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Part of the annual Christmas haul in my family is a stocking full of wee edible goodies. Among this year’s treats was a bag of gummi bears (gummy bears? I’ve no idea). Two weeks later, after housing half the bag, I noticed they were comprised solely of the best colors (color and flavor being interchangeable here) – cherry and lime. Further inspection revealed these were no ordinary gummies, but Christmas Bears!

As I continued to stuff my face I noticed an additional detail- just as their illustrated counterparts were drawn, the gummies themselves had little Santa hats in red or green. Charming! And also delicious.

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This past summer some friends and I went upstate to Little Pond campground, which did indeed feature a lovely namesake watched over by bored, frightningly tan teenagers. Nearby was Big Pond campground, where things were a little more loose; there was no lifeguard telling you not to let your dog jetski or go drunk fishing.

Yes, come shop at Wally-Mart and enjoy the ice-creamed products at Dari King- totally independent shops with no affiliation to nationwide chains at all!

The Devil looks like he just got back from Burning Man.

Between the rock snot and the bear warnings, upstate New York truly impresses you with the peaceful beauty of nature.

I was kicked out of Scouts for trying to reassure an idiot bunkmate who was freaked out bears would eat us because of the handful of acorns I collected. I calmly pointed out this was silly because a) they do not really eat acorns, b) we were ‘camping’ between two highways in central Jersey, not exactly their turf and c) we were in a solid wooden shack with a lock on the door, not a flimsy tent. However, the kid’s parent was troop leader and just as dumb, and booted me out for endangering the group. With a handful of acorns. In a room just off Route 18. Ironically, I now have a constant camping phobia of bears eating me. I have not even watched Grizzly Man so there is absolutely no excuse. Imagine my terror when the first thing seen upon entering the campground was the above sign. Terrified, I asked one of the two friendly older ladies working the entry booth what we could possibly do if confronted by one of these malevolent beasts. “Oh, just wave your arms around a bunch and make a lot of noise. That usually scares ‘em off.” Ah. There hadn’t been any bear sightings at Little Pond that year, but the ladies aimed to keep it that way through the season.

Driving back home we came across a covered bridge. Take that, Madison County! Upstate New York has several, and an aficionado informed us one had been completely swept away by the flooding, only to be found downstream mostly intact. Inside, the beams were covered in years and years of carvings.

This was the oldest visible year carved in – 1937.

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