The fields and forests in the Finger Lakes region are mostly barren now that winter is only two weeks away. The grapevines have all lost their leaves and as I gaze towards Bare Hill in Vine Valley, the trees there are all ready for winter. Seneca Indian legend has it that Bare Hill was so named because of a great struggle that once occurred which destroyed most of the trees on the hill. Today, any evidence of that struggle has long passed.
Further down the road, there are fields of corn which are ready to be shelled before winter’s snows break over the stalks. Corn used to be picked from the stalk by a mechanical picker and then the ears stored in cribs which allowed the kernels to further dry using the energy supplied by Mother Nature. Today’s farmers in the Finger Lakes shell the corn right in the field, but must place the shelled kernels in a dryer to remove some of the moisture, otherwise the grain would mold.
I like the pattern of the planted rows of corn and the alternate planting of a corn field and then a hay field. It reminds me of my time on The Bupp Family Farm in Ohio. I’ve shoveled a lot of ear corn from the wagon to the crib. One would say today that such manual labor helped build the character of myself and my brothers. In the fifties’, our corn picker only picked one row of corn at a time – quite a contrast from today’s giant corn shellers which harvest ten rows at a time. All of the manual labor has been eliminated by machine.
Down along Canandaigua Lake at Vine Valley, all is quiet except for a lone fisherman who silently heads out in his battery powered fishing boat. All of the other residents have long departed for their winter homes. There is a quiet and a peace that has settled over Vine Valley for the next four months.