A Wedding Suited For Alice

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Live, Laugh and Love!

Michelle Graham

Sweet summer in Northern New York is short. What can you do to make every moment count? Being a gal from Watertown I feel like I have a little insight. As we approach those beautiful long warm days there are so many things that you can do and see to have your best summer. Set your summer plan in place; you still have time to make and have experiences that can last a lifetime. Where can you visit, what fun can you have, who can you do it with?

    Let’s start with Living it up. We all get caught in the same old day to day routine. Get out of your comfort level and really truly LIVE. We are close to many amazing things. Catch a summer concert – spur of the moment – at the Amphitheater in Syracuse; the list of artists to see is awesome. Catch a sunset on the water; better yet catch a sunrise, too. Set your priorities in order spend precious moments with your children. Blow bubbles, skip stones, paint rocks, go for a bike ride, or spend time at the beach jumping waves. There are a limited number of summer days that we can spend with our sweet kids before they run off to college and then things change. Take advantage of each moment. Try something new; go out to dinner at a new place. Our summer communities offer great places to eat and play. I recently tried DiPrinzio’s Kitchen in Clayton; it is excellent. If getting in touch with nature is what you crave check out the newly renovated nature center on Wellesley Island. Your whole family will enjoy this little adventure. Also, the Adirondack’s offers many great options for hiking for the entire family. There are plenty of hikes that the entire family can hike and conquer; Mount Joe and Cascade are easier hikes that a young family can enjoy near Lake Placid. Don’t be afraid to take that drive; your options for adventure within a two-three hour drive are endless.

    Laugh your way through summer. Find ways to surround yourself with people who make you feel good and understand you the best. Sometimes it is fun to sit back and laugh at life. Many of the things we do each day can be serious. Find time this summer to relax and enjoy all that summer has to offer. We celebrate many things in summer like graduations, weddings and reunions. You don’t have to be the best or look the best; find ways to have the best time at events this year and make memories with your friends and family that count and leave an indelible place on your heart. Catch a boat ride; the feeling of being on the water is amazing. The wind and water in your face can bring an instant smile. If you really want to laugh try YOGA on a stand-up paddle board in Sackets Harbor. This is a sure way to bring some out-of-the-box fun to your day.  Go to the drive-in and catch a funny movie. Find fun things to do and see and savor the sweetness. Don’t be in a hurry to rush from place to place; slow down, laugh and smile your way through summer.

    Love your surroundings this summer. I often hear people complaining about our area. I think that summers in Northern New York are pretty fabulous. Be grateful, practice gratitude this summer in all things. What living here requires is some initiative. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way and think outside the box. Get a map and see where this may lead you. Take a trip along the water and check out all the beauty. How lucky are we that we live so close to the Saint Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and Canada? The beauty that surrounds us is truly remarkable. What top 10 things can you do this summer to make it count? What adventures can you take? Where can summer 2018 lead you?

    To Live, Laugh and Love your way through summer 2018 is easy. It may require a little planning, a little out-of-the-box thinking and the ability to let go and simply find ways to have some fun. Enjoy this sweet summer and all that Northern New York has to offer. Carve your path and set your journey in motion. Don’t be a spectator this summer; be present and live – really live – your best summer life.


A Wedding in Redwood to Defy Tradition

Better Farm’s art barn, located in Redwood, NY, is captured during a starry summer evening.

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Gardening Benefits Plentiful Despite Challenges

With the coming of summer, lots of North Country folks’ minds turn to gardening. Well, actually, many of those minds turned to gardening as early as January, when the seed catalogs started arriving in the mail and the planning began, on sheets of paper spread across kitchen tables on cold, dark evenings. Hard-core gardeners, it’s said, even began dreaming the moment they finished putting last year’s garden to bed for the winter, pulled the last carrot or dug the last potato through frost-crusted earth and wondered why this crop or that hadn’t come in. “We’ll try again next year….”

    For most of us, gardening may be about the independence of raising our own trustworthy food, the satisfaction of coaxing something edible from the Earth, the pleasure of getting our hands dirty, our latent desire to do something good for a beleaguered planet, or our determination to make the most of the north country’s all-too-short summers: “The growing season is only a few weeks long, and I am GOING to enjoy it, even if it exhausts me!” But for everybody, what’s even more important is that gardening is a super source of family stories.

    For us, these revolve around the expansion and contraction of our gardens as we’ve passed through life’s stages. Growing up in the north country, I got it into my head that everybody had a big garden. A great-aunt, for example, maintained a massive layout, full of flowers and vegetables and plum trees, on hundreds of square feet of river bottom, which she tended religiously into her 90s. A proper lady, she wore pants only when gardening; upon completing her weeding, clipping, hoeing and harvesting for the day, she would repair immediately to her room and emerge in a dress. I naturally assumed that when I grew up I would become a gardener too.

