Our 23rd Rocks: Fossils!

01 FossilRocksNanetteandDon

Our 23rd rocks come from our friends Nanette and Don, from their property in New York State…they are fossils. New York, way back when, was the bottom of a giant inland sea. Most of the area of the state in which they live, it’s hard to pick up a rock without finding it contains a fossil.

Bride: We met way back in 2004 when Nanette, then a reporter for the Norwalk Hour, attended a Pencils! Writing Workshop meeting—and kept coming back. Nanette writes fantasy and science fiction, holds degrees in publishing, and is currently an editor for Vagabondage Press Books. I didn’t meet Nanette’s fiancé Don until just recently. Don has a familiarity with the area of my summer cabin in upstateNew York (including that people in towns up there liked to go to the dump on Monday nights and watch idiots tease the bears and then try to jump the fence before being mauled) and plays the French Cornet. Both Nanette and Don love New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz.

Recently, I went to spend a weekend with them and get away from it all. Here are some photos of my excursion.

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I’m a person who believes in signs, not coincidences. To visit an area of New York State which was so familiar, as it wasn’t that far from my old summer camp, was comforting.

That said, there was one story that, if you know me, you’ve probably heard me tell over the years. While there was plenty for us, as children, to go up there and do each summer—it was all day long outdoor play in the stream, hiking, biking, or finding a quiet enclave to read—it was all about entertaining ourselves. There were few activities to really go and do.

One such activity happened on Monday nights. We’d all get in the back of the Scout (our truck at the time) and go down to the dump to join others in the community, who would also bring their barbecues, sandwich food, beer and lawn chairs. The dump was frequented by bears. Men would enter the dump, tease the bears, and then run like hell to try to leap over the fence and escape before the bears mauled them. Rustic bullfighting, I guess you’d call it.

Nobody I told that story to—except, of course, for my siblings, who remember it—believed me. Yes, I have a talent for exaggerating. I’m a fiction writer. That’s what I do. But the fact that everyone thought I was making this up really irked me—especially when they’d ask if I had pictures to prove it. No, I don’t have pictures. You didn’t take pictures. It was at night, and despite the floodlights so you could see into the ring, you needed a flash (this was the 1970s, all we had were tiny little Brownies), and a flash upset the bears and might make them head straight for you. Picture taking, as I recall, was not allowed.

So we’re sitting at dinner at Nanette’s on Friday night, and I’m telling Don, who is a native of upstate New York, all about our camp. He is no stranger to the area, so it was fun talking to someone who knew the location. At one point, I said, “And what was really cool was that every Monday night—”

“—you used to go to the dump and watch people mess around with the bears.”

I couldn’t believe it! Not only did he believe me, he finished the sentence for me! He knew about this activity that everyone said I had invented!

“Yeah,” he said, “there’s nothing to do up there. That’s pretty common.”

Later on, we listened to New Orleans Jazz and he opens up an instrument case to produce a silver-plated French Cornet—exactly like the one I had donated to the Danbury School System last year. I couldn’t believe that, either. All these years, I was the only one I knew who owned that type of horn. And not only did he have one (and wow, damn, can he play that thing!), he owned two!

I took both “coincidences” as “signs” I’m on the right track…maybe, even, to just figuring myself out. I’m very grateful to have Nanette and Don in my life, and I hope to spend more time with them soon.

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