As the weather begins to tease us with spring, I start to think about all of the events and activities that will begin as it starts to warm up. With the plethora of festivals and outdoor hubbub, I realize yet again that people tend to miss out on the true feeling of New York State. In fact, most people tend to forget that it’s anything other than that comparatively tiny island on the East Coast.
If those people only knew what the state itself, and the Finger Lakes particularly, have to offer! Don’t get me wrong, New York City is other-worldly. It’s odd and exciting and unusual; a burst of color and lights in a black and white photograph. But when the color becomes all you see, the values and intricacies of the gray tones are entirely lost. This is how I feel whenever I’m forced to make a distinction between the beauty of New York City and New York State.
I am, of course, extremely biased having come from Dansville, a little town about 40 minutes from Rochester. Horses, creeks and a state park are right down the road – I know that I grew up in a wonderland all its own. There are hundreds of pictures of a little curly-headed me coming home completely soaked from a day of fun playing in the little waterfalls and building dams with all of the rocks.
Past the creek you could follow the trails into the woods and you’d find the quaint little cabin my grandparents built. Here, my family would have traditional campfires full of burnt marshmallows, firefly catching and “Scary Walks” in the dark on the hilly trails around us. At night I’d wait in the cabin while one of the adults went around back to turn of the growling gas generator that I was convinced was some sort of bear (which weren’t unusual to see, along with the deer, coyotes and foxes. Once in a while there’d be rumors about a wild cat).
We’d light the wood-burning stove and lanterns and I would insist on sleeping under one of the attic skylights. On a clear night the millions of clear stars are breath-taking and I loved the sound of the crickets – just not the squirrels that were always nibbling on the roof.
These backyard vacations are the epitome of state versus city to me. Where in New York City are you going to be able to do that?
It breaks my heart that people are so unaware of my version of New York. I wish that people would pause and maybe even ask, “Where in New York did you live?” (and not just mean Manhattan versus the Bronx). Even typing in “Map of Upstate New York” into Google will give you New York, New York. But you can be sure that when I wear an “I Love NY” t-shirt, I do it for a completely different reason than the wide-eyed girl returning home with a bag full of city memorabilia.
By Halie Solea