Home » , , » A Nose Eyed View

A Nose Eyed View

Written By Timothy Knight on 8/30/15 | 8/30/15

Author's note: written as part of a college assignment, this article not only attempts to capture the meaning of Vroman's Nose to Middleburgh residents, but to address the lapse in engagement that exists between SUNY Cobleskill and the surrounding community. I hope everyone appreciates it. (It was written in late winter/early spring, thus the emphasis on colder conditions)

The view is breathtaking, even in the desolate destruction of winter’s long, cruel and chaotic reign. For miles on end, all you can see is a vast expanse of half-frozen ground speckled with the promise of rebirth not far off. On top of the frozen earth lies human innovation: cars, houses, sheds, tools, tractors and whatever the case may be. Even farther in the distance, dividing the two sides of the valley floor with its meandering yet straight banks, rests the thawing Schoharie Creek, placid and peaceful now, but always a threat of flooding if its innermost demons are wrought upon the creek’s inhabitants on either side of its banks.
This seemingly photo-book visual is not easily obtained, however. One must first defeat the obstacles of nature and trek a half mile up a sloping and at times steep mountainside that culminates the figure of a nose, earning the mountain’s moniker among the natives of the Schoharie Valley as simply, “Vroman’s Nose.” Although the view of the surrounding farmland is barren in the winter, from early April to late October it’s teeming with beauty, fertility, and life. A rite of passage to becoming a true citizen in Middleburgh, New York, and its adjoining municipalities, it is a passage well-traveled. 
Middleburgh High School alum and current SUNY Cobleskill student Shania Marotta describes the mountain as a “fun and relaxing place to go when you’re bored and looking for something to do.” Spring and summer-time adventures are not uncommon for local teenagers, hikers, or even a couple looking for a romantic setting, to which Ms. Marotta personally testified,as does the author of this piece. But not everyone takes advantage of the beauty and fun-filled activity of an afternoon of the Nose.
Just fifteen minutes away from the Nose rests SUNY Cobleskill, a historically agriculture-friendly school that, mixed with liberal arts majors, boasts almost 2500 students, many of whom have never experienced the mountainside trek, or much of Schoharie County off campus, for that matter. 
 Erika Day, a Sophomore in the college’s Equine program, says there is little for students to do off campus outside of going to the local movie theater or the typical midnight trips to Wal-Mart. Day mentioned hiking trails as a possibility but to date hasn’t had the opportunity to experience local sites due to time restraints and a lack of knowledge about the accessibility of the trails.
She is not the exception, however. With limited transportation options and with most of what your typical college student needs within a three-mile radius, there is little to no incentive for students to go off venturing beyond that barrier to experience the remainder of what the rural county of 32,000 residents and its scenery of untold beauty has to offer, particularly in its southernmost regions.
Encompassing wide swathes of open land, fishing streams, ponds, hiking trails, and camping areas, the northern Catskills foothills are a paradise for outdoorsmen and adventurers alike, but few if any outside of native inhabitants are aware of what awaits just a short drive out of Cobleskill.
The failure is twofold on behalf of the college, which doesn’t actively encourage engagement with the surrounding community by students, and in particular with the rural areas despite the presence of a significant agriculturally inclined academic body. As well as with the community at large, which doesn’t adequately promote all that it has to offer to local youth and students, even though there is a prevailing concern in nearby municipalities of declining public utilization of recreation areas.
Blenheim Town Supervisor Shawn Smith, a native of nearby Jefferson and a SUNY Cobleskill Alum, commented that for him, “One of the things I enjoyed doing as an off-campus activity while I attended SUNY Cobleskill was visiting the Mallet Pond State Forest, which is located in the Towns of Fulton and Summit.
Only a fifteen minute drive from campus, the Mallet State Pond Forest is one of many natural parks within a half hour drive of students. In Gilboa lies the Mine Kill State Park, which offers a wide variety of fall, winter, and spring activities, with the smaller Max V. Shaul campsite in Fulton a peaceful retreat that is just minutes away from the Nose.
But the difference for Marotta and Smith is that they grew up in Schoharie County, and became well acquainted with the natural beauty it has to offer to people of all interests, while Day and thousands of SUNY Cobleskill students rarely even hear, let alone experience, what there is to see in the sprawling rural region beyond their dorm-rooms.
This is in part cultural, as an ever-increasing segment of the study body is trekking up from the New York City area, and are usually not so inclined to journey outdoors, while another aspect is societal, with most if not students becoming one with their technological devices – a bond that is hard to sever – no matter the beauty beyond their screens. 
Some are breaking the downward trend, however. Members of the SUNY Cobleskill Outing Club typically venture off campus on weekends to explore different activities located in the surrounding areas, including a recent trip to Mine Kill State Park in Gilboa to snowshoe before a temperature swing melted the snowpack, and in the fall they journeyed to the pearl of the valley, Vroman’s Nose.
But, more often than not, they are the exception to the rule. Smith, fondly remembering his old fishing trips to Mallet Pond, recalled that it was a “refreshing break from classes anytime of the year.” Although just graduating a handful of years before, the dynamics of college life have changed, with a constant need for connectivity by way of cellphones often replacing real, human interaction. A constant need that Smith just shakes his head to. 
Or, perhaps just a Nose. Located at the fertility of the Schoharie County, a gateway to the county’s southernmost beauties, Vroman Nose still stands; waiting for potential customers to cash in on its breathtaking sights. Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile, a lifelong resident of Middleburgh and an alum of SUNY Cobleskill, believes that the mountainside fortress is more than just a natural treasure, but a beacon of hope that all should experience. 
Often climbing the mountain twice per year with family and friends, the youthful official of twenty-eight years states, “Middleburgh has been through a lot in three hundred years of history, and throughout war, depression, floods, revival, peace, and prosperity, Vroman’s Nose remains the guardian of the Valley.”
And there she will continue to stand, after having protected centuries of Dutch and German settlers and their offspring, and centuries of Native American tribes that called the Schoharie Valley home before the Europeans moved in; and there she will stand for another three centuries, strong and robust, daunting yet inviting at the same time.
The question is: will the Nose and Schoharie County’s other natural beauties remain the area's best kept secret to college students?
The answer to that may be unknown for the time being, but not to Ms. Marotta. Planning to take more trips in the future, the Communication major stated that she has “always enjoyed the serenity of the hike and the view at the top.” A view that is unmatched in comparison to any enclosed room.
Share this article :
Like the Post? Do share with your Friends.

0 comments:

Post a Comment