Lake George By Way of Webcam
By George Hawkins
Friday, February 24, 2012
There is a computer camera mounted to an upstairs porch of our house. It overlooks the small bay in front of the house, the boathouse in the middle distance, and all around, of course, the Lake. It is one means by which all family members may keep in contact with real-time Lake George. For some, who live in the area, it is a way of checking on the weather, on the crowd, perhaps, to see whether a day trip is reasonable. Many of my cousins live on, around, or an hour or two drive, and they may enjoy going there for a day or weekend. The camera is a way of sticking a wet finger into the wind to check the conditions. For those of us not within a two or three day drive, let alone a two hour one, the camera is a way of keeping contact with a world we love, but which we must be distant from. Occasionally, I’ll see a cousin walk through the camera’s sweep, and I will feel a special connection that transcends a phone call. Our lives pull us away, but electronically, our hearts can remain in the Adirondacks.
The camera allows me to watch the seasons, which I do not experience in Texas. Here we have summer and February. I can gloat when I see the skies darken before 3:00, and the snow pile up. I can see the trails of fishers and lake walkers, and see that it is sometimes heavy mushing. But then I can also see when the ice boats are there like beautiful winged creatures, and though I am in a t-shirt and jeans, I am envious. The boathouse is necklaced by dark beads of clear water the bubbler maintains around it, keeping the ice at bay. The hemlock hedge sports a covering of snow, by which I can gauge how much has fallen since my last connection. The camera catches pieces of the Bolton Landing day, every five seconds or so; I can’t experience a whole day, but merely a collage of one. Even so, it beckons.
Keeping the site on my computer at work, I can watch as the seasons change, and rivers of deciduous trees change from the top of Buck Mountain down. The birch trees in the foreground go to yellow, while the trees outside my own window are still defiantly green, and will remain so until long after the first snows have changed the dominant color from green to white up there. I am long returned from summer stays when I log on to the view, only to see luckier cousins still swimming through August, September, often into October. Though I may gloat in the depths of winter, the water I must swim in here is like warm Clorox compared to the Queen of the Adirondacks. It is a thin gloating I do, and no one gets to hear it, anyway.
My limited view of the Lake prevents me from making any bets on when the Lake will freeze over. Because I cannot control the time he does it, or the view I have, I am unable to watch Z. make his annual New Years Day water ski exhibition. (Or is it Christmas Day?) Though it always happens when I don’t log on, one day I’ll turn to the site, and all the ice will be gone, and again I will have missed the chance, the knowledge and the occasion to bet on when the ice has cleared. I will rejoice in seeing the water again, though, and will take pleasure in knowing that my cousins will be sugaring, and I will be envious. I don’t envy the black fly season, of course, but then that doesn’t show up on the webcam.
Spring will burst in all of a sudden, when I am not looking, and the grass is deep green, the hemlocks a little taller, and the water a vivid blue. In my mind, I know the water is so cold you couldn’t swim in it and breathe at the same time, but since I will have been swimming here since late March, I will sit and pine. In this way, the camera perfects the world there. No “black floies,” no hypothermic water, just beauty.
So shovel the snow, swat at the flies, or shiver when the sun goes down hours before dinner time, but you, on the other side of the camera, may gloat, yourselves, when you see all the stars, or marvel at the Northern Lights. When you have a chance to sit in the beautiful last days of fall, or frisk in the wakening of spring, I’ll be seeing some small view of your world through a webcam, wishing I could be in its view instead of viewing it.
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