Who can say for sure what events and experiences in life set a person on the path they eventually take? Many things affect an individual’s choices—the family and socioeconomic circumstances into which one is born, geography, natural talent and even technology. For those who call themselves “writers” or “authors” or “journalists,” do you have a clear memory of what event first set you on the writing path? I’m fortunate because I do. For me, my writing path was forged with the publication of an article I wrote in the fourth grade about a field trip.
I attended grade school in New Berlin, New York. For the uninitiated who don’t live in Chenango County, New Berlin is pronounced “new-BERL-in,” and most definitely not “new-ber-LIN.” In grade school one of our favorite field trips was to nearby Hunt’s Pond State Park. By state park standards Hunt’s Pond is small. It’s a wooded area with a 20-acre pond in the center and just 16 campsites scattered around it.
In the fourth grade we went on a field trip to Hunt’s Pond. Fishing and fossil hunting were two of our favorite activities. Following that trip, all fourth grade students had to write an essay detailing our experiences. Although I no longer have a copy, my essay along with one other, was chosen by my teacher to be printed in the local weekly newspaper, The New Berlin Gazette. As you can imagine, for a 10 year-old boy having your words printed in the newspaper was about the biggest deal in the world. Although other events would come along to influence my path to writing, my Hunt’s Pond essay was the fork in the writing road for me.
So it’s with some sadness I noted recently that a number of New York State Parks, including Hunt’s Pond State Park, have been closed because of state budget shortfalls. I won’t wax political in this post, but it seems to me there are many other places the state could save money other than closing parks.
Regardless of whether it’s open or closed, Hunt’s Pond will always have a special place in my heart.