If you stick around long enough, you get to do things twice. If you’re lucky, you get to correct mistakes you made the first time around, you get to improve on the things you did right and to thank those you’ve forgotten.
This issue is about second acts, second chances, second attempts. We didn’t plan it that way, but something must have been in the air, because just about every article we scheduled has resurrection, renovation, restoration or rebirth underlying it.
For one reason or another, the farmers Keith Stewart interviewed for his column are transitioning from farming to, well, something else. Each has a different rationale, but collectively they give us an intimate look at what it means to be a farmer today, the issues that must be dealt with and the sometimes difficult decisions that must be made. Straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say.
Jeff Storey takes a similarly long, hard look at the changing face of agritourism in the Hudson Valley and the impact it has on the region. Some well-known farmers—Ray Bradley, Pete Taliaferro, Guy Jones and Cheryl Rogowski among them—have been hosting on-farm dinners for years. (And what farmer worth his manure didn’t have hayrides, pumpkin-rolling contests or a corn maze on his or her fall schedule?) But the idea of bringing lots of people onto the farm for education or entertainment as a way of making significant money is catching on, big time. There are drawbacks, but it’s become an important part of the agricultural and tourism economies here.
And there’s a genuine renaissance taking place among the hotels and high-end inns in the valley. The region has been a favorite of travelers practically since it was discovered, and there was a time when an overnight stay almost anywhere was a special occasion. Everybody, especially the hoteliers, knew it. But the fast-food, interstate highway, drive-up window culture of the motorized 1950s seemed to put convenience and speed ahead of comfort. There’s a new wave of hospitality afoot, however, that’s aiming to do things the old-fashioned way—to truly treat travelers as guests. Four restored Golden Age hotels that follow that creed are spotlighted here.
One of our youngest and most-traveled writers, Eliot Gee, stops at a bar in Italy on a snowy night, has a bite to eat and a beer, and finds himself on an intellectual adventure that resurrects childhood memories of Warwick and solves a long-standing puzzle. Meanwhile, veteran photojournalist David Handschuh goes upstate to sample the fare at a reborn Catskill Mountain resort. Henny Youngman is nowhere in sight.