12 Dec Devastating ice storm finds me sketching at McD’s
What a strange place to find myself, no? So, stirring in my sleep in the wee hours of the morning, I was quite accepting of the racket the ghosts were making in the north bedroom overhead. But as daylight approached, I realized that the noise was coming from the massive ice-coated limbs breaking off of the trees around the house, and crashing to the ground. I awoke with astonishment as I peered out the windows at the birches completely bowed over and sweeping the ground, and at the literal pace of thirty-second intervals, the snapping and breaking sound of limbs. I actually saw a limb crash right onto the power line, turning it into a swing. I had appointments in the Valley and thus I hightailed it out of there at seven o’clock, as it seemed that the destruction was just beginning, for the downing of trees were with the weight of ice at its limit. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to leave town if I postponed my departure any longer.
I left a trickle of water running in the sinks as a precaution to fend off the dreaded freezing of pipes.
My early morning studio session was derailed and occured at the unexpected environs of McDonald’s on Mohawk Trail. Once I got beyond the incredibly foul smell of cooking grease that permeated the restaurant, I got out my sketch pad and tried to focus in on figures in line, people ordering food. An interesting focal point became an inflated plastic Santa Claus, suspended from the ceiling next to a Colonial corner-cabinet, which was very out of place, but a decorative element to give some civility and humanity to the smelly plastic/synthetic eatery. I think that “eatery” is such a gross word for a place; you might as well just call it a “trough” or a “slop-trough.” I was impressed by certain diners who had no embarassment at all about wolfing down their Big Macs just inches away from my table and my obvious voyeuristic sketchings. I actually got engaged by the challenge of decyphering the chaos and simplifying the various façades of booth partitions, signage, and counters. I loved the way a tall cup, speared with the diagonal of a straw, was a repetitive punctuation throughout the space.
As I sketched, I considered the road crew I passed on my way down. I was ushered by the crew as I passed; they were chainsawing the obstructing trees one at a time and then with their massive orange plow, shoved the cut debris aside. Halifax is a very delicate ecosystem, not because of its winery politics, but because of its high altitude and complete dependence on the mercies of Nature. The mountain streams, which fed into the North River, were ferocious and wild like the sea, more so than in the low-lying valley, which offers some protection. Halifax and its people have no luxury to ignore their immediate surroundings. Power could potentially be out for a week after this giant storm. This makes life grind to a halt, or at least to physically slow down considerably. When a person cannot be heated, or cook, or do any of the other basic life necessities made possible by electricity, it becomes even more apparent that alternative sources need to be developed, because a day like today could be any day if we run out of fuel.