Many of my readers have come to me through Jon Katz’s blog-bedlamfarm.com. Jon is my teacher who started me blogging with his Art of the Blog class. He is my mentor who encourages me to write, telling me that I am creative and helping me to believe it. He also chastises me when I don’t write. I think he is funny and warm and kind and I am sometimes amused at his perspective on our small town. He is a writer, after all, and has a license for hyperbole. He is becoming a friend.
Jon and I have an important thing in common. We love where we live—Cambridge, New York. Neither of us grew up here. We choose to live here or perhaps it chose us to live here. The beauty of the area, as Jon shares in his wonderful photographs, is awe inspiring. A day does not go by that I don’t thank God for bringing me here. I have lived here almost 31 years. Something drew me to it when I was passing through so I found myself a husband and moved in. For the past 17 years I have been the local undertaker (what Jon started calling me and that I now embrace) and although I am not, and never will be a native, I am certainly part of the community. Jon and Maria have only lived here a year or so. When I heard through the grapevine (I was not reading his blog at that time) that they had bought Florence’s house-the house we took her out of at 103 years old-I was surprised. I knew that Bedlam Farm #1 was much more remote than Florence’s place which is on a main road. As a “celebrity”, I didn’t think he would like being so exposed. Actually, he and Maria wanted to be nearer a village, which they are, and have still managed to maintain their privacy. Cambridge is that kind of place. Celebrities can actually hide out here and be left alone. Years ago, Meryl Streep was filming in the area and lived in the house next to me and I didn’t even know it! Not that it made a difference, but I could have taken over cookies just to be neighborly.
Jon is certainly making Cambridge his community. His involvement with Batten kill Books has made the sales for this year incredible. Over 1000 copies of his book Second Chance Dog have been sold through this wonderful, independent bookstore. Connie and her staff are grateful for the business but also grateful that things will slow down or else she might become my customer and we don’t want that! Through his blog, people all over the world know that there are still small, one-stoplight towns in existence-they are struggling, but still there.
I know that the work that my husband and I do for this community is important and I am honored and proud to be doing it. It is an incredible community where people care about one another; where you walk down the street and greet one another; where many of us don’t lock our doors. It is my privilege to care for those who die here and for those they leave behind. I have watched it change in the years that I have been here. The closing of our hospital and the jobs that are gone, make it much harder for locals to find work. The taxes keep rising and many of the elderly move away to be nearer children who have already left. Yet there are those who have moved away and in retirement choose to move back, appreciating the kind of life that can be had in this community.
Then there are people like Jon Katz, Maria Wolff, and Connie Brooks and so any others, who choose to move here. They see Cambridge from a new perspective. They bring with them new ideas, new life and new excitement. Yet they appreciate the kind of life we have here and work at maintaining that lifestyle not changing it. I am so thankful to have them.
There is a Cambridge in every state in the United States, in every providence in Canada as well as in many other countries including the original Cambridge, England. I love Cambridge, New York and am grateful to live here.