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I owe Paul Strubeck for these fotos;  he endured the 2 a.m. cold at Crum Elbow to get them.  Kristin Poling you’ve seen here many times before.

I manipulated the fotos, squeezing out some of the darkness, enhancing the little light in the original.  The stem bitt in the lower right belongs to tug Cornell, attempting to get Kristin Poling unstuck from the ice.  What does this look like to you . . . other than the obvious ship stuck in chunk ice?

I get competing thoughts and associations:  like a submarine scene from a Jules Vernesque sci-fi movie, or

a vessel trapped in polar ice.  No disrespect for the family or vessel name . . . but “poling” could be a verb referring to exploration of the top and bottom parts of the planet . . . as in “Peary left the sixth boro in the summer of ’08 aboard Roosevelt, headed north to go poling. . . .”   My eyes could easily be convinced that the venerable Kristin P here is “poling.”

Imagine this stretch of the river six months forward or backwards.  A deck in that location could be an idyllic spot to stretch out, enjoy summer heat, watch stars, and think of love or whatever you wish; a fit swimmer could slip into the water and drift or make for shore.  However,

in January like this, the Hudson seems as inhospitable as the poles.  Frederick Cook, Peary’s physician in the 1891-2 “north poling” expedition and later a challenger to Peary’s claim to have reached the North Pole first, said this about being in the frozen north:  “We were the only pulsating creatures in a dead world of ice.”   I can imagine the crews of Kristin Poling and Cornell thinking that . . .  at least they and the reliable engines in the vessels.

Cook was a founder member of NYC’s Explorers Club.

Again, many thanks to Paul Strubeck for the fotos, which you may have seen in different format on Paul’s facebook page.

Returning is hard but I am led and guided by reasons to return, like I was by those to leave. Cavafy understood this and by calling it Ithaka said it much better than I can. When my “away” is as inspiring as you might infer from the image below, I need compelling reasons to return. Where I went I found inspiration to bring back, thanks to my kindred spirits up there, you know who you are. Not quite oracles, but ….



Convergence there generated heat like a blowtorch wielded delicately, and what was frozen has changed state, molecule by molecule and droplets trickle as gravity leads.



Millions of droplets make one brook, hundreds of brooks to streams and branches, and scores of them into the tiny Winooski. . .



. . . itself a tributary to the tributary to the . . . and finally into the Gulf Stream and the other currents, where Alice and all her sisters play. Alice goes back and forth all the time and never stops as you can see here if you follow all the way down. But her crew and all the crews of her sisters, they must define departing and returning differently than I do. Happy 2007 Alice’s crew and all the rest of you. Thanks for waiting for me. Soon even the dinghies will be sailing again.



All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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June 2022