A few short weeks ago, our youngest daughter accidentally slept through her alarm and missed the morning bus. After a quick breakfast, we hopped into the car to take the 10-minute drive to school. The sun was just breaking over the horizon and whisps of fog were hugging the banks of the West Canada Creek.
Working full-time on the farm, I am rarely on the road before 7am. Sure, I’ll run errands, leave for a farmer’s market or deliveries later in the day, but never quite that early. It seems I’ve been missing out on some spectacular scenery!
Our farm sits on a hillside just above the West Canada, facing the sunrise. We drove north on Route 28, winding alongside the rapids and through the fall foliage. The early sun glinted on the rushing waters, the boulders mid-stream creating mini waterfalls and a resting place for migrating Canadian geese. The quiet of the morning made it seem like this scene was just for us.
My breath caught in my throat; it was all so beautiful!
Up on our pretty hill with its lovely views, I’ve grown accustomed to our surroundings and often take them for granted. But that morning’s surprise scenery reminded me of when we first moved here nearly 20 years ago—when everything was new.
When we first arrived, most long-term residents asked us the same question: “Why did you move here?” The doubt in their voices was unmistakable.
I remember my response as if it were yesterday: Look around you. Can’t you see how beautiful it is?
(I guess we all need a little reminder from time to time.)
Now the tables have turned, and I am in the unique position of meeting lots of people new to the area. Despite a general trend of New Yorkers moving out of the state, I see a consistent flow of new residents coming to the Mohawk Valley. Some are escaping the flood-ravaged and hurricane-prone Southeast or the wildfires of the arid West. Others are relocating here for jobs at local colleges, hospitals, or chip factories.
Many of these newcomers are searching out local farms. They are trying to get their bearings in their new environs and navigating the local food landscape is high on the to-do list.
I felt this need very keenly when we moved here from the North Shore of Massachusetts so very long ago. I was spoiled by the fresh seafood (several neighbors were lobstermen) and the many small restaurants. I shopped the local Market Basket and farmer’s market and kept a small garden in our backyard.
Finding myself in a new home, could I find the ingredients and foods I was accustomed to, or would I have to adjust my expectations? I was a little worried.
I soon found several farmer’s markets and became a regular buyer with favorite vendors. I met neighbors that could offer me a quarter cow or a whole pig, butchered to my specifications—a mind-blowing discovery I never even considered back in Massachusetts. I learned to keep chickens for eggs and meat and started a brand-new garden. It took a little time, but I learned to navigate our new world and appreciate the beautiful ingredients readily available here.
Our family moved here nearly 20 years ago, and it is incredibly easy to be complacent. We have our routines; we see the same old scenes day in and day out. It can become hard to see our Mohawk Valley as special and uniquely beautiful. But believe me, it is! Sometimes we need to see it through the eyes of a newcomer to truly treasure and value what we have, right under our noses.