The day before, the rain turned to a mixture of snow and sleet before stopping and the wind had ruined many kids plans for Halloween had died, having blown the clouds away. It was 19 degrees at 6 AM. Two days earlier it would have been 7 AM, but daylight saving time had ended and it felt like I’d slept in. I crawled out from the plush covers at the Harbor Hotel, a four star hotel that must cater to lowlifes for everywhere I turn in the room are signs and notes about not stealing. They seem concerned for their fluffy towels, terrycloth robes, the pen set on the desk, the corkscrew and the wine glasses on the cadenza… The signs inform would be thieves that such items are available in the gift shop (or was that shoppe, as this is one of those kind of hotels that likes things to sound fancy). If just take them, they threaten to charge you even more when they tack it to your bill. I figured I didn’t have a need for any of the items.
|True Love in dry dock|
There’s coffee by the elevators and I pour myself a cup before heading out into the cold. Crossing the old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, now Finger Lake Rails, which run down the west side of Seneca Lake, I head to the town’s pier. Things are quiet and a mist is rising from the water that’s warmer than the air. There seems to be no one around. There is a sign by the empty berth indicating where “True Love” is moored in summer. The old schooner has been featured in a number of movies. The pier itself is a little slippery from the frozen frost. Only a couple boats remain in the boat slips, most having been pulled from the water for the season. At the end of the pier, along the rock break wall and behind the shack, I’m surprised to find a lone man fishing the deep water. Wearing heavy insulated clothes, he drinks coffee from an oversized insulated mug. We talk for a few minutes and I realize he has had some luck when a couple of perch in a bucket flop around. I’m surprised there’s no ice on the lake and he tells me that the lake has only frozen over a few times in recorded history, the last being in the 1940s.
|The boat in front is Hagar (the hotel is to the back)|
As I head over to the marina, the 7 AM horn blows at the mill on the east end of town. At the marina, there are three boats are still in the water. At the end of the marina pier a classic 63 foot schooner named “When and If” is tied up. I later learn from the morning paper that the boat, which was once owned by General George Patton, had just sailed in a few days earlier and would winter in Watkins Glen. The owner, who runs a vineyard, plans to sail it out through the canals in the fall (he’ll have to take the mast off to do this) and out to the ocean where he’ll sail along the northeast coast before taking the boat south for the winter of 2014-15. The boat was launched in 1939. Patton and his wife had plans to sail it around the world after the war, but his death in an accident just after the European War ended kept him from enjoying the boat. There are two other classic wooden sailboats still in the water at the marine; both more to the size I prefer. One is named Hagar and I wonder if the owner’s name is Abraham. If not, I’m sure she’s named Hagar because she’s his other love.
|One of the plaques in the sidewalk|
|Waterfront bathed in sunlight|