At the Mountains of Madness
The title of this blog refers to a novella by the great 20th century writer Howard P. Lovecraft. It’s all about an expedition to the Antarctic, and like expeditions in all Lovecraft stories, something goes wrong.
The Antarctic has come to the Capital Region this winter. Heavy snows have showed up while January and February thaws have not. That means snowbanks have prospered next to driveways in all residential neighborhoods.
Bigger driveways have meant bigger snowbanks. In The Daily Gazette’s rear parking lot, plows moved all the snow into one corner of the lot, and built a snowbank that covered nine parking spots. Mount Newsie was probably 20 feet tall, and visible from the library annex of the Life & Arts department. Bill Buell, my assistant in the annex, predicted the sun wouldn’t completely melt the snowbank until May.
Bill was figuring force of nature; he did not include force of man into his calculations. That’s what destroyed the snow king — earlier this week, a couple guys driving yellow earth movers tag-teamed and tamed the massive monument.
It took them about all afternoon, but the truckers moved all the snow to the side of the long road that curves around the newspaper plant. In transferring all the snow, the newspaper now has its own mountain range. The mountains are probably 10 feet tall in some place, and it’s geography we have rarely seen on Maxon Road Extension.
I launched a one-man expedition on a gloomy Friday afternoon, and the brief geological survey included a climb to the top of one of the mountains. Unlike some of the explorers in Lovecraft’s cold weather adventure, I completed the task without disgrace or dismemberment. I didn’t fall or slide off the mountains, break an arm and ruin my weekend.
I was thinking the newspaper, which has suddenly become contest crazy, should sponsor an in-house challenge to name our mountain range. Here are six I managed in about six minutes of thought:
* The Newsprints: The snow includes chunks of mud-blacked snow, so the black and white look is sort of like some newspaper pages.
* The Crows: Yes, crows are back in our neighborhood, and I heard many caws of misery during my expedition. Maybe the evil, cagey birds take over the range at dusk, and were annoyed to see a potential conqueror in their midst.
* The Icetops: I was king of the mountain range for about 5 minutes, and there’s not much snow in them. The mountains are as frozen as the Popsicles in my freezer from last 4th of July.
* The MacAdams: I thought a name from one of our news reporters should be considered for the landmark — Mike MacAdam is one of our sports writers. Plus, the MacAdam Mountains sounds kind of old-world. So would the Zarnowski Mountains, after our Saratoga reporter Tatiana Zarnowski.
* The Maxons: Makes our mountains sound more imposing than they really are.
The true name should be the Temp Mountains, as in temporary. By the first part of April, I think we’ll be having a contest to name the big puddle in the lawn next to the driveway.