I recently returned to Rosslyn after almost two months away. It was my single longest absence since buying the house in July 2006, and the extended hiatus was a bit surreal. I departed Essex in February and returned in April!
For readers familiar with life in the Adirondacks, you’ll remember that we have the distinction of a fifth season in addition to spring, summer, fall and winter affectionately known as “mud season”. Okay, not so affectionately. Mud season — tied with black flies for least sexy North Country inconveniences — is tolerable for two reasons:
- Sugaring: Authentic maple syrup is an Adirondack staple. Remember the smell and flavor of real maple syrup, before corn syrup and artificial flavoring and coloring elbowed their way onto the breakfast table? Sugaring is as much a gourmet delicacy as it is a theme of story lore. Extracting maple sap and concentrating it into syrup or sugar wasn’t just a local sweet source before grocers and box stores. According to Bill Yardley, sugaring provided an occupation for lumberjacks during mud season.
- Transformation: Like a rite of passage, the Adirondack mud season is sometimes dreaded, usually messy, often cathartic and almost always revitalizing. Tucked between winter and summer, two of the most glorious North Country seasons (the other two are spring and fall,) mud season is our annual reminder that we aren’t living in paradise, just a near-perfect facsimile of paradise.
This year I was traveling during mud season (not altogether a coincidence, I admit) which meant that I missed almost the only snowfall that the Champlain Valley experienced this winter. The silver lining? I also missed the slush and mud that followed.
But despite my absence, life at Rosslyn sailed on smoothly. By now you may have realized that my bride runs a tight ship, possibly even more so when I’m away from home. And with Doug and Lorri contributing muscle and follow-through to my bride’s decrees, not much slips between the cracks. Except for the tattered flag…
Upon returning from my travels I discovered that a concerned passerby had stopped to complain about the tattered American flag flapping over Rosslyn boathouse. He spoke with Doug, referenced his years of military service and departed. By all accounts, the passerby was courteous and respectful, and his concern was justified. Old Glory was in a sorry state of neglect.
Doug promptly replaced the tattered flag and assumed that the case was closed.
A few days later the same gentleman returned and expressed his gratitude. And then he departed. No name. No way to thank him for his attention. A mysterious stranger with a patriotic soul and a neighborly spirit.
Good flags make good neighbors.