Big weather on the Hudson

SEEN FROM the window of the train, the Hudson River has become like flat snow-covered fields, a frozen landscape in which there might as well be no river. In the worst winter for a decade, the Hudson has been covered by a foot and a half of ice. A smudge of grey in the distance where the ice-breakers have made a path is the only sign of water. A local newspaper reports that this channel can refreeze within half an hour of a ship passing. Local papers, in their attempt to come to grips with such extreme conditions, produce excessive lists of statistics, all meaningless, like the fact that New York has had snow 28 times in the last 32 days. Almost identical front-page stories are run by the Hudson Register Star (Keeping River Open Never Ending Task: and the Catskill Daily Mail (Keeping River Flowing A Tricky Task). The Star produces a story about a toll-booth attendant on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge who reported bleeding knuckles from the cold.

For the moment, the weather is news, putting aside other headlines, all of them reduced in significance by what a Hudson local calls, 'a lotta big weather'. Television dwells endlessly on the local freeze and the Los Angeles earthquake. Curiously parochial stories of individual bewilderment are followed by jittery discussions with superstitious pundits. Someone in California says that the next thing will be the rains: mudslide] I idly wonder what insurance premiums are now for Angelenos.

Not to be outdone, the Hudson Register Star has its earthquake headline, which takes priority over local weather stories: 'Ex-Claverack Man Unhurt In Quake; Just Going To Work'. Claverack is a hamlet on route 23B and newsworthy in its own right. The Register reports that during the night of 17 January powerlines were cut by a falling branch, leaving 750 people powerless for several hours.

In the town of Hudson fire sirens are heard several times a day, which seems strange given the climate. The fires, according to the Register, are usually caused by broken powerlines setting trees alight. A more enjoyable local rumour attributes them to arson, the result of boredom at the national retirement home for ex-firemen, which lies on the outskirts of the town.

Even this far north, the river is so broad that it seems imperiously detached from whatever fate is endured by towns like Hudson, fallen on hard times. Local 19th-century painters were drawn to this river landscape by what they considered its Edenic qualities, and, even if the fastness of winter, one can see why. The Hudson seems even more awesome in its frozen state, its width emphasised by the size of the bridges that span it.

In the cusp of jetlag I stay up half the night watching snow fall, a form of reverie in itself. Baudelaire once wrote: 'Isn't it true that a pleasant house makes winter more poetic, and doesn't winter add to the poetry of a house?' But the peace of the image is interrupted by snow trucks grinding their way through town, making the sort of siniter racket associated with military coups. As the trucks move through the white streets, someone on television in Los Angeles sifts through the wreckage of their home, looking for some trace of personal belonging.

Photographs by David Kelley

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?