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Ithaca Reggae Fest 2018-Cayuga Lake, NY

25 Jun

Sandra Steingraber spoke to the most personal and ecological forms of water with poetry.

A blue morning began June 23, 2018. Saturday was Ithaca Reggae Fest’s big day at Stewart Park. Worries of rain nagged at exceptionally high hopes for this event held beside Cayuga Lake’s southern shore in Ithaca, New York.  The discreet weather nearly whispered “Simmer down.”

The celebration of water and life through Reggae music provided attendees with access to Native American teachings, local water advocacy groups, yogis and more!

Chief Sam of the Cayuga Nation began Reggae Fest 2018 for me.  He warmly shared stories and reflections steps from Cayuga Lake’s blue water.  His son and grandson stood beside him with pride; it was a joy to see.  He spoke of the many medicines of this earth and jokingly acknowledged the medicine of goose poop in great abundance.  Sachem Sam spoke of Indian time, being  the time in which things happen.  I found this to be a description of my own view.

While gathering resources for my table in the education village, I took a few moments to read the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s Land Steward magazine.  I’m so glad! The good news is plentiful because of the amazing work and dedication of those who support the FLLT.  Rehabilitating land to reduce and absorb runoff is a proactive strategy to care for our watershed.  Developing and implementing a long term rehabilitation strategy can create benefits experienced in similar case studies.  Learn more about the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s work here.

The rains held off as Astrid Jirka of Vahana Yoga led participants in 108 sun salutations.  Massage therapists donated chair massage in the Wellness Village while bands including Thousands of One, Mosaic Foundation and Crucial Reggae Social Club welcomed in the afternoon.

Sandra Steingraber’s speech was personal and poetic.  She reminded the listener of the dynamic presence of water throughout our planet and our own bodies.  She did this by humanizing her experience.  More than an environmentalist, she is a human and a mother.  She is a creature aware of our composition and need to foster sanctity of water.  Sharing this awareness is effective, partly because it offers an invitation to entertain such a view oneself.

Ithaca Reggae Fest 2018 was plastic free.  Organizations like Plastic Tides, Mission eXXpedtion and Plastic Free July are doing great work to fight plastic pollution.  Please learn more about plastic pollution and consider taking the pledge at Plastic Free July.

Paddle-N-More had water crafts available for rent at the festival.  This year’s location was less noticeable than in the past.  Seeing others discover watersports promotes increased participation.  Recreation opportunities and meditative attributes draw me to water but for some it is science.  Cayuga Lake Watershed Network was joined by Discover Cayuga Lake, Citizen Science, NYS Parks and Recreation to name a few. Please continue to learn about the work being done by advocates for water.  What can you do? Water is essential to life. “Get up, Stand Up. Stand up for our right.” (Robert Nesta Marley.)

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Listening

14 Apr

I’m listening, to the wise people around me.  Beyond the din, there are those who are committed to others, to working for more than personal gain.

Susan Peterson Gateley of Silver Waters Sailing welcomed me and my friends to a water chestnut pull on the Red Creek Marsh Unit in Wayne County many years ago.  We met two women, dressed in work clothes whose boats were quickly filling with long, leafy vegetation they were extracting from the marsh.  As we began to move the wet, tangled masses to the back of pickups, I reached in quickly and grabbed the plants, only to feel sharp thorns plunge into my hands! Chuckling lightly with amusement and compassion, I was advised not to repeat my behavior and handed a pair of gloves.  Novice volunteers worked quickly together to load the invasive plants before heading off for a late afternoon kayak and picnic.  The gratitude of the volunteers and kayakers was immense, they were so glad to participate in a positive, healthy activity with other friendly people.

Each year the water chestnut returned, but with increased management, including staff from the Finger Lakes Institute, the invasive may be temporarily controlled.  If left alone, the plant could cover the waters, blocking out light and making passage for animals and boats impossible.  Though quite glad to have this quiet marsh in improved condition, many problems are harder to identify or positively affect.  Mrs. Gateley covers many of these pollutants in her movie Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope.

Cayuga Lake has a steward in Hilary Lambert of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network.  Hilary works with residents and municipalities around Cayuga Lake for clean, healthy water. Her team has made great strides with GIS technology, recently releasing satellite imagery of nutrient runoff into the lake.  Meet at The Space at GreenStar today in Ithaca to learn more about HABs and other sources of non-point pollution.

