Column: Journey to the Finger Lakes Turns ‘Someday’ to Now

Ever since our daughter, Alexandra, moved to the Finger Lakes to pursue a career in the wine industry, Paul and I have wanted to live in this enchanting part of New York State. It was always our plan to move here “someday” and to bring my parents with us. 

Two million years ago, glaciers began to advance and retreat across this scenic region. Massive ice sheets flowed south, carving deep trenches and long lakes. Gradually the ice melted and the glaciers receded, leaving shale valleys of water. 

Native Americans left the first recorded history. They believed the Great Spirit’s fingerprints formed the narrow lakes, and in reaching down, transformed the land into sacred ground. 

The beauty and lore of the lakes, gorges, waterfalls and rolling hills and valleys attracted Paul and me. Meeting friendly people at wineries, farms, festivals — everywhere we went — added to the allure. We started imagining our lives here. 

Alexandra married a local man who grew up here, and they are the parents of an active and adorable toddler, our grandson. All of these factors persuaded us to move now, instead of waiting for someday. “Our dreams will come true in 2022” became our mantra. 

Going on a hayride through fields of pumpkins and corn on a glorious fall day.

We loved our home and lives in Connecticut, and especially our friends. It was hard to leave the meaningful connections we made after moving to Connecticut from New York City 43 years ago. But the time was right.

Paul retired from teaching in 2019, just before Covid-19 changed life as we knew it. I helped found the online Easton Courier 2.0 in early 2020, after more than a year of planning following the closure of the former print Courier. We learned during the Covid shutdown that we can accomplish more online than we ever imagined possible. 

Paul and I began seriously cleaning and decluttering in January. Both of us are keepers. We saved everything — from Paul’s classical music LPs, sheet music collection, countless documents and records, and a giant library — to the high chair, car seats, clothes and toys from when our adult children were kids. We kept their school work, artwork and way more housewares and decorative items than anyone could ever want or need.

From January to June, we donated, threw out and sold as many belongings as we could. We filled a Dumpster, hired two “junk” haulers and still wound up with way too much stuff to dispose of on our closing day. Old tax records containing personal information became the bane of our efforts. 

Many of these documents came with us because we ran out of time to get rid of them. My advice: get rid of old documents now. Never let a local nearby shredding event happen without bringing boxfuls of your stuff.

We cleaned, painted and hired professionals to help us spruce up our house. Paul maintained his organic garden, which turned out to be a major selling point when we were ready to put our house on the market. An experienced and kind real estate agent helped us every step of the way.

Since the pandemic, the inventory of available houses shrunk precipitously. Our house sold fast, but we couldn’t buy a new house until the money was in the bank. Alexandra and her husband invited us to live with them until we could find a place of our own and move in. This has turned out to be precious time to get to know our grandson better. It is also taking a long time because things don’t happen as fast in North New York as in Fairfield County.

On moving day, Alex shocked us with the news that she had just tested positive for Covid and felt very ill. A few days later, our grandson caught it and after that, our son-in-law. With all of our earthly belongings in storage, we moved into a guest house for two weeks and went house hunting with a helpful and knowledgeable real estate broker from here.

We found a forever house that fits our needs and are anxiously awaiting the closing date in mid-October. Meanwhile, Paul went on to test positive for Covid, severely limiting his activities for more than a week. He and the others have since recovered. I was extremely thankful not to get sick at all. 

We also found an attractive retirement community for my parents and believe they will be happy there. They will move in the spring, after we are settled in our new house. We are excited to have four generations living in close proximity, like people used to do in earlier times. 

Paul is dreaming about his new garden. I’m in awe of the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes and excited to learn about the history of this magical, mystical place. Once we get settled, I will get involved in my new community in a meaningful way and help the Courier’s editorial team with editing.

I left, secure in the knowledge that the Easton Courier is in great hands. It is doing the job Jim Castonguay, associate dean at Sacred Heart University, envisioned when he made the decision to restart the Courier after its former owners shut it down: Educating a new crop of young journalists to pursue community journalism. Castonguay assembled a team of experienced journalists, videographers and professors to keep the Courier alive and vibrant.

The gigantic Shequaga waterfall cascades behind the historic houses in downtown Montour Falls. — Nancy Doniger Photo

Our new town of Montour Falls contains Shequaga Falls, a frothy, 156-foot tall cascade that runs right through the center of the downtown district. Montour Falls has many other waterfalls as well. The clear water and open spaces remind us of Easton with its pristine reservoirs, rivers and streams.

It’s a shorter trip for our older son and his family to visit us in the Finger Lakes than it was to come to Connecticut. Our younger son and his wife love to vacation in this scenic place.

Our journey has been long, with plenty of bumps along the way. We are living out of suitcases, our furniture is in storage, and we are waiting to close on our new house, which is seemingly taking forever. Still, we know we made the right decision. Change is good for the soul.

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