That Inner Pendulum
There’s an inner clock I have, and it’s tied to the Inner Pendulum of weather in this region. Building up to Christmas we get The First Snow, as a kid I knew there was the magic of the holiday around the corner with a loafer dose of Winter Season.
But they taunted me, Winter, Wind and Rain. Snow was delivered for sure, a hefty dump of powder atop roofs and pines. Cold mornings leading up to a Christmas Day celebration, each day a tease. Snow, always snow, yet there was dread too that young kids recognize.
The Catskill Mountains can play a trick on a boy and get his heart set on winter adventure then yank it away from before he can hit the ski slopes. Or worse, rob him of the Magic White Winter with sudden arrival of The Thaw and The Rain. Pendulum swinging suddenly back, changing your plans with a weather surprise.
The ebb and flow of temps always threatened to bring the Thaw before Saint Nick’s yearly debut, often he’d have just enough snow to deliver presents and scamper back up North before the Rain would hit.
Once Nick became a faded myth I still fought my fear of the Thaw when I got older. When Winter favored me, Christmas magic was replaced by the Winter Season and skiing. Being out there on a hill, speed and wind, the scrape of ice on edges, that was pure juice and fire for a kid. My anxiety: The Rain and The Thaw would take that away before Christmas break ended.
To be sure in January Winter would make a comeback. While in school I knew weekends were my chance to be back out there. Skis crushing crust, scrape of a tail before averting a wipe out still awaited. But to get that chance during Christmas? Magic.
Now that I’ve moved away, I’ve my own young blood who wants to be out there, and that pendulum swing between Thaw and Snow has a larger impact when it suddenly decides to move. I moved on in life while my heart stayed here. I return in hopes to recapture that thrill of being the young blood I once was, and I have to laugh when my daughter eviscerates me with her wit to the laughter of my sister, or when my son rockets ahead on those slopes. I moved on in life to good things, but life is moving on in ways I don’t want to recognize.
So I plan, I have that sixth sense in me you know. I know when I can get that last ski day in during Christmas before the Thaw and the Rain. I’m not shy in sharing that last year I knew we were not going to beat that Pendulum swing from The First Snow to The Rain. Last year it rained on Christmas, then froze enough that night for us to try to ski the next day. My instincts said “You can’t beat the Pendulum”. Ice did a number on me and BOOM off a ledge I went, earning a broken ankle as a badge of “courage”. I knew that Pendulum had swung back, but I ignored it. Got lucky, but not lucky enough.
But we’re back in my Catskills this year, and I was back out on those slopes. I knew the Pendulum was going to swing back, but nailed the timing before the Thaw and the Rain. Made a comeback in many ways, connected with family I hadn’t seen since COVID. We walked to the Lake today, ignoring The Rain as my son and daughter learned more about this region where I was raised. The Rain and The Thaw spurred some tales of local lore I passed on to them. The dark gloom of The Thaw helped me paint a picture of why I loved this region. I taught them about the Pendulum. My son got it, my daughter just laughed. See these shores? I can tell them the history of these shores and waters, relay stories about our family history.
Look at that tranquil cold water, there are a few straw ducks still hanging around. We can hear black crows squawking as they flit from tree to tree. My son is planning his own trip back to my Catskills this coming summer. He wants to make the journey alone. I think he wants to develop his own inner clock. The Pendulum has swung, holiday is over, The Thaw and The Rain is here, you can see it in the photo. I must leave as I have always done for years now. He’ll be back, he’ll find his own sense of a pulse to this region. I know the Winter Season excites him, I hope there is more here that connects with him. My home, that shaped me.