1. The deer – a small one – that slowly walked across our front lawn looking so out of place and hesitant. It crossed the side street and disappeared between my neighbor’s yards.
2. Taking this unexpected visit as my invitation, I grabbed my sunglasses, a baseball cap and one of my kid’s hoodies (for the pockets) and went outside.
3. Think I was gone for a couple of hours.
4. Or more.
5. There were a few other walkers around the village; two women that I passed at the end of Miles Avenue heading in the opposite direction from me.
6. The house that my family lived in for two years when I was in third & fourth grades, at the end of Dewey Avenue, sold not too long ago and now sits empty, waiting for the next family to move in.
7. I know where all of the rooms are in that house. My sister and I shared the huge bedroom that took up the entire back; the small outside playhouse that sat towards the back of the side yard disappeared a long time ago.
8. The school that was a kindergarten through 8th grade, that was literally around the corner from were my family lived, is still there. Now, it’s a 6th-8th grade and it has had a few additions.
9. But the hillside behind it with the narrow slice of woods at the top is still there.
10. As I walk along the edge of the playing fields, there’s a girl’s gym class gathered in a semi-circle around the gym teacher. Looks like she’s showing them how to throw a football; her instructor’s voice carries across the afternoon stillness.
11. Crossing South Main Street and then up – literally up – Summit Street to the entrance to Mount Pleasant Cemetery. It’s a good afternoon to visit with the dead.
12. To read headstones. To wonder about past lives; to mark time. To stop at the headstones of the people who were/are important to me. My in-laws.
13 It’s been 11 years since my mother-in-law died. And 17 years since my father-in-law died. They would have liked this day. They’d have been out walking too.
14. There’s a lot of history buried in this cemetery.
15. Soldier’s Monument stands at one end of Mount Pleasant, marking the lives of 30 men who fought in “the Rebellion.”
16. I stand and run my fingers over all of the names etched into stone and say each name out loud for memory’s sake.
17. Across the cemetery lawn there’s a man who strides with more purpose than I have. He’s whistling and before too much time passes, a tiny moppet of a puppy comes scampering toward him.
Off leash. But wearing a harness.
18. The man and I acknowledge each other; he comments on the fine day that it is and then whistling to his dog again, they both disappear over a small knoll.
19. I finally leave by the back entrance – the hard-packed trail that borders back yards of village houses that opens at the end of one of the paved streets that runs perpendicular to South Main Street.
20. It’s still pretty quiet as I walk down this street. It is a week day after all and most people are either at work with their kids in school.
21. Traffic’s busy on South Main. The gas station seems to be doing a brisk business and the shop door to the frame shop around the corner opens to let in a customer.
A large, friendly German Shepherd bounces out onto the porch to greet her and then follows her back inside.
At one time, like a lot of other villages that came up alongside the Erie Canal, THIS was a village that could completely sustain itself. There were jobs in the factories and the canneries up at the north end of Main Street, there were grocery stores, butcher shops, shoe stores, car dealerships, restaurants and funeral parlors.
We still have a lot of restaurants and there are still two funeral homes. A couple of banks, lots of hair salons; a few years ago, a small grocery store and a pharmacy opened up.
You can still be buried here – up in Mount Pleasant – if that’s your choice. Better hurry up and stake your claim. It’s a pretty place and filling fast.
However, like a lot of other small villages, we now rely more on the kindness of strangers to come in and spend their dollars than we do on our own residents.
Life’s funny that way. The more we stay the same, the more things change. And do. [gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]