Dragon boats brought Hilary and I together for the first time.  We inspected the lot before they were launched in Cayuga Lake.  It only took a few moments to realize she was a savvy advocate for water. Tomorrow, we return to a rest area north of Taughannock Falls to tidy up an area that is a first impression of our area for many.  Now under the adoption of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, the area lies in an area with a steep incline and stream upon Cayuga Lake’s western shore.  This site’s cleanliness has improved! I’m quite surprised to see it in fair condition. Though we are expecting scattered showers, we’ll eliminate any trash and celebrate our progress with a hike at Taughannock Falls and snacks from GreenStar!

Another amazing woman has entered my life.  She is 103 years old! She is sharp and educated, living a life of civic engagement and within a thriving rural community.  Talking with her about her life and reading local works has opened a vivid world of regional understanding and cultural possibilities.  She often says she could use another fifty years for everything she would like to do.

What will we do and share?

More details about this amazing woman and tomorrow’s cleanup!

 

 

 

 

Monarch Eggs Have Arrived!

6 Sep

                         Monarch eggs arrive in the mail!

Monarch eggs arrived last week! A six gallon fish tank with a screen lid is an enormous habitat for the speck sized ovo from Rose Franklin of Butterfly Bushes in Pennsylvania.

I’ve been studying Monarch migration patterns and feeding needs for months, so I’ve been developing a deep appreciation for milkweed.  Milkweed serves as a food source and habitat for Monarchs.  There are many kinds of milkweed, some being more appealing to Monarchs than others.  (This area needs further investigation.)

Observing milkweed stances has become a bit of a hobby this summer.  Wether unwinding morning glory vines from milkweed plants or searching for Monarch eggs and caterpillars, I’m curious what I will find next.

Monarch caterpillar crawls around milkweed plant.

    Monarch caterpillar crawls upon milkweed in a hay field.

Learning about the multi generational migration of Monarchs makes me wonder where these ovo will fit into that cycle.  Their metamorphosis is estimated to be completed in 28-32 days.  Six days into their cycle they now look like super tiny black worms.

Monarchs are being released through various programs around the state.  Some of these programs are well established.  Read about the butterfly breeder who recently released nearly 150 Monarch butterflies !

Cornell’s Dyson School has an annual Monarch release that includes tagging the winged creatures! Professor Jack Little directed students in the proper technique of tagging, while many observed the butterflies release.  Follow this link to view pictures of the event.

Our Monarch eggs have changed into tiny worms and now small caterpillars!! New pictures soon!

Editor’s Note: Due to the severity of Harvey, publishing this post was delayed with respect for those affected by the disaster.  Grateful for pleasant weather in New York, we continue our work with concern and awareness for our shared existence.

B is for Butterfly

28 Apr

There is a little boy named Cedric who shouts my name three times when he sees me.  His joy for life is incredible and refreshing.  He knows all of his letters and just turned 3. One of his favorite books came from the Family Reading Partnership, located just outside of Ithaca, NY.  “Love Those Letters” introduces children to letters, encouraging practice of sounds and providing matching imagery.  Cedric or Ceddy quotes the book in conversation, saying things like “J is for Jumping.”

              Cedric enjoys a round hay bale on a chilly day.

In the book, B is for Bike, but as butterflies have been on my mind since January, at least, I realized, B is for butterfly.  Beyond their personal or metaphorical symbolism, butterflies are a unique part of the web of life.  Discussing our upcoming efforts to support butterflies, I discovered many people are very concerned about bees. Also, bugs, like ladybugs.  Chattering away one day about butterfly efforts, an entomologist from Cornell University told me she could explain why ladybugs are ‘more important(?!)’ than butterflies.  I’m still waiting to hear her contributions to the discussion but I began hearing a buzz in my ear from all of these Bs.

A force known as Bill Castle, co-owner of Pollywogg Holler passed away recently.  He was happy to hear my ideas about butterflies and he loved to host people. B is for Bill and Barb, his beloved wife.

    Bill Castle poses with a bee at his golden wedding anniversary.

