Letchworth State Park – The Nature

Since we were parked near the Portage Bridge, we decided to walk down along the Upper Falls on the Gorge Trail. Have you guessed that I love bridges? So please bear with me, here’s a couple of photos of the Portage Bridge, taken from beneath the bridge.

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I love the symmetry of bridges.

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Here we are looking down on the Upper Falls, and a sheet of ice on the east side of the falls:

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There’s interesting rock along the trail. I have to investigate this.

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This is part of the trail down. We had to really watch our steps, because the stairs are uneven, and in some places are missing:

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There are cool smaller falls that feed into the Genesee River:

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Here’s part of the ice on the east wall I mentioned above:
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We’re looking back at the Upper Falls, the Portage Bridge and the ice:
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I was on the search for Bloodroot, but saw tons of Skunk Cabbages along the west bank:
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I also saw an area with Coltsfoot (Tussilaga farfara), which is so exciting to see after winter!
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We had lunch down near this CCC Statue (sorry the statue doesn’t show up, but I was freezing after eating outside in the cold wind) and didn’t feel like getting out of the car at this point to get a better photo:
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After eating we went to the Glen Iris Inn to the gift shop to buy their new self-guided driving tour book:
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And to see the Middle Falls:
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This fountain:
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was spraying on the evergreen, causing it to ice up:
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(yes, it’s still cold in NY!)

We then hiked up the Mary Jemison trail and saw a downed Eastern Hemlock tree (wah!). Even though I was sad, I loved looking at the wood:
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I love the grain, and it smelled good, too:
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As my brother said, “this is pleasant,” and it truly was:
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Still Lovin’ the Camera!

I never know what photos I’ll end up with when I go for a walk.  I love the element of mystery.

Bird on a wire – mourning dove:
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An old abandoned chick coop?
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Getting a bit better with the macro – thanks to everyone’s suggestions!
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Taking a photo directly into the sun gives this cool silhouette effect:
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Woods without leaves:
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Getting a Sun Tan in October?

My friend Mary at work and I decided we would start walking after work when it started getting cooler out. Well, we couldn’t wait and we started this week. And. The. Sun. Has. Been. *Very.* Hot.

I don’t remember the last time the sun felt so hot in October in New York state. Usually my sun tan is waning this time of year, which it was doing in September, but now it’s come back. Just with hiking for an hour every day. Anyway, we’re having a bit of a problem with the hiking trails around work. We tried to go down this trail underneath this bridge, but some men screamed at us that the trail was closed.

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Hmmm, we didn’t see any signs. We turned around and walked west along an open, boring trail.

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I don’t want to do that trail again. I want to see stuff while I’m walking!

Next we went to a place to find the middle of the trail we want to go on, but ended up on the Auburn trail instead.

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Which was a little less boring, but I don’t want to do it again.

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I want woods! And after we hiked the Auburn trail, we investigated our next hiking spot, and it is uphill into the woods. WooHoo!! That will be for Monday! And hopefully it will be a bit cooler out.

BTW: Mary and I worked at Xerox together and I didn’t realize it was her until she brought in the Xerox yearbook from some year I won’t mention but I had big hair.  What *was* I thinking?

On another note, while walking out on my deck the past few days to go to work, I’ve seen the moon overhead, and today since I was early I decided to capture it. I soooo do not like going to work in the dark!!

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Another Arizona Bird

I had it all planned, I was going to post about another special raptor I saw in Arizona and thought for sure I had great photos of it, but I don’t! I’m so bummed!

But don’t be sad, I have a great little birdie that we saw. We were in Boyce Thompson Arboretum hiking along the high trail seeing wonderful views such as this photo taken by my Mom:

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And seeing roots slowly breaking boulders apart:

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When my Mom’s cell phone rang. It was my older brother, so I sat on a rock and observed everything around me. All of a sudden Mom pointed and I saw a bird on the rock face. I kept watching it and it came closer and I saw the white on its wings. Not a bird I recognize!

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Then it showed me it’s pretty underside – I love its fuzzy hiney:

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And finally it’s front:

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So even though my photos aren’t that great, I could id it as a Painted Redstart or “Painted Whitestart” (Myioborus pictus), in the Wood Warbler family. It’s habitat is Pine-Oak woodlands, of which Boyce Thompson Arboretum has many species. It’s range is central and southeast Arizona from March to September. And despite its name, it isn’t related to the American Redstart.

