Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Caspian Cottage


There is no TV, no restaurants, no bars (gasp!) and not even a radio in this little "Writers Retreat" where I decided to spend a little time up the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. This was the view from my porch for 24 hours.

     Two years ago, this place was closed. Such a shame, but this time around, though still up for sale, the lodge and it's separate cottages are open for the Summer and part of the Fall. The significance of Caspian Lake is that it was the Summer Home of Wallace Stegner, and two of his Fiction Novels were written at his own "Writers Retreat" overlooking the placid waters. I think if he were alive today (he would be 102) he would probably be satisfied with the lack of development that has taken place.

      I Left around 9AM: With the car packed with two guitars and a laptop. Summer temperatures in Northern New England can fluctuate. Today it went from the lows 70s in the morning in Northampton, to 56F in Hardwick at Noon. My arrival in Greensboro greeted me.

Glad I brought a sweatshirt.

      But just as soon as the weather looked as bad as it could get... the sun came out at the same time I found the beach. I grabbed one of the lodges complimentary canoes, flicked a few snails off of it... shoved into the pristine waters, and paddled onto Caspian Lake. While it is not a large body of water, and there are plenty of houses dotting the shore, it was a quiet Sunday afternoon in mid August, and only a handful of kayak boaters were out enjoying themselves on the water. I enjoyed the peace and quiet, and with the sun sparkling off of the water, I started to paddle the canoe toward the center of the lake, and see some of the mountains in the distance. The Loons I could hear earlier had vanished from sight, and I hoped I would hear them again before nightfall. 

To my west, I could see some large, dark clouds and although I was only a few hundred yards from shore, I thought it would be a good idea to stay closer, otherwise risk getting caught in a shower. I'm not a fisherman, after all. It turned out to be a good call, because no sooner that I pulled the canoe back on to the shore, than I saw drops hitting the water. By the time I made it back to the cottage it was a full on summer shower. 

My quarters are not equipped with a kitchen, but there is a fireplace. A small fridge that makes a loud noise, a microwave oven that I unplugged so I could write this on my laptop. The other outlet has my cel phone plugged in, because ti has gone critically low taking pictures of the sunset here over Caspian Lake. The combination of sky, clouds, water and trees is as brilliant and intense as any Super Moon could imagine.

     Shrubs close to the cottage had overgrown to the point that branches are pressed against the glass - half of the porch has been replaced, with the boards not finished. I stare at the mismatched completion. Old boards of battleship blue stain that are halfway through their life expectancy, but still hanging on because of their protection from the overhang on the porch. The rest of it looks like a last ditch attempt to make the places worth staying in at all... and it works. I was enjoying the peace and quiet. Crows in the woods, and the cries of Loons on the water. A symphony of them briefly fired off as the sky grey dark. 

Next morning, I went to make coffee only to find that the refrigerator that was rattling all night had managed to freeze my carton of milk almost solid. After shaking it around a bit, I managed to coax enough out to color my first cup. Fog hung over the lake, and it was a cool misty day. Lake Willoughby was to my north about 20 miles, and I had an interest to see it before the writers conference which did not take place until the early evening, so I had plenty of time to fit whatever it was I wanted to do. Not that there is a whole lot to do up here!

The Greensboro Free Library is in town, and I found a hard cover copy of The Collected Stories of Wallace Stegner for sale. $2.00

How Fitting!

I eventually caved in to the temptation and started a fire in the fireplace.

Glad I did.

I really should have brought a radio. 

My laptop has only two artists on iTunes. A couple of Frank Sinatra collections, and every record by The Beatles. The Sinatra is for the old folks I play for at retirement homes (although I enjoy it as well) and the Beatles is for me. Something about hearing the young, lovesick lads in the early '60s become dour and resigned less than 10 years later is both moving and sad. To go from giddy laughter to near tears reminds me once again how much the band plays a part in the background of my life. They were the first band I recognized as a child.

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