Frozen Pond in North Country New York | Life and other adventures blog

Discovering North Country: From Giant Cows To French Carols

Out my window

Our stylishly decorated nugget of an apartment in Brushton, NY sits right on the main State Route through New York’s North Country. Car traffic is sparse, but roaring 18-wheelers regularly rumble by, transporting tankers of milk from the many industrial dairy farms around here.

From my desk and ergonomic chair, I can swivel to look out the window as vehicles pass by. 

Which I do every time I hear an approaching clip-clop clip-clop.

In the wide road shoulders Amish folks in horse-drawn black buggies pass by our apartment throughout the day. 

What we learn while driving

As these are pandemic times, we mostly learn about the area from the metal safety nest that is our car. We don’t visit the Akwesasne Cultural Center or ski at Titus Mountain. We don’t eat inside at Hosler’s Family Restaurant or Nancy’s Village Cafe – so no chatting with people the next table over.

The radio plays a lot of Canadian stations – half of them in French. It’s very cool listening to Christmas carols in French. My favorite is a jazz version of Père Noël, which I cannot find on YouTube anywhere. If you think you know this song: PLEASE SEND IT TO ME <wrings hands> is a great station because they alternate songs between English and French. “White Christmas” by Taylor Swift followed by” Promenade en Traîneau” by La Volée d’Castors, rinse and repeat.

Eye-catching, bucolic scenes roll by. The road in and out of our 474 person village is stick straight and flanked by farms. Silos standing stalwart beside fields with cows chewing chewing chewing the hay piles they encircle. Everywhere there are streams and creeks winding under and away from the road. 

I see

Four energetic teenage boys wearing traditional Amish flat-topped straw hats playing ball in their front yard.  

The Malone-Dufort Airport across from the Walmart where 86% of the planes that grace its landing strips are single-engine. 

The BIGGEST flippin’ cow I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously – this mother was a full foot higher than the cow next to her. (We stopped on the street, hit reverse, and wantonly took mediocre quality photos of the big, beautiful Bessie leaning against the barn wall).

At night, if it weren’t for the Christmas lights enchanting the roadside houses it would be utterly dark after 4pm. My favorite is the huge house with single-strand lights outlining the roof and walls in illumination. It’s set far back on its big lawn scattered with bright red glowing tree trunks sprouting multi-colored twinkling branches.

I did make a pit stop at The Market Barn while we were out Ingressing one day. A radio commercial came on in a language I didn’t recognize. It definitely wasn’t English and it was more staccato than French. Portuguese? No. Polish? That’s also not a big demographic in this area. So I asked the store clerk and she told me the commercial was spoken in Akwesasne.

Akwesasne land

The Akwesasne Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation is 18 minutes from our place. Akwesasne translates to “Land Where the Partridge Drums.”

I’ll let some Akwesasne people tell you about themselves:

Smithsonian | National Museum of the American Indian

On Saturdays the radio station,, broadcasts Akwesasne language lessons. 

And a podcast, The Tsi Tsi Podcast, about local supernatural stories is hosted on the Akwesasne tv station’s website.

Airbnb sweet home

Our time here started out incredibly productive and transitioned into peaceful rest as the solstice and end of year holidays drew in.

Chanukah was a joy. I spent it with my family, which I haven’t done in years. We gathered on Zoom, sang the blessings together, and added light to the world each night. AND I got to be there for my niece’s first Chanukah!

Chanukah isn’t a particularly important Jewish holiday. But it’s a fun one and gives the Jewish people our own tradition to celebrate and contemplate during the darkest time of the year, as so many cultures in the world do. 

My bed here is insanely comfortable. The blanket is the absolute softest I can remember, and the buttery, cream color makes it even cozier. Our host Mary clued me in on where she bought it and one day it will be MINE. (Hint: she got it here: link)

We Netflixed on the huge tv hanging on the wall a few times, but we mostly use the laptop because the apartments are only divided by a thin wall. Each night around 9pm we can hear our neighbor strumming her guitar and softly singing along. 

There’s a bevy of sugar shacks around here. Local maple sugar candy? Yes, please. I’ve been practicing restraint by only eating one a day. #paragonofdiscipline 

I’ve also blissfully inhaled the incredible brick oven pizza from directly across the street at Firehouse Pizza multiple times during the month here.

On my second to last day here, I was walking by the local grocery store, Martin’s on Main. A man with a long, blond beard and straw hat drove his buggy into the parking lot and pulled right up to a specifically designed horse and buggy parking spot. Next to the last car spot was a set up with posts and a crossbeam to secure the horse reins to. A bucket with water to refresh the horse hung on the cross beam. A shovel leaned against a post for clean up if necessary. I smiled brightly and gave an energetic wave. His face lit up with a smile and he gave me a big wave right back.

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