I’ve always worked in hospitality and tourism, often in the world of wine.  This year, I’m on the east side of Cayuga Lake at Aurora Ale & Lager Co.  The views are amazing and the beer is fantastic!  The nano-brewery has a casual atmosphere where people come to relax, enjoying time at a slower pace than typical of our hectic lives.  Musicians are beginning to gather and regulars are visiting us often.

Guests do get hungry, so I’m hoping to arrange for a caterer specializing in barbecue to visit the brewery. B is for beer, barbecue and brewery.

Catching up with a friend, I told him my ideas about bees, and bs.  He said he is building bat houses and planting his favorite trees, birch trees…Really?! Ha, ha, b is for bats and birch trees, too?!

The synergy of interests and ambitions kind of amazes me! In these difficult times, it is the simple things that can inspire and support us.  The little insects that foster reproduction of plants through pollination, the warmth of a smile and strong handshake or hug, the time spent watching a sunset with friends and sharing finely crafted local products.

We hope to host informal talks regarding bees and butterflies this season.  I’m looking forward to the delivery of monarch larvae in June, so we can begin raising monarchs in a small nursery at the brewery.  I would love to see people caring for monarch larvae across New York state! This is a great project for people who would like to help support monarchs and witness their metamorphosis.  There is so much good that we can do and share.  I’m looking forward to it!

B is for butterfly.

Butterflies, Bees and More

25 Apr

My grandmother said she WAS a butterfly.  She wrote, spoke and thought in metaphor.

Butterflies could use our help.  Numerous factors are affecting populations of butterflies and bees.  Detailed steps are listed at The Xerces Society’s page “Bring Back the Pollinators Campaign that can be taken to foster health for pollinators and environment alike.

Purchasing and caring for monarch larvae is a fantastic way to witness the metamorphosis in the development of butterflies.  People of all ages can experience wonder, while learning and supporting butterfly populations.  If you would like to order  and purchase your own monarch larvae and personal nursery to be shipped to your home, you can do so at butterflybushes.com.  Deliveries are not expected to occur until June 2017.

Many different partners are coming together to share information and resources to support butterflies, bees and more. Please contact me if you would like to participate.  More educational and event information will be released as the season progresses.

Three sites are listed below, each offering projects, actions and advice to promote the health of pollinators.

The Xerces Society’s page devoted specifically to our region is http://www.xerces.org/pollinators-great-lakes-region/.

Even Cheerios is hoping to create positive change for bees.  The cereal company shares information regarding challenges bees are facing and what is being done to help here: http://www.cheerios.com/weneedthebees.aspx

A quick look at the Cayuga Nature Center’s page devoted to butterflies, offered a name of the delightful creature that fluttered beside me yesterday, a “Baltimore Checkerspot.”

Now, time to venture into the fields and see the work these creatures are performing.

 

 

Meeting Other People Who Care

22 Nov

Meeting other people who care about our time, each other, our planet, our bodies; can embolden.  Posture may improve, eyes may brighten, conversation quickens and ideas and plans begin to form.  I’ve seen this phenomenon repeatedly this year. Scientists, farmers, writers, painters, students and professors have become inspired through sharing stories of initiatives that foster wellness in those around us and our surroundings.

Customizing multi-faceted adventures in the Finger Lakes is my specialty, yet developing events utilizing adventure education, recreation and service-learning projects is becoming another objective.  This year, two events focused upon water.  On April 2 volunteers cleaned a stream leading to Cayuga Lake as an “Embrace the Lake” coordinated effort with the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network.  After hauling trash from the woods and stream, volunteers enjoyed a picnic lunch and cider tasting at Bellwether Cidery.  A walk at Taughannock Falls State Park accented the day with slight snowfall as we said our goodbyes.

August 20 was focused upon the Great Lakes, the shore of Lake Ontario in Wayne County, NY specifically.  Mission eXXpedition spearheaded the largest simultaneous micro plastics testing yet in an international effort with teams on all Great Lakes.  The day began with a kayak tour of Chimney Bluffs, followed by a shore cleanup at an adjacent fishing access area.  The day ended at sunset at another beach as we took the final water samples of the day. Results are still being processed yet the teamwork of those involved created a kinship based upon shared values and efforts.

