Reflections on Hidden Hill: Hidden from Plain Sight

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

October is my favorite month! It is a month that inspires reflection, at least it does for me. I felt immersed in a reflective mood when I visited Hidden Hill in Craryville, New York, about two hours north of New York City.

On a personal level Hidden Hill is special to me: it is the name ascribed to 90 acres of conservation woodlands “owned” by my daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren. They are slooooowly remodeling the old farm house that has withstood the elements since the early 1800s. But Hidden Hill has a bigger story to tell than my own personal one.

As I meandered through the forest, I debated with myself about what might have inspired former residents to call these hills hidden. Were the hills actually hiding something or were the hills hidden? I thought perhaps the trees could provide me with a few clues about what they thought was behind the name. I listened to the swirling leaves winding their way to the forest floor, then I turned my attention to the stoic trees with one eye to the earth and the other to the sky, what were they telling me.

I finally intuited that the hills weren’t hiding anything, they had always fully displayed their awe and beauty. It was me and my fellow modern humans that were hiding from what the hills had to offer. Indigenous people of the area were fully aware of what the hills offered, it was our modern mindset that encouraged us to hide from the hills and remain closed to their splendor and life lessons.

But all things change. It seems to me that a new outlook is casting a spell over many of the people setting up new homesteads in the magical hills of eastern New York and western Massachusetts. This new outlook has certainly enveloped my daughter and her family. The lure of big city life in the world’s “greatest” city, New York, is losing its luster. Covid is one major factor driving people out of the city into the wilds, but also unrest, rising crime, protests/riots, and other factors. They are bent on searching out something different.

What remained hidden for so long—importance of family, neighbors, and community, a connection with nature, a sense of self-reliance—has burst out of hiding into conscious choices about how to live one’s life and raise a family. My daughter’s family has certainly reevaluated their lives and values.

What seemed unthinkable a few short months ago—using an outhouse, living in a cramped, old camper trailer without running water (other than a hose) or indoor plumbing, and eating outdoors—is all part of their new way of life, as the remodeled house inches its way to completion. The kids love it. They roll down hills, forage for mushrooms, collect colorful leaves, or explore the subtleties of a wooly bear caterpillar. I admire them for deciding together that the old needed to give way to the new, and the new emerged preferable.

As I reflect about the secret of Hidden Hill in October’s warming sunrays, I am very grateful that we have rediscovered what we have kept hidden from ourselves. I am also grateful that we are once again welcoming what was hidden into our awareness and our lives. Hidden Hill is just one example.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided, Dr. Ames’ latest book, addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books 

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