MARTHA SEZ: ‘Photographers gather like fruit flies and yellow jackets at a cider mill’
What many people think of as typical Adirondack weather — 68 degrees, light breeze, brilliant blue skies with perhaps the occasional harmless, attractive cloud–is in truth rare even in the town of Keene, even in the fall, which most people here say is their favorite season. After a rainy summer, people are hoping for good weather this Columbus Day weekend. Sunday, Oct. 10, is Keene’s last farmers market for the year.
Driving is fine as long as you’re not in a hurry. You just have to watch out for those leaf peepers. At all the familiar vistas of heartbreaking beauty cars are pulled over on the shoulder of the road, and even on the bridges — well, the leaf peepers don’t know any better, they’re not from here — taking pictures. They drive along, peering and veering, eating apples. This is a good apple year.
At the Intersection, capitalized — it’s the Intersection — apparently Keene has only one — photographers gather like fruit flies and yellow jackets at a cider mill.
The late red barn in the field at the Intersection featured in many photographs over many years. At peak leaf, with the mountains behind the field every shade of red, orange and yellow, in contrast with the dark green of the conifers, the old barn was in its glory. It was impressive in the morning, plumes of mist rising from the field and mountain ridges behind it. I took photographs myself over the years that I could line up to illustrate the process of the barn’s dilapidation.
The same could be said for chronologically arranged snapshots of us Baby Boomers, except that the barn became progressively more picturesque and therefore more alluring as it aged and dilapidated. People with cellphones and cameras are even now taking pictures of that field, now barnless. There is even a wooden stand built at the intersection for sightseers. When I drive by, I think of taking a photograph to illustrate the absence of the famous barn.
Was the barn part of the Whitney farm, or did it belong to Gib Jaques? There’s a question for the Keene natives. There are fewer and fewer people around who can answer my town questions. See if you know these Keene landmarks:
1. Happy Miner’s Road
2. Irish Hill
3. East Hill
4. The Glen Road
6. The Burnt-Down Cabins
7. The Old Mae Broe place
8. Duffy’s Tavern
When I moved here local people labeled me, among other things, a blow-in. A blow-in is not a native or a tourist or a summer person. No, a blow-in is exactly what it sounds like, an invasive species, like Japanese knotweed, spiny water flea, purple loosestrife, red lily beetle and Eurasian water milfoil. The most dangerous thing about blow-ins is their tendency to put down roots. If they can withstand the harsh winters, they are hard to get rid of.
Happy’s is the road on the north side of McDonough’s Valley Hardware in Keene Valley. It used to be called that because Happy Miner lived there. It has also been known as Thorne’s Road, and is now officially Mason Young Road, after an early property owner.
Irish Hill was named for the community of people from Ireland who lived there. East Hill is the local name for Hurricane Road by the Keene Town Hall.
Styles Brook Road was originally part of the Glen Road.
Spuck’s was a dance hall near Owl’s Head Mountain.
The Burnt-Down Cabins burned down years ago, before anyone’s time, and there is no longer any trace of them. The Burnt-Down Cabins area of the AuSable River is off state Route 73 in Keene.
The Old Mae Broe place is now the Snow Goose Bed and Breakfast in St. Huberts. Years ago, when my daughter and I lived there, renting from Chickie Dale, Molly had an asthma attack in the middle of the night. There were no house numbers then, and as I tried to explain our whereabouts to a volunteer at the fire department, I heard someone shout, “That’s the Old Mae Broe Place!” The ambulance arrived almost immediately.
Duffy’s Tavern was a sort of teen-age outdoor speakeasy located under the bridge in Keene near what is now the Mountain Health Center, but what was then a pool hall (not affiliated with Duffy’s). Long before I blew in, kids used to hang out under the bridge and drink beer. I have been told — and this may just be part of the Keene mythology — that “parents didn’t mind, because at least they knew where we were.”
Have a good week.
(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the News for more than 20 years.)