Monday, December 26, 2011

Quiet Beauty

November and December are usually quiet months here at the Snow Goose. Months to catch up on projects, to take walks, to think and to reconnect with friends and family. Each year, I'm learning to freak out less when the phone stops ringing with reservations and to embrace the friendship of quiet days.

This year as the season slowed, I found myself seeking out places of quiet beauty ....

One of my favorite discoveries was the beautiful little beaver pond behind the girls' school

A pine needle covered path winds around the pond with several benches for reading or thinking

I love the peaceful reflections

And the little spots of beauty that wait to be discovered along the path

The walkway built through the marsh feels like a bridge leading to a mystical land ... and I love the sound my shoes make on the wooden planks.

Everyone should have a beaver pond in their life. It's good for the body and spirit!

We haven't had much winter yet ... just one good snowfall, but it was a beauty!

Our Adirondack chair became a throne for a winter king to sit upon

Usually the snow here is so fluffy and dry that it won't pack. This snow was perfect for building a snowy friend.

The next morning, I awoke to breathtaking beauty as the sun hit the snow covered trees in our yard. Don't these two giants look like they are standing guard over the forest?

And then the sky darkened and it seemed as if the branches of the trees glowed from within. This iridescence lasted only about two minutes, but thankfully, I was in the right place at the right time. And my camera batteries were charged!

Wayne went for a hike and came across this somewhat disconcerting woodland creature!

He also took this beautiful photo from a ridge on Snow Mountain behind our barn

I feel so thankful for these quiet moments. They are truly gifts and have refreshed my body and spirit for the busy days that lie ahead. I hope that you have found your own moments of "peace on earth" as you head into the coming year. If not, go find some! You'll feel a whole lot better, I promise!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October Beauty

We've had a beautiful fall foliage season here in the Adirondacks. Over the past three weeks, I've managed to sneak away for several drives and hikes with my trusty camera. Over 200 pictures later, here are a few of my favorites from the 2011 foliage season. Make yourself a cup of hot apple cider or hot chocolate, sit back and tour with me ...

First blaze of color appears at Chapel Pond

Roaring Brook Falls
The mountains are blushing a bit ...
Mystical majesty - the High Peaks
Autumn berries against the blue October sky
Cascade Lakes
And the other Cascade Lake
I'm in love with clouds these days - in fact, I'm thinking of doing a whole blog post on clouds
The most photographed barn in the ADK's - and no wonder with such a glorious backdrop
People we love enjoying a view we love
Sometimes you just have to sit and soak it in ... it's hard to leave a mountaintop
We enjoyed perfect weather for the Columbus Day weekend just as the leaves reached peak color here in Keene Valley
Some trees just outdo themselves!
Route 73 as seen from Owl's Head mountain in Keene
Golden pathway
Even the fading colors are lovely
If there were a "prettiest tree in the ADK's" contest, I think this one might win
Another view from Owls' Head
And I'll end with my favorite - I just can't believe the layers of color - even the blues on the distant mountain tops. I feel so blessed to live in this amazing place. I breathe in the beauty and give thanks to the master Artist!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There's a WHAT By My Driveway???

When I was a teenager, I spent my summers in Stoneboro, PA babysitting my adorable nephew, Christopher (who just celebrated his 4th wedding anniversary this week ... yikes!). Stoneboro was my first experience with small town living. I loved pushing Christopher in his stroller to pick up the mail or get a popsicle at Saffron's. It constantly amazed me that everyone knew who we were. And even now, years later, I remember feeling very impressed by the fact that Stoneboro had only ONE traffic light.

Now I live in an even SMALLER town ... with NO traffic light!

Until ...

Look what showed up on my doorstep last week! I couldn't believe my eyes! I rubbed them a few times to be sure ....

Yep ... we are now the "not-so-proud" owners of the only traffic light on Route 73 from the Northway to Lake Placid! While the DOT repairs the bridge near our house, we get no handsome flagmen. No - we get a cold, impersonal traffic light!

And this is the result ...

Brakes grind. Trucks rattle. There is a moment of silence. And then the snorting and snuffling as the traffic machine starts up again.