Definitely a lifer for me! Yay for my brother calling so I could stop and watch this bird for a few minutes.

Life Is Good!

I mentioned the other day at the end of my Skaneateles post that “Life Is Good” and now I’ll tell you what I meant by this! My older brother had a lifeisgood.com hiking T-Shirt sent to me, and I received it today!!

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Isn’t this the cutest shirt!!

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On the back of each T-Shirt near the neck is this logo:

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And the shipping box had the following really cool things on it:

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And the coolest thing is I bought a T-Shirt exactly like this one for my friend Jim over three years ago. I found it in the Arizona Highways store in Scottsdale (now closed) and they only had them in mens’ sizes so I never was able to get one for myself. And then my brother told me they have a website and now have women’s clothes, and he ordered this one for me! They also have really nice, fuzzy socks, mmmmm.

And this is for you 😀 that’s me smiling at you hoping that my simple smile is doing some good!

Watkins Glen State Park

Yesterday we went to Watkins Glen State Park to hike up the many falls until we reached the top. This is where we started, at the bottom, where this water eventually makes it way into Seneca Lake.

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And when I turned around, I saw the beginning of the awesome sites we were about to see:

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We started out on the Gorge Trail, and as we climbed to the first bridge, we saw the first waterfalls which is at the bottom of a series of waterfalls that fall in steps. This waterfall is really cool because the water goes through the narrow curves really fast:

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The stone walls drip with water and are covered with all kinds of plants, including liverwort! Excuse my excitement, I’ve never seen liverwort in person that I know of:

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I absolutely love how the water has cut through the rock in this next photo:

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And speaking of love, my heart belongs to. . .

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Is that awesome how the water has cut the rock into a heart shape! This is at the foot of the next waterfall:

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At the next waterfall, which we walked behind (but no pics because my camera doesn’t know how to swim), the early morning sun was shining on the water just right for us to see a rainbow – see it?

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Once we walked behind this waterfall:

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We had to climb up the spiral tunnel staircase built within the rock wall. We saw tons and tons of ferns, including Maidenhair Spleenwort (another favorite of mine):

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Trees were hanging on the sides with their roots for dear life:

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The wildflowers were gorgeous:

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The roses smelled wonderful:

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Check this out! These ripples on the walkway were actually ripples of sand at the bottom of an ancient sea!

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They also are in the streambed:

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There’s lots of moss along the stone walls. Here’s an interesting one that’s a little longer than the rest I saw there:

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Here’s the next waterfalls we encountered:

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This is the same waterfalls looking down from the stone bridge:

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At this point there are several pools, called the Glen of Pools, such as this one. Oh my, I could have dove right in the water looked sooo refreshing!

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The next waterfalls we saw are the Rainbow Falls. You have to be there just at the right time of day to see a rainbow here. What I love here is the waterfall coming down the side of the wall, too:

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Here’s a better view of the waterfall coming down the side of the rock wall:

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Oh, and now we saw the wall full of ferns. I’ve never seen so many ferns like this on a rock wall!

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There are several fractures, or joints, along the rock walls:

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These joints were caused by a great continental collision between North America and Africa three million years ago that pushed up the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania and the Allegheny Plateau, a large area that includes the Finger Lakes region. The tremendous pressure of the continental collision fractured the rocks of Watkins Glen and the rest of southern New York State and lifted the land up.

Here’s another pool which I think is really cool:

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Here’s another waterfall we encountered.

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Looking back once at the top of the waterfall, we saw more beautiful curves of the watercut stone:

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And after climbing all of the stairs (I’ve heard there are 800 stairs on this trail), we decided to go the top along the Indian Trail:

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The thing I like about the Indian trail are no stairs! We climbed up and down trails. Here’s where we tested out my hiking / trekking poles for the first time. My brother suggested that my Mom buy a pair since they’re going hiking in Yosemite, so she wanted to try them. She took off like a bat out of hell going up a hill with them, so I had to try them out, and I took off. They really work!

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On Indian Trail we saw an interpretive sign that said it takes 25 years for the water we saw here in the glen to make its way out to the Atlantic Ocean! That blew our minds.

We also saw many different species of trees, including Chestnut Oak.

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At this overlook on Indian Trail, we had come down the hill a ways, but still, I took a photo of the same hill as I show in the first photo, and you can see we were up and far into the glen quite a ways!

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Here’s another one of those faults (joints) I mentioned earlier:

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And another view of the first waterfalls.

