Sometimes I think that the best book I have ever read is Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale. Hardly anyone has ever heard of this but it is a masterpiece of history and fantasy; a portrait of New York City that is a painting of itself. I'm sure I'm paraphrasing somebody but those words are this morning's grace note. Here is a review because it's worth reading and that's not what I want to cover this morning.
Never mind the fact that New York City is itself a magical event, the Lake of the Coheries is another world altogether; a place stopped in time with a hodgepodge of all things and ideas that ought to be kept in a box of Adirondack memories. And of course with any place like this you don't want the magic to leak out or the world to get in and so there is a barrier. You also don't want to let just anybody through the wall because the Lake of the Coheries is also a sanctuary. Right up until it's not but we do our best.
The cloud bank, or cloud wall is the barrier and it is 30 or 300 feet and completely opaque. You can either get through or you cannot. I don't remember the rules. I think they were implied.
When I used to drive North no further than Lake George to drop or pick up my kids except for one time which is another story I saw signs for Cohoes, NY and I don't remember off which exit but it would have been on The Northway just above Albany. And I always wondered, hoped, and wished.
I should have known because if the Baymen of Bayonne existed than so would the hideout of Short Tails, Pearly Soames, Peter Lake, the White Horse and the Lake of the Coheries. It had to be and so it is.
The geography of a magic place will be fluid. It is of its nature to be fluid, how else would you find it? I had to drive all the way to Moose Island on Lake Placid to finally dock in the right place but in the end I got there at exactly the right time. I needed a stop, a barrier and mostly I'm pretty sure I needed refuge.
In the mornings I woke at 4 and 5 and then finally got out of bed at 6. I would have gotten up at 4 but it would have been too dark to see and at 5 I was down deep enough to squint at the bedside clock and say to myself, I don't think so and at 6 it was finally time and I got out of bed, stumbled into the kitchen, started a pot of coffee steeling the first cup on my way out the door to the deck above the boat dock to watch the cloud bank come in.
Right up against my part of the lake, covering the mountains and rolling across the water and the things that finally needed to pour out into the journal poured out into the journal and I was safe.
I've given that book away a couple of times. It's hard to find because it's been out of print for awhile. The last copy was given to David, or taken by David or something like that on the way out the door when we packed him up believing him when he said he just needed a little space.
I haven't taken the book back although I might yet. I left the book as a reminder of the person he said he wanted to be. It doesn't matter to me one way or another anymore but I do believe it's time to locate another copy.
And now I know how to cross through the cloud wall. Drive North on the Northway and ask for refuge. I can't imagine that if Pearly Soames got in because he wanted it so bad that I'd ever fail at the wall.
I'm off to Bikram. It's been awhile.