We had a wonderful time at our old farm in upstate New York, though because of the press of business we didn’t get to spend quite as long as we’d hoped. While we were gone, Amazon notified us that our Amazon Handmade shop was up. Because of Amazon’s policies, I have only been able to stock non-pipe items in that shop, but I’m adding items daily now that we’re home. Now, the pipes are available for purchase here on this blog, as well as on my Etsy shop.
The North Country is a special place. I was born in upstate New York, and our family has long had a camp on the St. Lawrence River near Alexandria Bay. When we began to think about a place to spend the summers, both my wife and I wanted a place in the country where the seasons were bold, where the soil was good, where nature put on her best displays and where a lot of interesting things were going on. We eventually started looking for property about 75 miles north of the family camp, in St. Lawrence County. The area is home to four colleges, including my grandmother’s alma mater, St. Lawrence University, and Clarkson University, one of the premier science and technology schools in the country. There are also two SUNY schools, one of them home to the world-renowned Crane school of music. Montreal is a couple hours north of our little cabin in the woods. The Adirondack State Park boundary is just a few miles east of our cabin, and the Park is a magnificent asset to anyone who likes the outdoors.
Another great advantage of the area is that back in the 70s, when the back-to-the-land movement was at its height, there was a pretty large influx of countercultural people into the area, and a lot of them stayed. In other words, the woods are full of fellow ancient hippies, and they sponsor all sorts of interesting activities, from ecological and homesteading associations, to various events celebrating the beauty and diversity of the area. There’s an excellent food co-op in the nearest little village, a great county library system, and a whole lot of really nice helpful people. We’ve had our place there now for three years and I haven’t met a jerk yet. I’m sure it will happen; jerks are always with us, but when it finally happens, I’m going to be very surprised. Just one example from this visit: I wanted to buy a steel barrel for the rocket mass heater I want to build for the cabin. I found a Craigslist item that seemed perfect. When I drove to the address, the retired farmer met me in his barnyard with a huge sack of freshly picked McIntosh apples, and asked me “Do you like apples?” I could tell you a hundred other pleasant anecdotes like this.
Our plan is to set a small building beside the cabin to serve as a studio, next spring. I can’t wait. I find the environment there to be extremely stimulating. For example, we went for a hike down along the St. Regis River a couple days after a rain and the woods were full of weird mushrooms. I plan to make a series of hand pipes based on mushrooms, as a result. I’ll post some images here when the first batch comes out.