Greenpoint: Freeze warnings, yes, but no need to flee

An egret stands on the far side of a wetlands pond. (Margaret Hartley)

An egret stands on the far side of a wetlands pond. (Margaret Hartley)

By Margaret Hartley

“I saw snow,” my husband said.

I was a little skeptical. “It’s 52 degrees.”

“I know,” he said, “See? It’s freezing.”

Thirty-five years after moving north from Florida, he will not be convinced that winter is a natural progression from summer and fall.

“Do you know what’s going to happen,” he says every year around this time, and then goes into his annual rant, which goes something like this: “The ground’s going to freeze, the water’s going to freeze, the trees are going to die, we’re all going to die. No one was meant to live through this.”

“This” being winter. Or the lack of summer. Or ice, or cold hands. Or the darkness.

I’ve done my best to acclimate him. He has fleece-lined jeans and ear-flap caps and we’ve had the wood stove fired up for a few weeks. He claims he’s looking forward to ice fishing, and he has thick, woolen knee-high socks and an insulated ice tent. But I keep catching him watching trail-cam videos from the Everglades or checking tide charts on the Florida panhandle.

He claims if it weren’t for the pandemic he’d go visit his sister south of Tallahassee near the Gulf and stay a few months, as long as he could bring me, the dog and all the goats and chickens. If we had a boat — a big boat, maybe a barge — we could load up all the animals and sail down the intercoastal waterway to his Florida homeland.

This seems unreasonable to me, but it’s true that one of our favorite books to read to the kids was “Freddy Goes to Florida,” the story of a bunch of farm animals who find out about migration from a bird and decide to walk south for the winter.

I’m keeping quiet about it, but I’m enjoying the change of seasons.

My morning walks are far too dark, it’s true, but the stars, moon and Venus have been lovely. Woods walks are good any time of year, and it’s nice to mark the changes. The paths, which had been covered in pine needles, are softer now, with a thick layer of fallen leaves. There are deer and turkeys, and new vistas are opening up as the trees shed their leaves.

Last week I met some friends for a different view, from a trail that follows a former railroad bed through woods and wetlands. One of my friends is 2, and he enjoyed running on the path, climbing on the benches, and looking at the bumblebees working the asters and the birds in the water. We saw ducks and geese, watched a heron land on the pond and disappear into the high brush on the other side. We watched an egret feeding in the grass.

I thought about how I take the same few walks every day, especially now when the pandemic is keeping me close to home. A half-hour drive for a walk in a different forest was refreshing, if just to see the trees and birds I know in a new setting. Or through the eyes of a 2-year-old.

Back home, the Floridian was working in the garden and pretty happy that it was over 60 degrees. “See?” he said. “I’m not miserable when it’s not freezing.”

While he dug out the corn patch to get it ready for garlic planting, I went to the fall part of the garden, cut some Brussels sprouts stalks and pulled up a few carrots to roast for our dinner.

Overhead, the sky was full of honking geese heading south, maybe to the swamps of New Jersey. Or maybe all the way to Florida.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Oct. 25. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, Entertainment

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