Three hundred miles north along I-81, deep autumn has already taken hold. Crisp, clear nights call for a fire in the fireplace, and misty mornings make you want to snuggle under the comforter for another snooze before padding down to the kitchen for breakfast.
Fiddle Lake Farm is a bed and breakfast inn of sorts, that occupies two properties along the aforementioned Fiddle Lake. The main building is an old family farmhouse, with a barn converted to a party space filled with antiques. In the farmhouse, individual bedrooms feature lace coverlets on high sleigh beds and bathrooms luxurious enough to invite a long soak.
At the lake is the Craftsman cottage, constructed in the 1920s and full of period items that have been collected by the owners and left for guests to enjoy. Old books line the shelves, while desk drawers offer such oddities as old lapel buttons and wooden rulers. The single bathroom must be shared, but the inconvenience is moderated by the sensual pleasure for bare feet of radiant heat under the old tile floor.
Carved by glaciers millennia ago, northern lakes collect mountain water clear enough to reveal their rocky bottoms and reflect the sky as a deep marine blue. Flora that far north is different, too. Birch stands are typical, in woods carpeted with prehistorically large ferns.
About a mile from the lake is a rails-to-trails path that offers visitors a linear hike without hills. The cinder path is punctuated in places with old rail spikes, crusty with the rust of decades, that now lie unused. They represent the archeology of a time when coal cars traveled that route, bringing the fuel of the industrial revolution from the hills to the cities.
Now a new energy source is altering the landscape. Already wells are in place to tap the natural gas encased in shale, that waits underground in pools of still-unknown immensity. Rural folk, like those that live at Fiddle Lake, may reveal their displeasure at the idea of corporations sucking fuel from beneath their family homes and farms. Adapting to change is sometimes a matter of determining how much discomfort one is willing to absorb, in exchange for whatever good may be derived.
But the wells are dormant now, waiting for the pipeline development that will spur activation. Cinder road stubs lead to wellheads that for now, rise from the ground like tree stumps. This landscape is bound for transformation. It is just a matter of time.
Our hosts at the lake couldn't do enough to make us comfortable. Would you like to borrow the antique, two-seat MG convertible for a ride around the country, we were asked. We did, and traversed miles of two-lane blacktop deep in the countryside.
And how about breakfast? Delivered to our doorstep were cardboard boxes loaded with covered dishes: warm muffins, pancakes, bacon, sausage, carafes of coffee and juice, fresh fruit salad and scrambled eggs.
And oh, what eggs. Real eggs. Fresh farm eggs, the kind with the nearly-orange yolks and flavor that doesn't depend on adding anything. Soft curds of eggs, seasoned with just a little salt and pepper. Eggs so good that I had to comment on how much they were enjoyed. Our host then disappeared for a moment and returned with a fresh carton for us to take home.
I cooked those eggs for dinner the other night. And after we had each consumed seconds, and maybe thirds, there were still a few bites left in the bowl. They couldn't be wasted. I stood over the sink, serving spoon in hand, and fed myself what remained.