FROM THE RAMPARTS ... The Sixth Dispatch
On The Horizon ...
There is romance here. I was alone in Fort William Henry. A very cold and very dark night in the courtyard. Images of the people that I had talked to over the years in this place were on my mind. Overhead, the bright stars emphasized the cold. The black silhouette of the ramparts against the looming shapes of French Mountain and Rattlesnake Cobble framed the beautiful sky. The constellations in their rigid conformity would have looked exactly like this in 1757 with Orion dominant. This night I would give a talk to a large group of university students in the west barracks. Perhaps I should just bring them out here on this unique ground and let them imagine what it was like...But it's too cold. Some of my audience did come outside and they were impressed by the solitude. This place does seem to revert back to the 18th century in the lonely Adirondack night.
Hard winter has arrived and we need snowshoes in the forest. The two pair of "Huron" style shoes that I use have held up well over the past 25 years. Rogers' Rangers used to to make snowshoes continuously in the winter because of breakage and to keep idle hands busy between scouts. For me, it's good to have the warm wool coat, breeches and leggings on again. The wool retains heat when wet and I do get wet! I even have a wool cover for my musket. The varying hares (snowshoe rabbits) had stood out like white beacons until the recent snow. They turned from gray to white weeks ago. It was very easy to hunt them against the gray-brown background of the deep woods as their instinctive behavior is to sit motionless and blend into the environment. Now, they are very hard to see. Soon the hunting opportunities for all game will be minimal. Even the crows will fly south (20 miles) for the next three months.
The strange warm fall had been a surreal addition to our recent tragic history. WOULD NOTHING BE THE SAME?
Since the weather has become normal I have been calmed--somewhat. Canada geese are still in great numbers on the lake. It is the latest that I have ever seen them and is a noisy indicator of late, late fall.
Lake George is starting to ice-over in the bays and inlets but we can still sail the main body and I expect it to stay open for two more weeks. Duck hunting on the lake had been very good. The birds were not afraid of men in bateaux. Most hunting was done while the ducks were on the water as pass shooting with a musket is difficult and wastes powder and shot. Lake trout and salmon have moved to the surface and the fishing has been rewarding. Ice fishing should be productive later on in the season.
I am pleased to report that the Fort William Henry Corporation has announced plans to construct a new "Fort William Henry Hotel" I am "pleased" because the management team intends to reproduce the elegance and historic tradition of the original Victorian era hotel that stood on the same spot at the turn of the last century. So, rather that have a modern, sterile facility, we will have a hotel that reflects on the way Lake George village was 100 years ago.
My warmest regards, Tim
THE FORT DISPATCHES: