The recent stretch of hot weather definitely made it feel like summer is fast approaching. My daughter, in fact, lamented that “we never have a spring” – pointing out that we often just go right from our chilly and hopefully rainy winter to 90-plus degrees.
At least the heat isn’t accompanied by much humidity; 85 degrees and 90 percent humidity in my hometown is actually more oppressive than our ‘dry heat’ in the Central Valley.
Of course, when it hits 108 and stays there for several days, I might take the humidity over that; at least there’s a chance of a cooling thunderstorm in the afternoon in upstate NY.
That’s one of the things I am hoping for this summer, when I do get to head back home for a visit. My sister-in-law already asked for my itinerary, what things are on the ‘to do’ list.
Along with a good thunderstorm, there are really just a few to do’s – one of my favorite places to go is up Vroman’s Nose, in a town not far from where I grew up. Funny that it is listed as one of the state’s “most popular” destinations for hiking. To me, it was just a few miles away and a great place to enjoy nature and a quick, easy walk. Plus, photos you can take from the top, where the trail ends in a large flat expanse of rock, are awesome, looking out over the Schoharie River Valley. Endless fields, trees, the river winding through it. The best time, of course, would be in the fall when the color palette is exploding, but I love Vroman’s Nose at any time. It only takes about a half hour or so to reach the top, depending on how many times you stop along the way to visit with the squirrels, breathe in the fresh air … you get the idea.
The Schoharie Valley where I grew up was known as the ‘Breadbasket of the Revolution” – as there were plenty of farmers whose crops were an integral part of providing the food that fed George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War.
A few times there, when I worked in radio and newspapers back east, I got to cover the reenactments, centered around the Old Stone Fort in Schoharie. Much like the Civil War reenactments staged in Knights Ferry, the Revolutionary War battles were steeped in history and featured authentic encampments for attendees to visit.
There is so much history in that area; it really is something I didn’t appreciate growing up but now, as an adult, I enjoy the fact that my hometown area is in the history books and played such a prominent role in the Revolution.
There are many historic site markers detailing the incidents and landmarks around the county, such as the ‘Tory Tavern’ where a local tavern owner hosted meetings for Tories and Indians in support of the British effort. Timothy Murphy is another well-known historical figure, who helped turn back British forces that were advancing on the ‘middle fort’, one of three in the region. In that area, the Timothy Murphy playhouse is now the site for community theater and where I performed as one of the supporting players in the female version of ‘The Odd Couple’ many, many moons ago.
The Old Stone Fort was a mainstay for school field trips since it is such a big part of history. I remember taking a photo of one of my best friends from school posing outside with the huge cannon.
Much like the Central Valley, the Schoharie Valley is well-known for its agriculture and tourism. Farming is big business, and the region is a mecca for history buffs.
When people ask me why I would leave New York for this part of California, they are thinking I traded NYC’s concrete jungle, hustle and bustle for Central Valley cows and orchards. But honestly, it was a pretty even trade; upstate New York’s cows, apples and maple trees for cows, almonds and oak trees.
But it’s always nice to go back to visit and I look forward to my Vroman’s Nose trip this summer.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.