A limited return engagement

While our current Evening Sun reporters are working to bring you our Progress Chenango 2009 special sections this week, I’ve asked five of my favorite ES alumni to fill in as guest columnists. I hope you enjoy catching up with them as much as I did. – Ed.

By Karen Bergamo Moore

I’ve always been a fan of the limited return engagement. It combines some “You like me. You really like me” that’s good for the ego, with enough “How can we miss you if you don’t leave?” to keep you humble.

I have a soft spot for Norwich. The Evening Sun was my first “real world” job post-college. It’s the place where I ventured out and lived on my own, made friendships that last to this day, met my husband John (at the Ontario, to be precise), and got the experience (and the news clips) that furthered my career.

To use the theme of the week, it’s where the adult portion of my life began to progress.

Ironically, part of what I do now is exactly what my parents said they didn’t send me to college for. Back in the day I would call home and regale my parents with tales of parties and gatherings I helped orchestrate. Without fail, they would say “we didn’t send you to college to throw parties.”

Turns out, in a way, they did. Today I work in the Office of Communications for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, and one of my responsibilities is event planning. Along with coordinating events like 12-day exhibits at the state fair, it also includes the occasional party – although on campus we call them “receptions.” I’m still writing, this time about biofuels, student volunteerism, and new green technologies instead of city budgets, school mergers and Orvie the pot-bellied pig.

On the personal end of the scale, in the last dozen years I’ve gotten married, become a homeowner, and had a son, Connor. It’s your average American Dream scenario, which quite frankly I’m more than happy to possess.

I realized the progression of my life can be tracked through my magazine subscriptions – I’ve gone from Cosmo to Parents because I have “landed my man” and no longer need to know how to be a “hothouse flower girl.” (I swear, that was an actual Cosmo article). I do, however need to know 10 ways to disguise broccoli. I’ve gone from Rolling Stone to Real Simple because my iPod contains more Backyardigans than Bon Jovi, so I don’t need a magazine to remind me what I’m missing. I do need a magazine to tell me how to find my missing tax forms and then organize them for next year. And I’ve moved from Entertainment Weekly to National Geographic for Kids because my son doesn’t ask me what The Dark Knight pulled in on its first weekend, but he will ask me how a cow makes milk and expect that I know the answer.

And thanks to my time in Chenango County, I know the answer to many farm-based questions without reference material.

There were other benefits to living in Norwich besides agricultural knowledge that I didn’t appreciate fully until I became a parent. Sidewalks, for one. I live in a suburb. There are no sidewalks, so I can’t just let my son ride his trike up and down the block. When I go for walks there’s a strange distance between me, walking on the road, and my neighbors, sitting on their porches, so there’s very little “Hi, how ya doin’?” interaction that I used to have in Norwich. I miss that.

I’ve learned that no one in New York State can make a chocolate shake like the ones I used to get at Garf’s. No one. Anywhere. Trust me. I’ve asked for the chocolatey-est shake ever at countless food establishments. No one comes close.

And there’s the array of community events in the area. Chenango County has amazing festivals. How great is it to have big events for every season: Colorscape (in its infancy when I left), the Blues Fest (advertised and talked about widely here in Syracuse), Gus Macker, the Pumpkin Festival, and the Christmas to Remember Parade (which was a daytime affair when I participated as a very short snowman). Not to say I don’t go to festivals where I live now, but they’re very large - too large, almost - you don’t see your neighbors unless you take them with you. In Chenango County, you go to events to see people you know.

I know this edition of Progress will show that Chenango County’s business, health and education communities are holding strong. I also know what enhances those environments is the lifestyle that Norwich and Chenango County offer. It’s a lifestyle I miss, but luckily know it’s only a short car ride away and when I arrive, I know where to find the best shake in town.

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