Okay, here’s where most days started and ended on my little eight-or-nine-day adventure in Upstate New York: Kate’s place in an outer suburb of Saratoga Springs.
A nice modest little place with a big sprawling backyard, a few oaks and maples and other trees I couldn’t recognise. A couple of clumps of echinacea still holding their own, lots of cool, damp grass, various perennials giving up and keeling over before the advancing Summer.
Funny how I’d come so far from the bumble bees and naturalised coneflowers so common in urban Korea to find them thriving in my gal’s back garden.
Kate’s place is small but her kitchen alone is larger than the entire living space in my Jangyu apartment. With her three girls, I think the best phrase to describe the vibe within the pale blue walls would be cheerfully chaotic. If the commotion got out of hand, there was always the upstairs space, generally a no-fly zone for smaller humanoids.
Moe and I, greatly outnumbered, could often be found there, exchanging shrugs and knowing glances as various thuds, screams and wails shook the lower level. “Got yer back if you got mine,” his wise eyes seemed to say.
It wasn’t always so rowdy, of course:
I described the area as an outer suburb, but perhaps “semi-rural” would be more accurate. Last time I was here, Kate’s yard and the sidewalks and fields were all under snow. This time I fluked a patch of mild weather, low humidity and nights that were almost cool. Great weather for outings, and we managed an unfeasible number in my criminally short visit.
Leaving the scrappy streets and smothering heat of Jangyu behind was always going to be worth it, but it would be pretty damned hard to leave this when the time came:
I got to JFK on a Saturday morning; it was a long and tiring drive north for both of us on the ever-unchanging Interstate 87. I was lagged and half-deranged — the Joy of Flight, etc — but flying Hawaiian Air via Honolulu meant I’d already cleared customs and just strolled straight to the luggage carousel and — eventually (she’d parked approx four miles distant) — into a blonde tornado before being set loose upon an unsuspecting America.
Saratoga Springs is perfectly situated between the Catskills to the south and the Adirondacks to the north. That night we dined in another cute, woodsy little house, this one the abode of my friends/Kate’s relatives Dude & Trouble. Catching up with the relative newlyweds was terrific, even in my semi-vegetative state, and there was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a pizza I can’t stop thinking about (as any American knows, the best pizza in the country comes from New York!).
Sunday afternoon meant dinner at Kate’s family’s place, in a nearby and equally woodsy neighbourhood. Again, good company and food and the amber goodness flowed. Here’s Kate on the porch with her two brothers…
..and here’s Trouble and our friend Aaren (Nemo) and me and Kate’s nephew Ethan:
(Aaren has the farm with her husband Chris that I stayed at in January while stricken with a nasty case of Kate Fever. I’ll have a bunch of colourful shots of that place in a forthcoming post.)
Outside in the afternoon sun, kids and corn in abundance:
After dinner, most of us adjourned to the verdant sprawl of inviting lawn for a game of Full Contact Frisbee:
It was no place for the faint-hearted…
..but somehow I was able to get in, grab my shots and get out again with cranium intact…
A quick break for a double dose of adorable:
And then at some secret signal we were going walkabout. We crossed the road, some of us with breathtaking pizazz…
..and went on a walk around a really attractive neighbourhood of big trees, beautiful houses and thriving gardens and lawns.
The funny thing was, as we walked, kids came out of the houses we were passing, lots of kids, and joined the procession. A few adults too. It was like a freaking Steven Spielberg movie.
It really was a beautiful afternoon…
..and after a few blocks it seemed every kid in the neighbourhood had joined us:
Kate caught up with some people she hadn’t seen in years.
And that was my first couple of days in the States on this, my sixth visit to the country. It was such a relief to be there at last, and everything felt really natural. I really must go back sometime.
I’ll have some more strolling and eventually some real hiking on this “walking blog” coming up soon! For now, let’s finish with another shot of the venerable, bunny-hunting Moecifer. Kate has a house rule that all who visit must pay homage to his wondrousness — it used to be one of those unwritten rules, but nowadays it’s stapled to the front door.
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote