The more time you think about writing, and spend time being creative, the more stories you see in the world around you.

At least that’s what I’ve found since starting this crazy journey.

Joey and I went for a hike this weekend to a place called Moccasin Kill Nature Sanctuary in upstate New York (I’ll never get used to the Native Americanish terms + the Dutch word KILL that’s often used around here). It’s an out-of-the-way spot, up a hill, and around a bend, containing only a little over a mile of trails. I wasn’t too excited about it due to its size, but we had plans in the afternoon and needed to go somewhere close.

It only took about 20 minutes to get there, and right away, my brain starting pinging with little ideas. I’d read before coming that the sanctuary was the eastern-most boundary of the Mohawk Indians. I could see right away why they would like the spot. Water flowed abundantly in half a dozen clear slate-bottomed streams. The land was hilly, but not mountainous.

And there was evidence of lots of good food.


Seriously. Every three steps, another pile.


Haha. Lovely, eh?

And it was beautiful, even though winter hadn’t yet fled the area.


My photography skills leave much to be desired, but you get the point. It was pretty.

Can’t you just imagine a little gnome popping out from under the roots here?


Or a lover stashing a note in one of these holes?


Nature is the most powerful form of inspiration, as far as I’m concerned. It holds all our secrets.

The best part of the hike was when we went off trail. We followed one of the streams uphill, walking along the stone walls marking the boundaries of farms that populated the land sometime after the Mohawk and before the Sanctuary. At one point, it looked like we were walking through an apple tree grove, although I’m not savvy enough to identify plants that don’t have leaves (or the ones that do for that matter :-P).

At the very top of the hill, just as we were about to turn back, we found this:


The writing on most of the stones had faded with the years and the weather, the names erased for eternity. Only one remained.


“In memory of W. McCan,” it reads, “who departed this life June the 28, 1829. Aged 26 years.”

Woof. 26. Ever since the find I’ve been wondering — who was this man? What happened to him? And who are the others that sit on that lonely hill with him? Does anyone remember them? Does anyone come visit? The state of the stones suggests otherwise…

I found his death listed in the New York City records, but nothing more specific than his name (William). I’ll keep looking.

Expect a story to come out of this one! Or maybe even a few.

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