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I took a ton of photos, and what I’ve shown you are just a few of them. I hope you enjoyed them, and I hope you can make it to Watkins Glen someday! It was very refreshing to breathe in the fresh air there, and to smell wonderful smells of wet dirt and water.

What I Do When I Have a STUPID Day. . .

what else, instead of hiding under the covers and praying for a quick end to the day, but to go for a walk in the woods! And that’s just what I did. After a stupid day at work. Stupid stupid stupid. Stupid. Stupid. There, now on to my walk. I went to 1000 Acre Swamp. I’ll be searching out other woods, because swamp = mosquitoes, and how the heck am I supposed to get decent photos with them sucking my very life’s blood out of my body.

Anyway, I came home from stupid (yes I really do appreciate having a job) and ate an early, quick dinner, and headed out to the swamp/woods. I felt an instant serge of peace and energy flow through me as I walked down this path to the swamp / woods.

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I saw buttercups, and columbine. This one was being shy, but I love the purple.

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And fleabane, which looks white in this photo, but it’s actually a very light purple:

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As I started walking on the boardwalk,

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I heard the frogs rebel and hop into the water. Someone’s looking at you!

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I love these cinnamon ferns on this log in the middle of the swamp:

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and this little island with the reflection of the blue sky on the water, and the sunlight:

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Christmas Fern:

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I love this photo of the boardwalk. I set the camera darker than it really was. Don’t know why I did that, I just felt like it.

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There was a bird here, a lifer too, one beautiful bird. I sooo need a quicker camera.

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And a fern I didn’t id:

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Lots of fungus on a log:

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I saw a jack-in-the-pulpit. Sorry, I wasn’t in the mood to get down in the mud to photograph “Jack.”

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Another fern I didn’t id:

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It was at this point that I started seeing leaves of three all over the place. Nooooo, I won’t be taking any more walks in this swamp for now. I am not going to get poison ivy again this summer if I can help it.

And then I saw the partly fallen tree that goes over the path I had to walk on. I forgot about that, too. It makes me VERY uncomfortable to walk under it. All I need is to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.

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Ohhh, rocks, but nothing like what I saw at ASP last Saturday.

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Okay, so I’ve been waiting very patiently to show you this. Remember the tree on Trillium Trail that looks like it’s running away from its issues?

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It.

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Has.

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Leaves!! And it’s a maple.

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How awesome is that!

All in all, what a peaceful end to a, ummm, what kind of day was that again?

A 65,000 Acre Backyard

What does one do with a 65,000 acre backyard? Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Mon@rch (Tom) and experiencing first-hand some of what he does in his *huge* backyard! We hiked to many very interesting places. First we went to an old growth forest, where he taught me so much more about old growth forests, so now I hopefully can spot one when I’m in one! One of the many signs are the mounds created from fallen trees. Saplings grow on this rich soil, eventually this soil is washed away, and this is an example of what is left:

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And this:

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You will also see buttress roots on the older trees, like this:

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Another sign is when you look up a tree there are no branches down low. You have to look up at the canopy to see the leaves of the trees, like this:

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The old trees will be nice and straight, like the one above and this one:

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(are you getting than I’m in heaven here with all of these trees and learning!)

You’ll see newly fallen over trees, which leave a huge hole in the canopy. The saplings that have been waiting for this opportunity start growing, and eventually the strongest sapling(s) win.

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You see a variety of trees in the area. One of the trees that I was really surprised to see (and I didn’t capture a photo of) is a HUGE cucumber magnolia tree!

On the way down and back up the old ski slope we saw lots of interrupted fern:

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And Mayapple:

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along with a large variety of other vegetation, including club moss, that I didn’t capture (I know, well, I’ll just have to go back, won’t I?)

Next, Mon@rch took me to see a 200 year old Sugar Maple tree. Mon@rch showed you his up-tree photo, so I’ll show you other views:

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Check out these buttress roots. Aren’t they gorgeous!

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I love the rocks laying all over the place. Makes it hard to walk through a field of rocks like this, but I still think they’re wonderful:

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Next we saw Bridal Veil Falls, but it was raining so we didn’t bring the cameras there. Hopefully I can take photos another time!

