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August 20, 2014
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Before the parade passes by

New Sullivan County residents Joel and Sybil Sanchez happily watch the Jeff Fest tractor parade pass by for the very first time.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox


With the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah here already, once again I pause to reflect. The next 10 days, leading up to Yom Kippur, are important, not only to me, but to millions of Jews around the world. It seems like only yesterday that I wrote a bit about this subject, and my inner voice cried out with trite expressions. The mere fact that “time flies” and “waits for no man” are true, I suppose, and although I celebrate the New Year, I’m also taking stock of what has transpired over the last 12 months, some of which (like life itself) has been a bit icky.

Time—what a concept. Without holidays, seasonal changes, and yes, even parades, the passage can escape us. One of the beautiful aspects of living in the Upper Delaware valley is the ever-changing landscape and the often fleeting reminder that there is no time like the present. Once in a while it’s “on our side,” but more often than not, it just “keeps on slippin’ (slippin’ slippin’) into the future.” As Yom Kippur approaches and I spend some of these moments in quiet meditation, I can’t help but notice that the most “solemn day of the year” (www.chabad.org ) arrives right on the heels of spending time with loved friends and family, celebrating joy.

Typical of my own Jewish upbringing (and the overall yin/yang of universal law) I am reminded that life wouldn’t seem so sweet if it weren’t tinged with sorrow from time to time. And so it goes. One of my pals, who lives in the timeless illusion that is southern California, decided to “like” The River Reporter on Facebook (www.facebook.com/theriverreporter) and scan the photos that I took over the weekend of the tractor parade, duck races and general hoopla that is Jeff Fest (www.jeffersonvilleny.com). “Didn’t I just see these same photos last year?” he asked. “How do you even distinguish one tractor parade from another?” I thought about it before responding. “It’s all about tradition,” I answered, “and like all traditions, (both old and new) there are ties that bind, but if you look closely, one can’t help but notice the changes that have occurred during the last year.”

As I strolled Main Street in Jeffersonville, I chatted with kids who were in strollers last year, barely able to construct a sentence. I met brand-new residents Joel and Sybil Sanchez, who appeared overjoyed with this celebration of small-town life. Observing the happy couple through the camera’s lens, I momentarily experienced the parade through their eyes. I asked if I could snap a pic of their shining faces, and they were happy to oblige. I wondered aloud as to what drew them to Sullivan County. Patting her belly, Sybil pointed to the obvious and acknowledged her impending motherhood. “We wanted a different life for our child,” Joel said, “and our priorities have changed. It’s not just about us anymore, we have future generations to consider.”

Before heading down to Callicoon Creek to capture some of the kids participating in the duck race, I glanced at my phone’s calendar and saw a reminder that my 40th high school reunion was around the corner. Forty years. Over those decades a lot of babies have entered the world, my own has grown up, and many of our loved ones have left us. Tradition dictates that I inscribe my own thoughts in the “Book of Life,” of which the Old Testament says, “even the tears of men are recorded in this book,” and “every one that shall be found written in the book… shall awake to everlasting life” (www.wikipedia.org).

I’m having second thoughts about attending the reunion. On one hand, it would be swell to see how my classmates have remained the same over the years. On the other, of course, is the chance that the obvious differences will be a shocking reminder of just how much time has elapsed and force me to look in the mirror and open the floodgates of memories, some sweet and some tinged with sorrow. During this time of reflection, I recall hearing motivational speaker Harvey Mackay’s sentiment that “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

Maybe I’ll make the trip to Binghamton and my alma mater after all, and revel in the passage of time, honoring the proverbial ticking clock, before the parade passes by.