Growing up in what was probably the very last unsullied woodlands in Queens, NY, we used to find arrowheads in the woods. My mother had insisted we buy the wooded property adjacent to our house. It wasn’t connected to the street and in those days, they didn’t build houses on lots that weren’t on a street. It was just woods. With big trees, flowering dogwood, lots of plants. We didn’t need the property because our lot was big already, but the woods contained huge white oaks. the very few that had not been used to make the masts of ships as had all the other white oaks in the area.

Along the Blackstone in Rhode Island

The Department of Agriculture used to come by and care for the trees because they were the last ones in New York — at least the southern end of it. I never saw any in the northern part of the state either. Red oaks aplenty, but not white oaks. So it was oddly familiar moving to the woods here. You wouldn’t think so since I technically grew up in the big city of NY, but it was a little lost pocket of city which had remained untouched until finally, my parents had to sell it. Now, of course, it’s full of condominiums.

Here, where we now live, used to be farmland. You can tell this because we can see a corner of the stone house that was just behind ours and because there are stone fences in all the woods. A hundred years or so years ago, that stone house behind ours was surrounded by stone-fenced fields. Those fields are full of red oaks, all about 100 years old, give or take a few decades.

I don’t know what was grown here. Not corn because the land isn’t flat or open enough. Probably dairy cattle, goats, horses, sheep, and apples. There were a lot of apples and produce such as summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, basil, and other spices. We are more rural today than we were in the 1800s. The population is smaller. Once upon a time, this was an major city in the center of the Blackstone Valley complex — the heart of the manufacturing and mill business in New England.

Today, Uxbridge is a sleepy town with virtually no industry. With the quarantine, much less business than before and we didn’t have much before. Many people are moving to wherever the rest of the family is living (Florida? Arizona?) because their jobs are gone. We haven’t been rich in business resources since the 1910s ended, but now there is almost nothing except a couple of lumber yards, grocery stores, hairdressers, barbers, and a few food chain places.

As an underfunded small town, Uxbridge will get worse. Young folks won’t be able to see a future here. They are right. If we had an opportunity to build up some business, it disappeared in 2020. I wonder how many other small towns are shrinking from small to barely there? I’m sure it’s not just us. The future is looking a bit grim.

It is possible that our lovely Valley will return to what it was in the 1970s and 1980s … a near-to-NY and Boston vacation area. The only thing we have left — as long as our climate changes don’t overwhelm us — is natural beauty. If we get autumn back and no one pollutes the rivers again, maybe we can built up some tourism. It goes well with horse-breeding and the many equestrian schools in the area.

We could suddenly go upscale … or we could disappear.

Categories: Autumn, Blackstone River, Blackstone Valley, farm, foliage, Gallery, New England, Photography, Uxbridge

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16 replies

  1. You describe your situation so clearly and I can see it…. it’s what the English say: It’s going to make or break you(r town)…. And there is precious little YOU can do to help. But hey, counting on NATURE can only be a good thing. I’m now C19-watching English series on YTube ‘Escape to the Country’ – mostly because I’m truly fascinated to see those oldish series (2013-16) with mostly already elderly peeps (few families with kids, others pre-retired or retired) fleeing the cities and re-starting a new life in the countryside…. I now also understand why there ARE people living in all those sleepy, far away villages we wondered about when WE lived in a seaside town in UK. We always looked to be somewhere really close to a railway line etc and most of these places are miles and miles from any public transport system. But those people SEARCH for solitude, don’t want neighbours, are happy to share their land with sheep, ponies, or want to park their chopper, heavy motorbike or heavy duty drums….. I do wish you luck!!!!

    And I love oaks, but don’t know IF I know any white oaks…


  2. Is the Blackstone river harnessed for power Marilyn?


    • Yes. We have half a dozen nuclear generators nicely hidden in the woods where we aren’t supposed to notice them. Per capita, we have more nuclear power here than anywhere else in the world — and they are getting old. When they moved out the factories and mills, hey, we have a powerful little river. Let’s build NUKES. But no one seems to get together with the concept of aging. Those facilities age quickly and we’ve never figured out what to do with the leftover nuclear cores. Now, we are building tons of wind and solar generators all over the place … but we still have all those 30 and 40 years old nukes.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. You live in such beautiful landscape. Perhaps others will want to do so ,and population will increase enough to sustain a livelihood for more business.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We feel your pain up here in Northern Worcester County. We are also an old mill town, built on the Miller’s River, and formerly the site of a booming textile business. Lewis Hines took some of his famous photos of the French Canadian child textile workers here in Winchendon. We survived the great recession and had started to come back before the pandemic hit. It breaks my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were beginning to do well. We aren’t far from you. May 20 or 25 miles straight up 146? With the arrival of the AAA Red Sox in Worcester, we though maybe, finally, we were going to start to really build an economy. And now, it’s shattered. ALL our restaurants, except the places that were already take-out are shuttered. I think ONE has come back. We didn’t have much to begin with, but now there’s nothing. And all the shops are closed and I don’t think they will reopen. Even the Salvation Army closed down.

      We are all part of the same watershed. It starts up in the Worcester hills and continues along 146, weaving through all the valley towns — the Blackstone and its tributaries (Miller, Mumford, Webster, etc.). After they finally got all the towns from dumping poisons into the river and the trout and herons and even the eagles came back … and now?I didn’t realize you are really such a close neighbor.

      And the valley is so beautiful yet somehow, no one seems to have heard of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, we are neighbors! We love the Blackstone valley area. For us, it’s kind of nice to have so many beautiful little places to visit to be in nature and away from humans (sorry; my misanthropy is growing every day.) Like you, we have so much beauty around us, but almost no business at all. Our downtown is almost all shuttered right now, or just empty storefronts. So incredibly sad..


  5. Your photos are so lovely, they could be part of the Chamber’s travel brochure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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