December 29, 2018

It'll Drive You To Drink

It’ll Drive You To Drink
By John R. Greenwood

It’s a short little road, not more than a half-a-mile long. I’ve lived on it since 1981 when there were just a few homes. I remember it being a dirt road in the 60’s when Pepper’s Turkey Farm was a thriving family business. Now it’s the NYS Thruway of my neighborhood. I’m not against growth and progress. What I do wish, is that people would take more pride in the neighborhood where they live. 

Today is the last week of 2018 in the foothills of the Adirondacks and it’s 40 degrees out, with no snow in sight. Its Saturday morning and a walk around my 1.5 mile block seemed like a nice way to start the day. I grabbed my music and headed down the road. There’s a short stretch of my road that is lined with a tall grove of pines. Its part of the original Farone family farm. Fortunately the property remains in the family. It’s the same spot where I almost walked into the side of a black bear lumbering across the road this summer. I’ve spent my life exploring the Adirondacks, but my most exciting wildlife experience came just a few hundred yards out my backdoor. In that very same spot is where I took the photographs you see here. Last fall there was a noticeable increase in alcohol related litter around the entire perimeter of my block. In this particular spot it seems to have tripled in just a few months. The sight sickened me. The fact that this debris field surrounds a bright yellow “Children In Area” sign angers me! The anger is compounded by the fact that not only is this person using my neighborhood for a literal dump, they are also behind the wheel of a car knocking back a bottle of wine while children play, joggers run, and people walk just a few feet away—people who want to enjoy the beauty of where they live. This is not just a neighborhood problem, it’s a problem with our current society in general. Society is rapidly being divided into people who care about more than just themselves and people who only care about themselves. It’s a divide that is widening by the minute. 

I’m not sure how we right this ship, but I do know how I intend to address it in my little corner of the world. I decided to informally adopt my little road and with every walk I’ll collect a bag of litter. Today I started by filling a small bag with the single serve wine bottles I found in just a 20’ swath under the “Children In Area" sign. On my next walk I’ll bring a bigger bag, and maybe, just maybe my neighborhood wino will pass by without running me over. And maybe, just maybe a spark of self-respect will overcome them. And maybe, just maybe, they will find it in their heart to make the extra effort going forward to throw their bottles in the trash and not the side of a country road. 

December 28, 2018

Nobody Wants To Help Mom

Nobody Wants To Help Mom  
John R. Greenwood 

"Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help mom do the dishes,” is a much heavier quote than it appears on the surface. You could take that quote and go in many directions but for me its simple. Charity begins at home, and for me there are many days when doing the dishes is a good place to start. It might also be taking out the trash or hanging up your coat. The best thing we can do to save the earth is to start with the little things at home. It’s also a great lesson to teach our children. Teaching a child to scrape their plate or pick up their dirty clothes is just as important as teaching them to save the whales. If they have no respect for the person who keeps the heat on or pulls a pine sliver from their palm there’s little chance they will grow to appreciate a babbling brook or a flock of honking geese.  

Cooperation and respect begin at home, and sometimes it starts with a sponge and a squirt of dish soap. Sometimes all that's required is a please or a thank you. The problem is, we all want to be recognized for everything we do. When you’re doing good things in the privacy of your own home there are no witnesses other than the ones who already love you. When you join a road-cleanup there are passer’s by. It feels different doesn't it? Walk a 5k for charity and you get a t-shirt, do the dishes and all you get is a hug. 

Note* This Bottle was released somewhere in downtown Saratoga back in February 2018. For some reason I never posted this piece at the time. I'd love to hear from anyone who may have found it. 


December 27, 2018

Listen To Your Mother

Listen To Your Mother
By John R. Greenwood 

Mother Nature has a way of re-centering me. Whether I’m in need of a pick-me-up or a knock-me-down, Mother Nature, just like mom, always has the answer I’m looking for. Today was no exception. 

I’ve wrestled with posting and writing ever since my friend Ed Gulley was called to heaven to help the good lord plant and nurture his next crop of love and compassion. We all know how much this world needs a bumper crop in the upcoming year. I’m certain my friend is sowing seeds of smiles and kindness as I write this piece. I miss Ed dearly. 

2018 has been a potpourri of ups and downs, repairs and replacements, weight loss and weight gain. It has been a struggle to stay optimistic when the air is congested with cancerous words and anger. I’ve become numb and a little withdrawn. It is uncomfortable and unfamiliar to me to be this way. Having a few vacation days off to end the year I thought it might be a good time to go visit Mother Nature to get some guidance. I’ve done it before. It’s a pattern of mine. 

I pulled up the Weather Channel and saw the sun was going to make a rare appearance so I charged my camera, grabbed a warm hat and coat and headed to a place I’d visited briefly but never really took the time to explore. How glad I am for making that decision today. It reaped rewards beyond my expectations. It’s a place just a few miles away on my favorite river. The place is called Hudson Crossing Park and it’s a gem of a place. There is a walking trail approximately two miles long that circles the park. Much of the trail provides vistas of the Hudson River and Lock #5 of the Champlain Canal. There is also a foot bridge that spans the Hudson and connects Saratoga and Washington Counties. The Dix Bridge is a beauty and loaded with historical significance. The park is primarily run and maintained by volunteers so it depends heavily on the support of community businesses and local residents. I learned much about the park during my visit and from their website. I apologize profusely for allowing this wonderful park to go so long before today’s more in-depth visit. 

 I’m sure the park puts on a totally different face depending on the season. Today’s stark cold and leafless trees gave the park a tranquility that soothed my mood and inspired my vision. If you live in the area, and you love the Hudson,  you owe it to yourself to visit the website for directions. Don’t be a serial procrastinator like me. 

I think I’ll finish this piece by letting the photographs speak for themselves.

A poem for those of you who stuck around until the end.

Hudson Crossing 
By John R. Greenwood

Emptiness fills December’s air 
Historical paths crunch beneath my feet
Crows crow, squirrels squirrel
Hudson water surrounds me
Am I home now?