Saturday, September 09, 2006


The trip from my home to the neighboring State of Vermont takes me across the northernmost part of New York - an "upstate" so far north that its existence is completely unknown to people who aren't native to the area. It's a place whose natives speak with the hint of a Canadian accent.

Much of the way I drive a road called The Old Military Turnpike, following (in reverse) the route taken by some of my ancestors exactly two hundred years ago. I pass the stone ruins of Robinson's Tavern, a stopping point built shortly after the War of 1812, and eventually catch a glimpse of Lake Champlain in the distance, the mountains of Vermont rising beyond it.

About a hundred miles from home, I drive aboard the Lake Champlain Ferry and turn the ingition off. For the next fifteen minutes I'll enjoy the sun and wind, note the absence of the dozens of white-sailed boats dotting the lake during the summer months, and reflect that soon my crossings will involve stinging cold winds and the breaking of ice. I resolve to photograph one of the boat's flags, using it to frame a long view down the lake, but no matter how I try, the flag and the lake just won't cooperate. I climb the stairs to the upper deck and walk toward the stern, and as the rear flag comes into view, I see a crew member removing it from its pole!

I mutter a discouraging word. The one thing I wanted to photograph, and this guy takes it down! But wait... As I descend the aft stairs, he unfurls a brand new flag and fastens it securely to the flagpole. Frame, focus, click. The warm wind blows my hair around and I slip my camera back in the case. It wasn’t the picture I had in mind, but it's a good day on the ferry.