When I was growing up in Rochester in the 1980s, a large corner of Highland Park (all of which is actually in the city of Rochester, not in Brighton) at South Ave and Highland Ave underwent a large construction project, which was to landscape a previously flat and featureless grassy area into a cute little gardeny thing with brick pathways.

The project experienced a setback when it was discovered that the area had been used as a graveyard for an orphanage and/or sanatorium for some period in the 19th century. For a couple of months the construction crew cleared out while each grave was painstakingly excavated. Since my school bus passed the site every day, I was able to watch the archeologists' progress in digging out each person-sized hole. I don't know how many graves were found, or what happened to any of the remains.

After all of the gravesites were... um... dug up, construction resumed. Along with some winding brick paths and a few mulched-up garden plots, they built a very strange looking gazebo, made of curved metal beams painted in lavender, pink and maroon (lilac-y colors, I guess), with an arched roof of glass brick. I noticed lots and lots of wedding photos being taken under the new gazebo, which was dubbed by my cohort the "Geek Wazoo." We used to go there late at night to do illicit things or otherwise waste time. In the warm weather, when we needed a place to meet up with folks or just wanted avoid being at anyone's house, we'd end up there, staring at the strange imbedded overhead lights that seemed to switch on and off at random.

Over the years, the Geek Wazoo deteriorated. The last time I was in Rochester (about 1995) I noticed that the welded metal was covered with long streaks of rust, and had a general air of decrepitude. I assume it's since been torn down.

Single Malt Whisky

A fine malt, distilled in Orkney, the furthest North of any true Scotch distillery, and the only one on this Scottish island.

Six whiskys were made, of which five are available, 12, 18 and 25 year old, and 1974 and 1977. The 1958 limited edition (only 665 bottles were produced) is now only found in collections.

Highland Park's overall quality is one of smokiness, and the 12 year-old (the most readily available) has become a great pub favourite due to its classic, yet smooth quality. In the glass, it clings nicely, allowing the comforting, slightly honeyed aroma to fill the senses.

I have, in the past few years, often bought a bottle for myself for Hogmanay, to toast in the New Year. I could think of no finer way of beginning the year.

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