Scene is along a country road, rainy day.

An interesting sensory experience, taking this photo – – a really nice floral fragrance, from the grape hyacinth.

And also, a farmer was busy in the field just in back, with a honey wagon.

If you’re not from dairy country…a “honey wagon” is a/k/a manure spreader.  I was going to say “a bucolic scene, despite the pong from the cow manure,” and then realized, that’s exactly right.  I looked “bucolic” up, and that word comes from “ox” and “herdsman,” so the cows’ contribution is appropriate.

I read about President Truman giving the press a tour of his birthplace, a farm in Missouri.  A White House staffer asked Mrs. Truman if she could please get the President to stop saying “manure.”

Mrs. Truman replied, “Do you know how long it took me, to get him to say manure?”

 

 

The farmhouse cellar and a collapsed barn, are just behind the forsythias. Whoever lived there, must have planted the grape hyacinths many years ago, for them to have naturalized and spread so much.

Finger Lakes, FLX, History, Spring, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes ~ April, Yates County ~ A Place Where a Farmhouse Used to Be

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Here’s a nice little fifty-footer, not too far from Boonville, NY.

People are surprised to learn, that the falls is actually located in Hurlbutville.  They often say, “Goodness, can that be so?  I’d have thought  Hawkinsville, or over by Forestport.  Or perhaps, between Alder Creek, and Alder Creek Station?  Or possibly, at the foot of Potato Hill?”

It’s hard not to scoff at such speculation, and I’ve no patience with wild conjectures.

It seems to me, that a sprightly name like “Pixley Falls” should be located someplace more legendary-sounding.  Rome, NY is just down the road, so they could’ve called this hamlet to their north “Gnome,” for example.

But it’s definitely Hurlbutville.  I’m sorry, but it can’t be helped.

Even though, I’ve never been able to see any real trace of that place.  I think maybe Hurlbutville, with a name that magical, might be like Brigadoon, only appearing once every century.

But then, I haven’t looked that hard, I don’t wander too far off the winding, sagging little road that runs from Rome up to Boonville, along the remnants of the Black River Canal.   It’s one of those wooded, thinly populated areas that surprises people, who think New York is all urbanity.

Just on the other side of the old canal, is a creek called Lansing Kill, and this falls.

That name shouldn’t make you uneasy.  If you’re from NY, you already know this, but “kill” is just an archaic Dutch term for a stream, and there are kills all over the Mohawk and Hudson valleys.  Like the little mountains called The Catskills (get it?  Cat’s Creek, maybe because of mountain lions, or because they used to wash the cats there, before making them into felt hats, when the beavers were all gone). (OK, no, that’s not true.) (But in the old days, they did use them for coat collars, my sister just read Gogol’s story “The Overcoat” and told me that. )

Just north of the waterfall is Boonville.  A nice little town, on the Tug Hill Plateau, famous for amazing amounts of snowfall, even by upstate standards.  People come there in the winter, to snowshoe and cross-country ski on the canal trail.

The Black River Canal took almost twenty years to complete, and then operated for seventy years.  It used to connect to the Erie Canal, until it went bankrupt a hundred years ago.  You’ll see some beautifully-constructed old stone locks along the trail – – they built 109 of them, for only 35 miles of canal – – more locks, and a greater rise & fall, than the entire Erie Canal.

 

 

This is from the Library of Congress, taken sometime during the last fifty years.

I’d seen different lengths quoted for the canal.  According to the Black River Canal Museum in Boonville,  it was 35 miles long, with another 10 miles for the Erie Canal connector, and they also “canalized” 42 miles of the Black River, to make it navigable.

In the autumn, Boonville is kind of an entrance to the Adirondack region, and hunters head there in droves, chasing after deer with not just shotguns and rifles, but bows, muzzle-loaders, and crossbows.  I realize they’re high-tech items, with AR-style stocks and telescopic scopes, but somehow seeing hunters with crossbows, or black powder/percussion cap rifles, just seem to add to the forgotten-by-time flavor of this corner of upstate.

