Friday, May 28, 2021


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     It's always a joy to come upon forget-me-nots. They bloom in spring with delicate blue petals, often along streams or in damp places. But this post isn't about wildflowers, no matter how charming they are. It's about the many small cemeteries,  all but faded from memory, that lie hidden in the hills of Washington County.

     Over Memorial Day weekend there will be parades and solemn ceremonies. Flowers will be placed and flags will identify the graves of veterans. It's a time to remember those who came before us, their sacrifices. For good reason most of these observances will take place in larger, well-maintained cemeteries. 

     But there are other graveyards that have become obscure and overgrown. Hardly remembered at all. I think of these as the 'forget-me-nots'. Places whose stones memorialize lives no less important because they were lived quietly long ago.

     Every year I search out and visit some of these nearly lost sites. Sometimes I find them from topographic maps where they are noted with 'Cem' beside a small block. Others I have simply came upon while wandering backroads or been guided to by locals. Further sources include town historians and the Washington County Historical Society in Fort Edward where you can browse the notebooks compiled by the Moores which catalog every grave site they found in the County. 

     The following images come mostly from the Town of Easton. I hope they encourage you to seek out sites where you live. It's a rewarding way to connect with 'place' and those from the past who shaped it.

This small plot sits on a knoll beside Easton Station Road.
It's nicely maintained with Whelden Mountain providing a scenic backdrop.

An ornate iron fence encloses a few stones at this spot.
It's along Intervale Road not far from Willard Mountain.

Sun dappled stones in the Tubbs-Rathburn Family Cemetery.
The oldest grave marker in Easton is found here.

Iron fencing within iron fencing at the Brownell Cemetery
on Meeting House Road. Peaceful and well cared for.

These images are from three separate sites along Hoag and 
Beadle Hill Roads. All could use some TLC.

A sprawling oak tree watches over these graves at the 
intersection of Lee's Crossing and Mead Road in the Town of Cambridge.

I came away bloodied from thorns at this totally overgrown,
hard to see plot along Co. 54 at Crandalls Corners.

The oddest find were these flat lying memorials near the corner 
of Co. 113 and Wright Road. I was told a previous owner placed
them here after they began tipping over and breaking off. The 
current farmer plans to dig a pond for his ducks but is concerned
about where the bodies were interred. A well founded concern, most would agree.

Call this the Tangled Tree Cemetery. Several stones 
lie amongst the prostrate limbs on a knoll above Ensign Brook.

Long shadows at this tidy graveyard 
on Col. Baume Road.

Certainly not hidden or forgotten, still I have to include 
the Stump Church. With its stately architecture, its adjacent cemetery
and a row of majestic maples it epitomizes 'Country Church'.
I always feel uplifted whenever I visit this Town of Cambridge landmark.


     The Sun eventually sets on every day and every one. This was the scene along the Hudson as I finished up my tour. Hope you take a little time to reflect on the fleeting gift of life this Memorial Day. 





Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Falls Guy

     I did a quick tally and came up with something like eighteen or nineteen, maybe twenty starting batteries that it takes to keep me going around here. Cars and trucks, tractors and skid-steers, lawnmowers and bale wrappers...all need that surge of energy before they're ready to work. No wonder I'm always cleaning terminals, hooking up chargers or swapping fresh for tired ones. 

     Winter can be rough on batteries. Rough on the human spirit as well. By the time spring rolls around I often feel the need for a 'jump'. That's why I try to set aside a 'cascades day' sometime in April or May. There's just something mystical (mist-tical?) about waterfalls, about their power to reenergize. The sight, the sound, the negative ions? I'm not sure what it is, just that I get a 'charge' being near them.

     A couple hours exploring Pike Brook did the trick this year. Located in the Town of Dresden, Washington County, it's a rambunctious stream that drops from near the 2665 foot summit of Black Mountain (highest point in the county) to the 100 foot level of Lake Champlain's South Bay. All in just a few steep miles. As you might guess, there are a lot of waterfalls in those miles. Here's a small sampling: 

     The photos above are from just before Pike Brook drops into South Bay. While we were enjoying the view from a road bridge a jolly gentleman came out and asked us if we wanted to see other falls in back of his house. Did we ever! The egg and honey man (aka Ray) and his wife then proceeded to give us a tour of their idyllic homestead. The stream comes within feet of their living room but is safely contained within a rocky cleft.
     After enjoying the spectacle and some pleasant conversation, we left with a dozen of the freshest, tastiest eggs courtesy their backyard flock. As we drove away I asked Gwenne, "Do you think everybody would be so upbeat and friendly if they could live in such a lovely spot?"
     "Maybe," she opined, "but I think Ray and his wife would be the nicest people wherever they were. Still, being surrounded with  scenery like that can't hurt."

     After checking out the views across South Bay we backtracked a bit and headed up Pike Brook Road. Shortly there was that familiar roar again. Another waterfall. Actually a string of them right along the road. And high above a simple country cemetery. Not a bad place to spend eternity.
     The brook and road twine up the hill with an almost continuous series of rapids and cascades. While each is special when standing next to them, they all start to look the same in photos. But one spot is truly unique. That is the keystone arch bridge over Pike Brook. Built around 1860, it's no longer used but still in great shape. A marvel of ingenuity, it's manmade but looks perfectly natural in its wild setting. And above, beneath and below the bridge are ... you guessed it ... waterfalls! 

     Further up the road are a couple of pretty roadside ponds and then Forest Preserve signs indicating public land. From here anyone comfortable with some rugged bushwhacking could follow Pike Brook up thru the woods to its headwaters at Lapland and Millman Ponds, no doubt encountering lots of small falls along the way. Alternately, the parking lot for the Black Mountain trail system is at the top of the hill. It was nearly full on the day of our visit. 
     This is one of my favorite places to hike but since it was so busy and also late in the day we decided to drop down to Huletts instead. It's always a thrill to be near Lake George and I'ld been wanting to check out a relatively new Lake George Land Conservancy preserve. It turned out to be a good choice.

     The Leeming Jelliffe Preserve is on Bluff Head Road which hugs the lake shore heading north. Look for a sign and a few parking spots on the right, opposite a white house. A blue marked trail winds around a ledgy knob up to an open overlook. It's a short, easy walk    (just minutes) but the rewards are awesome.


     Agnes Island draws your gaze across the lake to the cliffs of Deers Leap and the peaks of Bloomer and Catamount. At the overlook a pine is losing its battle to cling to the smooth bedrock but a nearby white oak is thriving. There's also a small stream down by the road, one of hundreds of rivulets that channel sparkling, clear mountain water into the lake. And darn if it didn't have a tiny waterfall...