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Fountain of Youth Story and photos by Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer This summer, I traveled up north and by a circuitous route discovered the fountain of youth. Actually, it wasn't until I got back home that I realized what I had found. In Chapel Hill, N.C., where I stayed, most people spend time outdoors. This puts me comfortably in the picture but out on a trail while the rest of the populace flies by at breakneck speed. I stroll along photo- graphing weeds, fungi, burls and other odd- ities. Joggers hardly notice me or anything around them, so hooked up are they to iP- hones or cell phones. Exchanging a greeting is impossible. I'm no city girl and a few days into my stay, I fell flat on my face on a sidewalk. It was embarrassing for someone who's expert at navigating through tangles of greenbrier, saw palmetto, and cypress knees. Recovery was slow. Every morning when I looked in the mirror, it seemed I was getting older. I'd become a "doddering" senior citizen. My daughter broached the subject of my moving in with her when I got "really old." But slowly my wounds healed and I was back on the trail, this time plodding along at a snail's pace. I finally made it home and am in the parks and out on the beach again. The air is soft; the water warm. No more pink-shorted wood sprites flying past. People greet me.

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