At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the Erie Canal is, as always, pretty chilly, icy, and grayscale. The seasonal changes in this 363 mile-long waterway are equally predictable and stunning. Two times each day (sometimes three) I see a small, approximately 3 mile stretch of the feat many once called the eighth wonder of the world (for, it was the first transportation system in America to connect the eastern seaboard [NYC] and the western interior [Lake Erie at Buffalo, NY]). Needless to say, I’ve gotten to know this segment of the canal quite well over the past two and half years. I love the colors of the fall best of all. But fall is so short, it’s often easy to miss the season altogether, even when you’re constantly reminding yourself to soak it in. It just goes away somehow. Spring is very nice, too, serious mud season, but too fleeting as well. Summer is very green, and the canal is teeming with life. It’s most people’s favorite time around there. But it’s also very hot, and longish by my standards. Along the canal, once the sun starts to set, when I prefer to walk the trail in the evening, the mosquitoes are ferocious (unless there’s a hearty breeze). Admittedly, I’ve never been a summer-lover or fan of warm weather in general (no matter where on the globe the high temps might be). Yeah, sure, our fair village attracts a lot of tourists in the summer: for many, if not most, it is super pleasant around here in the summer. But not for me. The copious amounts of people milling about the canal do to make the scenery here more attractive . By my way of thinking, they complicate the place, and I prefer it simple. But in winter, lovely winter, the canal is usually empty. Two or three times a day, walking or jogging along the towpath path, the hound can run freely off the leash and I don’t have to dodge hoards of people and swarms of skeeters. I do miss the explosive colors of autumn. Yet I absolutely love the solitude, chilly air, frozen water, and clearly delineated black lines of the leafless trees, metal bridges, and transformers against the white ground and gray skies. It’s cold but clear. And I like clarity.