The first time I went upstate was with some friends from NYU. We decided we wanted to get out of the city so we rented a cabin, hired a car, and headed for the countryside. We stopped at local markets along the way, bought fresh produce, maple syrup, and pumpkins, and went to an apple orchard for some classic apple-picking fun. We baked pies, drank whiskey and locally pressed cider that we spiked ourselves, and sat by one of those old stove fireplaces that us city-dwellers had only seen in movies. It was just as cosy as you might imagine and I think fondly on that trip this time of year.
Every year after that, I made my annual trip to New Paltz, a small town upstate that I probably discovered by googling “places to go in upstate new york”. I would get on a bus at Penn Station and an hour and a half later I was in the quaint college town, surrounded by nature. It felt like I was playing hookey – disappearing from the city for the day, not telling anyone where I was going.
I would borrow a bicycle from a little antique store in Water Street Market that gave out loner bikes for free - an example of the type of generosity and trust that can only be found outside of a big city. There was a nature trail that started just behind the antique store where I would start my journey and ride through the golden red piles of leaves, alongside the Wallkill River and through Historic Huguenot Street, where seven stone houses built in the 1700s still stood. I went in and out of local craft and record shops I found along along the way, leaving the bicycle propped up against a tree outside. I rode up to the New Paltz Rural Cemetery where I would sit on a bench, take in the incredible hilltop views, and steep in the solitude. I returned home on the bus feeling relaxed and refreshed. These days were medicinal for me.
My Autumn in Upstate New York candle is a tribute to those days spent upstate. To the leaves and the trees and the feeling of solitude. To the local markets that sell fresh maple syrup and that warming sip of whiskey at the end of a long day. To the slow pace of life and the abandonment of technology (however brief it may be).