About three weeks after September 11, 2001, I told my wife, “We’ve got to go SOMEWHERE.” She countered that we could have a vacation right there at home. With all due respect, that was a terrible idea; my wife, I knew even then, was/is absolutely no good at what’s come to be called the ‘staycation’. She always finds something in the house that needs to be fixed or cleaned. We absolutely needed a different venue.

As it turned out, she had won, several months earlier, some drawing to stay one night at a place called the Limestone Mansion, in Cherry Valley, NY, only about an hour from Albany, and less than 20 miles from Cooperstown.

On Columbus Day weekend, we traveled to Cherry Valley for two or three days. It was a charming little town. My two most specific recollections were 1) finding a shop that made wedding cake toppers with same-sex couples, almost 10 years before gay marriage was legal in New York State, and 2) buying, as a result of in-store play, an album by a group called the Afro Celt Sound System.

The Limestone Mansion was great. Wolfgang and Loretta were wonderful hosts. The food was quite fine. The room had great character. And the fact that there were no televisions was a definite plus. Not having phones in the room was not a problem either.

Still, we did get two pieces of news from the outside world. One, which I overheard on someone’s portable radio, was that the war in Afghanistan had begun – sigh. The second, via the one phone on the premises, is that our niece Markia was born. Those two quite disparate pieces of news have defined how I’ve thought of Columbus Day weekend ever since.

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