried on a pair of gloves. Buttery leather embraced my fingers and I knew I had found my souvenir. They remain unworn, for like the foliage had stalled, so has the cold weather.