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Archive for the ‘Alexandria Bay’ Category

As of August 6th, Weretoad and I have been residents of Northern NY for a year.  We moved up here from the Mohawk Valley last year.  It’s been a bit of a transition.  I’ve been meaning to write about it.

In many ways, the North Country is similar to the Mohawk Valley.  It’s still NY and therefore we witness similar plants and animals.  Each area enjoys productive agricultural areas and lovely rivers and/or canals.  We’re a couple hours away from the Utica/Rome area, so I’m not seriously removed from my family and friends.

That said there are differences.  Few people see wild bears in the Mohawk Valley, but they’re quite common up here, as are bobcats*.  There have even been lynx and cougar sightings.  This is probably because life up here is more agriculture than in the Mohawk Valley which is heavily urban and suburban except for a few happy exceptions.  The bigger animals haven’t been driven out yet.

The rivers in the North Country seem more appreciated.  They are a central part of life here and not just something discussed in 4th grade social studies.  People celebrate our rivers.  Schools incorporate them into their songs.  The St. Lawrence is huge to our tourist industry, and many people who reside in this area enjoy it for sport, beauty, and sustenance.

The urban and suburban centers, while spread apart, have grown on me.  Alexandria Bay is kitschy but the views are beautiful and the swimming area is great on a hot day.  Clayton is one of my favorite places to go.  It seems to be the artistic center of Northern NY with its textile museum, antique boat museum,  studios, galleries, opera house, and art classes.  The view of the St. Lawrence is just as spectacular there.  The dining is also wonderful and vegetarian friendly.

Potsdam, an hour away from us, is a lovely college town full of cafes, international cuisine, boutiques, and access to the Raquette River.  There is art and academia, and it seems very pedestrian friendly.  I wish it were closer so I could live there!

Our city is Watertown.  While smaller than Utica, it seems cleaner and more alive.  There are many shops, restaurants, a huge and ornate library, and a thriving farmers market that is right in the middle of everything on Wednesdays (although parking is hard to find…) and a second, smaller one closer to the community college on Saturdays.

I am finding things to keep me busy outside of work and home.  There are a lot of classes that I would like to take advantage of when I have a little more money – yoga, sustainable/organic gardening, tai chi, weaving, drumming….  I’ve even found belly dancing classes a few towns away.  The CUUPs chapter is now providing me a place to practice Paganism more regularly with others.  A second New Age shop just opened up here.  The Mustard Seed in Watertown is my vegetarian cafe.  We have an amazing Thai restaurant, a decent Indian restaurant, and now have hibachi!  We are super close to the Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Ottawa, and Montreal.  The military presence originally gave Northern NY a conservative feel, and I’m sure a majority of people here are very conservative, but the area is more diverse than that.    I’m feeling happier here and more at home, and that’s even without me waxing poetic about how I have an amazing job with wonderful people!

There are things I miss.  The proximity to my family and friends is one of them.  My parents, especially my father, keep talking about moving up here.  They really like it.  I wish they would.  I miss seeing them as much as I used to.  There are things about Utica I miss as well: the amazing Stanley theater and the art museum mostly.  The Stanley gets Broadway shows and MWPAI has a spectacular collection as well as their affordable film series.  Weretoad and I used to take advantage of that all the time.  We also miss Minar, the Indian Restaurant in Utica.  The place in Watertown isn’t bad – it’s quite good really – but the environment at Minar was special.  The staff knew us and the decor was warmer feeling.  Utica also had more independent cafes.  I’ve found some in Clayton, Canton, and Potsdam, but Watertown only seems to have Paneera and the closest thin in my hometown is a Jrek’s Sub Shop.

I also miss how close everything was in the Mohawk Valley.  Unless living in the extreme outskirts, it only took 15-20 minutes to get anywhere.  Up here, we have to drive 30 minutes to Watertown, 30 minutes to A Bay, 40 minutes to Clayton, 40 minutes to Canton, 1 hour to Potsdam…  It’s annoying and stressful to someone who wants to be more environmentally friendly.  But even if I were to move to Watertown so I could be closer to everything there, I would then be 30 minutes from my job.  I can’t win, aside from moving in between – which is what we’d like to do.  But, as the author of F that S says in her latest blog entry, living in the North Country comes with a lot of driving.  Her entry assuaged my inner guilt, reminding me that the little things one does to help the environment do add up.  Thanks for that!

While I’m certainly not close-minded to moving elsewhere down the road, I am finding myself happy here.  I have days or moments when I am annoyed by the driving, but that’s really the worst part, and I want to focus on the best parts, of which there are many.

Here’s to another year of exploration and growth in the North Country!

