As summer winds down, retreats and vacations come to an end (no more toasted marshmallows) and regular life begins again, with everyday chores like buying new shoes for children and paying long-ignored bills and getting files back in order–the whole workaday schedule.
Usually the end of summer has its own bittersweet cyclical comforts, but this year I’ve been feeling more than the ordinary stress of returning to tall stacks of unread mail and to the zip and chaos of subways and traffic lights and elevators and buses. I realized the other day that much of my extra angst is about September 11, and starting up life again in New York (otherwise known as Targettown).
I’d been up in the Adirondacks, where we try to spend a week every summer, and attempting to figure out which was reality, this–the lake spread out before me, distant pines, a couple of ducks diving, a canoe gliding by, the gas station that sells sub sandwiches, the ice-cream shop with the “Pies Today” sign, the campfires and the cold nights–or New York City; in the same state, the two places seem to exist on such separate planes.
As a New Yorker, I’ve joined in the general quest for stress relief (we did this pre-9/11, too, but the answer was usually Prozac or yoga or a Manhattan, not an inflatable lifeboat or a lifetime supply of instant milk and potassium iodide), to little avail. Still haven’t got the ten gas masks, one set for home and one for school and work…
The latest step I’ve taken in the quest for inner peace–while “ongoing police investigations” in my city cause traffic jams and mini-panics and nightmares for overactive imaginations–is to sit back with a few issues of
. Eight times a year it hides a happily provincial interior behind a handsome, sophisticated cover, and provides a perfect escape from real troubles but is not escapist in its intentions: Life doesn’t feel compelled to paper over the troubles of the region it’s covering, it just doesn’t happen to be covering Manhattan or Iraq, and its own ground zero is the Adirondack Park, not Ground Zero. Like many regional magazines, it contains puffery. The October cover story, “Hunting Wild Elk,” is little more than a paean to the resplendent Elk Lake–hence no final beauty shot of an actual wild elk, but plenty of pictures of canoes and swimming platforms and autumn foliage. (Indeed, an issue of Adirondack Life without a single image of a canoe would be like an issue of Rolling Stone–at least, the old Rolling Stone–with no reference, even glancing, to the Beatles.) Even when puffing, though, Adirondack Life is not as touristy as some regionals, and it feels less provincial, less like the local section of a small newspaper. (