Next stop was at Thunder Rocks. Are you getting the theme, I love trees, flowers and rocks, and of course, birds! Rock polypody grows on these boulders, along with moss, lichens, trees, etc.:

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And a tree that looks like it’s sitting up down on this boulder:

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Next we went to France Brook and saw a beaver:

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And when it got scared it disappeared under the water and didn’t show up again. We also saw a pair of grackles removing fecal sacks from the cavity of a dead tree. Here’s a beaver dam in a pond down further:

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While Mon@rch was talking on his cell ordering us some food, I took photos of the Administration Building:

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And the bridge at Red House lake:

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Then we went up to Stone Tower:

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This is the view from the top looking north:

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There is an arrow in the stones pointing to (magnetic?) north:

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And here’s the view looking southwest:

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If the trees weren’t there we could have seen Red House lake!

We stopped to see a ton of Blue Cohosh, a favorite herb of mine!

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Then we went up to the top of another hill with a restaurant on it and took some photos of the view:

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After that we headed for the store for (vegeterian – thanks Mon@rch) pizza, and met Grace who is the naturalist at Allegany State Park and does the ASP blog here.

If anyone wonders why I love New York State, this park is a fine example of why I think NYS is one of the most beautiful places to live! Many, many thanks to Mon@rch for the wonderful day of learning and hiking!

Poetry, or . . .

One of the things my Mom rediscovered while working her way through my Dad’s possessions is a book of poems that my Dad’s sister wrote. Unfortunately my Dad’s sister died when she was only 52. This is one of the reasons why I always tried to appreciate my Dad every day, because even though he was from a line of people who lived to be quite old, I was always concerned about him given his sister died so young.

Back to the poetry. My Mom has been reading through her poems, and even though they are meant to be fully understood by the author alone, my Mom said she is understanding some of them more than she ever did before. One poem my aunt wrote about grief my Mom decided she will read when we bury my Dad next Saturday (no, it’s not over with yet, believe me, I can’t wait for this part to be done with).

So while my brain was in its creative mode during the night, I wrote something in my head, it’s not a poem, and I don’t know the rules for Haiku, but here it is, I don’t care if I’m following any rules or not (I don’t do rules anyways) – it is VERY meaningful to me.

Tinker Falls
warm summer days
remind me of You

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(Tinker Falls, which I blogged about here, taken on a hike with my Dad and Mom on Mother’s Day 2006)

If you want to understand the ‘Tinker Falls’ line more, please read my blog post that I linked to below the photo.

I am so fortunate to have spent so many warm (hot) summer days in the past few years alone with my Dad working around my parents’ home while my Mom was at work. And while working, he always had stories for me. Those memories will always be cherished in my mind. And I’m having a good cry for myself right now. A good release from the work week, for sure.

Oh, and I guess it’s my one year blogiversary here. For some reason it’s no big deal right now. I’ll be glad when I feel like celebrating everything in life again!

The Weather

Usually people talk to me about the weather when they have nothing else to say. I personally don’t care what the weather is, as long as I can do what I want to do and go where I want to go. But the weather has been very strange lately. So I’m gonna talk about it.

When I was growing up, my Dad and I went downhill skiing at least twice a week for one of our many winter activities. His rule was December was for building the base of snow on the ski slopes so we couldn’t ski and take the chance of harming our skiis (no matter how much snow and beggin’ on my part) until January 1st – yay! The chemical snow (snow making) wouldn’t kick in until early March, when the snow started melting and they had to patch certain spots on the ski slopes. And I hate chemical snow, because it doesn’t feel right under my skiis, and it makes my face burn. So I’m wondering, how the heck would this work now? We have absolutely no snow, not even a little flake on the ground (okay now we have two flakes, it snowed overnight and I wrote this post yesterday). Do they make chemical snow now, even though it isn’t cold enough for real snow?

December of 2003 was a real hard December – very cold and snowy (how well I remember it because I was taking outdoor classes and had to buy very warm clothing), but on January 3, 2004 we went for a hike at Hi-Tor. It was 65 degrees F that day – a perfect day for a hike. You can see the ice on the cliff face near the water falls:
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And if you turn around 180 degrees you can see Canandaigua Lake in the distance through the trees:

No snow anywhere. So the rule of snow in December building the base for January skiing has been tossed out the window. It would have to snow quite a bit for me to want to go down any ski slope now. I’m glad I haven’t invested in new ski equipment, I would be disappointed – or would have to travel far to find some good skiing. By the way, I love the Finger Lakes region of NY, and the Bristol Hills is one of my favorite places to hike, although I have lots of fav places. What about you? Where do you like to hike? Do you like to snow ski – either downhill or cross-country?

P.S.  Sorry for the yucky photos – these were taken with my old original digital camera.

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