THE ADIRONDACK MOUNTAINS OF UPSTATE NEW YORK, U.S.A. Nestled away in the Adirondack foothills lies the historic village of Fort Ann, New York. This is where my dad, grandparents, and great-grandparents raised families and where I spent my entire childhood up through graduation. We call our part of town simply “the valley,” although it was once known as ‘Welch Hollow.’
My backyard is a mix of forest and pasture, teeming with an abundance of maple trees that bleed liquid sugar. For sixty years, we have trudged up into the woods to tap trees, hang buckets and run sap-lines. Once the sap starts flowing, we boil it down to syrup in the sugarhouse. The United States and Canada are the only two counties in the world to produce maple syrup, making it a pretty unique business to be a part of. Our land is also home to nearly one hundred dairy cows and calves.
Being in the northeast means that we cycle through four distinct seasons, all of which impact the livelihood of the farm. Summer means over-heated animals, pressure to plant and cultivate crops, and a busy birth-season for cows. Fall is time for the harvest, and preparation for winter. Winters are brutal; water pipes freeze, old machinery demands extra fuel, and cows are susceptible to slipping and splitting out on the ice—an accident that often proves fatal. Spring is a happy season for us, full of new growth and vibrancy—at least when it feels like spring and not an extended winter. Its beginning is also the peak of maple season. People begin calling my grandmother for maple cream and candies to give as Easter presents and the trees give one final gush of sap before drying up for summer.
I feel thankful to have grown up with so much life and transition in my backyard. It has taught me how to adapt to new situations and to appreciate the ebbs and flows of life. Although I spend more time in a city now, I still see this land as my home. As the last generation of my family namesake, this land will one day belong to me. And who knows, I might decide to call it home forever.