Trail Sketches Revisited

Trail Sketches Revisited

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By Timothy Hull

      The column “Trail Sketches” ran in the Warwick Valley Dispatch from the early 1930s through the early 1970s and was the personal literary project of one Warwick resident named George Hansen. The column didn’t run weekly or even all that regularly, more like seasonally or when inspiration struck or a good story unfolded.

      George Hansen was a life-long Warwick resident and although a simple man, wrote with a flourishing eloquence that captured so many aspects of life and nature in the valley. Hansen and his wife lived off of Maple Ave. in a little homestead called “Honey Ranch,” and from that outpost Hansen sold honey, gave walking tours and promoted a strong love of nature in young and old alike.

      After 40 years of writing the column, Hansen produced a lovely book titled Trail Sketches, which was a compendium of the best of his writings. These evocative stories captured my imagination when I happened to come upon a copy of the book in my father’s library about three years ago. Although a native of Warwick, I was living in Brooklyn NY at the time and longed for a closer connection to the quieter vibes of country living.

      Hansen’s book enraptured me with charming stories of so many familiar people, places and things and how in fact, life in Warwick maybe hasn’t changed so much over the decades. These vignettes created a longing for me to move back to Warwick and leave the big city. Eventually, the gravitational pull of Warwick was too strong to resist, and two years ago my husband, Kory, and I purchased an 1850s farmhouse on the outskirts of Edenville and left the city behind for good.

      Since then, Hansen’s tales reverberate in my mind as we have so many local-living experiences that seem torn right from his pages. This sentiment is what inspired me to continue the legacy of the Trail Sketches column; to write short little windows into the people, places and things that make Warwick unique. I strive to keep the voice and tone of Hansen’s writings, a style easily suited to my own. And like Hansen’s original Trail Sketches, who knows how regular or irregular this column may be. I will allow the inspiration of Warwick living to work its magic. At best, I’d like to be another voice in the long line of writing about the simple nouns of Warwick.

Redeemed by the Lamb

      It is said that March is in like a lion and out like a lamb and this couldn’t have been more evident than at Will and Barbara Brown’s Lowland farm on Prices Switch Rd. On a seasonably warm late March day, we went to look at the hundred or so just-born lambs, frolicking, resting, baaaaahing and nibbling about the fenced in fields at the foot of the road.

      The sound of so many lambs and their mothers, all making such strange and insouciant noise, is almost laughable. In fact, I did laugh – many times. You simply couldn’t help it, like the nervous laughter during an inopportune moment. These farm animals, so content and without a care, betrayed the uncertainties and pain so evident in the world today. However, being in the presence of those lambs, I don’t think I’d seen anything as peaceful and hopeful in so many weeks.

      It occurred to me the reason that Jesus is often referred to as a lamb, or that lambs are a symbol of Easter. There is hope and peace in those small animals; there is a will to live and a sans souci joy to them. Warwick farms at springtime always hold a spirit of renewal as we see old man winter grab up his worn-out garb and go and the delicate lamb of spring born into longer sunlit days.

2 thoughts on “Trail Sketches Revisited

  1. Glad to see you’re reviving Mr. Hansen’s column! I recently came across a story from 1938 involving George Hansen and six his Friendly Indians (the Warwick chapter of the Y.M.C.A. club for boys) where they were first to the rescue of two women lost in the Warwick mountains. The article, with photo of the adolescent boys, appears in the Wednesday, November 2nd, 1938 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch on the front page and continues on page 12. It was later mentioned in the Looking Back segment of the October 23rd, 1968 issue of the Dispatch. He often took the boys on hikes in those very woods so they really knew their way around during the search!
    John P. Seekamp Jr.

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