Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Sad Day in Keene Valley

In 1865, a man named Orson Phelps began carrying mail to a tiny hamlet nestled among the high peaks of the Adirondack mountains and the Keene Valley postal service was born. One hundred forty-three years later, I paid my first visit to the tiny post office on Route 73. Stepping through the door, I felt transported through time to another small town post office in Damascus. OH where I spent my childhood.

Without realizing it, I had grown accustomed to assembly-line post offices - professional, efficient and almost antiseptic with their rows of stainless steel, self-serve stamp machines and winding lines of patient patrons. Now to my delight, I found myself once again surrounded by the warmth of wooden walls and antique bronze boxes with fascinating little "spinny dials" that felt mysterious and wise - like ancient compasses or sundials. I felt like a kid again and could barely resist the urge to try to figure out someone's combination!

It was an instant love affair.

I loved parking my car in one spot and criss-crossing the main street from the library to the grocery to the post office to the church to the inn for lunch. Weren't small towns really the original "one-stop" shopping spot?

I loved that motorists in town actually stopped at the crosswalk and most of them waved to you as you crossed the street.

I loved the wooden walkway leading to the post office. Each time I walked on it, I felt like I was on vacation with the weathered boards reminding me of a sandy beach boardwalk.

I loved that it only took one visit for the post-mistress, Deb, to know my name. (In fact, I think she knew it even BEFORE she met me - news travels fast in a small town!) I loved that I could walk in with an odd bunch of items, toss them on the counter and say, "What is the best way to mail this?" and she would help me choose the right box or envelope while comparing notes on our daughters or the weather or what we were making for dinner that evening.

I loved the community bulletin board that led us to our source for farm fresh eggs, pet-sitting, tutoring, massages, yard sales and the new friends who entered our lives with each discovery.

I knew I had "arrived" when I was able to join in one of the "chat groups" that gathered on the sidewalk on sunny days.

Today, I paid my last visit to the Keene Valley post office and mailed my sister's birthday card in the last batch of mail ever to leave from that location. Beginning tomorrow, Keene Valley residents will have to drive 5 miles up the road to Keene for their mail. I don't understand all of the "ins and outs" of this decision. I only know that our little town has lost a good friend - a beloved reminder of a simpler, gentler time and place.

Although our relationship only lasted 2 1/2 years, Keene Valley Post Office, I will miss you!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Evening Beauty at Chapel Pond

Recently, our family experienced one of those perfect evening where everything aligns: perfect weather, no guests checking in, no soccer games ... and the realization that the universe will survive the sinkful of dirty dishes.

We seized the moment and the canoe and headed for Chapel Pond - just a few miles from the Snow Goose on Route 73.

As we made our way down the footpath to the water's edge, Wayne was pleasantly surprised to realize that the girls are now strong enough to help carry the canoe!

Here we go! The girls were NOT SO SURE about this - it's been several years since we've all been in a canoe. Wayne is along too - he's sitting in the back of the canoe and taking the picture!

Breath-taking beauty ....

We loved the opportunity to get up close and personal with
some of the stunning rock walls that rise out of the water.

Across the road, Washbowl Cliff is a popular spot for rock climbers.
We could see a few tiny spots of color moving on the rock face.

We paddled into a little cove and pulled up on the shore to enjoy a snack and explore

This strange combination of wood and moss really looked like a fish out of water!

As the sun dropped behind the mountains, we headed back to shore -
reluctant to leave such a beautiful spot.

Family times like these are so precious. We all know that children grow up too fast but we faced undeniable proof as CorrieAnne tried on her life jacket from our last canoe trip. Hug your children often and find moments to sneak away from the busyness of life to create memories!