front porch of my adolescence offered some striking westerly views of
the ridges and foothills of New Jersey’s Appalachian Highlands. Being
caught up in the usual amount of teenage angst, I rarely noticed this
impressive scene, but my parents certainly took advantage of the vista.
Having spent a good portion of their lives in the city, they were
seldom privy to big skies. So on those warm clear summer evenings they
would trade in the recliner for a nylon mesh aluminum folding lawn
chair, and forego the usual nightly ritual of televised game shows in
order to watch one of Earths longest running spectacles—sunset.
On occasion my father would indulge his senses even further by
requesting that I deliver a bottle of either Miller High Life or Pabst
Blue Ribbon carefully poured into his favorite German pilsner glass. In
time, I would also come to delight in the sublime nature of suds at
sundown. Not that I discount the possibility of achieving a similar
state of bliss at sunrise, but with my propensity for being
around for last call, experiencing that particular consequence of
planetary rotation is highly improbable. So my appreciation for the
observations of Copernicus will remain mostly an evening affair. And it
was on such an evening during this past July that I was reminded of why
my parents spent those countless hours on our front porch.
My wife and I, along with our friend Don, had just completed a tour of Finger
Distilling, and the owner Brian McKenzie recommended that we
might want to catch a pint at the recently opened Two Goats Brewing in nearby
Hector, New York. Like the distillery, this brewpub is positioned
perfectly on the eastern slope above Seneca Lake. The appealing rustic
structure that houses the brewery and bar was built from an old barn
that was dismantled and moved to its current location. Unfortunately,
during our visit the in-house beers were still not available to the
general public, but there was an ample supply of quality microbrews.
Since then, Two
Goats has begun to sell their own product, along with the other
domestic craft brews. Currently they are featuring an IPA, cream ale
and an oatmeal stout.
At some point during our turn at the bar I made the unusual decision to
abandon the security of the high ground and venture out to the back
deck. A short time later I was joined by the rest of my party, and
George and Cathy, friends that had driven in from Ithaca. Even though
it was overcast and rain seemed likely, we opted to remain outdoors.
At approximately 7:00pm a single shaft of light sliced through the grey
cover illuminating the surface of Seneca Lake. It was as if a spotlight
had been turned on signaling the beginning of the play. For the next
thirty minutes there was this magnificent solar lit dance between the
water and sky. And when that dance was finally over, and the stage was
once again cloaked in darkness, I thought of summers long ago, and I
raised my glass to good friends, good beer—and great sunsets!
Sunset over Seneca Lake