Saturday, January 31, 2015

Snowy weekend, small town New England

Still catching up after the storm earlier this week...Here's how we spent last weekend.

Planned to join a group hike in a neighboring town, but due to "trails glazed with ice, requiring spikes" the outing is canceled. With snow in the forecast, we stay home, do household chores, make cookies. Outside, cardinals, goldfinches, juncos and perky little chickadees swarm the bird feeders until a hawk sails overhead. After supper, when my husband takes the compost out to the bin, he surprises an opossum snacking on the ant-infested cat kibble we'd tossed out. Fresh deer, bobcat, and fox tracks in the falling snow. We spend a quiet evening listening to music while I knit and he reads.

After we snow-blowed, plowed and shoveled the meager three inches of snow from yesterday, we venture out to the dump--er, the recycling center--a bi-weekly pilgrimage that usually results in greeting neighbors and dropping off/picking up some treasures at the Still Good table. I score a Nevada Barr novel I haven't read, just in time for the major nor'easter heading our way Monday or Tuesday. Looks like a big 'un.

After lunch we head to a conservation property in town, owned by the Forest Society (the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, or SPNHF, pronounced Spin-iff), where the trails wind around the ponds, up hills, into old orchards and past a heron rookery. We strap on our snowshoes and followed the Look-See Trail to the pond edge, where we walk out onto the ice to circle an active beaver lodge. Signs of life everywhere--the four-footed pattern of leaping squirrels; jays and nuthatches calling; stripped bark giving evidence of this year's new antler rubs; the curious triangular tracks of porcupines. We have the trails to ourselves for over an hour and a half, except for brief encounters with three dogs and four humans. The air is clean and refreshing.

As the day winds down, we meet younger son and his lady at the Town Hall Theater. A bit of background here: it really is in the town hall, above what used to be the police department. Think about that--fingerprinting a suspect while LOTR thunders overhead. It happened. Seating is comfortable, and spaced so you don't have to stand to let somebody pass down the row. For nearly fifty years, the owner has shown big-name movies and limited-run small films, special interest documentaries, film festivals, foreign language films, fund raisers, classics and art shows. If you know nothing else about my town, you know the Town Hall Theater. People come on Friday nights without even caring what's on the bill; they just know it will be good. And the popcorn is made fresh, with real butter. A lost classic was discovered a couple years ago, stored in the projection room; it's undergoing restoration. The theater is threatened by progress, however; the cost of a digital makeover may be out of reach.

On this Sunday, the late matinee is a silent film, Fritz Lang's Woman in the Moon (1929), with live music provided by a local keyboardist. He's fantastic. Five minutes into the film, I've forgotten he's there--the music is that well matched to the action. The movie is dated, melodramatic, predictable in places, flat wrong in others (there is no air on the moon). But it's from 1929, and you can't separate it from its time. As an editor, I want to trim some scenes, delete others entirely. Yet I'm also stunned at how well the story is told with nearly non-existent dialogue, at the extensive and persuasive set designs, far ahead of their time. I am invested in the characters; I cheer when the good guys win, fume about the heroine's poor taste in men, boo when the villain makes his move, and my heart rate rises with the tension. The keyboardist plays for two and a half hours straight, and bounces out of his seat, streaming sweat, to a standing ovation from the full house. This is the way movies began--as performances before a live audience. Netflix can't begin to compete.

We go home to a late spaghetti dinner and good talk. The kids leave around nine, and we check the weather report. Big bad storm on the way, and husband decides he'll stay home on Tuesday. All in all, a really nice weekend, rich and fulfilling. There is always something to do.

Monday Update
A historic snowfall on the way. Emergency declared in at least three states, with travel bans in many areas. And in the area where we'd planned to hike, a woman fell down a frozen waterfall on Sunday, and died of injury and hypothermia. Small town New England is fascinating, beautiful, gorgeous--but we are close to nature, and She is not always kind.