Place Where You Live:

Steuben County, New York

View from Mt. Washington, Steuben County, New York

My place is in old country that has been left behind. From my hill in Upstate, NY, Named Mt. Washington by the settlers, I can see rolling green hills on every side. Grass and weeds still grow in the middle of the dirt road that passes my old house, and we have, among our few neighbors, eight old cellar holes. The walls of the cellars, and the foundations of barns, are laid up with stones without mortar. It took a skilled hand and a skilled mind to lay up a straight wall, strong enopugh to last almost 200 years, with no mortar. Remnants of old stone boundary walls snake through our woods, too, but those old settlers could not use enough stone to clear their fields completely. There are still plenty left to plug our garden tiller and to dent our hoe.

Two hundred years ago, the settlers could usually make enopugh money from clearing and selling their timber on this hill to pay off the debts they had incurred to purchase their land. Paying off the land was a hard burden, when you had to raise enough food for your family and for your livestock as well. The next generation had it easier. They inherited a farm with no burden of debt, the land cleared, with outbuildings in place, filled with tools, livestock, and equipment.

But, forty years ago, when we bought our old farm, farming had mostly moved west. The handsome old houses had fallen into disrepair, or were only cellar holes. Now, we late comers think we live in the most beautiful place in the world, in the midst of the waves of hills and valleys and lakes left for us by the glaciers. So, it is with real anxiety that we watch the concrete pads and the towers of the drilling companies move inexorably close and closer. What will be the future of our beautiful land?