* I’ve not seen either yet, but my place of employment was on lockdown due to a bear once.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I love having company over.  I so rarely get to see the people I consider my tribe, so it was a real treat to have friends visit.  We had a lot of fun in Alex Bay and Watertown, but we mostly stayed home for chatting, snacking, and playing copious amounts of games.  If only there had been more time for more fun.

Having guests is always a test of virtue.  I try my best and take pride in being a hospitable hostess.  I love to cook fresh meals and share my drink.  Hospitality aside, my piety to the Kindreds is also tested.

They are never far from my mind to begin with, and I pray a lot – especially before eating and while traveling.  Yet when people share my home, my routine is always a bit disrupted.  (Truthfully, it already was thanks to my infernal, cough-inducing allergies…)  My devotionals are shortened because I need to be a good hostess and it is too loud for me to meditate.  I am proud of myself for getting up and doing my full, formal ritual yesterday, but even that was not as usual because of my need to assist my guests.  I felt self-conscious chanting, as well.  I found myself whispering the songs.  It was not a very powerful ritual but I am glad to have done it.  I like showing the Kindreds that I care, and I think they understand the strained ritual when I so rarely entertain.

I believe that ritual, trance, and meditation aren’t the only ways that we show honor to the Kindreds.  When we find joy with our tribe, treat others with love and respect, and celebrate life – even in a non-religious context – the Kindreds are there.  Strengthening bonds with the tribe is just as important as ritual on my Druidic path.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Sometimes the best meditation is observing nature.  I found myself doing that a lot today at various points along the St. Lawrence River here in Northern NY.  I stood in the refreshing water and just was.  I watched the waves roll in.  I followed ducks along a dock.  I wondered at the thrill felt by a seagull wheeling over the misty water.

My annoying cough may make standard meditation impractical, but there are other ways to calm the soul and rekindle our connection to the kindreds.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Weretoad and I had another fabulous day in Alexandria Bay!  For those of you outside of NY, it was really hot today.  I’ve been begging to go swimming for the past few days but something always came up.  We were going to go on the 4th as we went to A Bay then, but we ended up finding a really great place to view the fireworks and had to defend it for a few hours.  I put my feet in but the swimming had to wait until today.  Gods, it was refreshing.  The beach is small but very clean and sandy.  The water is green on account of all the seaweed in the St. Lawrence, but it is fine otherwise.  I smell a bit like fish but I can live with that.

We’ve grown to really appreciate our new home.  Yes we miss our friends and family and yes the mile after mile of flat fields is a bit underwhelming for us, but there are some great perks to Northern NY.  Our proximity to Alexandria Bay is a very big one.  Yes it’s a tad touristy, but if you can overlook that and just spend time in the parks overlooking the islands amidst the swaying, sparkling river… it starts to feel a bit like paradise.

Weretoad and I like to watch the boats and dream of a time when we can have our own.  Right now we really want kayaks.  My plan was to buy one this year but that fell through.  Perhaps in the fall when I have a little more money.  There are a few rivers up here: the St. Lawrence, the Black River, and the Indian River.  There may even be more.  I would like to explore them – physically and spiritually.  What did the Native American people believe about them?  What experiences did they and the settlers have with them?  What spirits, old and new, swim in them today?  What about the shipwrecks?  Is there negative energy around them?

Oh goodness, that’s another thing – I would love to go scuba diving in the St. Lawrence, but I also fear it.  Weretoad and I have this love-hate relationship with large bodies of water.  We like to swim in them, but we also fear the unknown.  I know there aren’t supposed to be any sharks or poisonous jelly fish in the St. Lawrence … but what if there are sea monsters?  Or angry shipwreck ghosts?!  When we watch the boats, we sometimes wonder what would happen if a kraken appeared…  Yes, I know.  We’re odd.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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The longest day of the year was largely overshadowed by work today.  I’m thankful for the celebratory time I had this weekend.  I would like to pick strawberries though.  Weretoad and I have a tradition in which we pick strawberries on or around the Summer Solstice.  I know there are places up here; it’s just a matter of getting the time.

We made today special by visiting with a friend who was in the area with her boyfriend on vacation.  I haven’t seen her since our handfasting in October.  It was great to actually hang out with a friend in our neck of the woods for a change.  Immediate family aside, people generally don’t visit us.  We’re rather far from the tribe.  We went to the Lyric Cafe in Clayton and sat outside.  Weretoad and I had iced chai lattes and roasted mushrooms with onions and peppers.  Mmmm…  The Bay makes for a nice atmosphere, even when it’s only a appreciated in the background.

My vacation officially starts next week.  I’m looking forward to more time in Alexandria Bay.

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