Hamilton South

Today started cold. There was a southerly and clouds stacking themselves up in great, untidy, unfolded heaps above the beige hills, and after the morning quiet and breakfast I had enough time to walk up the dirt road towards where the town of Hamilton used to be. If it had lasted, I guess it would now be Hamilton South, but it has long gone. Once there were 4000 people, 40 shops and 23 different places to buy liquor. It was a goldmining town and the diggings are still there, about a mile away, like a great purplish white burn scar on the bare flank of the hill.

At the top of a hill there is a gate, a sign board and a small cemetery set behind a neatly made stone wall. That's all there is of Hamilton. I went and looked at the old Graves and the neat new plaque someone erected when the cemetery was restored just a few years ago. It records everyone who is buried there. Since the first person was interred in 1865 it was 23 years before there was a burial of someone over 60.  Children, men and women in their 40s  seem to make up the bulk of those early deaths.

I look at the other end of the plaque, at those who have been buried since 1931. There is only one under 60 and almost everyone else is in their 80s. I recall that the burst appendix I suffered in 2000 would have carried me off in any century but my own and that I owe my continued existence since 2008 to a superb medical system. I am given this privilege of advancing age, one denied to most people for most of human history and I walk slowly back down the hill filled with the responsibility of that.