Saturday, September 17, 2011

Repositioning. A post in four parts

Repositioning is a term used by cruise lines to designate journeys from one originating port to another. So, if a ship has spent the summer, oh let's dream, sailing around Italy, and if that ship will spent winter traveling among the Caribbean Islands, it has to get from point A (Italy) to point B (Cape Canaveral, perhaps). The trip is then named a repositioning cruise. Now that I've been here for two years and we own a house, I can't really argue that I'm still journeying to the center of New York. I've realized that it's time to reposition this blog.


Over Labor Day weekend, the last (unofficial) weekend of summer, the commuter boys and I went to the local water park for the last time. It is an outdoor-only water park that closes after Labor Day weekend. A lot of our community members would like to see it recreated as one of the big indoor/outdoor water parks ala Great Wolf Lodge. I like GWL--it's a great, quick weekend getaway when the snow is making us buggy and Florida is out of the question. But it goes against a trend that is dominant here: seasonality.

One of the things that I most love and am most fascinated by here in our new home is this quiet emphasis on seasonality. We are a region that celebrates each season in its own time and way, and I think this is something worth embracing. I also realized, as CD and I were discussing it, that this is what I want to write about as we continue exploring our new home.


The weather has turned autumnal, but the trees are still dominantly green. The primary boat launch is closed, but on sunny afternoons sailboats still dot the lake even though it's a bit chilly for all be the hardiest of our waterbabies. Concord grapes and early apples are in at the farmer's market, along with the last of the tomatoes and the fall harvest honey. The vendor explained that the fall harvest is a mixed seasonal honey, often consisting of goldenrod, thistle, and whatever last flowers are blooming. Like the rest of us, the bees are savoring summer's last hurrah. The honey we bought, raw and unfiltered, is delicious and resembles the national versions found in grocery stores about as much as the jam that I made from our grapes tastes like Smucker's. As much as I love summer, it's fall that I miss most.

Our town also hosted the first annual "get the community out and doing artsy things" event. (To name it would be to give away our little town and I don't feel like sharing.) CS and I, after our market trip, wandered around downtown and created sidewalk chalk art, painted rocks, attended a chocolate demonstration, and other simple, communal things. It's Constitution Day (I did not know this), so CS decided to draw an American flag on his section of sidewalk, then added the words "We The People" as a caption. When I asked why, he explained that 1) it's Constitution Day and 2) communities are made of people, and this one is ours. We passed it on our way to dinner, and it was still there. Undisturbed, but surrounded by a field of chalky flowers.

I've lived in small towns and large cities. In the west, the midwest, the south and now the east, and I'll confess that this is the first time I've lived in a place with such a shared passion for community. One of the advantages of being an outsider is that we can see shapes and patterns that insiders often miss. When I'm asked why I love this place, I always answer "community." I know others, once outsiders, who say the same thing. And yet those who've always been here don't see it, don't realize what it is that they have, or how rare it is. I hope that I never lose the ability to see things from the outside, that I don't lose the sense of magic and wonder that come from finding what has been missing.


This is New York. On September 11, CD came inside and said "there are firetrucks outside. One is in front of the bakery (owned by friends), the other is across the street. I hope nothing's burning." Our first concern was for our friend's business, but there was no smoke, there were no sirens. Instead, there was this:

a slow, silent parade marking the 10th year since the attack on the twin towers. CS, who is a proud cub Scout, stood at the curb and as a group of service men and women walked by he gave them the two-fingered Scout salute. To a person, they returned his homage.

This place, these people? Home. We're a little goofy, a lot caring, and we love to celebrate the changing of the seasons. For this next year I plan to write about the seasons as they change, how we embrace them, and how they shape our world here in this corner of upstate New York. I'm looking forward to it, and hope you are too.