Thursday, October 25, 2007

Snow Angel

Every winter in the Rural North Country a few peoples die after lying down in a comfortable looking snow bank when staggering home from some bar. You only need to be well toasted or already half frozen for a bank of snow to look like a feather bed.

I left the LaParr's Bar in Harrisville at closing time one November night in the mid seventies and started walking toward Lake Bonaparete on the North Shore Road.. This was already years after the period when I had actually lived with the beavers, but for the night, I was on my way to an abandoned beaver lodge on Green Pond outlet in the Bonaparte Cave St. Forest. I was only using it occasionally - mostly during the summer. In Ithaca I had a set up in the East Hill Cemetery and several pads and canned-food caches in furnace rooms and attics around Collegetown.. I was intending to hitch down to Ithaca again soon.
Ordinarily, in my right mind, and even in deep winter, I would have made a quick snow-cave in the plowed bank, then backed in with large garbage bags over my clothing., But I was more than ordinarily drunk and there was only an inch of snow. I I don't really remember laying down , but the shoulder of the road must have looked like a feather mattress to me.

Little Johnson said later that when he found me, I was spread eagled on the road shoulder and my body heat had melted the snow for several inches around my face and then refroze, so that he actually had to use is skinning knife to get me up.
I owe my life to him and to a capacity I have always had and don't myself understand for enduring a lowered body temperature,
When I came around that time, I was in a sleeping bag with Johnson's dog at his camp on the Oswega tchie. I was there for three days.
During that time and our drive back to Ithaca, which overshot his home goal by about sixty miles, he told me more about beavers and their amazing communal history with the early people than I had ever suspected, or could have discovered in twenty more years living with beavers myself.


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