The canal trail, about ten miles long, is a very pleasant walk, down the old towpath, part of it with the Lansing Kill right along the other side.

 

a rivulet flowing into the kill

 

canal trails, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around Upstate New York. Pixley Falls, late March, late afternoon.

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It always seems amazing somehow, how ferns shrug off ice and snow. I guess after 300 million years, they’ve learned how to get by. Probably a relief when the dinosaurs stopped stomping on them, and our era’s deer don’t care to eat them.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s worth hiking though the snow, back to these little waterfalls, just to listen to the sounds you only get in winter. A strange combination of delicate swirling sounds, very musical & almost chiming, with deeper gurgling and gulping sounds. Seems like an unlikely and awkward pairing, but they all get along just great, and it’s a very mellow little jam they’ve got going.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the snow in the stream bed had a strange, cotton wool look.

 

 

In late afternoon, the sun found its way through the trees, and illuminated a little waterfall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

a miniature forest of beech saplings is almost lost in the snow

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, NY, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Uncategorized, Upstate New York, Winter

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. February, Finger Lakes National Forest

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This pedestrian bridge at Watkins Glen has survived since 1870.  For some reason, a park sign identifies it as a suspension bridge, but a website run by historic bridge enthusiasts says it’s a cast- and wrought-iron truss bridge – – specifically, a “bowstring pony truss.”
I like that name, although it suggests some sort of uncomfortable rodeo event.  I’ve posted pictures in the past of the remnants of a similar bridge, over the Keuka Lake Outlet.  The company that made this example was located in Phoenixville, PA, and made all sorts of iron & steel, for almost two hundred years, including over a thousand rifled cannons for the Civil War.

 

 

Since we’re talking about bridges (well, I am, anyway), upstream from the little pedestrian bridge, is a 1949 railroad trestle bridge, kind of overgrown, but still in use.

 

 

 

A train crossing the trestle over the glen.

 

 

Looking down into the glen

 

 

 

 

The white line is the top of a stone wall, running alongside the trail. Which is closed during the winter, but always seems to have footprints on it, nonetheless.

 

 

Some of the reasons why the trail is closed in winter.  You can see some of the stone stairs in the bottom left.  These giant icicles hang over the path, and can detach any time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, History, Nature, NY, Railroads, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Uncategorized, Upstate New York, Winter

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. February, Early Evening, Watkins Glen. Train-, Bridge-, and Icicle-Spotting

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There’s a story I’ve heard many times, about a couple of my directionally-challenged aunts, getting lost on their way from NYC to visit my family in central NY, many years ago.

They were missing in action for many hours, and finally, late at night, they called from a payphone.  “We must be near Waterloo, because we passed Watertown quite a while ago.  It’s very dark, and there’s nothing but trucks loaded with logs.  The sign says ‘Last U.S. Exit.'”

If you don’t have a map handy, you just have to know, they’d driven north from The City, and neglected to ever turn west, toward my town.  They’d just pressed on, northward, like Admiral Peary, and were calling from the Canadian border.

It was assumed by most, they’d arrived somewhere near the St. Lawrence River, and the province of Ontario.   But I think people underestimate my aunts’ ability to misplace themselves, and it could’ve easily been near Quebec, or even New Brunswick.

If they ever have time, and a platinum gas card, I believe with all my heart, that they could outdo Moses, who only wandered in the desert for forty years, and they’ve been practicing for almost that long now.

The last time I told this, the listener wasn’t surprised about them getting lost, since they’re related to me, but they asked about the log trucks.   And they were surprised when I mentioned logging in New York.

I don’t think these photos are all that special, but they’ll serve as illustrations.  Folks who’ve only visited NYC, might not realize, that New York still has lumbering.  While not on the scale of the Pacific Northwest or southern states, NY is on the top ten list for producing hardwoods, especially maple, oak, and cherry.

 

 

 

The pine trees in the photos are something different.  Government foresters planted them to help stabilize worn-out farmland.  That was years ago, and I think all of the pine plantations around the Fingers Lakes, state or federal, are now mature, or a bit past it.

