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Oh, ho, ho December!

14 Dec

The holiday bells are ringing and I’m squeezing a post in while I wait for my car to be serviced. Festive gatherings are making me jubilant and inspired!

As sugary delights taunt me, I’m adding in additional exercise and fun. Socializing and being physically active increase energy unlike the negative effects of too many holiday treats.

At a recent party, another guest revealed that he had followed my blog but he had never received it! It was a friendly reminder to get back here.

Joining the National Audubon Society as an environmental educator this spring has been an exhilarating realization of my work and education. Working with Audubon to achieve our mission to conserve habitats for birds in the face of climate change is tangible work of great value for so many reasons. Delivering educational programming to children and adults at the Seneca Meadows Education Center and Wetlands Preserve is a true delight and honor. Audubon’s work teaching people about birds and how to help them directly achieves the goal I’ve state here; to connect people to the places where we work and play.

A volunteer potluck dinner at the Montezuma Audubon Center this month surpassed my expectations. Guests were surprised with a feast of venison and veggie chilis, chicken french, ordeurves, mashed potatoes and numerous desserts; including cream puffs shaped as swans! We talked about rare bird sightings and favored nature preserves, how fun our field trips are and the latest environmental news. Volunteer work ranges from gardening flower beds, running a store register to setting up and breaking down for events. The opportunities to meet others sharing the same interests and to learn are abundant. MARSH works in the Montezuma Wetlands complex area, while I often arrange events along Lake Ontario’s shore, cleaning beaches and collecting water chestnuts, for example. Working alongside others interested in helping birds, increasing positive feelings of engagement and widening our understanding of issues is proactive.

Many volunteer opportunities are in the warmer seasons but there may still be opportunities to contribute and get outside. Researching these organizations and learning about their work can help us remember Spring will come again!

Another place that protects water quality and provides habitat for wildlife and rescued domestic animals is Cracker Box Palace at Alasa Farms, on the southern shore of Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario. An animal sanctuary situated on a Genesee Land trust property, this historic farm is comprised of diverse lands beside the bay. Over 200 rescued farm animals call this property home, relying on three or four staff members and numerous volunteers. A network of trails is available for visitors to experience protected lands including bay views, forest paths and waterfalls in a stream salmon rely upon.

Amazing places surround us, ripe for our discovery and stewardship. Wild, silly, creative people are all around, yearning to engage-to be involved, be valuable and valued-to share joy. These gifts of the season, I wish for us all.

For those who might need a tangible gift, South Shore Artisans in Fair Haven, NY is full of locally made creations. Drop in to find durable pottery, colorful, joyous paintings, and much more throughout the co-op’s three rooms. Avoiding waste and supporting local artists are actions with more benefit than we may remember. Happy Holidays!

 

We Love It! That’s Why We Work For It

10 Jun

When the temperature warms, the sun appears and the birds abound; upstate or central New York becomes an amazing playground! After a long, cold winter and wet spring we are ready for gardening, lawn work, barbecues with friends, kayaking, hiking, wine tasting, stargazing and bonfires.  One can easily become exhausted or injured embracing the numerous activities we’ve been longing for half of the year.

Balance can be hard to achieve or even contemplate for many.  Creating a lifestyle which fosters wellness on the deepest levels is important work I find many of us ignore.

Ample research proves the benefits of time spent in vibrant outdoor spaces and enjoying camaraderie.  Pleasant weather Friday made a visit to Lucifer Falls near Ithaca an awesome visit.  We experienced the wonder of the falls and the history of the old mill at Enfield Falls. A visit to Upper Treman became a walk through time when we entered the old mill.  I’ve been to this park many times but I have never seen the building open or been able to walk through and view the intelligent engineering behind the once thriving business.

 

 

 

 

 

News tends to dismay with such severity our own health and relationships can suffer.  Grace is needed to thrive and live harmoniously.  How can we achieve graceful living when confronted with so much mental and environmental pollution? I’m finding many tools and strategies that can aid us in wellness with awareness.

As an adventure educator and media artist, I aim to “Connect People to the Lands Where We Work and Play.” The S.E.E. formula of Service, Education and Enjoyment informs many of my events.  We will be teaming up with Sea Culture Brand to host a beach cleanup in Fair Haven. Sea Culture Brand is a clothing company from the Syracuse area, created by Daniel Tagliamonte. The clothes are inspired by life on and near the water and they utilize recycled materials. Rethinking methods of production and disposal, while being proactive caring for our surroundings seems wise to me. Watch this short YouTube video to see Daniel showing off his 2018 Fall Collection. Follow Sea Culture Brand on social media to see their latest designs and learn how they operate.  (A Henley debuting in July could be a great sustainable gift!)

Previous cleanup efforts at the rest area on NYS Route 89 just north of Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg led to official adoption by the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network.  Cayuga Lake Steward, Hilary Lambert sited an improvement to the cleanliness of this space and plans for this year’s cleanup efforts. It does take a network to protect a watershed! I’m glad to receive texts and messages asking me for my advice with cleanups, water quality and Monarch butterfly care.  We will be hosting an “Embrace the Lake” event at Stewart Park on the southern end of Cayuga Lake in the near future.  Please return to this blog or contact me to find out when these and other cleanups will occur.  We will be sure to have fun, get exercise and hopefully improve our surroundings-while we learn in a joyful way. It’s finally nice out here, so let’s make the most of it together!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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.

