Thursday, November 2, 2023

Oh, Adirondacks

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By Sam Levine

“Biggest park in the contiguous United States.”
Or some other

A park
Public and private.
Call it the “Adirondack Regional Zoning Area”
And be done with it.
“No billboards or sprawl!”
“Lowest population density per square mile east of the Mississippi!”
More advertising.
Proud of?
Humans and non-humans
Life, non-life
All things in a pen
But the holes.
The entries and exits.
The coming-and-going.
Through the “Blue-Line.”
Proud of?
The shoulders of a “shoulder season.”

On the Northway with cargo.
Toys. Mostly plastic.
To Lakes. Rivers. Mountains.
Like the before-work and after-work Running.
The running.
On roadsides and city sidewalks.
Headphones and spandex.
Revenge? Compensation?
The hours at desks.
From what?

To whom does this belong? Within the line and without.
No one. No-thing
Just there
No lines. No differences.
No human and non-human.
Same things going-on as anywhere else.
But selective. Constrained.
To what? I-95 corridor? NYC?
Land use
Ah, for whom?
Land use
Use? Usage?
The camps of industry
Camps for workers. The camps for their bosses
The loggers, the miners, the industrialists
But Camps
Not home
What is this place!?
A sprinkling of names on a map
The large domains of “settlement”—a euphemism for taking.
The swamps and rocks.
And millions of acres crammed into severe shapes
An imposition.
No courting. No Love. No Friendship.
Low population density
Like factories of production for consumption.
The forms and functions.
The kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, libraries, studies, bed-rooms, servant’s wings, guest
houses, boat-houses, ice-houses, root-cellars
chimneys and furnaces, smokestacks and bellows.

Like so many machines for pleasure.
Someone else’s pain
Or a tree’s; or a rock’s; or a river’s; or an “animal’s”
Sometimes, some places.
Not always, not everywhere.
Pleasure and Pain?
For money.
A contract.
Like prisoners of war, or
factors of production.

Whole mountains, forests, and lakes turned into buildings and parks.
Then anxious.

Railroads and automobiles.

Thousands, millions.

“By god!”
“But, by god!”

By car.
On tracks and roads.



For vacation
Like you,
kind of
But coming, and going.

What for?
Seasons to come,
and seasons to go.
A newfound joy and,
With your clothing; your toys; your cars; your trucks; your road; your money;
But going? Coming?
Not so easy.
For the loggers and miners.
The guides and cooks.

So, staying.

The names.

The names.
The places of extraction.
The downtowns.

Really down.

And the mills? The crushers and depots?
A language writ
Into genes
Into places
And now?
The outfitters and resorts?
What next?

A staying?
Ahhh, but the symbols.

The old factories for vacation. The “Great Camps.”
Burned “by the state” and the smoke from their frames still in the air.
The hotels for visitors = factories for locals.

Jobs. Jobs. We need jobs.
And the prisons
Literally—the Adirondack Park prisons!
New “Section 8?”
Or left crumbling and rusting?
Once filled with young black men from cities who were guarded by young white men from the
And now what?
Affordable housing for the white “working-poor” who can’t afford the market because their
prison jobs are gone?
Not so different: the camps, and logging, and mines, and prisons.

The taking, a high for some.
The highs of taking and lows of leaving.
And Left.


Sam Levine is from the mid-Hudson Valley and Catskill regions where he grew up moving from one old house to another. He holds a B.A. in Environmental and Urban Studies from Bard College and an A.A.S. from Columbia-Greene Community College with High Honors. He’s worked for the United States Forest Service and Trout Unlimited. And, is currently using his background in natural resource management to restore a semi-abandoned farm in the Westport-Essex area. After flirting with careers in academia, government, and not-for-profits, he’s working on becoming a responsible organic farmer and entrepreneur.

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

2 Responses

  1. Great. Leave one speechless He’s ysed up all the words. Adroitly. Thank you.

  2. ADKresident says:

    Wow, what a poetic downer as I sip my morning coffee. How unfortunate this writer paints our beloved ADKs in such a negative light. Must not be a very happy camper to which I say….

    On the contrary.


    My perspective
    Every moment of every season

    This view.
    From the window of my soul
    Leaves me once again-
    Forever grateful.

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