If I lived on the planet Mercury, I would be about 250 years old. If I lived on Mars, I would be coming up on my 32nd birthday. But I live on Earth, where I just turned 60, which seems to be a significant thing, if I let it.
And I'm letting it.
It's set me thinking off in a number of directions. One of those is, predictably, where I came from in the geographic sense: Chenango County, upstate New York.
The last time I was there was in August of the year 2000, when I went back to scatter my parents' ashes. They spent the last 15 years of their lives in Florida (and came to regret that decision more and more as time went by, because they loved upstate more than they knew when they left), and they died within weeks of each other in 1999, after 55 years of companionship. Their ashes spent the winter of '99-'00 in elegant wooden boxes here at Ft. Harrington in California, and I carried them back across the country to Chenango in the height of my home county's finest season, summer. Mother's youngest brother traveled from his home in Georgia to meet me there, and we scattered his sister's ashes, mingled with her husband's, in the Whaupaunaucau State Forest, just across the Thompson Creek Valley from their longtime home, and the place where I grew up.
I won't divulge where, exactly, the scattering occurred, because it was done without benefit of permit and I don't want them disturbed by any but natural forces. I will say, though, that it was a place where we often walked to and, when we did so, the forest hadn't grown to the point where it is now. It was within sight of our house.
I took the few days around that time to wander, solitary (since Diane didn't accompany me on this trip), through places of memory and significance. Some of those are pictured below:
Norwich was a fairly typical upstate town, if off any beaten track since the Chenango Canal and the NYO&W railroad went out of business. A few wealthy families lived in fine houses on the main thoroughfares, Broad Street north-and-south and Main Street east-and-west. I knew a few kids from those families, but most of my friends were from...
View down the Thompson Creek valley westward to the Chenango Valley in the distance. This is the little valley in which I did most of what growing up I managed to do.
I'll let any who want to take a shot at it do so in comments for a week (or until someone nails both of them, if that happens sooner.) Good luck!