    That proved easier said than done, because for the first few years after college I lived in urban environments, surrounded by asphalt, and then in a boarding school where I taught. We did manage a small (I mean about six-foot by six-foot) plot there, but the grounds superintendent wasn’t thrilled that we wanted to dig up a tiny square of his campus.

    When we moved to the Canton area and bought an old farmhouse with an acre of land, though, it was time for the gardens to take off. We had some fine ones for a few years, and even succeeded in being nearly self-sufficient in veggies one winter. One year we cajoled corn stalks up to a few inches greater than my almost-six-foot height, and we even harvested a couple of palatable (if you define the term liberally) cantaloupes, which our neighbors said couldn’t be raised in the north country – too short a season. Those neighbors were from Birdsfoot Farm, one of the few communal organic operations that survived the idealism of the Back to the Earth fad of the 1970s (and continues to thrive to this day), so we were pretty smug about that. Or maybe just lucky.

    We survived late frosts; one we christened the Great Anniversary Freeze, because it fell on our wedding anniversary, June 29, and devastated not only our garden but also dozens throughout the region. We also endured a cow invasion: one spring day we looked out the window and spotted a dozen Holsteins trampling around in what after a rainy spell was abnormally spongy soil. They’d escaped from another neighbor’s farm, and were having a delightful time trashing our newly-planted spread. A quick call brought the farmer running, issuing heartfelt apologies even before he was within hearing range, and the cows were soon rounded up and headed home, though not before leaving deep holes all over our poor garden; I had not appreciated until then how much a dairy cow weighs, and thus how far into saturated soil it can sink its legs. They also left some fertilizer, though, for which we thanked the chagrined farmer.

    Which reminds me of the prolific rhubarb we cut each spring. We couldn’t imagine how it could get so big and delicious with no work on our part. Then a previous owner of the place told us it had until not many years earlier been a working farm, and the rhubarb had sprouted happily in the former manure pile. Ah, the wonders of nature.

    But the main thing we survived was zucchini. Why we kept planting so darn much of it I could never imagine, except that we knew it would grow no matter what, so there was that smug satisfaction thing again. The problem was that we always went away on vacation in August, and it never had the courtesy to stop growing while we were gone. We’d come home to zucchinis the size of Goodyear blimps. The vines would lose all sense of propriety, insinuating themselves among the bean stalks, climbing the pepper plants for a better view, hauling themselves up the tomato cages and cutting off the tomatoes’ sunlight with fronds as big as truck tires. We prayed for a hard frost.

    Eventually, we moved into town, and the gardens got smaller and smaller as our backs got older and we realized we could patronize the Farmers Market, featuring growers who actually knew what they were doing, for a little cash and a lot less sweat, mosquito repellent, muscle rub and dirt under our fingernails. We’re now down to a fall-bearing raspberry patch, some rhubarb transplanted from that old manure-pile stock, and sporadic asparagus – perennials that require minimal human effort.

    Meanwhile, gardening has evolved a new ethos as a beneficial aspect of the larger environment, partly in response to concerns about global climate change and natural habitat loss. Trees (carbon captors), bees (pollinators), water conservation practices and native species (as opposed to invasives) are the “in” things today.  We’re all for it; we’ll just let the younger generations do the labor while we rock on the deck until the raspberries are ready to pick, sometime in October.


More Than Just A Boat Show: Education for kids of all ages at the Antique Boat Museum


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Island Living: Surviving winters away from shore

Nicole Caldwell stands in the middle of Butterfield Lake, Redwood, where she built her home on an island, at rear right.

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Make love a wonderful part of all your holiday traditions


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Drink in a bountiful fall harvest

A rainbow appears above the vineyard at Coyote Moon Winery, Clayton.

A rainbow appears above the vineyard at Coyote Moon Winery, Clayton.

Northern New York wineries share ‘labor of love’ with communities

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Summer 2016: The NNY Life

Renewing connections with old friends a reminder of blessed life

Kathy Hirschey

Kathy Hirschey

Today is the first day of summer. I am sitting outside the Ritz-Carlton in Miami, Fla., sipping a glass of expensive wine, looking at the ocean, watching palm trees, thinking I can’t believe I am here. [Read more…]

Spring 2016: The NNY Life

The struggle to let go as a child’s boyhood slips away

Kathy Hirschey

Kathy Hirschey

I have been home with my son, Evan, for three days. He’s sick. Not terribly so, but he has a mild fever that lingers. I don’t do well being trapped in my house for long periods of time. I like to get out. I feel guilty calling in sick for work, and I know my son worries about missing school and the assignments he will face piled up high when he returns. [Read more…]