Tidings From Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, New York

Many storefronts are empty, but for For Rent signs. And yet, a bistro, a bakery, a candy store opened in recent months. Some of the empty stores were already empty before the economy went on the skids.

The local banks are safe. Family-owned, family-run, these conservative banks had no business with subprime mortgages or credit default swaps. In 2008, one bank turned a profit.

An antique store—one of a handful—closed. “Good,” says T. “I hate antique stores. They’re all about the past. Let’s get some new in here.”

The gnome’s home has been razed. The dilapidated narrow A-frame was part of a collection of miniature buildings, circa 1930, whose inspiration and purpose were secrets of the surrounding pine trees which were also razed. Maybe the miniatures were a playland for the children of the families who vacationed in the snug wooden cottage resorts that line Route 9. Like the miniature village and the pine copse, the resorts are being razed and replaced by housing developments built to fit giants.

For months, M. was warned that her graphic design job was on the chopping block. “Next month is your last,” said her boss every month. Finally, M. was let go. She hustled, networked, took informational interviews, broadened her search as well as her career definition. Then her old job hired her back. “Through October,” said her boss.

Last year, G. says, she would sell 45 bunches of beets per farmers market. This year: five. “I’m working hard for not much money,” she says.

Summer was wet, then hot, now the cool of fall is blowing in. The cattails and Queen Anne’s Lace reached head-high. In the woods off Rowland Road, men still teach boys to fish. Life goes on, people say. But at night, they are grinding their teeth.