#mondayblogs: Something out of Nothing

I grew up in UPSTATE New York. I put that in all caps because UPSTATE New York is nothing like New York City. Sure, there are a few major cities (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Elmira, Binghamton Triple Cities, Ithaca) but between these major cities there are miles and miles of hills dotted with tiny towns and strange upscale suburban style mansion housing developments for city people who decide they want to live in the country.

It makes you wonder if they didn’t realize until they get out there it is going to take 20 minutes to get to the city and a decent grocery store on twisting roads that in the winter won’t be plowed until at least 9AM because the county only has so many plows. You hope they also invest along with their 3 story mansion into a car with a decent all wheel drive. Out in the middle of nowhere, you can tell what county you’re in by the way the roads are paved. (When you grow up in a tiny hamlet that straddles the county line the condition of the way the roads are kept becomes glaringly obvious.)

Between these tiny towns is forest, hills and farms, lots of farms and going between cities to tiny towns can become quite the surreal experience. (I had a coworker describe it once as going through some sort of time warp.) And where some people may just see hay fields and trees, other people see opportunities.

I’m not sure how it all came about. Between the city where my father and I worked and my hometown (a good 22 miles away) is where two minor roads met. And where they met was basically a stable and a farm owned by a Professor at the local Ivy League University. He kept Highland Cattle on fields away from the road. (People kept getting hurt when they tried to see them and take pictures.) And she had a stable where she kept horses and donkeys. They also had a trucking business, so they’d have 18 wheelers sitting out front. But where the roads met there were some hay fields to each side of the road. And I don’t know why these hay fields were put up for sale. I can speculate that rising taxes caused the farmer who owned them to want to sell them off. I don’t know. They were for sale for several years. And then a developer came and bought them. These fields were fairly flat and the road they sat to either side of actually connected to the local interstate road (regularly plowed in winter). That road went directly into the nearby city less than 15 minutes away. The city had two colleges.

The first anyone knew about it is when this developer built nine cottage size houses in groups of three out of the cheapest materials he could buy in bulk. (Not saying they aren’t sturdy, just they were cheap to build.) Only one or two bedroom lofts. He allowed his daughter to choose the colors and she chose the brightest, most cheerful and sometimes downright gaudy colors she could find. He put them up for rent at $1000 to $2000 a month depending on the size of the house. He allowed pets. He allowed them to put small garden boxes outside. He allowed them to hang decor on the house and keep kayaks on racks. He planted trees.

He had a waiting list to rent.

Last I knew, the plan was to build 75 of these little cottages on these hay fields. He’d built two larger buildings with apartments, a “community center” and laundry facilities. The local county bus had arranged for a bus route to be changed to service this little community. Sure, they have to go ten minutes up the interstate away from the city to get to a gas station. There isn’t a major grocery store until you go to the city. That’s not any different than anywhere else in upstate New York.

In a matter of five years, this area went from an empty hay field to a tiny town of colorful little houses that has a waiting list of people who want to live there. (Really, it’s quite cute despite the sometimes very glaring and clashing colors.)

So, if anyone wants to throw in a pizza place in the middle of nowhere, I know a golden opportunity. Not really my point.

It’s about seeing the possibilities. It’s looking at an empty hay field or stretch of beach or piece of paper and seeing what could be there and how it could benefit others rather than what is there. There may not be a lot of money. There may just be a vision, a goal of where you want to get to and how you want the story to go. And sometimes, that’s all that’s necessary, being able to see the goal, to have that light at the end of the tunnel or the vision of a bunch of colorful tiny houses sitting in a former hay field.

Being able to see that is powerful in itself. Don’t let anyone take it away from you. You can make that goal come true or even a better one that makes you even happier than your initial goal. It’s knowing that the possibility is there and grabbing for a chance at it.

Maybe in another life I should be a motivational speaker or a comedian. Right now, I think I’ll stick with writing. Because I have stories I want to tell, little ones, colorful ones that are dotting up in the empty hay field that is my mind.

(Found on Pintrest)


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