By Jeff Martin
I was talking to a work colleague this week about the general horror that descends upon many people when they reach the age of 40.
ìYou donít look 40 at all,î she told me.
ìItís not about appearances,î I said. ìThe body may not show it, but it knows it.î
We started talking about what happens when you turn 40. Because enough of my life has passed that I could write a reasonably lengthy autobiography, I started thinking about what I could include. I could mention the places Iíve lived (Akron, OH; New Orleans, LA; Kansas City, MO.; and now Ellicottville) and the people Iíve known.
Or I could mention some of the things Iíve done and some of the things I havenít done. This colleague of mine started talking about white water rafting the Cattaraugus Creek through Zoar Valley, a mere 20 miles from Ellicottville. She spoke about the rafting company in Gowanda and how she took a trip last spring, about how the water was low and the journey was touch and go. For a reasonable price, she said, you can experience the surging water of the creek while shale cliffs tower above you.
Yes, thatís certainly one for the list of things to do.
For this issue of the Ellicottville Times I spoke to Asa Moss, the Ellicottville resident who plays the Scottish bagpipes, and I got to thinking about all the musical instruments I have always wanted to play ñ not to mention all the excuses Iíve come up with not to learn.
While I never considered playing the ìpipes,î I have always wanted to learn the guitar, the harp and the saxophone. I did learn to play the flute ñ but not the one youíre probably thinking about; I learned the wooden, or Native American, flute, a simple instrument that Native American boys used to court girls.
Moss struck me as the kind of person who doesnít think too much before he embarks on a personal journey of discovery, and I think thatís where the secret lies: life is short, so donít think.
ìYou should look into going down Cattaraugus Creek,î the colleague was saying. ìIt was a great time when we went. Iíve lived in Western New York my whole life and never did it until last year.î
Iíve always wanted to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, but fate and personal choices have delivered me to Cattaraugus County. Itís my impression that most, if not all, people are living in close proximity to their dreams and ambitions, but because those dreams and ambitions donít resemble the ideal in their head, they fail to realize them.
Because I put my personal email at the bottom of my last column, I did get one response from Becky, a middle-aged woman who lives in Little Valley who said she loved to go to Buffalo to one of the parks along the shoreline and fly her kite on windy days and, when there werenít many people and the wind was calmer, throw her boomerang. Imagine that! A woman realizing her desires and pitching a boomerang into the wind!
Iíve always wanted to ski and/or snowboard, but I figured Iíd have to go to Vermont or Colorado. Not so. Both dreams are offered in Ellicottville. Iíve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, but Zoar Valley and the foothills of the Allegany Mountains are just around the corner waiting for my footfalls.
Now that spring is emerging from its grand sleep (the crashing of immense icicles along the gutters of homes is proof), itís time to research all there is to do around the area. I missed both alpine and cross country skiing and snowboarding, even tubing, but that doesnít mean I have to miss out on white water rafting or, if I so chose, learning to play one of the several musical instruments Iíve always wanted to play.
Even if Iím not Scottish.