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All posts for the day August 5th, 2014

Summer Challenge: South Colwell Pond and Black Dune Wetlands

Published August 5, 2014 by Susan Woodward

“What do we want most to dwell near to? Not to many men surely, the depot, the post office, the bar-room, the meeting-house, the schoolhouse, the grocery, Beacon Hill, or the Five Points, where men most congregate, but to the perennial source of our life, whence in all our experience we have found that to issue, as the willow stands near the water, and sends out its roots in that direction” (Thoreau, “Solitude”, Walden).

After being serenaded by the melodious waves on the shores of Mexico Point, I decided to seek out what other songs the lake might wish to sing to me. I peeked at my map of the area and found a large inlet up near the Jefferson County line and decided to explore.

I meandered for a bit on the pretty drive along Route 3, turning in here and there to see what I could see. It wasn’t till I got to the Black Dune Wetlands along South Colwell Pond that I decided to get out and explore. I found a trail in the woods and could not believe how lush the color was.

Green CarpetEverywhere I looked seemed to be carpeted with soft green leaves.

Fern GullyThe further I walked into the woods, the more dense the carpet became. The short green foliage morphed into a shag carpet of ferns. I tried to be so quiet as I walked because I felt like an intruder. Even so, I accidentally spooked a family of deer out of their resting place. All I saw was a flash of brown movement followed by four white flags disappearing into the distance.

I continued for a bit until the ground became to wet to continue walking comfortably in the woods. No wonder everything seemed so lush…the plants had plenty of water to keep them going!

As I exited the wooded area, it seemed that Mother Nature felt that the wetlands were in need of more watering. The rains came down, and so I headed back to the shelter of my cabin to spend the remainder of the day with my books.

“A single gentle rain  makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we live in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us” (Thoreau, “Spring”, Walden).

Instead of waves singing to me that afternoon, it was the patter song of raindrops dancing on the roof. Quite often when I was reading, I paused to lay the book on my chest just to listen to the rhythm of the rain. My heart swelled with gratitude as I simply closed my eyes, listened, and reveled in the present moment. For those moments, I was not bombarded with the sensory overload that is so common to us in this modern world of ring tones, buzzes, dings, vibrations, and the need to be available to the entire world 24/7. While some criticized me for keeping my phone on and actually using it in the evenings to upload pictures, the act of deciding which pictures I wanted to share and tagging their location helped solidify the experiences in my memory. How quickly, in our sensory overloaded lives, do our memories lose their retention as one experience melds into the next…rush, rush, rush turns the brain to mush, mush, mush. I didn’t want to take the chance of having these wonderful relaxing experiences fade away as soon as I left the woods and went home to prepare to return to work. The electronic gizmo will help with retaining this sense of relaxation as I can visit and re-visit what I have photographed and what I have written.

I can return to the woods in my mind…

I hiked with MapMyWalk! Distance: 0.63mi, time: 18:16, pace: 28:59min/mi, speed: 2.07mi/h.
http://mapmywalk.com/workout/677215469

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Summer Challenge: Mexico Point Park

Published August 5, 2014 by Susan Woodward

“I walk out into a nature such as the old prophets and poets, Menu, Moses, Homer, Chaucer, walked in. You may name it America, but it is not America; neither Americus Vespueius, nor Columbus, nor the rest were the discoverers of it. There is a truer amount of it in mythology than in any history of America, so called, that I have seen” (Thoreau, Walking).

There is an interesting fact about New York State.  Did you know that while driving along the Thruway and the myriad expressways ending in “90”, you will come across exits for places like Troy, Ithaca (ask my students about those two and the New York Odyssey project we do!), Liverpool, Greece, Rome, or even Mexico, just to name a few? It’s as if I need a passport at the thruway exits…and how fun it would be to get my passport stamped at each place. It’s like going around the world without crossing a state line. I do have to say, though, that Las Vegas has us beat with being able to ride a Venetian gondola, nibble on fromage by the Eiffel Tower, and check out the missing chunk on the Sphinx’s nose all along one strip, but that will be another trip!

Today, I went to Mexico. No, not the country, the town in New York. Ironically, there is a hamlet WITHIN the town called Texas! Fortunately, I had no trouble with border crossings.

No matter where we go nor what a place is called by those who inhabit it, the place is ultimately Earth. No black lines can be seen from a plane or form space that divies up this planet, yet much violence and hatred is spewed over these imaginary lines. As inhabitants of this planet, we should be more united in our experience here than we are. This makes me think of Man’s dominion referred to in “To a Mouse,” the Robert Burns poem that I use when beginning to read Of Mice and Men with my students:

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
          Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
          Wi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
          Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
          An’ fellow-mortal!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
          ’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
          An’ never miss ’t!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
          O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
          Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
          Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
          Out thro’ thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
          But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
          An’ cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
          On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
          I guess an’ fear!
And so on to the beauty of the Earth…

Mexico Point Park 1

I must say, this was a beautiful park. There was the ruins of what looked like an old church, but which turned out to be what once was an inn. Oddly, it’s called Casey’s Cottage…at least that is what the sign says.

Another interesting thing was the plethora of carved statues all around the perimeter of the park proper.

Mexico Point Park StatuesThese are just a few of the many statues around the park. They depict famous people (like the Native American and the boxer, both of whose names I forgot to write down) or set the tone for a specific aspect of the park (hospitality, swimming, and fishing).

Casey's CabinWhen I first came across this building, it looked like an old church because of the shape of the stained glass windows. According to the website, it’s an old inn. I loved the style of the door here…

Casey's Cottageand check out the ornamentation around the windows. It looks like draped valences! I also do not remember if it is Casey’s Cottage or Cabin, so I shall refer to both…I have a 50% chance that one of them is correct!

Woodland BasiliskI saw this and immediately felt like I was in the presence of the powerful Woodland Basilisk, distant American immigrant cousin to Harry Potter’s foe in the Chamber of Secrets.

Mexico Pt Park 2

Beauty and the BeachThis lovely was growing out of the sand among a bunch of rocks… and the color stood out.

Mexico Point Shoreline

Mexico Pt Shoreline

Mexico Point MonumentI shall have to do some research on Ancestry.com to find out whether or not Silas Towne is related to the Medina, NY Townes. If so, then I have a relative who was a Revolutionary War hero!

I hiked with MapMyWalk! Distance: 1.18mi, time: 56:03, pace: 47:25min/mi, speed: 1.27mi/h.
http://mapmywalk.com/workout/677102767

Mexico Point Park was just the first stop today….

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