Four days ago, I enjoyed my birthday. According to the candles that my grandmother placed on the cake, I am Pi years old:
There's no actual significance to the numbers. 3, 1, and 4 happened to be the only three birthday candles that my grandmother had in the house, and she felt that we could not have cake without candles, so she put them on there anyway whether they were accurate or not.
In light of my birthday and my burning need to get out of the house, I accidentally ended up here the other day:
That's the Fair Street Church, known around town as the Fair Street Reform, where my parents were married back in 1971. At that time, I was not even a twinkle in their eye, but by 1976 I wasn't just a twinkle: I was an actual baby, and not just any baby. I was the Bicentennial Baby, christened at Fair Street Reform on July 4, 1976, on live radio. My mom still has a copy of the program and a tape of the radio broadcast.
And no, before anyone who knows me points it out, I am not shaving a year off my age. I was born in 1975, and my nationalistic christening was actually my second baptism. I was previously baptized in my native land, West Germany (a country that no longer exists), because my mom did not want to fly back to the United States with an unchristened baby. She was worried that the plane might crash and she would go to heaven but I would end up in Catholic limbo, so she christened me at the nearest available a church and then christened me again when she got home.
I didn't intend to end up at Fair Street Reform the other day. I was actually on my way to the Old Dutch Church:
a historic Revolutionary War-era church a few blocks from my grandparents' house. It's not the original church, as that was burned by the British with most of the town of Kingston in 1777, but it was rebuilt almost immediately afterward on the same footprint. I walked down because the churchyard is filled with historic graves:
the most notable of which is the grave of George Clinton:
Clinton was the first governor of New York State, and also served as Vice President of the United States under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. A few blocks away from the grave, on the Academy Green, there's a large statue of him:
as well as statues of Henry Hudson:
and Pieter Stuyvesant:
the last director of the Dutch New Netherlands colony before it was ceded to the British and became New York.
(Stuyvesant side note: As a hall director, I was in charge of Stuyvesant Tower:
which was named after Pieter Stuyvesant. The main issue that plagued Stuyvesant during my tenure as a hall director there was a problem with the middle elevator, where it consistently refused to operate for weeks at a time. I believed at the time that it was just shoddy construction, but now that I've seen the statue of Stuyvesant up close I understand that the elevator not working was probably a memorial gesture:
He only had one leg.)
Other than my walking tour of beautiful historic Kingston:
I hit two other points of interest in the Catskills:
1) The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, seen here from Esopus Lighthouse Park.
It is the last remaining wooden lighthouse on the Hudson River, and is reachable only by boat. The tours are closed for the season, so the bank of the river was as close as I could legally get.
2) Deer Camp, which is where my parents go at 5:30 in the morning to kill deer. Soemtimes I go with them, because deer camp can be kind of pretty:
and sometimes mom makes you hot chocolate with a lot of marshmallows:
but I am also conscious of the fact that someone may kill a deer while I'm there, and I may have to watch them gut it. After that, they will hang it in a tree, and I will have to stare at it for days.
DON'T LOOK IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHERE VENISON COMES FROM. JUST SKIP AHEAD TO THE WORDS AFTER THE PICTURE.
I may be celebrating a birthday, but someone else may be killing a deer. It's kind of like the circle of life, but with more gore and less singing.