A few days ago, we received a video from our youngest son who was traveling from his home in New York City to a town north of the city on the train.
The video was great fun as we experienced his ride on the train with the caption, “Lovely day upstate.” His video showed absolutely no snow, although we were experiencing a winter wonderland at that moment. I asked him where “upstate” was, and he explained he was traveling to Mount Kisco, which is about an hour from New York City.
I began to think about New York state, the area where I was born and raised and where we chose to return and live after college and marriage. This is the state where we chose to raise our sons and live. As I thought about being a New Yorker, my thoughts centered on how massive our state is and how different each area is as well.
Initially, one might think traveling north from New York City “upstate” would include a trip to Massena, Malone or even Bombay. Aren’t we in the upper part of the state?
We learned quickly during visits at our older son’s home with his friends that upstate really meant Westchester County and no area above Syracuse. “What would our hometown be considered?” I asked at a restaurant in New York City one evening. I was quickly told we were definitely not part of upstate New York.
This week, I have thought about our state and done a bit of research and realize there are many descriptive areas throughout the state. Downstate, I learned, refers to New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
But even that description, though, comes with sub-regions, I read. The lower section of the Hudson Valley is debated as to whether it might be part of the area described as upstate.
There is also the Capital District around Albany, the Mohawk Valley, Central New York, Western New York, the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes and the north country.
I was born on Long Island when my father was attending college in New York City, but we moved to Dresden on Seneca Lake. We later moved to Danby, just south of Ithaca on Cayuga Lake. I guess I was raised in the Finger Lakes region but now find a wonderful home in the north country.
I would love to see each region designation eliminated from our language. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we learned where the towns where our friends and family members lived so we could all say proudly “we are New Yorkers” with everyone knowing exactly where we live? And each one can feel part of this beautiful, diverse state we call home.
Gary VanKennen will celebrate his birthday on March 11. What an extraordinary gentleman.
He and his amazing wife, the Rev. Judy VanKennen, are always there for a neighbor, friend or family members — near or far away. No matter who you are, each one is thought about with wonderful, caring hearts.
My thanks, Gary, for all you do. My warmest birthday wishes this week for only the best as you celebrate.
WONDERFUL SIGN OF SPRING
On Sunday afternoon, I clicked on YouTube on my iPad. Before I found the program I was looking for, a familiar image filled my screen.
Pictured were two beautiful red-tailed hawks in Ithaca. I checked the date immediately — this video was recorded on March 2 of this year.
I was amazed, it almost seems too early for birds to be working to build a nest. I looked through the information I have on the red-tailed hawk couple Big Red and Arthur and soon discovered they build their nests now and lay their first eggs in March.
It was great fun watching in amazement as the two parent birds worked to lay sticks carefully above the Cornell University athletic field preparing for their family. The hawks have built their nest in this area every year since 2012.
I know I have shared this wonderful story with you previously but want to make sure you have the opportunity to watch this marvelous event. There are live cameras focused on the hawk couple providing us with the most amazing opportunity of watching.
And what a terrific sign of spring. With nest building already underway, certainly spring cannot be far behind.
What an absolute joy to have a handwritten card arrive in our mailbox this week. The card was a wonderful surprise amidst bills, junk mail and catalogs.
The words shared in the handwritten note touched my heart. The writer mentioned the recent column on my love of books. She, too, loves books, she said.
How kind of this column reader (and her husband and feline friend, too) to take a moment from her day to write and make my day a wonderful one. With thanks for your shared joy this week sent from your Massena home. You certainly filled my day with joy!
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“The older you get, the more fragile you understand life to be. I think that’s good motivation for getting out of bed joyfully each day.”
— Julia Roberts
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