As they were harvested, some were being replaced with red oaks, but mostly it appears to be left to windblown chance – – so it’ll probably end up with the usual suspects – – beech, maple, oak, hickory.  Sometimes you’ll see cottonwoods and dense thickets of poplars springing up – – not very valuable for lumber, but good cover for grouse, quail & woodcock.

This region doesn’t have the large-scale chip- and pulpwood farming that goes on in the south, with it’s industrialized pine monoculture.  The white pines are in decline around here, between logging, windstorms, a destructive fungus that attacks the needles, blister rust, and pine bark beetles & weevils.

 

 

I guess the plantations are “fake forests,” of course, but I have to confess, that walking in these groves, through the orderly rows of pencil-straight trees, has always appealed to me.  They’re not that common around here, so it makes a nice change.  Almost zero undergrowth, so you can march along inspecting ranks, not worrying about ticks or thorns, breathing that great pine-y air, with chipmunks skittering across your path.

Especially when it’s frosty outside, it’s great to take the path less traveled by, but it’s also nice to not get bent in the undergrowth, always having to watch for trail blazes, and just let your mind wander, knowing you’re on the straight and narrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around The Finger Lakes. February, Schuyler County.

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The Stone Church was built by a German Reformed congregation in 1823. Quite a few of the area’s farmers back then were “Pennsylvania Dutch” emigrants, Reformed and Lutheran, and now, almost two hundred years later, many local farmers are again Penna. Dutch emigrants, but from a different offshoot of the Reformation, the Amish and Mennonite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1859, this place had a tailor, shoe store, carriage- and harness-makers, a sawmill, and three churches.  And two taverns, convenient to the churches.  I don’t believe there is currently a single business operating in the hamlet.

 

 

Apparently that merry gang in Wash.,D.C. is again talking about privatizing and shrinking the Postal Service.  There’s no longer a grocery store, so the post office is about the only place to run into your neighbors during the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1820's, Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Post Office, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around The Finger Lakes. Fayette, New York, January. ZIP code 13065

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Random thoughts for 2020, looking through snapshots from 2019

 

Finish what you start ~ ~ Don’t bite off more than you can chew ~ ~  Floss ~ ~  Strive for consensus (don’t support splinter groups)  

 

Get up and watch more sunrises.

 

Take a nap once in a while.

 

Use sunscreen

 

Don’t nitpick

 

Use less plastic ~ ~ Recycle ~ ~  Eat less beef

 

Make a “to-do” list and do everything on the list

 

Try fixing something instead of throwing it away.  (A P-40 Warhawk under restoration at the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY)

 

Drink more water. It’s good for you. And in Wisconsin, even though we prefer beer, we need to drink up the water, or it accumulates, freezes, and becomes a hazard — folks, this is a matter of indisputable, rigorous scientific thinking – – see the above illustration of the Titanic. Too much water + too cold = trouble.

 

 

Go ahead and sing in the shower if you feel like it.

Random, Uncategorized

Random Resolutions for the New Year

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A Tale of Unrelenting Horror & Bad Muffins for Halloween

 

Nevermore,”  I said through gritted teeth, as I felt my way up the creaking, long-disused stairs, breathing deep the gathering gloom, feeling moody and blue.

Why does gloom always do that?  Gather, I mean.  It could learn a thing or two from me, learn to dissipate a bit, at least on weekends.   

My nerve almost failed – – I mean, it’s hard to say “nevermore” with your teeth gritted, but then, the stairs hadn’t been swept in years, so I guess it would’ve been gritty no matter what I did with my teeth.  My throat was knotted with tension and my teeth were already on edge from the howling storm.  All in all, it was a desperately nerve-racking situation, dental-wise.

I paused to shield the guttering candle, almost snuffed out by a sudden icy draft.  Nevermore will I stay in a haunted B&B, when it’s only rated 1 1/2 stars, and the only muffins at breakfast were prune and artichoke.  Another icy draft filled the dank stairwell, and the storm outside rattled the windowpanes.  I thought some more about icy drafts, and how nice it would be to have a cold beer, just to wash away the dust on my tongue.  But one of the embroidered signs on the  bedroom wall asked Guests Please Refrain from Eating or Drinking in Your Room.  And Do Not Sit Upon the Counterpane.

