I know, I know. It’s complicated. But last night as I sat on Lake Clear beach watching kids play in the waves, I kept thinking, Why aren’t we fighting people off with sticks?
I could see the blueberry bushes ripening along the shore. A windsurfer was cutting across the waves. My son and niece were howling with laughter as they dunked each other. It couldn’t be any better.
A generation ago, Washington state and Oregon were just as rural, just as dependent on natural resources and low-wage tourism jobs as the North Country is now.
But people flocked to the beauty and sense of community and opportunity that those places offered. And with remarkable speed they built up thriving, bustling economies.
And that was before the age of tele-commuting and freelance work made it possible to choose, far more deliberately, where you want to live.
So why aren’t people swarming to our beauty and quality of life?
The truth is that we have all the ingredients. Cool, intact little communities. Relatively affordable real estate, compared with other parts of the US. A lot of our towns have broadband. Good schools.
You can paddle a lake in the morning, work an eight-hour day, then be in an art gallery, a funky concert, or a professional theater performance by night.
I’m sure there are equally great places to raise kids, somewhere in the world — but there are certainly none better.
There is, of course, winter. And black flies. But please. For anyone willing to adjust their sensibilities a little, our version of winter becomes a celebration, from moonlight cross-country skis to luminous ice palaces.
And surely a few bugs are no more oppressive than a long, rush-hour commute, or an office cubicle, or a community where there is no actual community.
At the end of the day, I’m chalking this one up to pure mystery. For whatever reason, the richness of life here is one of New York state’s best kept secret — maybe one of the best kept secrets in the country.