Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall - In Love with the Adirondacks

Fall is no wishy-washy affair in the Adirondacks. There’s no seamless progression from summer to winter here. The seasons change with an explosion of reds, golds, yellows and oranges, with the crunch of tinder-dry leaves underfoot, with a crackle and snap of freezing nights that whisper of winter to come and sing sad songs of summer past. Activities and ambiance evolve with the seasons. Canada geese trumpet the change in their southward journeys, settling down here or there to glean a cornfield before continuing on. Residents lay in firewood, and the sharp smell of wood smoke scents the air. Cold cellaring, canning, freezing or pickling prepares beets, carrots, potatoes, squash and pumpkins for winter storage. Lush garden plots fall fallow.
Between the time that everyone wonders, “Where did the summer go?” and the time they start to ask “Do you think it’s going to be a hard winter?” the Adirondackers experience autumn. The hustle and bustle in little villages abates, and one neighbor can spot another at the far end of a grocery store aisle. “How did your garden do?” one will call. Responses vary, depending on that year’s growing season, but the conversation often ends with, “I thought frost would never come!”
Fall is a time for biking, for hiking mountain trails, for parking at scenic overlooks along Adirondack highways to capture foliage and wildlife on cameras. Here in Thurman it’s a season for wandering through the Thurman Station Farmers’ market to look for fall veggies, tasty baked goods, maple products and hand-crafted gift items.
And then there are fall’s special events. On October 10th visit Nettle Meadow Goat Farm’s Open House from noon to four p.m. There will be activities for kids, live music, farm tours and cheese dish tasting for all. That same weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, Thurman hosts its second annual Fall Farm Tour, running from 10 to 4 each day. Valley Road Maple Farm opens early (9 a.m.) to begin dishing up pancakes, and Whitefield’s Farm will stay open late (6 p.m.)
The Adirondack scene changes as the sun recedes to the South, but this mountainous region offers no less—and perhaps offers more—in the fall. The pace of each day is slower, the air is fresher, and biting insects are all but nonexistent. Crowds seldom jostle us, and we have more time to share with neighbors. All savor the last few rays of strong sunshine, knowing that winter soon will blanket the land, a time to hunker down by the fire and savor memories of the seasons past.

(Thanks to Miroslav Ivkovic, publisher of Adirondack Guest Informer, for allowing me to adapt and use here the article submitted to him for the fall edition of his magazine. – Perky)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Remember

Writers and teachers of writing are divided in their opinion about use of writing prompts. Some like them, and some do not.

I do.

At the recent Adirondack Mountain Retreat, Irene Sherlock invited us to read a brief piece about remembering and then to write a bit on the subject of our own memories. I had said in an earlier conversation that I don't have a lot of memories, but, amazingly, a piece of writing appeared on my computer screen that seemed like the beginning of a memoir I had never intended to write, something that was better than I had thought I could write, on that topic, anyway.

Where do those words come from? What vein do writing prompts tap into that yields such rich ore? Yes, I like prompts; I may have to make up my own as I go prospecting for new material.

And yes, I do remember. I remember more than I thought.

This week my head is full of memories of the retreat and of the people who made the hours dance and the days sing. The camaraderie, the laughter, the tears--we shared so much, and virtual strangers at that. The instruction and gentle nudging from Irene as we tried our wings on new projects strengthened us and moved our work forward. It was a wonderful four days.

I remember, and I smile.