I didn’t know what a counterpane might be, so I didn’t sit on anything, and slept in the bathtub.

Or tried to sleep.

The night was wild with a vicious storm, branches tap-tap-tapping on the window panes, some stupid raven trying to get in, too, but what really rendered the night sleepless was a horrible banshee wail  from somewhere in the upper, supposedly vacant floors!   Finally driven to distraction, I ignored the “Private.  & Kind of Creepy” sign, and forced open the door to the back stairs with a poker I’d snatched from the hearth, the splintering wood and rusty screech drowned out by the storm.   Man, beast, or spirit, I determined to climb the stairs and confront this evil, poker in my hand & black murder on my mind.  The wi-fi was out, so I had nothing else to do anyway.

I also had a candle, the Gideon’s Bible from the nightstand, and the bell from my bicycle.  No holy water, but I brought the little complimentary spray bottle of Lavender & Paprika linen freshener, which really stings if you get it in your eyes.

(That’s a lot of stuff to carry, but luckily, I always travel with vintage 1920’s bathrobes from Abercrombie & Fitch, in MacKay tartan, the long-discontinued model called “The Huntsman’s Friend,” with tons of pockets, a hip flask, and ammo loops.  You can unravel the belt for fishing line, in an emergency.  I really recommend it.)

The horrible keening continued, and I froze for a moment, but with nerves of iron, I steeled myself to, no I mean, with nerves of steel and a backbone of iron, I was galvanized into action.  That’s not quite right, either, is it.  OK, like an iron, I pressed on.  Whatever, I went up the stairs, metallically in some way, and burst open the attic door.

 

To be confronted

with a scene

of heart-stopping horror,

beyond the capacity of words to express!

 

 

 

Well, actually, we do have words to express it – – it was the B&B’s butler, playing the bagpipes.

The  ghastly shrieks died away, as the fiend drew breath, fixed me with a glittering eye, and intoned sepulchrally, “It’s not keening, laddie, ’tisThe Rose of Kelvingrove’.”

I snatched my trusty Webley .455 from my bathrobe pocket, the one with a built-in holster, and emptied it in his direction.

“Ha!” I cried – – the stupid sign in my room said “Please don’t disturb the tranquility of our guests by turning on the shower bath, radio, or TV after 7:15 PM,” but it didn’t say anything about shooting guns!

Ha!” I said again.  (In crisis mode, my thought process was so quick, the casual listener would be forgiven for thinking I’d said “Haha!” instead of two distinct “Ha’s!” but I figured, really, after discharging a large caliber pistol in a confined space, they probably wouldn’t have heard anything at all, so I pantomimed “Ha!” for dramatic effect.)

Six shots rang true.  The perforated bagpipe fell to the floor like last year’s haggis after a pub brawl in Glasgow.

The butler never flinched.

Totally impassive, he slowly turned, and bent to seize a large black leather portmanteau.

I felt an instant of dismay, because his kilt was rather short.  He dragged the sinister case toward me.  I regretted having expended all six bullets on the bagpipes.

Placing it between us, his mad glare never leaving my face, with infinite menace, he slowly undid the clasps and opened it.

An appalling odor of stale mazurka flooded the attic.

His lips stretched into a hideous grin.

“Polka time, then?” he asked, as he removed the accordion.

 

 

A tale of B&B horror for Halloween.

Halloween

All Hallow’s Eve in the Haste Ye Back Inn.

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An early Halloween post.

 

Halloween

All Hallow’s Eve in the Forest

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An old hayrake was abandoned so long ago, it’s now surrounded by mature trees. Well, pretty mature, some of them  were dropping acorns on my head while I took this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

Wesley Hill is a preserve south of Honeoye Lake, managed by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. I like the varied mix of trees – – maples, oaks, black walnuts, shagbark hickories, hemlocks, white pines, red pines.

 

 

 

Autumn, Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. Wesley Hill, October.

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