A hundred and one years ago — an entire century, and one more for good luck. My grandfather’s date of birth was an epoch.
He carved the paths of our family home, like a hundred and one acre wood, planted trees we’ve had to cut down, and in the fall a number of years ago we spread his ashes in the land beside his childhood home in the rural hillside of upstate New York. The ashes of his sweet cherry pipe tobacco drifted into my memory and embedded in the pathways, imagined or real, carved like dust into the curves and pathways. He was shy but creative, funny, the firmest of handshakes, and worked the land and dirt with strength and conviction that endures in that landscape. I wonder, sometimes, whose hands he shook last.