Yesterday we walked by plantations of white pines and spruce, remnants of old apple orchards, lovely red sugar maples, beeches, hornbeams, and hophornbeams.
Those last two trees are pictured above.
Of the two, I prefer the hophornbeam.
I mean, who wants a hornbeam that just sits there?
I find it’s true that Nature abhors a vacuum – –
ambling along, pretty much totally vacant of thought,
so Nature provided a little wake-up call – –
two ruffed grouse, alway wiseguys, suddenly shot up,
like whirring rockets.
I’ve never gotten a picture of a grouse,
just a few minor heart attacks,
when they suddenly blast off,
three feet in front of my face.
We’d gone into a stretch of hemlocks, where it’s always a bit darker,
and getting along toward sundown,
so we’d decided to head back, while we could still see the trail.
But first we walked just a bit down the hill,
to listen to the creek,
and look at the tiny waterfalls.
And found a shrine-like assemblage of pebbles on the bank.
Little heart-shaped stones were tucked every which way into crevices.
I know, damn hippies.
This won’t gladden the hearts of most hikers I know,
who are fundamentally opposed to leaving any alteration or trace of human activity in the woods.
And humans being humans, they kinda overdid things,
maybe just a tad,
so it ended up looking like a Neolithic dump,
just after Valentine’s Day in the Stone Age.
But there were no beer cans, cigarette butts, or shell casings,
and to be honest,
I kind of got a kick out of this particular little display of weirdness.
In Trumansburg, NY, flowing into Cayuga Lake, a few miles north of Ithaca.
Thirty feet taller than Niagara Falls (but a bit less water)
Although this area would have been occupied by the Cayuga tribe, one of the Six Nations, the name “Taughannock” may not be Iroquois, and might be Leni Lenape (aka Delaware, an Algonquin tribe). I’ve heard many explanations for the word, from “large waterfall in the woods,” to the name of a Delaware chief, to “Better get out and carry your canoe for a bit“.
Seneca Co. Historian Walter Gable indicates that the name may be an Iroquois-Algonquin hybrid – – the Onondaga word “Dehannach,” and the Algonquin “Taakhan,” together meaning, “Great Falls of the Woods,” and it certainly is.
Upon reflection, as they say…
I’d prepared an angry political diatribe after the election, but decided, upon reflection, to post a pretty postcard from my home, New York, instead.
The Botanic Gardens are part of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and until a recent PC name-change, were called “Cornell Plantations”.
Despite hearing his name all my life, I don’t know much about Ezra Cornell, but he seems like a pretty stand-up guy.
A “self-made man,” he started out as a humble carpenter. Then a traveling plow salesman (on foot! I guess he’d never get lost, he could just follow the furrow home), went on to help found Western Union and Cornell University, and was a generous philanthropist. Kicked out of his church when he married for love, a woman from “outside of the faith”.
While not an abolitionist, he was a Republican politician, at a time when that party was opposed to slavery and oppression.
This photo is not retouched. It looks a bit like the way I pictured Heaven, when I was a little kid, or at least, heaven for some well-mannered denomination, maybe one that doesn’t cast out people like Ezra Cornell, for marrying a Methodist!
I guess, if you’d been really good, there’d be a golf course, too.
And maybe an ice cream stand.
Otherwise, a pretty heavenly spot.
This is not a particularly colorful shot, but I just like this stretch of the creek,
I guess in part, because this is the farthest upstream I’ve been.
So your imagination can create whatever it wants, past that bend.
(Pretty sure it’s just cow pastures, but still…when the picture was taken, I didn’t anticipate posting it from South America, so who knows what’s up around the bend.)
“It’s easy to go around the bend, but hard to see around the corner.”
Not really presenting this post as a Fabulous Fall Foliage Photo Folio
(please, say those last five words three times fast)
more as an advertisement for a neglected part of autumn.
Sumac is often scrubby and undistinguished, and every fall, I realized that it’s rarely mentioned,
when people are exclaiming over the maples and aspens and oaks.
Kind of a mutt – – too leggy and sprawling to be used as a shrub in your yard, but seems too small to be a real “tree.”
It usually grows like a big clump of weeds – –
in neglected corners of fields, along roadways and railroad beds, or behind barns.
I read up on it a bit, and find that in other countries, the dried “fruit” is used as a lemony spice.
I’ve never heard of anyone using the North American version in this way.
But I’ve been informed, that I’ve eaten it, and liked it: it’s a key ingredient in Middle Eastern “za’atar” seasoning
(there’s a lot of versions, but thyme, sesame seed, and dried sumac seem to be the constants).
Just try saying “Za’atar! Sumac! Sesame!” out loud,
and see if it doesn’t sound pretty cool and exotic.
The only use I can think of for its wood: kids cut it into foot-long sections, push out the pithy center, and use it for pea-shooters.
I’ve also read that Native Americans used the sections as pipe-stems, but I don’t know if this is true.
The Iroquois tribes around this area, grew beans, corn, and squash, but not peas, so I guess the pea-shooter idea was of no use to them, and they had to stick with tomahawks and arrows.
(Actually, we generally used the the smallest fruits from hawthorns, or inkberries, not actual peas, depending on the caliber of the shrub we’d cut that day). But there are two other attributes that make this little-noticed, unkempt little tree kind of special.
For kids in this part of the world, the little groves of sumac were the closest thing we’d experience to a bamboo thicket. Only kids could eel their way through the dense stands of sumac, like Br’er Rabbit escaping a fox. Say, hypothetically, if you used your pea-shooter to ambush a larger cousin walking by.
And every fall, having gone the entire summer in scruffy obscurity, it faithfully turns beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges.
Always, without fail.
Having gone the entire summer in generic, innocuous obscurity, just as autumn begins, it flames out with style.
The leaves hang in festive rows, like tiny ceremonial banners for the autumn celebration,
a mousey shrub suddenly looking quite elegant.
Sumacs are like the quiet, unassuming, small-town guys, that you always forget are Shriners, until one day, out of the blue, they break out their red velvet fezzes, have a few belts, and parade down the avenue in their crazy bright brocade uniforms.
I don’t pretend to know anything about photography. I just like taking photos.
Every day I see things that are beautiful, interesting, odd, or just pleasing to the eye, and a photograph lets me enjoy it again, and share it with other people. I’m working on learning more about photography, but have a long, long way to go. It’s pretty addictive!
A friend of mine tells me that most photographers really hate the “focal B&W” thing, like leaving a single red leaf in a B&W shot.
It probably can get annoying very quickly, but I’m kind of having fun with it. #phillistine
For me, one of the best things about exploring WordPress, has been connecting to some really outstanding photo blogs, which has in turn inspired me to start learning more about photography, cameras, and photo-editing.
At the end, looking slimy and a bit the worse for wear,
the Great Puffball addresses his followers for the last time.