I was just about to complain when I had an epiphany! Back up just a few steps and look again ...

That's OUR sign! Sitting right there next to OUR driveway that leads to OUR Bed and Breakfast. And while those poor weary travelers are sitting there in the middle of nowhere ... they have nothing better to do but to LOOK at our sign and our driveway and our Bed and Breakfast!

That traffic light is our newest marketing plan! Of course, that realization led to the next one ... that our sign needed to be cleaned! So Wayne and his handy broom took care of that!

Now every time I hear the slowing of the traffic and see the road lined with cars, I smile! All those people who would ordinarily fly by at 55 mph are a captive audience.

Maybe I'll send the girls down to the road to pass out muffins and business cards ....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flower Power

About two months ago, I wrote a blog entry about my dream cutting garden. I didn't really think anyone would care about this topic, but I was wrong! I actually received a lot of feedback and encouragment, so I thought all of you flower lovers out there might appreciate an update.

But first a moment of pure, unadulterated wonder ...

This, my friends, is MY very own amazing two-toned hydrangea! I stare at it every day. It is the fruit of three years of wishing and wanting. It is the apple of my eye. It is the wind beneath ... ok ... I'll stop! But I am very proud of it!

Back to the cutting garden ... my garden grew beautifully. Gardens tend to do that when there is sun in the equation. On the other hand, moss grows beautifully at my house ....

And so my dream came true. I was able to cut handfuls of bright, cheerful flowers whenever I wanted!

I enjoyed creating little bouquets to sprinkle in random spots throughout the B&B.

And then came Irene ... dumping an astounding 12 inches of rain into our little valley. Streams and rivers went wild and began to run where they had never run before. One of them chose to run right through the town garden, churning over plants in a 5 feet deep torrent.

The next day, we drove down to the garden to check it out.

Where once beautiful veggies stood ready to harvest, we now found mud, crumpled fences, debris and broken plants.

At first, the gardeners thought they could salvage a lot of the produce and even some of the plants, but then the reality sunk in. This garden had been saturated with filthy flood water. Water carrying potential disease and toxins from flowing through garages, basements, barnyards, etc. It was determined that nothing could be used from the garden.

Nothing that needed to be eaten, that is ...

From the mud and mire, the sunny marigolds, vibrant zinnias and happy snapdragons struggled their way back toward the sun.

My dream was that my flowers would bring joy to all who saw them. And they have! In fact, they even received a mention (anonymously) in the community worship service the following Sunday.

After all, it is the simple things that promise hope in the midst of devastation.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Two Scenes

It's been a week since Irene came to town. So how is Keene Valley doing? I snapped two photos this weekend that speak volumes ...

Yes - I was standing right in the middle of Route 73 ... passing through the heart of Keene Valley ... at rush hour ... on the Friday ... before Labor Day. No - I wasn't the least bit worried about getting run over.

Guess I don't need to say much more about that. Except - pray! There are a lot of businesses for whom the devastation is just beginning.

On a brighter note -

When life gives you mud .....

I smile everytime I drive past this sign. I love the spirit in this town! Despite all that's happened, there is a lot of humor and joy. People love their neighbors more than ever. And for those who don't ... well, there's plenty of mud to wrestle out any differences!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene Visits the North Country

As I write, the sun shines brightly in a serene blue sky. It's hard to imagine that just 48 hours ago, Hurrican Irene was dumping almost 10 inches of rain on our beloved Adirondacks. Our little town of Keene Valley and neighboring Keene were hit hard with flash flooding as small mountain streams and rivers became raging monstrous torrents.

As one of my friends put it, "The river has gone mad!"

Thankfully, the Snow Goose experienced NO damage. Seriously! We didn't even have a TWIG that need picked up afterward. It's like we were in a bubble with devastation on all sides. Roads washed out, mountain mudslides, huge trees blown down, homes and businesses flooded....

When you're in the middle of a storm, you really have no idea what's happening outside your home. You do what you have to do, but the whole time, you're wondering how your friends up the road are faring.

