Archives for posts with tag: upstate

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I’ve lives in several different states across the U.S.; Pennsylvania, Florida, and Southern California.  Everywhere I went, I got one big response.  It went something like this: “Oh, terrible weather there!”  Sometimes, there were more colorful metaphors involved with the comment, but essentially it was always the same.  Oh, the terrible weather!  Why would anyone ever live there? 

It always perplexes me that people judge Upstate/western New York without even visiting.  They have no idea what it’s really like.  They always think, “SNOW!” and they immediately treat it with disdain.  The thing is that half the world has snow.  It’s part of the whole climate aspect of the planet.  

It makes me sad that most people don’t even realize that there’s a state attached to New York City, but there’s so many other amazing things through the year that make rural New York amazing!  So, I thought I’d share some of them with all of you! First up: Fall.  

Fall is in full swing.  I live in Western New York, near Buffalo, Rochester, and the Finger Lakes.  The first and most obvious are the trees! There’s forests everywhere, and the trees become a bonfire of colors that really make the season pop!  Reds, yellows, and oranges like roads, hills, crop fields, and especially the Great Lakes.  There’s even foliage reports on the news.  

Secondly, Fall is the time when events and festivals are still in full swing.  For example, there’s Oktoberfest, and New York comes alive with Wine and Beer, giving local businesses a chance to really show their stuff!  There’s also The Fringe Festival in Rochester, New York, and it highlights the performing artists of the area.  There’s more than you think to Upstate New York! 

Fall is the time for family fun!  Hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and trick -or- treat events are a constant in our area.  Bits of the harvest is coming in, and you can find the farmer’s bounty at farm stands and farmer’s markets all along the roads.  Delicious!  

That brings me to a topic that needs only one word. Apples. New York is the apple state, after all.  They are amazingly wonderful!  New York Apple Cider is the tastiest drink!  Try hot mulled cider on a chilly evening!  You won’t regret it!

My favorite is the cooler temperatures – but not too cold yet.  I love to take the dogs for a walk, sweatshirt and a brightly colored scarf keeping me warm.  I live in an isolated area, and so it’s very quiet through the day, and it makes it perfect for afternoon strolls.  The dogs love to smell and sniff everything!  I love spending time with my furry family. 

These are only a few of the reasons why Autumn in New York is fantastic.  If you visit our lovely countryside, consider Fall for the time of year! 

What do you love about the season?

 

 

My family has horses.  We used to have many more, but right now there are three: Two mares and a stallion.  They are permanent installments in our daily lives.  Many people don’t understand how much care it takes to keep horses.  They see rich people on television board their horses (which is very expensive!).  This has it’s advantages, but it also portrays that keeping horses is a walk in the park; all reward with no work.  In the real world, the horses are your entire life – the work has to be done every day without fail. 

That made it hard for me growing up because it was painstakingly obvious that I couldn’t do the things other kids did.  I have never been on a vacation where the whole family could attend.  We came close once time.  I was about twelve.  The down side was that my father had to stay at the house at care for the animals.  It was wonderful, but I always wondered about my peers who went to myrtle beach every year, or camping, or so on.  The other side of it is that I love my home, I love my family, and I love my life.  It is the only place I *almost* fit in.  The horses, the work, it all made me who I am.

Every year we pack 600 bales of hay in the barns.  This feeds the horses the entire year.  Sometimes we even have a couple left over when we start the new batch.  In the spring we supplement the hay with fresh cut grass.  The horses love it!  They would eat it like candy if we let them.  (Don’t, btw.  It makes them sick. 😛 )

This year had been wet.  It rained nearly every day for over a month.  Not constantly, but enough so the ground couldn’t dry.  For the hay farmers, that meant that they cut hay very, very late.  Normally we would have the whole batch in by now, or close to it.  However, we are just getting started.  About 1/4 of the way done. 

Horse hay is difficult  because it cannot be moldy.  It has to be cut and dried in the fields, then fluffed and baled.  If it is rained on, it is trashed.  Then it is just cow hay.  Cows can eat musty hay, but it will make horses very, very sick.  That’s why the farmers waited so long to cut their fields.  The crop would be trashed otherwise.  

It takes a lot of work, but in the end it’s worth it. 🙂  

When people hear, “New York” they think of the big city – lights, cars, skyscrapers, business, stores, the crazy guy on the corner holding ‘THE END IS NEAR’ sign, and people as far as the eye can see.  The city has everything you need to survive (and many things that are just icing on the cake). Endless numbers of people move to New York City and others all across the world.  Some love it, some hate it.  But everyone has big dreams of what their life will be.  Whether it’s the next big music producer or an upscale chef with your own restaurant, New York City is the mecca of the Eastern Seaboard. That’s not anything new. It’s always been where the-next-big-thing hits the market.

But there’s so much more to New York – like, a whole state attached.  With people living in it – and cars – and color television.

I know that most people don’t think about that. Country!  That’s down south!  Farms! Those are out in Kansas!  I have heard it all.  Most people don’t realize that there are rural places in the North East United States.

I come from Western New York – right on Lake Ontario.  For 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house.  I graduated High school with nearly everyone who was in Kindergarten class.  My town has a Post Office, some houses, fields, woods, and nothing else.  ‘Going to town’ is a big thing out here… mainly because you have to drive about thirty minutes to the nearest grocery store. The corner store is 5 miles away.

I live in Rural America.

I graduated high school and went to college.  Small town kid in a big city.  I went out of state, far enough away from farms and livestock because I wanted to experience life in other places.  I earned my degree, bounced around a little, and worked in dead-end jobs that barely covered my rent and student loans.  I was tired, unhealthy, and not in a very good frame of mind.

And now I moved back home for good.  I have lived in several states and cities, with friends and roommates, near the streets and cars and skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of people living on top of each other.  I returned home with no job and too much student loan debt – like so many of my peers.

Two months ago I felt like a failure coming back here.  I felt like I was worthless, like I wasn’t good enough to do anything.  Why can other people make it while I can’t?  Why?  There are many different reasons, but my mother didn’t care about any of that.  She wants me happy and healthy – and for me, that meant here in the middle of corn fields, horses, and the summer humid heat.

I have always looked for my place out here, but I never really fit in.  When I was younger I thought it was because I was meant for city living – and I met many people who agreed with me.  But over the course of seven years I have found that my place is out here – I just have to find it.

So, I am finding the beauty in rural, small town America (Small is a bit of an understatement).  People who are born in a small town grow up and leave.  They want bigger and better things, and rightly so.  The result of that is the rural community is dying.  Small businesses easily parish under the poor economic climate that has plagued us for over twenty years.  It is harder and harder to make ends meet.  The cost of living keeps rising while income stagnates or declines.  We have the same problems that people who live in the city have.  The difference is that out here, all we have is ourselves.

This past April, the closest hospital closed it doors.  It was in the nearby college town, 30 minutes away.  Now, we have to drive an hour to the nearest emergency room to receive care.  I heard the message loud and clear: We don’t care about you.  People who live in rural America don’t matter.  Just die, because you don’t even deserve a hospital.

I don’t accept that message.  I don’t accept the fact that the world is blind to us, our hardships, our people, and our community.  I don’t accept the fact that we are powerless to change that world view.  I don’t accept the fact that the world thinks we are worthless.  I don’t accept that we are invisible.

That’s why I am here.  I am on a journey to chronicle life out here in rural, small town America.  I am going to show you that we are beautiful, vibrant, and filled with sights, sounds, places, food, and more.  I am going to show you that the heart of America is worth saving.

Come on the journey with me.