Winter is here! At least for a few days.  As we pull our snow gear out and look toward holidays and a potentially long winter, know plans will grow like friendships.  Emphasis upon a healthy environment, healthy, sustainable agriculture and breath-taking fun can be expected.  This blog’s format or theme may change but our mission remains constant, to connect people to the lands where we work and play!

For all of the fellowship, hard work and support, I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

We Love It, Therefore We Work For It

15 Jul Brown dog looks into Lake Ontario.
Sun shines upon the pretty blue waters of Lake Ontario

As foamy waves recede, rounded pebbles are revealed before the blue waters of Lake Ontario

 

The Community Room at The Wolcott Public Library filled up with citizens on July 11, 2016 for a showing of Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope, by local resident, Susan Peterson Gately.  Ages ranged from six to seventy eight.

Residents gathered at The Wolcott Library July 11 to learn more about Lake Ontario

Residents gathered at The Wolcott Library in Wayne County, NY July 11 to watch and discuss “Lake Ontario: A Quest For Hope by Susan Peterson Gately

Audience members listened attentively as the film explained numerous aspects of Lake Ontario and its watershed that can surprise visitors and residents alike.  From shoreline dynamics and geology to living aquatic species to industrial pollution, the film offers a comprehensive view of this body of water.  Roughly forty people attended the film on a hot, July evening.

The dangers of microplastics were explained by Dr. Sherri Mason of SUNY Fredonia.  In the film she explains how plastics absorb chemicals in the water which are desorbed into creatures who consume them.  This means humans are consuming concentrations of chemicals that are stored within  the tissues of organisms.  So, not only do plastics become stuck inside species and their habitats, they also concentrate pollutants.

“What can we do?” was a question repeated by viewers.  Lifestyle choices were discussed including reusable shopping bags.  Reusable containers for drinks and food also save resources and reduce pollution.  Growing one’s own food reduces carbon emissions created during transportation and can also reduce chemicals used in the growing process.  Buying in bulk and using reusable containers can save money, reduce waste and it feels great! Small changes in one’s behavior do add up and can motivate and influence others too.  @PlasticFreeJuly is active on Twitter offering enthusiastic advice as people aim to reduce their reliance on plastic this July.  The Plastic Bank, (@SocialPlastic on Twitter) intends to use plastics reclaimed from the oceans and recycled into usable goods like these sunglasses.  Read more about this company who intends to clean oceans while empowering people in this June 8, 2016 Forbes article, “Social Plastic Makes Headway in Haiti.”

Beaches along this part of Lake Ontario are made of sand, clay and brightly colored pebbles of great variety

Beaches along this part of Lake Ontario are made of sand, clay and brightly colored pebbles of great variety

For those who enjoy scrambling upon beaches or viewing the shoreline from boats, there will be at least one event this summer when people can come together to clean beaches and test for plastics.  On August 20, 2016 volunteers in the Wolcott, NY area will take part in an effort occurring simultaneously on all Great Lakes with Mission eXXpedition.

Small Plastic Fills A Bag Quickly As It Is Extracted From a Favorite Fishing Access Site

Small Plastic Fills A Bag Quickly As It Is Extracted From a Favorite Fishing Access Site on Lake Ontario in upstate New York.

Paul Baines of the Great Lakes Commons was on hand to share the concept of “Commons.” Commons refers to things which offer value to others and which require care, like bodies of water or algebraic equations.  His group suggests that the Great Lakes be governed by the people who share the shores and waters for their mutual benefit.  Though a unique idea to many in attendance, The New York Times featured an article with a similar notion yesterday, July 13, 2016. Read the full article here: http://nyti.ms/29Hdomc

A short excerpt from the article reads: Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s attorney general, said the issue was resolved by taking the Maori mind-set into account. “In their worldview, ‘I am the river and the river is me,’” he said. “Their geographic region is part and parcel of who they are.”

It was an honor to introduce Mr. Paul Baines to Lake Ontario from the rural shores of Wolcott, NY where the immensity of the lake impresses quietly.  Our aim is to connect people, to each other and to the lands where we work and play.  Please consider how your actions and choices affect the lake whose shores we live upon and join us in celebration of what can be done!

Brown Dog Trots Happily Upon Lake Ontario's Shore