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Ode to the Adirondacks

To the editor:

After 50 years, John and I are leaving the Adirondacks and moving to Cazenovia, where our two sons, daughter-in-law and granddaughter live. When COVID-19 hit, we spent four-and-a-half months with them, shared great meals, tapped maples, built blanket tents and a sturdy tree fort, went for walks on the nearby nature trail and stole bases while playing kickball. All of it underscored for us how much family matters.

So we are now having to say goodbye to the folks we’ve met and the friends we’ve made in and around the North Country during the past five decades. And it’s hard. Whether we worked alongside you, sat beside you on bleachers while raising our kids, cross-county skied, snowshoed, hiked or kayaked with you, attended the same meeting, stood next to you while our beloved Lawn Chair Ladies strutted their stuff at the Winter Carnival parade, bumped into one another at Ames or the Village Mercantile, enjoyed a chocolate-peanut butter smoothie with you at Nori’s, appreciated your art on a wall in a local guild, made music, played Scrabble, discussed good reads, encouraged one another’s writing skills or did yoga together, we love you. So many of you assisted us with the move, we’re beyond moved.

I am going to miss our daisy patch that marched across our lawn in June and Mount Pisgah, which is tucked up behind our house. Depending on the season, its forest floor has been strewn with daffodils, beds of wild leeks, trout lily, bloodroot and matted leaves, or layered much of the time with snow. I will miss the smells of balsam, pine and cedar, the gray fox that barked at me while I slept cradled in my sleeping bag in our gazebo, the barred owl that feasted on its red-tailed prey in a tree overhead while I took clothes off the line, the black bear that recently prowled our neighborhood, the doe, two fawns and young buck who frequently played in our side yard, the moose that clattered up the mountain a while back when startled by the dog walking our neighbor, and the calls of the red-eyed loon that drifted up from Moody Pond.

John and I will return to admire our village’s unique Ice Palace, to watch Pendragon’s live theater, relish Blue Moon’s J&J “it’s all in there breakfast” sandwich, Grizle-T’s delectable Smashburger, Blue Line Brewery’s bacon pizza, Downhill Grill’s crispy fish fry, the crunch of Stewart’s Adirondack Bear Paw and the smoothness of Donnelly’s soft-swirled ice cream. We’ll want to once again hear a new joke from Mark at Ampersound, say hello to the Saranac Lake Free Library staff, catch the charm of the meandering River Walk and listen to the incredible talent during the holiday high school concerts.

The beauty, community and camaraderie we have found here in Saranac Lake and its surrounds will be hard to match.

The words “Thank you” feel inadequate, and yet we deeply do …

Beckie and John O’Neill

Saranac Lake

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