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More Stories - The Way We Were
See the Photo below if you just want to see something beautiful and skip the reminiscence. But there's links to some beautiful scenery, too.
It's true that beauty takes all forms, depending on the eye of the beholder and the memories behind the view. To me, the most beautiful area on earth is western New York State, especially around the Finger Lakes in New York, including Newfield, near Ithaca, where I was born. Watkins Glen (probably better known for its race track) Ithaca's incomparable Buttermilk Falls State Park (follow the link at the bottom of their page to Waterfalls), Letchworth Park, the "Grand Canyon of the East", with its deep gorge and legends, and just the simple beauty of the hills and valleys: all is beyond comparison. See more photos at Watkins Glen. The shores and valleys surrounding Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are a close second.
When I lived in Wyoming, New York from age 6 to 11, I spent many hours in the hills north of town during all seasons of the year including the dead of winter, where magnificent gorges, tiny meadows, waterfalls and cliffs hide in waiting for the unexpected pleasure of explorers.
It's truly God's country. My children all thought I was exaggerating until they visited Western New York and the Pennsylvania Poconos in their teens.
But it snows!!! From the lake effect of Arctic winter storms, roaring across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and up the valleys, to the higher elevations of the Poconos, how it snows! Often beginning early, and sometimes unbelievable deep.
My husband was from Kentucky, and doesn't deal well with cold. We lived barely close enough to area schools in Miami, Florida that our children rarely qualified for school bus service. When it was miserable weather, Floyd would launch into that proverbial refrain, "When I was a child, in the country in Kentucky......" I would bite my tongue most of the time. Sometimes after the reluctant kid dragged out the door I would tell him, "Floyd, you don't know what cold and snow are."
I especially enjoyed the book series, the "Little House on the Prairie", because even though the stories are set hundreds of miles away in a different type of landscape, I understood the descriptions of having to tie a rope from the house to the barn for a guideline, so as not to be lost and frozen to death in a blizzard. My mother lived less than a mile straight uphill from her one-room grade school, and tells of going the only way possible when the snow got deep; skiing down with snowshoes over the shoulder, and snow-shoeing up again in the afternoon carrying the skis. If I dawdled getting ready for school in Wyoming, New York, my punishment was having to walk the mile and a half to school, even in snowy winter. My parents didn't think this was a hardship at all since the roads were snowplowed. Actually, I didn't think it was much of a penalty, although having to take a note to the principal, and then being sent to my room when I got home was pretty bad.
Older people in the area would recount about being completely snowed in and cut off from the world for three months at a time. Summer and fall required, as it did for the large population of Native Americans in previous centuries, a mad rush to put away enough food and supplies to last through these harsh and lonely (but beautiful) winters, a season to sew and mend, carve and weave, to get ready for the next year's planting, hunting, gathering and preserving.
One year when The Miami Herald carried news about a particular valley just off Lake Ontario that had suffered several storms with hurricane force winds as well as a total-to-date of 18 feet of snow, Floyd began to get an idea that his "When I was a child...." stories might not be the worst in the world. Never the less, I'm not sure he was totally convinced.
One day I showed hubby a picture sent by my Uncle Bob (Robert Hine), from Newfield, New York. Floyd studied it for a while, then commented, shaking his head, "Naw, they cut off their legs!"
Postscript from Uncle Bob: "The winter scene was slightly faked; the girls are on their knees. They are (my son) Doug's wife Lyn and their daughter Sarah."
Sorry for doubting you, Floyd. It's still a fantastic photo.