Sobering influence

0704/19th November 2023

“Zoomer, you’re supposed to be asleep!”

” I jus’ nipped out for a nut. Is OK?”

Chipmunks are very visible without the benefit of shrubbery and there are lots of hungry hawks about.

Still, it was nice to see his cute face.


Brain was in park yesterday.

Then Grant popped up with news of an item he had to fetch from somewhere in the vicinity of Petersburgh, which is a little south of us.

It wasn’t going to be available until 6pm so Grant was thinking about sunset drives.

“It’ll be dark.”

I said, like the true sobering influence that I am reputed to be.


However, we needed some shopping and decided to make a separate outing of that.

“Which drive should we do?” asked the man.

Same question always asked, gets same answer:

“Whichever you like.”


He’s the driver, after all. But then…

Not knowing anything about Petersburgh, I asked Google for images and it looked scenic, so that’s where we headed.

It’s not as if he would be seeing the same thing twice in pitch darkness.

Noticing the sky at breakfast I had announced darkly:

“It’s going to rain.”


Grant had laughed at me when it turned into a nice day.

In my opinion, it might yet rain, but I like a moody sky.

It set the Toby-coloured tamaracks off quite nicely.


The oracle even mentioned snow.

But it was way too warm for that.


One can never be quite sure around here.

The back seat of the car is filled with blankets and scarves and gloves and I’m not sure what else.

It’s the man’s emergency kit which he tells me one day I may be grateful for.

Thought it’s hard to imagine how that might occur.


The sky was keeping its options open as we drove toward Hoosick and crossed the bridge.


It was all ups and downs and turns.


And power lines.



Try as I might to ignore human blemishes,


they are in almost every image.


I began to think I should have taken a seasick pill.


If you see what I mean.

It was like some sort of funfair ride.

Our ears were popping too.



Grant intended doing this again in darkness.


In my mind I kept hearing…


“We go up diddly up up and we go down diddly own down…”

Like those magnificent men in their flying machines.


If the route was straight,


..we could have done this trip in 10 minutes.


But where’s the fun in that?

I’m curious about that mailbox.


These trees seemed to be casting their gaze aloft and reaching up, perhaps singing a dramatic chorus.

For detention once I was assigned to write about the sound grass makes when it grows.

To the surprise and annoyance, I think, of the teacher, I turned in a whole essay.

Brain just works that way.


For all the blemishes they leave around, it is surprising how rarely we see a human being.


If all these hills and valleys were flattened out, one wonders how many more square miles they would cover.

Most people probably don’t wonder but it’s the sort of purposeless information that intrigues me.



Sumac pods remind me of candles.


This is really hard to believe, but when I was a kid in England, we used to have candles on our Christmas tree.

Actual candles that Mum set light to.

Presumably this was only when she was there to snuff them out again.


Christmas was quite a production and the cake had to be baked weeks ahead so it could be anointed periodically with brandy or sherry to keep it moist, before the icing took place.

Icing and decorating was a great production in itself.

Mum was in her element and made it seem fun. She was always happy in the kitchen.


For Christmas dinner we had a roast chicken with all the trimmings.

It was a big treat and nothing like any chicken I ever encountered thereafter.

We had Christmas crackers, colourful paper tubes. You held one end and whoever sat next to you held the other. You each pulled and it went crack.

Inside was a dopey paper hat and some sort of trinket.


As kids, we of course looked forward to Christmas but I must always have been a spoilsport at heart.

One year I decided to find out whether Santa was real because I had my doubts.

On Christmas Eve I stayed awake until I heard furtive sounds and then I crept out of bed and went to peek through my doorway to the living room where Mum and Dad were arranging presents under the tree.

No wonder I grew up to be the sobering influence.

I debunked the tooth-fairy too.


At this point in our itinerary, we saw about 3 snowflakes which is often, in my experience, how a major snowstorm starts, but it was very unlikely yesterday.

We did a “fly-by” of the place Grant would later have to locate in the dark, and then started back…

13 thoughts on “Sobering influence

  1. Candles on the Christmas tree!
    How is it we aren’t all dead
    And a roast chicken – that was the BIG luxury.
    Well not in my house as we were vegetarians.
    But chicken was the thing!

    1. Indeed, according to modern standards we should all have died long ago. When I was a child I didn’t know there was a vegetarian option. Mum would not have approved but her veggies were always very nice. Her mashed potato the best I ever had.

  2. Zoomer is like Berto (when he’s supposed to sleep at night, he sneaks into the kitchen for a midnight snack). You’re right … the road looks like those little train rides for kids that you get at the fun fairs 🚂. Beautiful ride, but now I feel a little dizzy in my head. Maybe you should leave seasick pills in the car with all the other emergency stuff.

  3. I like those covered bridges, but always wonder what the point of covering them was.
    I no longer drive in the dark, except in an extreme emergency. I just find it too stressful on unlit country roads with my current eyesight issues. So now it is pitch-dark by 4:30pm, going out in the evenings just doesn’t happen, unless Julie offers to drive.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Maybe the covered bridges were for snow and ice protection. Yes, they add to the scenery. I don’t drive much at any time because of my vision. The big problem here is wildlife, especially deer.

  4. Ha, ha, I had to laugh at your comment: “No wonder I grew up to be the sobering influence.” I’m sure Grant doesn’t mind this in your character. 😉
    Candles on a Christmas tree seem a little dangerous with all that tinsel. We’ll be spending Christmas in Lviv this year and probably leave Ukraine around the 4th of January.

      1. Yes, Lviv is safer than the East. Can’t remember if I mentioned it, but we’ve been here for a month now volunteering.
        The air raid sirens haven’t gone off for a week (sirens were going off every second day and sometimes twice in a day) but we still have a curfew from midnight to 5 am. Sandbags are stacked against some of the older buildings’ bottom windows and the weekends seem to have a lot of soldiers.
        Lviv is a gorgeous city full of amazing architecture and imposing monuments.

      2. Quite an experience, I am sure. Every time some daily annoyance comes up, I think of Ukraine and the Middle East and wish that mankind did not have such a self-destructive nature. I’ll be interested to hear all about it. Meanwhile stay safe and tell people you meet they are not forgotten.

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