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James Loney
Posted 2/4/22

Right now it is a succulent moment to be able to call oneself a Smallwoodian and say “I LIVE in Smallwood, New York.”

A dear NYC friend, born in Kyiv, told me recently that a great hue …

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Right now it is a succulent moment to be able to call oneself a Smallwoodian and say “I LIVE in Smallwood, New York.”

A dear NYC friend, born in Kyiv, told me recently that a great hue and cry had gone up in Brooklyn and Manhattan: “Smallwood! Smallwood! Smallwood, New York!”

We are the lucky ones who live here. Although the snow is almost to the knee now, our landscape is a true wonderland: vast stretches of frozen lake ahead of you, small clutches of deer, does and fawns and young bucks, hoofing out dried grass beneath the snow to simply survive.

I moved up to Sullivan County and Smallwood because this land is still a land of the empire of snow. Our days are snowpacked now, short and clipped to the bone.

We all of us bustle about to get things done before the sun drops like a stone behind the screen of the forest canopy. We stoke the fire then throughout the night, every two hours we wake up and are at it, one more log at 2:00 AM and 4:00AM and 6:00 AM. Our animals cozy up with us in bed.

We know then, we SCD Readers, we are the blessed.

To judge by a lot of the numbers—home sales, average home price, etc—Smallwood NY did well last year.

This County bustled and thrived. Nonetheless Sullivan County ranks second to last of all counties in NYS for quality of life and general healthiness of its population.

The snow and the deer and the fire in the fireplace may be cozy to most of us but a lot of our co-citizens are somewhere else. Just walk into any supermarket in Liberty or Monticello. Take a look at those kids pushing overloaded carts for adults ranging thirty feet away. Take a look at those exhausted strung-out faces, rings of exhaustion under their tender 15 year-old eyes.

You will see the constricted thin rings of a dying sapling or the desperation of a shivering deer digging for dead grass and leaves under four feet snow. These families, these yearlings, live among us, disconnected, unable to say what they aim for in life.

Meantime we stoke our fires contentedly through the dark night.

A year ago my extended family was thunderstruck when a magical and tender young lady of 23 years died of an overdose. Of New York, she died in LA, alone.

Lottchen laid down her life and died. Since that January 11th, her image, her dancing and curious nature, her love of cats, has inhabited my consciousness every single day. Her final image with her doting parents will not out.

Her image haunts me every day and when I go to Shoprite and see the kids spaced out, I fear for them and dread and weep for what will come because I see them in that final image. They are she.

Readers. We live in one of the truly most beautiful and blessed localities on earth in our snowy dreamy Otherland but many of our kids, many of our families, paw at the snow tonight like deer at minus 10 trying to survive on dead grass.

This situation cannot and must not continue. In community, in Smalllwood and Sullivan, we will change it and come together to change it. Back on December 7th, the Bethel Business Association and Sullivan County Public Health Services organized a training for people interested in helping get vulnerable people the help they need. If you or anyone you know needs help with the use of drugs, if you or someone you know feels endangered, please reach out because HELP IS ON THE WAY. Please call 833-428-HOPE.

Smallwood Civic Association (SWCA) and the Bethel Lions Club are collaborating on a town-wide mask and test kit distribution event:

WHEN: Sunday, February 6, from 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm or until supplies run out.

WHERE: Smallwood Beach parking lot located at 723 Lakeview Drive (off of Pine Grove Road), Smallwood, NY 12778

PLEASE: follow directions for one-way easy-in/easy-out handoff in your car

YOU: must be wearing a mask to receive masks and test kits


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