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WORLD FOCUS: Shatz enjoys the slow, peaceful pace of country life

May 17, 2019
By FRANK SHATZ , Lake Placid News

For the past 36 years, my wife and I had lived in two places. We spent the summer months in Lake Placid, New York, and the rest of the year in Williamsburg, Virginia. This arrangement provided us with the best, of two worlds. But the tear and wear of moving back and forth long distances took its toll.

Two years ago, we chose Williamsburg as our year-round home. Since then, many of our friends here have asked how we spent those months in a mountain village.

It seems to be an appropriate time to take stock of those months when we were "hicks from the sticks."

My days in Lake Placid started early. First, I fired up my computer. I read the online editions of such newspapers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and twice a week The Virginia Gazette. Then I read and replied to my emails.

According to my wife, it was always a lengthy process to get me to the breakfast table.

The morning TV news seldom was an uplifting experience. But the realization that you are having your breakfast in a peaceful, tranquil environment, while millions of people struggled to survive wars, natural disasters or debilitating poverty, made you feel fortunate to live in America, such a rich and free country.

Rains and thunderstorms routinely drench the Adirondack Mountains, but it didn't stop me from my daily morning hikes. I took my walks on Mount Whitney Road, an old logging road that cut through a part of New York state Forest Preserve constitutionally protected as Forever Wild.

Some years ago, a delivery man halted his truck, saying: "You better turn around. A mama bear with two cubs is feeding on berries at the roadside. She doesn't seem to be in mood to share her meal with anyone."

After about 40 minutes of brisk walking, I stopped for the mail. The post office was the gathering place for locals where gossips were exchanged and residents could complain about high property taxes.

Returning home, though, I was ready to assume some household responsibilities. My wife remained faithful to European traditions and absolved me from most kitchen duties. Taking out the garbage and vacuuming remained my job.

In the past, we had to make some hard choices where to shop for food. There were several family-owned grocery stores, each with its own selection. In later years, however, only two chain-owned supermarkets served the community. You had to buy what was on the shelves. The once-a-week farmers market provided an alternative, but in the Adirondacks, the growing season lasted only six weeks.

On our way to the supermarket, we often made a short detour to the Peninsula, jutting out into the "big lake." From its shores, we could watch loons, wild ducks and occasionally a heron or two frolicking in the water.

Our big meal, holding on to the European tradition, was at noon. The afternoons we spent hiking, visiting with friends or at John Brown Farm, a New York state historic site, or reading. We considered those afternoons most enjoyable.

After a light dinner and watching the news, I removed myself into the "salt mine," my study. There, aided by the tapes and notes of interviews, I worked on my weekly column for the Virginia Gazette and the Lake Placid News. It was a labor of love.

Our daily routine in the Adirondacks was not carved in stone. It was altered by picnics with friends, attending lectures on flora and fauna at the Adirondak Loj, where a trailhead led to Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York state. Going to county fairs and listening to folk music concerts at village greens was also part of country living.

Our friends ask, do we miss it? And our answer is yes, but every new venue in life opens new possibilities.

(Frank Shatz is a Williamsburg resident and former resident of Lake Placid. He is the author of "Reports from a Distant Place," a compilation of his selected column. The book is available at



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