We had guests from Singapore and NYC as well as other guests on the way. As conditions worsened, the Keene Valley Fire Department phoned to tell us to keep everyone IN the inn. At one point, all roads were closed around us! Our guests who were enroute ended up spending the night at one of our "sister" inns in Elizabethtown! (Thank you Ron and Gail!)

It is impossible to describe the sound and power of the river. It ROARED ... churning and frothing with huge chunks of debris and whole trees flying by as if shot from a cannon.

Wayne ventured out to check on our elderly neighbor who lives next to Deer Brook. This is what the bridge looked like!

It was obvious that he wasn't getting out! Wayne helped him and his cat hike down through the woods to our house where they spent the night.

Meanwhile back at the ranch ....

Folks were getting hungry! Since no one was allowed to leave, the Snow Goose had to open a restaurant for the evening. Thankfully, our kitchen was fairly well stocked and the power stayed on so we could cook!!

Our Irene Dinner Party - Shepherd's Pie, Cucumber Salad and Peach Blueberry Crisp. We had so much fun and the guests bonded in a way that only happens when you're stuck together for hours! By the end of their stays, they were exchanging emails and taking group photos to remember their adventure.

The next morning, we awoke to a changed world. After serving breakfast, we headed out to see what had happened to our town.

One of the hardest hit areas was the Valley Hardware (KV's version of a Super WalMart!). To understand what this store means to the valley you need only to look at the photo. Dozens of townfolk worked throughout the day dragging out and cleaning merchandise and shoveling inches of mud from the floors.

Another view of the hardware store - truly inspiring
Other shops and homes were flooded as well. Our hearts felt heavy as we drove through town and made our way to the neighboring town of Keene.

This photo (borrowed from a Facebook posting) shows how a tiny brook turned into a river sweeping right down the main street of Keene.

Our favorite coffee shop ...

The Keene fire department lost half of their building to the savage flood. Meanwhile, the brave men and women from both Keene and Keene Valley's fire departments worked feverishly to rescue people trapped in flooded homes ... some from their rooftops!

This area was hardest hit. One family has to use a ladder to reach their home as the brook-turned-river clawed away their entire yard and driveway.

Piles of debris lay in almost every yard.

While these scenes in the two towns are sobering, perhaps the most devasting economic damage lies to the east of us ...

Route 73 is the main corridor from the "Northway" to Lake Placid carrying supplies and tourists into the area. Several portions are severely washed out causing the route to be closed for possibly weeks.

These photos are taken about 1 1/2 miles east of the driveway of the Snow Goose!

As you can see, we ain't goin' nowhere in that direction!

In addition, many side roads are closed because of bridge collapses. This bridge in St. Hubert's was just replaced this spring.

The State Highway Patrol are everywhere and not too happy about me taking photos, so i kept my distance! After our photo tour, we wanted to find a way to help our friends and neighbors. My first thought was, "These people are not stopping to take time to eat!" So we worked with the community church to provide some food.

On the menu for our second Irene Dinner Party was Sloppy Joes, Hot Dogs and Spaghetti along with some donated pies, bread, bean salad and watermelon. The girls were a big help both in the kitchen and walking through town inviting people who were working in their yards and homes.

Some of the people who came to dinner. Unfortunately my camera battery died at this point, but we continued to serve at the church until about 7:30 pm and then took the rest of the food down to the hardware store where people were still working. All in all about 60 people ate!

I do ask for your prayers for Keene and Keene Valley as well as neighboring towns of Jay and Ausable Forks. Not only do we have a huge mess to clean up, but we also face economic uncertainty in the weeks ahead. With limited access to the area and many popular hiking trails closed due to extensive damage, we may have cancellations resulting in lost income when we need it most.

We are hoping that people who've made reservations will realize how much their planned visits will bless this hard-hit area. There are still many ways to enjoy this beautiful part of the Adirondacks which we are so privileged to call home.

Thank you for all of your prayers, notes and even phone calls (one from Toronto!) to check on us. We are doing great and looking forward to a productive and abundant September and October. Blessings!!