Tag Archives: New York

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.

 

New York in Bloom

2 Jun

New York is far more than one often imagines.  Beyond New York City there are numerous, regions to enthrall and captivate.  The Finger Lakes and Lake Shore along Lake Ontario offer such bounty and diversity, especially in late spring.

First paddle of the year was fine. Red winged blackbirds, a family of swans and lily pads make for a special paddle.

As blue waters beckon, birds swing and swoop, bees and hummingbirds fly, trees bend and winds blow, plants respond to warming, sunny days and people emerge from long, winter hibernations. Many friends give happy updates regarding upcoming performances or events and educational/agricultural progress, demonstrations of one’s own growth and interests.

IthacaFest begins Friday, June 2 in a jubilant celebration of community and passion, offering ample opportunities for dancing, live music and fun! Look over the schedule to gain an idea of the different performers and events. Or wing it but be sure to allow extra time and energy for parking/walking.

Remanu Steele, a Renaissance man, could have his own performance schedule this weekend! He will be everywhere, with one group or another, including Fall Creek Brass Band, Spiral Cracks and his own spoken word. A community organizer and performer, when asked for links to upcoming events, he provided information for events to teach and inform.  Tompkins County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension has numerous events planned.  Peruse classes and workshops on their site, from creating your own fairy garden to learning about challenges tomato plants face, you may be surprised by what you can learn!

Ever talented and motivating, Kathy Lucas will bring her practice of African dance Sunday evening with M0xie Kumba! Watch the dancers of Moxie Kumba in this video by Jonathan Keefner of their Dun Dun dance performance at Grassroots.  What rhythm, vitality and power!

Warm, pleasant weather can be rare so please get outside and explore a little.  Try a new sport or trail and witness the spectacular displays of nature and neighbors. Be safe and have fun!!

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.

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!!

 

Sharing Concerns and Joys Helps Us All

15 Aug

Nature feeds me.  To run up a steep wooded trail and emerge high on a bluff overlooking an enormous inland sea, mere miles from my home, has been a great joy to me since I began high school.  Listening to the waves crash in consistent rhythm and to watch the sun as it sets upon the day brings me to the present moment and the wonder around us.  I’ve watched a solar eclipse with friends in these woods and spent many happy times with dogs and friends alike.  Each season offers something different, from snow covered beaches, to springtime melt and wildflowers, to summertime fun and vibrant Fall; our shore of Lake Ontario is an amazing location to be protected and savored.

An increase in news coverage and facilities, as well as the prevalence of social media has brought untold numbers of visitors to this fragile environment.  A local treasure, it is a fascinating place to witness quick changes in the landscape brought upon by erosion.  “Bluff mud or dirt” is a unique, colorful type of soil that can cake one’s shoes.  Pebbles beg for closer inspection and pockets or buckets often become filled with the rounded stones.  Visitor’s are directed not to remove stones from the beach but they often have a strong pull.

Sun shines upon Lake Ontario's blue waters as a dog walks along the varied shore, leaving paw prints in the clay.

Sun shines upon Lake Ontario’s blue waters as a dog walks along the varied shore, leaving paw prints in the clay.

Though I am happy to clean the beaches and shore, I’m bored by pictures of garbage myself! So, I’ve dug into my archives for some photos celebrating special times in varying spots in this stunning place.

Two dogs run in a happy play-date at water's edge. This was not taken at Chimney Bluffs where dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Two dogs run in a happy play-date at water’s edge. This was not taken at Chimney Bluffs where dogs are not allowed on the beach.

We impact others with purpose and by accident.  This balloon may have brought cheerful wishes to someone, but it came to rest upon the beach.  Balloons become tangled in nature and create traps for wildlife and clutter up the outdoors. Please use them with care if you must!

Balloons oftentimes get away from their owners and end up where they don't belong.

Balloons oftentimes get away from their owners and end up where they don’t belong.

Many people become overwhelmed by negative conditions or circumstances.  Sharing these troubles can be helpful.  This worry box was seen in Ithaca, NY at Gimme! Coffee two years ago.  A fourth grade class made it to gather coffee patrons worries and ease their discomfort.  How sweet!

Created by a class of fourth graders in Ithaca, NY, this worry box encourages coffee shop patrons to leave their worries behind.

Created by a class of fourth graders in Ithaca, NY, this worry box encourages coffee shop patrons to leave their worries behind.

"Join us in transforming this weight into hope."

“Join us in transforming this weight into hope.”

How does the worry box relate to Lake Ontario? Many of us DO worry about the lake and how the water affects us both positively and negatively.  Our behavior affects our environment.  We can change our behaviors for the better and share our concerns and successes.

Limiting use of plastic, in beverage bottles and shopping bags is a great place to start to change one’s own habits. Bottle caps, juice box straw sleeves and beverage containers are some of the most frequent debris left on beaches.

Join me August 20 at Chimney Bluffs at 9 am for a morning paddle and hike, before we clean the beaches of debris.  Contact me to reserve a kayak ASAP.  Great Lakes 2016 will be occurring on all of the Great Lakes as teams simultaneously test for micro plastics and clean shorelines.  Susan Peterson Gately‘s film, “Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope” will also be showing in Fair Haven on August 20 at The American Legion from 4-7 pm.  Guest speaker Jean Siracusa of Happy Bee Heirloom Farm will be there.

Many people do care about the environment we share and each other.  Ursula Gaul Graf was one of those people.  Her legacy continues. A bench bearing her name invites visitors to sit on the west end of Chimney Bluffs State Park and to “Please Enjoy the View.”   This brass plate made me wonder who she was and led me to read about her life well-lived.  Please read her obituary and consider accept her invitation.

A brass nameplate shares Ursula Gaul Graf's wish for visitors to enjoy the view at Chimney Bluffs.

A brass nameplate on a bench beside Lake Ontario shares Ursula Gaul Graf’s wish for visitors to enjoy the view at Chimney Bluffs.

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

 

Mission EXXpedition Leads Simultaneous Great Lakes Events

20 Jun

2015-04-20 19.00.09

Adventures in the Finger Lakes will be hosting an event in partnership with Mission EXXpedition at/or near Chimney Bluffs along Lake Ontario’s shore in Wayne County, NY on August 20, 2016.
Participants will collect water samples for analysis of microplastics. Volunteers are also encouraged to clean beaches and shoreline.

Bluffs constantly change. A previously safe perch loses stability and can easily give way.

Bluffs constantly change. A previously safe perch loses stability and can easily give way.

Mission EXXpedition is an organization with crews largely comprised of women, traveling our waterways creating documentaries, collecting data and sharing their discoveries and insights.  Learn more about this group and details about the upcoming Great Lakes event here.

Sun Reflects on Flat Blue Water

A brown Labrador retriever, named Hope, sips water while a sun sets and reflects upon the flat waters.

Local author and sailor, Susan Peterson Gately will be showing her film, “Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope” in Fair Haven on August 20 also.  The title is not a deliberate homage to the dog but it still works.

Befitting Adventures in the Finger Lakes, there will be healthy food on hand, water crafts and possibly lodging.  We will pause to come together and celebrate our shared environment.  More details will follow.  Please communicate your interest in participating via email, blog comment, Twitter, etc.   Thank you so much! It is sure to be fun!