As the economy continues on a downward spiral, it may seem increasingly difficult to find reasons to give thanks in this holiday season. Fortunately, there remains plenty to be grateful for when you live in the Adirondacks.
First of all, the North Country's economy remains somewhat insulated. This is partly due to the fact that historically, as times get tough, there is generally an increased need for recreation to escape the grim economic reality.
Industry predictions indicate that these "escapees" are much more likely to travel domestically. This is good news for our region as it
Mountains, rivers and lakes in the Adirondack Park provides nearly limitless recreational opportunities and an unrivaled quality of life.
(Photo — Joe Hackett)
is located within a day's drive of nearly 85 million people.
We are most fortunate to live in a region that features such a wide range of affordable recreational opportunities. Coupled with a long and successful history of hospitality and service, the region is well suited to weather the economic storm.
But our region's greatest assets are the people and the landscape that has shaped their personalities and attitudes.
Despite living in a land so vast that no one can claim to know it all, there is an obvious, overwhelming and striking sense of community and communities in the Adirondacks.
Here people are resilient and ruggedly individualistic, but like area waters, they can also be quite calm, quite gentle.
The folks in Minerva or Boonville share the same hardships and joys as those in Keene Valley or Childwold.
This isn't just a place where neighbors help neighbors, it is a place where neighbors will join neighbors to help out a complete stranger.
No matter how lonely the road, no one stays stuck in a ditch for long around here.
Here, a quick, 10-minute trip to the post office ends up taking an hour because you've got to chat with so many familiar faces. It's where people still go to high school football games and know who took whom to the prom.
The Adirondacks is a place where we don't insult or jest at slow drivers because we know it's likely to be a local preacher, teacher or housewife behind the wheel.
The communities offer places where we can raise our children with few fears of negative influences, where cars are left running outside a store and houses are left unlocked.
Our communities have retained the innocence of another era, where people looked after their neighbors and manners still mattered.
The land shapes the people
The Adirondacks is also a wild piece of country that can still capture the imagination.
It is a place where sportsmen and women remain indelibly linked to the land, where they can read its subtle signs and feel its pulse and still use these rhythms as a natural calendar, to measure the year not by the month but by the season.
It is home to a burgeoning moose population and an ever-increasing number of bald eagles.
It is a place of syrup and snow fleas, brook trout and big bucks.
And although it is not a private park, most locals know of the special places that can still make it feel like it is, whether a secluded waterfall, a scenic overlook or a sandy beach along a lonely shoreline.
Our senses remain keen because we can still see the stars at night and feel the dew in the morn. We can taste the sweetness of the air and hear the wail of a loon on a distant pond. Most of all, we are graced with a magic spectrum of light that continues to attract photographers from around the world.
We appreciate green, though not necessarily greenies. It is the color of our land, the choice wax for our skis and the name of drake mayfly which continues to draw us to the streams with flyrod in hand.
We have learned to tolerate the hardships of severe weather and the vagaries of surviving in a tourism-based economy. We take it all in stride.
We work two or three jobs just to get by and typically volunteer for several others.
Power outages and deep snows, blackflies or black ice are simply considered minor inconveniences that we slough off as character-building opportunities.
When the woodpile begins to get small and times get tough, we simply remember the times when June bugs bounce off window screens as fireflies twinkle in the night skies and the summer folk return to the lakes.
The summer is a time when beaches and barbecues fill the day, while swimming holes and fishing poles command a young boy's dreams.
We live in a region that features a most unique mix of woods and waters, raging rivers and soaring cliffs, towering summits and staggering swamps contained within a blend of public and private lands. We realize that we have to compromise to live here. Adirondackers put up with long, cold winters, frost-heaved roads, mud season, slow-driving tourists and a host of other hardships and indignities that would surely drive lesser folks away.
We are willing to make compromises on such inconveniences in exchange for the opportunity to live, work and play in a place like no other.
We are bonded with the environment, and it shapes us and becomes part of our soul.
It is what we call home.
These are some of the reasons I'll be giving thanks over the holiday season, and I wouldn't have it any other way.