Now I’m going to go back in time just a bit to fill you in on how my brother and I started to really enjoy hiking. You know, one isn’t just born with it. My brother and I, we were introduced to it at a very young age.
I’m not sure when exactly my parents bought the land, but I’m pretty sure it was before I was born. Let’s just say that I don’t remember my parents coming home one day and saying, “Honey, we bought some land.” It didn’t work that way. As far as my life went, the land was always there. Plain and simple. It was there the day I was born.
It was fourteen acres upstate. That’s what people used to call forty-five minutes north of where I used to live before the world shrank. Now, it’s not upstate anymore. It’s downstate. It’s downstate because people commute to the city from the town where the land was located. Mind you, the house I lived in for twenty-two years was at least an hour from the city, if not more. So if you take an hour and then add another forty-five minutes to it, you have yourself an hour and forty-five minutes. In one direction. That’s how long their commute to work is every day. The people who commute from the town to the city – each way. That’s crazy.
In my opinion, and even as I sit here and write, I think the town that held the land is still upstate. I don’t care how small the world has gotten and I don’t care how many people live there now. They can do whatever they want because the land my parents bought remains there today and hasn’t changed one little bit.
It was the perfect land too. Like I said, it was fourteen acres and it was perfect because it was about two acres wide and seven acres long. The front two acres were level and the rear twelve acres started slowly rising uphill, eventually to level off and then gradually slope downward again. This topography is what gave us the idea to so affectionately name this land that my parents bought, “The Mountain.” It’s funny, because I’m picturing someone from my family reading this right now and having them see those words. I’m imagining them getting shivers down their spine. Shivers because everyone in my family loved that mountain. We loved that mountain so much because we spent so much time there. Time as a family. We used to travel to that mountain at least three or four times each season and we used to all go hiking and camping and I’ll tell you right now that we all loved it. It’s just as much a part of each and every member of my family’s life as it is a part of mine. I think of that mountain so much it’s not even funny. Sometimes it even hurts when I think of it because I want that mountain back so bad.
I can’t imagine a finer piece of land either. The land we had went all the way back to a farm in Connecticut. That’s right, the land was right on the border of New York and Connecticut and if you know anything about the town the land was in, you’d know that it would have to be a beautiful piece of property. Almost as beautiful as the farm the land bordered right up against which was vast and green – greener than I had ever seen before. This is when I was a kid. I’ve seen greener farms now that I’m older, but when I was a kid, I thought the farm was the greenest ever. And it was huge – and it still is.
On the back edge of the land and right on the state border, there was a small concrete post of not more than three feet in height. It read “NY” on one side and “CT” on the other. I remember taking the long hike back to see that post every single time we went to the mountain. It was a really fun hike and I made it my duty to do it on every trip. And it was worth it, because it was a long hike and I would usually take it alone. It gave me space and time to think. Even as a little kid, I needed time to think.
One time, when I took the hike back to the border of the land to visit the post, I remember picking up a rock and scratching my name right in the concrete. I thought that I scratched my name really hard too, but I didn’t do it hard enough, because the next time we visited the mountain and I took that hike to see the post, my name was gone. It must have washed away in the rain or something. Either way, I loved standing on the back border of our land looking out over and across the farm into Connecticut. I would stare at it for such a long time, wondering what was beyond it and the rolling hills. I would just stand there and imagine what secrets lay in the land and lives of the people far beyond my lonely perch on the top of my mountain.
Oftentimes, it was warm and it was humid. If it was either summer or autumn, it was definitely warm and humid. As I used to stand there back on that border and wonder, I would sometimes have trouble seeing really far because of the humidity. It created a haze that hung in the air, but that humidity sometimes made the farm and the hills look even better. It would look better especially if it was really early in the morning with the dew clinging on the grass as the sun shone down. It would look like all the fields were sparkling. Sparkling just for me. I would stand there listening to the sounds of the season while looking at all those sparkles. I did that for a long time. As long as I can remember.
And I’ll tell you right now, it wasn’t hard to fall in love with that farm in Connecticut. I can show you pictures of it just to watch your reaction. Because I know for a fact that you would fall in love with it too.