Perhaps everyone has tired of pretty leaf pictures, but I decided to chance it and post three snaps of a ginko tree.
The ginko doesn’t leap to mind as a go-to for autumn foliage.
It seems like a lot of years, the leaves just turn yellowish-brown and drop to the ground.
But this year I’ve seen a number of them putting on a spectacular golden show.
I’m always pleased to spot one of these, they’ve got all sorts of positive associations.
It’s nice to see something that’s survived for over two hundred million years.
Dinosaurs of the Jurassic, like one of my favorites, the brachiosaurus, could graze on them.
When Frank Lloyd Wright built his first home (in Oak Park, Illinois) he selected the property because there were beautiful ginko trees planted there.
I’ve seen the leaves countless times in artwork from Asia, especially Japan and read that the trees are treated as sacred at Shinto shrines.
Old arboretums in the eastern states of our country inevitably have specimens, some planted in the first years of the republic.
It’s cool for our republic to have these “living fossils” around, like most of our political leadership.
And as an “herbal supplement,” it’s supposed to remedy insufficient blood flow to the brain.
That problem seems to be pervasive right now during the political races, so there’s another good reason to keep these ancient trees in circulation.
I’ve posted a few pictures from this place in past years.
The Sterling Preserve is not far from Oswego, NY, and about an hour’s drive from Rochester (maybe 45 minutes if you skip the leaf-peeping and drive down Route 104 like a bat out of hell, which is generally the custom in these parts).
In the 1970’s, a utility company acquired thousands of acres to build a nuclear power plant – – there were/are such plants near Rochester and Oswego. However the plans for this Sterling plant fell through and there’s now roughly 1400 protected acres of fields, wooded hillocks and marshes . And almost two miles of shoreline along Lake Ontario, all cobble beach.
The woods are nice – mostly maples, oaks, tulip trees and beeches. Along the eastern edge of the preserve, remnants of a stone boundary wall and an old apple orchard are visible, now overtaken by native trees. Near the marshes, there’s more buttonbush shrubs than I’ve seen anywhere else in the region.
WP seems to be doing that thing it does – – some of these photos fuzzy to me, I fiddled with them but no improvement. They seem to look ok when you click on them.
A shot of the lower half of the falls.
I did very little editing, mostly just made it a bit brighter, and didn’t fiddle with the balance or boost the “color saturation,” or whatever it’s called.
I think the color comes from minerals and perhaps fresh-water algae. Pale blue? Pale turquoise?
The Crayola box (the big one, my go-to reference for art stuff) indicates “aquamarine,” but when I look online at a color chart, that’s way too green.
“Bluish” will have to do.
On a recent walk, snapped a cellphone shot of the elusive Burdock Bear.
Prickly-looking but surprisingly friendly, they’ll attach themselves your coat and follow you home.
Woolly Bears are of course the most reliable forecasters of the coming winter.
The broader the black band, the tougher the conditions will be.
So I was darn pleased to see this fellow, telling us it will be a really mild season.
I was thinking about what to call our little furry weather predictors.
I guess you could call them “palmists” because we like to gently pick them up, and hold them in our palms, to see them roll themselves into a ball like a tiny hedgehog.
But we couldn’t say “soothsayers,” because they never say anything.
They communicate their predictions by how they’re dressed. Not such a crazy idea – if the weatherperson on TV appears in hipboots & sou’wester, it’s pretty easy to interpret, just like the woolly bears, so we might need a a word for this.
Someone predicting warm weather, by wearing stripes, you could go with SeersuckerSoothShow-er.
But HypothermiApparelAugur is too clunky, as is ClothClairvoyanGlacé.
Snowsuit Sibyl isn’t too bad.
Meteorlogifashionista is my best effort, trips right off the tongue, doesn’t it.
Please let me know if you come up with something good!
As you head south out of Ithaca, NY, there’s a stretch of highway that’s one of the main commercial drags in that little city. It combines routes 96, 13, and 34 for a few miles, and it’s fairly hectic – – lots of banks, car dealerships, fast food, grocery stores, motels, etc.
And then you hit the city limits, and all that commercial stuff pretty much stops. The Green Party – Socialist State of Ithaca is behind you — the Asian and vegan restaurants, peace signs and rainbow flags are gone, and the pro-NRA banners begin. You’re now in the Southern Tier, and it’s shotgun racks, dollar stores, and Don’t Step On Me flags all the way to the Pennsylvania line.
But there’s a sweet spot, a DMZ between the two worlds, just as you leave Ithaca, and that’s two nice state parks — Buttermilk and Treman.
Buttermilk is the first, named for the whitewater of a big falls (165′ tall), very close to the highway.
It’s impressive in the spring, or after periods of heavy rain, but I think it’s more interesting than beautiful. Instead of a vertical drop off a rock ledge, it’s a tiered cascade, pouring into a swimming area.
The curved slope of siltstone and shale is shaped a bit like a section of a domed roof, or maybe a big hoop skirt, and the creek just comes down it in a pretty uninventive way.
The water doesn’t really leap from the rock, and go for it, take the big plunge, it just slides over it. Dutifully following the law of gravity, falling without any particular style, just like the rest of us.
If you or I were on that slope, we’d be sure to slide down it too, and we wouldn’t expect anyone to think that was very clever, would we.
It’s right off the highway, with picnic tables, a swimming area at the base of the falls, and playing fields close by, so it’s a bit busy.
I mean, it’s perfectly nice and has that pleasant bustle of people picnicking, dogs barking, kids happily hitting each other with sticks and rocks, etc. but combined with the rumble of motorcycles and trucks on the highway, the noise drowns out the water sounds.
So, why the heck am I talking about a spot that I’m not entirely keen on? Because if you cross the creek, on a little iron bridge built in 1881, and follow the steep trail up the south side of the gorge, it’s fantastic.
There’s a whole series of smaller but wonderful falls.
The water is having a wonderful time, whizzing through high-spirited chutes, swirling in circular pools, dividing and rushing back together in playful angles, and you’re right next to it all, you can stick out a hand and feel the spray.
The trail is rough and often slippery, but totally worth it. Once you’re in the glen, ferns decorate every crack and ledge, overhead are maples, beeches, and hemlocks. The highway noise disappears, and there’s just the sound of rushing water.
Get there early in the morning, or early evening, especially on a day when rain is threatening, and you’ll probably have the place pretty much to yourself, and can just soak up the quiet musical reverberations, and watch the acrobatics of the barn swallows, swooping and streaking through tight turns just above the water.
One of my grandmothers instilled in us a family custom, passed down from her parents, etc – – to celebrate the “first” of each summer arrival.
So, the first time you have any vegetable from the garden, for example, you’re allowed to make a wish.
When it’s fresh peas, or corn-on-the-cob, it’s also customary for me to wish for more.
These pictures are of the first cardinal fledgling I’ve seen this summer. I really enjoy seeing cardinals, and certainly wish to see more.
The chick was sitting in a bush, looking a bit disgruntled, but she was the one who violated the stay-at-home order.
Apparently it’s quite common for young cardinals to attempt to fly prematurely.
No worries, the parents will continue GrubHub services, to feed the chick until it can fly.
Although I think it’s sunflower seeds, not actual grubs.
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