Day 23 Prompt: Remembering Fort Hunter

I grew up in a very small town in upstate New York. Fort Hunter was on the other side of the Mohawk River, across the old narrow bridge from where the action happened. The action being school, shopping, other people. I often wonder if my childhood would have been different if I hadn’t felt so isolated in that town of a few hundred. Isolated because most of schoolmates lived across the river, yet I always felt like I was being watched, studied for my eccentricities. Small towns can make you paranoid.

Yet what I liked most about where I lived was that it was in the country, fairly surrounded by farm land. A corn field bordered our back yard. Another one was across our street, and still another stretched between the house next to us and the two-room schoolhouse where I went to first and second grades. I still remember the still, humid air of summer and the drone of flies, the sound of my father’s push mower as he sliced through grass and the sweet smell of that freshly cut grass scenting the air.

I remember the fall, my favorite season, with the riot of reds, oranges, and yellows in the trees, the jugs of apple cider that we would get from the apple mill (in another town, of course), the sweet, creamy pumpkin pies, the bite of the crisp air making me feel alive among the spreading decay.

I remember winter nights where the full moon would reflect off the blankets of snow and you could see as well as if it were daylight. I loved the crunch of my boots in the snow, making knee-deep trails around my house and through the fields. In winter, my brother and I would fight for space on our floor furnace, the only source of heat in our two-story house. I remember my mother once cutting a hole in the kitchen ceiling through to my bedroom. She said it was to allow heat from the stove to rise and warm my room. I considered it an invasion of privacy. I would rather freeze, I thought, than let anyone hear me read out loud to myself.

I remember the muddy springs, the air heavy with the thaw of rotting vegetation, the air cool but not crisp like fall nor sharp like winter. Spring air held the promise of summer, of sun and warm, a promise that it held off as long as it could. I remember one May day when it snowed.

My memories are less of people than they are of smells and sounds and the way the air feels on my skin. Whenever I go home, I always have a sense of time stopping or even turning back. Probably because in so many ways time has retreated. The population of Fort Hunter continues to decline. A devastating flood from a few years ago destroyed my childhood home and the houses on either side of it. The post office, my lifeblood since there were no computers in my childhood, has since been closed. For years, the State of New York has been turning the land in my small town into a state park.

Some day I will go home and all I will have left are the sounds, smells, and the feel of the air on my skin.

About 1WriteWay

Writer, blogger, knitter, and cat lover.

23 comments on “Day 23 Prompt: Remembering Fort Hunter

  1. Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:
    Childhood memories. Today’s writing prompt at The Community Storyboard.

  2. This was lovely, a great post.

  3. As a kid that grew up in suburbia, I admit that I’m jealous of people that grew up in areas with a lot of trees and nature. I’m sure it has its downsides too, but it always looks so peaceful and stress free to people like me.

    It’s funny how memories are tied so much to smells and sounds.

    • Yes, I know it could often seem idyllic. Even though it wasn’t, I am grateful for having grown up there. I can appreciate it much more as an adult :). Also, seeing it through other people’s eyes. My husband grew up in the suburbs too and he fell in love with my little town when we first visited together. His appreciation helped me get over the bad stuff. It is interesting how smells and sounds stay with us for so long, maybe forever. Even today, when the air turns a certain way or I taste fresh apple cider, I’m sent back in time.

  4. And memories. You will always have your memories. They can’t be flooded or burned down or torn down.

  5. The seasons of your childhood so beautifully described. It is amazing how the senses stimulate the recollections.

  6. Nostalgia is beautiful. I could see all the views, sniff the air of different seasons and hear the sounds you presented through your writing. I wish I could live in a place like that, away from the complicated life of a small city.
    Sometimes, I feel as if I’m not meant to be me and I should rather have been an old man. 🙂

    • Thank you for commenting! I used to live in a big city, now I live in the suburbs. I want to leave the suburbs but I’m actually torn between whether we should move back to the big city or the country. There’s pluses or minuses for both.
      Feeling that we are meant to be someone other than who we are is an interesting idea. I felt it strongly in my adolescence, I was so eager to mature and live the life I wanted but couldn’t have where I was. I’m still striving for that. Sounds like you are too. Take comfort. You will get there 🙂

  7. That was so emotive, I could almost smell the scents as I read it. 🙂

  8. I was saddened to read about your home being washed away. It is a shame when going home again is almost impossible. My boyhood home is still standing, but it is in the center of a very tough part of Detroit. I would need an armed escort to visit. great post.

  9. Beautiful writing, Marie. I’m sorry that childhood home was lost. I like the idea that the town can become a park, though…those smells…for me it is the smell of a pistachio nuts and bourbon mixed with the salty gulf water smells.

    • Yes, that’s probably a benefit of the town’s location … Too isolated to make it worth developing and becoming an eyesore ;). We actually have three original locks of the Erie Canal. That’s why it is park-worthy and I’ll always have access to that.

  10. Beautiful memory, like a picture or a movie, but better.

  11. Take me away! Beautiful descriptions. I remember more in scents and sounds than people as well.

  12. […] Day 23 Prompt: Remembering Fort Hunter (neverendingstorydepository.wordpress.com) […]

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