July 5, 2004

How castle-like is your home?

I don't mean how many turrets your house has, or if it has stone walls. I'm asking about the isolation level of many of the places people live - my own included. In doing petitions last week, I visited a lot more houses that I'd never seen from the road. Some houses are on side streets, and some are down long driveways. A number of them were beautiful islands, reachable only with a lot of effort.

My own house is on a lot that feels oversize every time I mow it - about three-quarters of an acre - and my neighbors have similar or larger lots. Behind me is forty acres of empty woods before the next house, and across 366 is Cornell nature preserve. Apart from 366 itself, the house is pretty isolated, and 366 isn't a road that encourages you to meet your neighbors. The road's noises regularly intrude on the property as well, making it clear that my castle walls are hardly a defense against gravel and concrete trucks, motorcycles, or thudding stereos.

While some houses in Dryden share this combination of isolation from neighbors and intrusions from noise, a lot of them of them have one or the other or neither. The villages in particular have quiet side streets where houses are close enough to each other that they form a neighborhood, not just a line of buildings. The interiors of the houses may still be pleasantly isolated castles for their inhabitants, but the clusters of castles are dense enough to mellow their interior isolation.

About questions

Posted by simon at July 5, 2004 8:42 AM in
Note on photos


Duane Testut said:

The house on Baker Hill Rd. in which we have made our home for the past forty years was fairly isolated when we bought it, with the nearest house over 600 feet away and the only one in view. Within the past 20 years, however, two homes have been built across the road. Some fields there have returned to woods and brush, thus removing the SCM water tower in South Cortland, most of Freeville and Etna, and other parts of the town located between from our view.

The house itself is quite near the road, and the garage borders the road right-of-way. That's handy for snow removal in the winter, what with an eight foot long driveway. Out back is mostly woods stretching from in back of the homes in the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Dryden Road to Turkey Hill Road and Mt. Pleasant Road. I mow close to two acres and am clearing brush from four more so we are able to enjoy the wildlife that inhabit all that area.

When we moved here from "downtown Varna" in 1964, the present Route 366 was Route 13. The "new" 13 opened several months later. Within the past ten or fifteen years, Mt. Pleasant Rd. has been paved and made into somewhat of a super highway (so it seems to us and our neighbors) connecting Midline Rd. and the Town of Caroline to a traffic light controlled access to Route 13. It also became a short cut to Cornell and NYSEG from those same areas. Whereas, say, fifteen years ago we knew every vehicle that came past our home, we now experience rush (and they do rush) hour traffic in both directions, but especially downhill in the morning. I've often wondered what would happen if a deer (or God forbid, a child) darted into the road just below our home, especially when the winter snow, sand and loose gravel is on the road. I hope I never find out.

When people find out where we live, one of the most common questions is, "How do you get down that hill in the winter?" We tell them you can always get down! They rarely ask about "up", but that's why all-wheel-drive vehicles are made. And we have walked the hill more times than I'd want to remember. We almost always have a breeze, and as one of our wonderful neighbors used to say, "The summers up here more than make up for any inconvience of the winters." He was right!