Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of articles written by Kristen Taylor who together with her husband Jon, made the decision to give up a traditional “city life” and move to the North Country in the United States. This month Kristen interviews Liz Price-Kellogg in Clayton, NY.
Taking the Plunge: Stories of Year-Round Thousand Islands Life: A Gradual Wading In: An Interview with River Yoga’s Liz Price-Kellogg
Though her journey to year-round Thousand Islands life was more of a self-described “gradual wading in” than “plunge,” my friend Elizabeth “Liz” Price-Kellogg’s River story was an inspiration for my plunge into fulltime River life. Since she moved to the area over 20 years ago Liz has helped to strengthen the framework of the Thousand Islands community through her roles as co-founder and “caregiver” of River Yoga, co-operator of several local businesses that are open year-round and constant champion of Thousand Islands life and generational growth.
Liz grew up enjoying “endless” summers as a fourth-generation River Rat at her family’s cottage, Halcyon (pronounced hal-see-uhn)—a word meaning “calm” and used to describe a day which is perfect—in Thousand Island Park on Wellesley Island. Her father, Windsor Price, spent his childhood summering at his grandparents’—Dr. George M. and Nettie Belle Price—cottage in Fineview, less than a mile away from Halcyon.
Windsor recalls being at his grandparents’ cottage with all of his cousins, one with whom Windsor developed the language—“Papple”—so the then ten and eight-year-old boys could talk privately without their parents’ understanding. Windsor and his cousin, Hugh, are still speaking “Papple” seventy years later. “We were in a rowboat all of the time,” says Windsor. “We saluted every single freighter that went by. We hooted… one long and two short. We had a good time.” It is her father’s decades-long love of The River and rich knowledge of Thousand Islands history that laid the foundation for Liz’s River journey.
“My Dad’s stories of growing up on The River are so unique. He has such a passion for The River and its history. His stories are part of the fabric of my own experiences,” Liz explains. “My parents thought it was important to be on The River. My Dad maybe wanted us to have similar experiences to those he did and share his love of The River.”
Providing a snapshot of her early life in T.I. Park, Liz describes “collecting stones and ‘river glass’, having seaweed fights with cousins, saluting ships, floating in and on The River for hours, star gazing and playing flashlight tag among the fireflies.” Most fondly though, she remembers the long family boat rides in the “Cossack,” her Dad’s 1929 Hutchinson Runabout, and the sound of his voice describing The River’s past. It is a voice that has always and continues to travel with Liz on her rides on The River.
Liz describes her path to year-round River living as an inevitable journey, a “gradual wading in” and not a “plunge.” Liz grew up in the historic downtown district of Skaneateles, just a skip and a jump away from the pristine Skaneateles Lake. Before moving to The River, Liz attended St. Lawrence University, where she studied Fine Art and Studio Art, and later moved to Boston where she studied Illustration at The New England School of Art and Design. Throughout her childhood and travels; however, The River always lured her back.
“I knew when I was a kid that I was going to end up here. I knew this is where I was meant to be,” Liz recounts. “Visits to The River extended. Every remarkable place I lived in over the years still left me yearning to be here.”
By her mid-twenties, Liz was living year-round in the Thousand Islands, a decision that was met with support among her family. “No one ever said ‘you can’t’ or ‘shouldn’t,’” says Liz. “They wouldn’t have. I would have worn them down with enthusiasm.” In fact, a photo book that Liz created of Halcyon in the wintertime was partially responsible for her parents’ decision to move to The River year-round. Windsor and Kay live in T.I. Park at the site of Halcyon, which they renovated in 1988 to accommodate four-season living.
Upon moving to The River, Liz started her own business opening up summer cottages in T.I. Park, operated a shop—These Foolish Things—at The Wellesley Hotel, waited tables, made jewelry, and worked as an illustration and graphic design consultant. She remembers that it “didn’t matter” what she did as long as she was at The River. She eventually met and married Jeremy Kellogg, a native of Clayton and Grindstone Island, and has raised two children, Taylor and Blake Price-Kellogg, as fifth-generation River Rats.
Liz says about raising a family in the Thousand Islands, “I believe raising our family here has given our kids a unique sense of place and people. They have met people from all over the world with different backgrounds and views. My children have lived in tents and on boats. I think they are adaptable, conscientious, healthy and happy kids. I am a great enthusiast for raising children here!” Both Blake and Taylor are attending college this fall.
Through their careers and personal lives, Liz and Jeremy have found a way to almost-always be on, in and by The River. Liz and Jeremy live in Clayton and on Murray Isle and operate several local businesses—French Bay Marina, Custom Building, Marine Transportation and Real Estate as well as Islander Marina and Lodge, River Yoga and Tow Boat U.S.—all of which operate year-round. Though Liz admits there are struggles operating year-round businesses in a so-called “seasonal” area—such as cash flow, taxes, and fluctuations with the economy—she believes it is important for future generations and a community service.
“If kids want to come back to the Thousand Islands to live they need a good employment opportunity, whether they work for an established business or not-for-profit or start their own company,” says Liz. “I’d like for kids to feel like they want to and can come back here.”
Clayton has undergone an unofficial renaissance over the past few decades. Many tired storefronts have been renovated and the shops rejuvenated, and local not-for-profit organizations—the Antique Boat Museum, the Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund (at the Clayton Opera House), the Clayton Center for the Arts, Save the River, and the Thousand Islands Land Trust—have greatly contributed to Clayton’s unique character, sustainable growth and diversity.
“I think Clayton is a remarkable small town and have loved raising a family and running businesses here,” says Liz. “We enjoy its natural, cultural and historical features and I am thankful for visionaries like Sissy and Bill Danforth who were instrumental in cultivating the not-for-profit organizations and other local resources.”
Probably more so than any other aspect of her River journey, Liz is known for her work through River Yoga—a place where you simply are. In addition to offering daily classes (except for on Sundays), River Yoga offers free “chair yoga” for seniors and for those with limited mobility and also offers workshops through the Thousand Islands Central School District for area students.
“River Yoga was initially nurtured and inspired by a small group of people who felt that yoga and its teachings should be accessible—and affordable—to everyone, regardless of age and/or limitations,” explains Liz. “I gradually became the ‘caregiver’ by default.”
Most of Liz’s yoga classes begin with an optional dedication and one-word intention that each student may silently choose and carry with them throughout class and ends with a quote or verse that connects each practice with thoughts to carry out the door. She teaches that yoga is much more than just exercise; it is a “way of life.”
“I would like each student to take away a sense of responsibility for their own health and their actions in the world. Peace, compassion, insight and wisdom would also be nice,” she says about what she would like her students to take away or learn from River Yoga.
Speaking about what she has learned from River Yoga, Liz says, “I think yoga teachers ‘teach to be taught.’ There is no greater gift or blessing than to observe and share a student’s unique, inward journey of awareness, patience and compassion. Their practices inspire my own.”
I am confident I can speak for many of her students, friends and neighbors when I say that Liz’s practices, on and off of the yoga mat, inspire us as well.
Learn more about River Yoga , French Bay and Islander Marina and Lodge
By Kristen Taylor
Kristen Taylor lives in Clayton, New York, with her family, including her husband, Jon, and daughter, Grace. She is the owner and founder of Taylored PR [link to www.tayloredpr.com, a marketing and public relations company, and Vice President of Marketing and Operations for her husband’s architecture firm, Taylored Architecture PLLC . Before moving to Clayton, Kristen spent eight years in Washington, D.C., where she graduated from The George Washington University and worked as Vice President of a strategic communications firm.