What is a spring chicken, anyway? I’ve been reminded several times recently that it’s something I’m not. I didn’t take it as an insult, but more like a statement of fact that I should add to the notes on my cell phone (if I had one). I’d normally counter with a quick, witty comeback, but that wouldn’t be printable here.
We’re talking about facing reality here. The reality that most people my age already have signed some papers and, sometimes ceremoniously, retired. Most of my friends already have passed this point. Some have moved to the coast of the Carolinas to play golf when they aren’t dodging hurricanes. Some moved to Florida to do the same. Or the Poconos. One problem I have is that I really like it here in the Hudson Valley. I don’t want to retire and move someplace else.
A couple of my in-laws recently returned from an idyllic, week-long island vacation. As they tell it, though, the best time they had was their descent to Stewart International. They could see the river, they recognized the bridges, the roads, the farms, the orchards, the colors of the trees. They were thrilled, not to be going away, but to be coming home.
And why shouldn’t they? Where, outside of Boston, has so much of the history of this country been played out? Where, outside of southeastern Pennsylvania, are so many working farms keeping the bins of so many farmers’ markets so well stocked? Where are there so many publicly accessible architectural gems, indoor and outdoor art museums, challenging (and rewarding) climbing destinations, a river where you can catch 40-pound stripers within walking distance of two or three trout streams? Where else in this part of the country can you lunch on fresh-picked greens and goat cheese, then have dinner at a world-class restaurant?
The vast majority of visitors don’t come here just to visit Dutchess County or Orange County or Ulster County—they come to see the Hudson Valley. Our mission at The Valley Table, and what we try to do through Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, is to show residents and visitors alike the richness of the resources along this 120-mile stretch of river. There’s a whole contingent of young professionals moving up here from the city, bringing their enthusiasm for the outdoors and the arts, for good food and drink. They ride the bikeways in Sloatsburg, they climb the Ridge and hike Breakneck. They know what good food, good wine, good beer and good whiskey taste like.
One of our jobs at this magazine is to help them find that good food and drink and many of the other things that make this region so important. I should retire? And do what? Move to Florida and play golf? I don’t play golf.