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Home is where the heart is

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I had the opportunity to go home last week, and by “home” I mean Binghamton, NY. It is, after all, where I was born and raised, and while I have many fond memories of my childhood, there are some dark clouds on that distant horizon as well. According to my book of proverbs, “Your home will always be the place for which you feel the deepest affection, no matter where you are.” Hmmm. As I steered toward Aunt Marcia and dinner with some cousins, I wondered whether my hometown is where my heart is.

Like many fresh out of college, I was anxious to spread my wings and soar out of town as soon as I was able, and I traveled the world for a bit, settling first in New York City. That was followed by decades in Los Angeles, before returning to the open spaces of New York State, having found myself yearning for something more than a bustling metropolis could provide.

It turned out to be the Catskills, and my mini family reunion last Wednesday drove the point home. My visit was pleasant enough, and it was fun to catch up with relatives, but honestly? I could not wait to get home. Since it was mid-week, I had work plans on my mind, which included the grand opening of the Town of Bethel Dog Park, situated on Golf Park road in Smallwood. In addition, I had arranged to attend the Steve Martin/Martin Short comedy show at Bethel Woods, but (for the very first time) as a regular guy, and not a reporter, so I (gasp!) left the notepad and camera at home. A silent auction at the Bethel Council of the Arts (BCA) on Kauneonga Lake and an honest-to-goodness invitation to a Labor Day barbeque were also on my to-do list, along with a suggestion (from my hostess) that I again leave the camera at home and simply relax. “It’s Labor Day” she said. “That means no work!”

“Leave the camera home?” I repeated to Dharma, who was pulling at her leash, rarin’ to go. “Fat chance.” Spearheaded by Bethel Town Supervisor Daniel Sturm, who was ably assisted by a small corps of worker bees, the dog park is (IMHO) fantastic, and I was amused to see Dharma making new friends and racing through the agility course with other pooches of similar size, while the larger breeds enjoyed a run of their own. Sturm addressed the crowd, reminding us that dog-less taxpayers did not foot the bill, and that the park was funded through private donations and a Sullivan Renaissance “Golden Feather Award” and is open to all in the true spirit of “peace, love and socialization.”

Billed as “an evening you will forget for the rest of your life,” the comedy show starring Martin and Short (featuring the Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko) was anything but that, and I had a blast along with thousands of other fans as the duo reminded the audience of the comedic journey that led them to Bethel Woods. As classic routines played across the giant screens behind them, the pair regaled the crowd with amusing anecdotes from their illustrious careers, with a dash of bluegrass and banjo pickin’ thrown into the mix, courtesy of Steve Martin, who proved that he is still “one wild and crazy guy.”

While enjoying the show, I was reminded of a previous visit to Bethel Woods a few weeks ago, where photographer Jill C. Smith snapped a photo of me and my dog, with a caption that read, “Love Where You Live”—and I do. Somehow I’ve managed to carve out a life here in the Upper Delaware River region, replete with good friends, great neighbors and a sense of belonging that visitors admire and family members long for when they come to call. While it may be true that “There’s no place like home,” that can be interpreted in many ways. For some it’s a state of mind, for others it might be where you were born. It could be where you hang your hat. As for me: “Home is where the heart is,” and my heart belongs right here.

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