being american

It’s been a really long time since a summer felt long and luxurious to me. It seems like I wait all winter for bird-filled mornings, longer days, and being able to fall asleep to the sounds of the critters who inhabit our woods. There’s nothing like a cool summer breeze drifting through the windscreen, and the hoots of barred owls to lull me into a deep sleep.

It’s nearly the 4th of July, and for some, it’s the pinnacle of the Summer, and for others, it’s just the beginning of Party Season.

As the red, white, and blue roll out, I can’t help but think about our country and communities, and what it all means.

With so much political turmoil and division, I find it a bit challenging to be patriotic. It’s easy to be cynical and say “We live in dark times-computers are taking over-we’re losing touch with each other.” And some of that may be true…but it’s not the whole story. Lately, I’ve been noticing some things around me that make me a little more hopeful, and extremely appreciative of the people who lift our country up.

Take, for instance, Bedford, New York. Bedford is a small community an hour north of New York City which has colorful and diverse inhabitants. There, I have unexpectedly found the American Spirit alive and well. For the third year, I was invited to photograph “Tavern on the Trails”

a truly unique local event hosted by the Bedford Riding Lanes Association and three local homeowners.

About the BRLA:

"Officially founded in 1920, the BRLA maintains more than 100 linear miles of historic trails which connect and extend throughout Bedford, Mount Kisco, Katonah, Bedford Hills, Bedford Corners and Pound Ridge. Members meandering the trails enjoy the beautiful flora, fauna and other natural wonders that make our community unique. Our trail system is one of the largest remaining networks of private trails. The BRLA maintains and clears the trails year-round to ensure that they are preserved for future generations."

Can you imagine walking out of your backyard onto 100 miles of manicured trails? It’s absolutely glorious. And the community knows exactly how special that is. Neighbors welcome neighbors, the community takes time out of their very busy lives to come together, and the spirit of appreciation and camaraderie is palpable. For me, this is a really great example of America at its best.

It’s an imperfect nation with imperfect people, but I believe that there are so many Americans who are really trying to do better. To live up to the vision of inclusion, support, freedom, and potential. So this week, let’s all notice the little things. The sounds of the high school marching band practicing in the early morning light…the local kids racing through the streets on their bicycles…the carefully tended roses in your neighbor’s lawn…and the smell of barbecue wafting over the fence. Say hello to your neighbors, and do something nice for someone.