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Huron Day!

22 Oct

Huron Day, October 6, 2018 was an awesome experience! It is fascinating to share cultural and environmental history with local residents and newcomers.  This year’s theme was “Into the Woods.” As I enjoy being in the woods, specifically our local forests on the east side of Sodus Bay and the southern lakeshore of Lake Ontario, this focus was ideal!

One of numerous pictures taken in this exact spot, an excellent place to stretch and relax.

The bluffs and forest change dramatically through the seasons and years. Witnessing erosion, eagles, Great Blue Herons and wildflowers are among the area’s treasures.

Huron Town Historian, Rosa Fox brought together people who interact with the woods in a variety of aspects, including sustainable forestry, soil and water conservation, mushroom foraging and more.  This collection of people and interests represents well the argument presented in Robert Hull’s Infinite Nature: The lens through which we perceive our surroundings and the resulting benefits we calculate can be quite different depending upon our various values and interests.

Walking meetings are my favorite, yet today we met inside the historic buildings of Huron.  It was my first visit to these buildings and the short flight of wooden steps to the upper room of the Huron Presbyterian Church offered a welcoming invitation.

Open doors invite visitors during Huron Day, October 6, 2018

Working as an adventure educator and visitor specialist in Wayne County is extra rewarding for me.  Researching and studying our local cultural history at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum reinforces my own experience and passion for “Apple Country.”

With 20,000 acres under apple production in Wayne County, it earns the title of “Apple Country.” Orchards under spring blossoms and trees heavy with fruit can intoxicate the senses.  There are new varieties and styles of production which I was able to discuss with an experienced farmer.  Artifacts from the local apple orchards and production drew visitors’ attention.

Wooden apple crates, a basket and picking bag at Historic Huron.

Large piece of impressive cider making equipment at Historic Huron.

From local foresters to local public servants, there were so many people to meet and talk with. It was a pleasure to share a collection of information from the Sodus Bay Historical Society and Historic Huron which told the history of the lands which are now New York State’s Chimney Bluffs State Park.  Asking apple farmers if they drank at the Chimney’s Tavern was entertaining.  Watching a young boy’s jaw drop as I explained a connection between lighthouse keepers and local apple growers was too.

It was an honor to meet the presenters who came to Huron Day to celebrate “Into the Woods.” I’m thankful to be part of groups connecting people to each other and to the places where we work and play.  It is through these connections we gain and share strength.

This sign for Freer Brothers Farm celebrates the area’s long history in agriculture, while capturing Huron’s Presbyterian Church and belltower.

Rosa Fox speaks with good humor in regards to items within Historic Huron’s collection.

Mrs. Fox will be speaking at the Wolcott Library tomorrow at 6:30.  RSVPs are requested.  Seize the opportunity to hear what Huron’s historian has gleaned about topics including slavery, sailing and more. If you haven’t seen her book Great Sodus Bay, published by Arcadia Press in 2016, find a copy! This is a must-read for locals and a fascinating book for interested minds.  Many of the amazing photos are from the archives of the Sodus Bay Historical Society.  Copies are available in the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum store and should be in local libraries too!

There is still time for cider, cider donuts, apple crisp, hayrides and pumpkins! Our agricultural and environmental abundance is unique-Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.)

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!

 

 

 

 

Empathy, Gratitude and Compassion; True Gifts Any Time of Year

8 Dec

My grandmother was sweet, incredibly kind and joyous.  At a young age, she was surrounded by grandparents who doted upon her.  This attention and leadership from elders certainly helped mold the person she was to become.

Marguerite Robinson Campbell Reich, Peggy, Mom, Gramarite.  She lived near “The City,” fondly looking over her beloved Palisades and even the Empire State Building. A true adventuress, she was fascinated with knowledge, reading and travel. Life was a grand adventure to her, always adding in a little sparkle or whimsy to enliven a scenario. As magic makers might, she wove her view well beyond her physical life. Artwork and phrases that spoke to Marguerite became household adornments or features of love notes. Writing autobiographical tales in narrative occurred more than once. Newspaper articles, Hershey’s Kiss ribbons and pressed flowers became thoughtful gifts. They surface in my notebooks, jewelry boxes and dresser drawers, filling my life with her unrelenting appreciation for life and commitment to grace.

 

Compassion, Affection, Respect and Empathy are key ingredients for relationships. C.A.R.E. Recipe. -Author Unknown.

As we approach the holidays and endure our various challenges, this recipe can help everyone! Compassion, Affection, Respect and Empathy.  When outraged or confused by someone’s behavior, please consider their perspective, goals and challenges.  Respect others as we travel about for our holiday shopping or festivities.  Consider others may not enjoy the season and understand strong emotions the holidays may bring.

One Christmas Eve when I was little, my dad took me with him to deliver food baskets.  Puffy, white snow was falling and covered the ground.  We took a basket of food to an elderly couple in a small home.  I seem to recall it being very cold but my dad’s visit filled the room with warmth.  The couple’s gratitude is unforgettable.

Another year, our living room was covered in donated stuffed animals that we loaded in our van to deliver to a collection and distribution point.  It may have been a school.  I remember a huge stage with piles of toys for children.  The spirit of Christmas was present as we imagined the children opening their gifts.

