"Gregor von Rezzori was born in Czernowitz, a onetime provincial capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that was later to be absorbed successively into Romania, the USSR, and Ukraine—a town that was everywhere and nowhere, with a population of astonishing diversity. Growing up after World War I and the collapse of the empire, Rezzori lived in a twilit world suspended between the formalities of the old nineteenth-century order which had shaped his aristocratic parents and the innovations, uncertainties, and raw terror of the new century. The haunted atmosphere of this dying world is beautifully rendered in the pages of The Snows of Yesteryear." (New York Review)
Since 1975 I‘ve lived in Upstate New York, initially in a Hamlet called Knoxboro and subsequently in the City of Utica. In the early days the winters here in the “north country” were apocalyptic and it was not uncommon for the first storms to hit by Halloween or Thanksgiving. The rolling hills and harsh winters some times called to mind the terrain of my early childhood in Europe. But having arrived from warmer climates (Mexico & New Orleans) it took a while to acclimatize to the frigid weather and get used to country living. In those years it was not uncommon for the first snows to arrive at Halloween or Thanksgiving to be hit with two or three feet of snow in a single storm and to be house bound with cabin fever for a few days at a time. I started a series of portraits of my neighbors by visiting them in their homes and listening to their stories. Currently I live in the city of Utica, a post-industrial town where I’ve worked on a series about how small cities and towns adapt to a fast changing world. Lucky we are, that to date Central New York State has been spared those climatic disasters that have plagued many other regions of the world, however there has been a notable increase in erratic weather patterns that are having their affects in the ecology of the region, among others, the diminution of maple sap flow, the virtual disappearance of bees, and the proliferation of Lyme disease causing ticks.
All the photos in this section were taken in the immediate environment of Utica, NY ©Sylvia de Swaan