Moving from Southern California to New York State on June 1 does have its benefits. Longer days, to name one: 38 minutes longer, if this Web site is correct: http://www.sunrisesunset.com/
That’s the difference between the length of the day right now in New York City, vs. Los Angeles. I’m using these two cities as surrogates for Palm Springs, Calif., and Beacon, N.Y.
What do you do with 38 minutes of extra daylight? Well, if you’re me, you use it to walk to Ron’s Ice Cream on Fishkill Avenue and buy your first ice cream cone of the season. The rule in our house is that if my husband and I are going to Ron’s, we must walk. The thinking is that we will burn up the calories we consume in the ice cream cone during the walk to and from Ron’s, which is about a half-mile from our house.
I love to go out during the so-called magic hour (a term used by cinematographers, which I first learned about in the 1992 documentary Visions of Light). The magic hour is actually a few minutes before the sun goes down, not a whole hour. This period is prized by photographers because the light is diffuse and everything is bathed in a warm, golden glow. The harshness of daylight has disappeared and the sensuality of dusk is approaching.
Some people get a hopeful feeling at sunrise. Not me. I was born a few minutes before midnight, so I think I’m a night owl by design.
I made my magic hour trek to Ron’s by myself because Jim is still in Palm Springs. I ate my Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cup single cone on a bench where I see a Little League game in progress under the lights. No, not the Friday Night Lights, the Monday ones.
When I turned my head in the other direction, I could see the top of Mount Beacon, where patriots set fires during the Revolutionary War to signal information about British troop movements to George Washington, who was headquartered across the Hudson River in Newburgh.
What’s interesting to me in this old mill town is how many people jump in their Jeep Cherokees and Ford Explorers to travel a mile or less to grab a cone at Ron’s or a six-pack or lottery ticket at the corner deli. What is it going to take to get folks out of their SUVs and on their feet? Gas at $5 a gallon? $10?
There is a strange juxtaposition right now in Beacon and maybe in the U.S. On the one side, the tree huggers are apologizing for their carbon footprints and busily establishing compost piles in the backyards. On the other are those who feel that unlimited gasoline usage is their birthright. Is there an in-between in America?
To my mind, this would involve a sensible approach to conservation without finger-pointing from the Greens and temper tantrums from the gas guzzlers. It might also revive the quaint habit of walking to the store, the library, the ice cream stand. The only people who seem to walk in this town are children and senior citizens, though more bicycles seem to have arrived since I left here on Jan. 30.
Can we find a healthy place between self-flagellation for despoiling the planet and mindless consumption? I hope so.