Truly taking the time to be with family is an amazing gift! In the face of difficulty, being with loved ones proves most important.  Does your use of devices separate you from those around you? Are your family your loved ones or merely obligations? Erin Marteal wrote a fantastic article entitled, “Gratitude Pairings, Naturally.” First published in Tompkins Weekly, Erin, Executive Director of Ithaca Children’s Garden gives numerous suggestions for creative pairings of activities and foods to share with gratitude.  I’m looking forward to visiting the Fuertes observatory-per her recommendation.  As well as constellations of homemade cookies and thermoses of host chocolate!  Consider some of her ideas and work out a few of your own.  You might discover what fun it is to gather items for a wreath or wail your sibling with a snowball. Have you ever made snow angels?!

New Park Retreat and Event Center is opening their doors this coming Thursday, December 14 5:30-9:30.  Guests will be treated to live music and refreshments, with donations benefitting local food security organizations including The Backpack Program, Fresh Snack Program and Friendship Donation Network.  

New Park Retreat & Event Center celebrates the holidays with an open house December 14, 5:30-9:30 at 1500 Taughannock Blvd. Ithaca, NY.

Hope to see you there! I’m heading back outside to look at the stars! Happy Holidays!

 

 

The Burns Sisters Bring It to “The Hills of Ithaca”

16 Nov

“Together WE Stand.” The Burns Sisters gathered a few friends for their annual concert at The Hangar Theatre. Joining Annie and Marie were Doug Robinson, Bobby Sweet, London McDaniel, Tony Markellis, David Borisoff and Martin Horn.

Saturday evening at The Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, The Burns Sisters played their annual concert, this year in honor of Veteran’s Day. Joined by numerous talented musicians, “Together WE Stand” was an emotional treat!

Delighted to perform, the bandmates displayed their talents through diverse styles of music, covers and original songs.  Joining Annie and Marie Burns were Doug Robinson, Bobby Sweet, Tony Markellis, London McDaniel, David Borisoff and Martin Horn. Two organizations were highlighted that help veterans, The Blue Star Mothers of America and Stand with Me. As someone who grew up with a devoted dog at my side, I know how valuable their companionship and support can be.  Stand with Me trains teams; a veteran and their dog, to learn skills that will help veterans navigate life after military service. Francess “Myrph” McMahon, founder and director of STAND WITH ME, stood on stage under the bright lights and explained to the audience the benefits and importance of service dogs,  and their training program.  Two of her students, one canine and one human, joined her onstage to demonstrate their progress and unity.

Marie Burns’ singing was haunting as she sang “Kilkelly”, a song written by Peter Jones.  Each line expresses another decade’s yearning for an Irish son who had emigrated to the United States.  Based upon family letters, this song is but one example of lyrics generated from writings from long ago.  “Hills of Ithaca” and “Lehigh” share Woody Guthrie’s words, written about a trip to Ithaca in 1947 or 1948.  Marie explained this on stage Saturday and does so here as well.

“My Peace” was dedicated to everyone on Veteran’s Day.  Woody Guthrie’s lyrics were set to music by his son Arlo Guthrie.  This calm, reassuring song ended the second set happily.  Then, the band sizzled for an encore of “Free Little Birds” an old Appalachian folk song.  The musicians’ joy spilled off the stage as they jammed.  Their rendition was smoking but this traditional version, “Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s” is fun too!

 

 

 

 

Developing Adventures at New Park and Beyond

2 Nov

Feelings of adventure include confidence, doubt, curiosity and informed foresight.  Driven forward by this momentum, I drove to New Park to see what the fuss was all about.

Down the road from Taughanock Falls, this hidden gem of an estate lies behind a long wooden fence.  Arriving promptly for my appointment, Director of Operations, Martin Horn welcomed me warmly and began to describe the grounds.  My ability to speak left me as I observed the surroundings.  Magnificent details shine as part of a whole vision of vitality, excellence and comfort.  A custom glass rendition of the Finger Lakes inside a shower, elated me! Vintage telephones, a telephone booth and fluorescent lit jukebox also captured my attention.

Three sculptures of Jay Seaman accompany guests in an open outdoor area between buildings.

A copper musician plays the trombone in celebration and joy in the garden at New Park.

Jay Seaman’s sculpture appears to catch a ribbon unfurling.

Jay Seaman’s oxidized copper jester sculpture blends into the garden discreetly.

Created by Jamie Kehoe, New Park offers a unique, natural and luxurious venue to enjoy the Finger Lakes in numerous ways.

Event space at New Park Retreat

This welcoming space boasts cozy, woodland views while hosting guests gathering for celebrations, workshops and retreats.

A spectacular site for a destination wedding, New Park Corporate and Wellness Retreat can also meet needs of individuals and small groups.  More than a lodging facility, New Park provides a relaxing space to create memories through active means.  Try paddle boarding, indulge in a wine and cheese seminar amidst a woodland walk or learn about birds, water, African dance or butterflies! Sharing magic, through art, hospitality, education and celebration continues to guide activities at New Park.

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.