Finger Lakes Culture Bubbles Like A Spring (or Sparkling Wine!)

14 Aug

Grassroots creates a showcase of talents throughout handmade arts to music, dance and more.  The festival experience is rich, extensive and often exhaustive.  An experience not to miss.

Juggling many responsibilities, I was only able to catch a few performances. I’m thrilled Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People was one of these bands! Their performance enlivened and uplifted the afternoon’s crowd, dancing in mud near the stage.  I’ve been playing their videos and talking about this band since Grassroots.  Luckily, I found out about a soft/grand opening for F.L.X. Live in Geneva with Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People headlining! A hot ticket with limited availability, I scooped mine up quickly at Area Records in Geneva.

Tickets for an exclusive show!

Two tickets for Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People for the soft/grand opening of F.L.X.Live!

The band’s performance in the brand new, intimate venue was epic.  Danielle Ponder’s powerful performance and her tight, happy band bring dazzling energy and stir the willing into a dancing frenzy! This impromptu visit to Geneva was excellent.  Dinner at The Red Dove Tavern was impressive and casual.  Beginning our evening with Rose Cava and Champagne set the tone for a fabulous time. Professional, friendly service welcomed us to the noisy tavern, while our food mesmerized our attention and tastebuds. Cavatelli in a lemon artichoke broth with shrimp pleased me while my friend had flank steak sandwich and fries.  Peach cobbler and great coffee made the pleasant surprise complete.

A yoga eco hike along Lake Ontario’s shore at Sterling Nature Center worked any muscles I missed dancing the previous night! Leading this hike with Karen Haas of Bayview Wellness Center is incredible fun.  Poses throughout our hike lent themselves to each place we visited August 6 at 9am.  Our group was diverse, with participants in their early teens and the span of adulthood.  Men and women came from Baldwinsville, Fulton, Oswego, North Rose, Fair Haven and more to gather together for this yoga walk.  From the smiling faces, pictures and sincere thanks, I think people enjoyed themselves. Practicing group yoga on a pebble beach in synchronicity with our breath and crashing waves was awesome.

A downed tree provided a challenge for each of us, that many conquered with group support.  Walking up a steep trail to a large meadow looking off MacIntrye Bluffs over Lake Ontario warmed us before a series of poses a safe distance from the edge.  These poses were challenging, my legs often wobbling and my hip muscles screaming! For some reason, the pain was comical to me.  Karen humored me, instructing the group to place their arms upon each other’s shoulders and move into a warrior pose where it was as if we were an eagle about to soar to Canada.  Brilliant!

 

 Before long, I was setting up  at Aurora Ale and Lager Co. on the east side of Cayuga Lake.  An old farm is the perfect setting to enjoy the beers of this nano-brewery. Their Mango Infused Goseface Killah Gose recently won Bronze at the New York Craft Beer Competition and Governor’s Excelsior Cup.   

All of this is making me hungry and thirsty! Where to next? Somewhere lovely, for sure.

Coming soon! Updates regarding our Monarch butterfly project.

Yoga Hike at Sterling Nature Center Invigorates Body and Mind

20 Jun

Participants look north over Lake Ontario as they strike a yoga pose on top of MacIntyre Bluffs at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Our busy lives can affect our health in many ways.  Therefore it is particularly important to develop and maintain a wellness practice that will enhance one’s physical vitality and resilience to stress.  Recently, I was thrilled to team up with Karen Haas and Susan Gately to facilitate a yoga hike at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Teachers from Red Creek gathered at the 1,428 acre nature preserve to follow yoga instructor Karen Haas of Bayview Wellness Center in Fair Haven, NY in yoga poses throughout the Cayuga County park. Lake Ontario sailor and scholar, Susan Gately provided insight into glacial geology, erosion of the bluffs and beach, beaver activity, bird identification and more.  A treasure of a property along the shoreline of the Great Lake between New York and Canada, attendees practiced yoga and hiked in many different settings.

A meditative walk through a quiet forest set the tone for yoga beside the lake.  Group poses, chosen to match the location, warmed participants up before a quick walk along the sandy beach and up the steep trail to MacIntyre Bluffs. Practicing poses high up over the lake in perfect June weather was a spectacular experience! We placed our arms upon each other’s shoulders and moved into a group eagle pose, as if we were going to soar to Canada!! Liberation, joy and slight pain were all bursting through this part of our session.

Participants took pictures before descending the trail to the beach to observe our surroundings. Evidence of beaver activity drew us away from the pebble beach to look over the tip of a marsh adjoining the lake shore.

A tree stump and logs shows evidence of the labor of beavers.


Exploring and researching new locations and activities is a favorite part of my work.  Before developing this walk, I was unacquainted with this nature preserve.  Now that I know how to get here and I’m aware of the numerous and diverse trails and waterways, I’ll be sure to return!

If you do go to the Sterling Nature Center, don’t rely upon Google Maps.  Numerous guidance tools may be wise, including a paper map.  Trail maps are likely available onsite at the kiosk beside the parking area and can be viewed here.

Participants reach to the sky while overlooking Lake Ontario’s blue waters during a recent yoga hike.