By Laura Sliker |

I’m a New Yorker. And no, I’m not from the place you think I am. I’m from upstate where there are more cows than people, and a lot of hidden beauty nobody even knows about. Let me show you what a year looks like where I’m from.

Concrete vs. Water Highways

First, you need to rethink that stereotypical image of New Yorkers getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Now let’s replace it with a New Yorker who is driving a boat.

Where I’m from there are more bodies of water than highways, from rivers to finger lakes and great lakes that’ll lead you all the way to Canada. I grew up on one of those finger lakes, I learned to pilot a boat years before I considered driving a car. My favorite summer sight is when the sunlight creates ‘diamonds’ on the water around me. There’s something so peaceful about it, something that makes even our least spectacular season remarkable.

A Real Fall

Now, fall is a bit more limited. You don’t have to wait long to see it, but, for us, fall is more than it being slightly less hot. The temperatures drop dramatically, leaving behind yellow, red and orange spots in the trees, painting the entire world around you in vibrant colors for an entire month. Even the cloudiest days are bright this time of year, and with every step you take outside, you make a little crunching sound on a leafy red carpet. You know winter is coming, but you choose to ignore it, focusing instead on the fresh pressed cider in your hand and the abundance of cinnamon flavored items. Here, we drop the “pumpkin” from pumpkin spice.

Snow, Baby, Snow

Until I came to Texas, I didn’t think of snow as something people would hope to see in the winter. In New York, snow is a way of life for about six months out of the year. It’s the only thing I don’t miss about New York.

But, during my first semester at Baylor, it snowed. It only lasted 15 minutes and left maybe a quarter of a centimeter of actual snow, but it was as if the world had ended. Professors were canceling classes to let their students see the snow, and I must’ve talked to about 20 people that day who had never seen snow before in their lives. To them, I’d say you haven’t seen real snow.

Where I come from anything less than half a foot of snow is considered a light dusting. In New York, snow doesn’t form a light, transparent layer over the grass; it buries everything under a perfect, white blanket. Here, you spend weekends freezing as you sled down hills until you come inside and grab a cup of hot cocoa. I highly recommend experiencing a New York winter at least once in your life — even if you’ll need a whole new wardrobe to do it.

Lilacs

Spring is where my home really shines. Warm, sunny and, in some places, truly show-stopping. Something I’ve discovered since moving to Texas is that it’s surprisingly difficult to really describe a flower that literally has the capacity to shut down parts of your home city. It had never even occurred to me that lilacs were rare.

Until I met people who had never heard of a lilac, I had taken comfort in the idea that they were like roses, beautiful and common enough that everyone gets to experience their beauty. I’ve never got better at describing their scent, even after four years. There are hundreds of varieties, each with slightly different scents. The furthest I’ve ever gotten in my attempts at describing a lilac is “beautiful and somehow like home”.

If you imagine a park over an acre in size, full of hills and valleys, filled with purple, you can see my home in the spring. Bush after bush of purple, each plant is a slightly different shade, and a vague floral sweetness fills the air before you even lean in to smell any blossoms. This is the lilac festival. If there’s one thing about my home that I wish everyone in the world could experience, it’s lilacs. I’ve never seen someone smell a lilac without smiling ear to ear like they are holding onto some sort of magic.

My New York is not exactly the city skyline many expect. But I wouldn’t trade the lilacs, leaves and lakes for all the skyscrapers in the world. Now, the snow is a different story, but I guess if it’s a package deal, it’s still a pretty great one.