HONEOYE LAKE, THE FINGER LAKES REGION OF UPSTATE NEW YORK, U.S.A. This is the backyard of my family’s home in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, in a town called Honeoye, where we have lived for twelve years.
These lakes emerged from the glacial retreats of millions of years ago. Prior to European Settlement, the five (later six) Native American Iroquois tribes cohesively inhabited New York: the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca. Their cultural legacy remains in the naming of the Finger Lakes.
The name “Honeoye” is believed to have originated from the Seneca Native American peoples’ word “Ha-ne-a-yeh,” or “lying finger,” which described the lake that now shares the same name as the hamlet.
It is a rural area with fewer than six hundred residents as of 2010, surrounded by sloping woodlands in either direction. I live off the west shore of Honeoye Lake where residential development is denser. I like having neighbors within visibility, but the varying landscape of my backyard still feels comfortably secluded.
During the summer, Honeoye bustles as a tourist gateway into Finger Lakes wine country. Many lake residents return to their cottages for boating, water-skiing, cycling, and hiking. My backyard has seen grazing miniature horses (we used to own three), late-night summer bonfires, and cloud-watchers underneath the towering Scotch pine trees. Honeoye is a particularly sleepy town during the winter, but the endless snow allows us to enjoy cross-country (Nordic) skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding.