Gorge-ous Ithaca: A Change of Plan

A wise man once said “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

For my last day in Ithaca last summer, what I wanted was to go to Buttermilk Falls, one of those MUST-SEE places people were talking about. What I got was a balky knee that wouldn’t handle the steps to the second floor without complaint, much less all the climbing to be done at Buttermilk.

Change of plan.

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Gorge-ous Ithaca: Lake Encounters

I know what you’re thinking. That I am neglecting something in the tale of my trip to upstate New York last summer. Waterfalls, rocks and way too much geology – enough! The region around Ithaca is known as the Finger LAKES, not the Finger GORGES, after all. Something’s missing!

What about the LAKES?

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Gorge-ous Ithaca: The Geology of Taughannock Falls

Before I came to Ithaca, NY, I never really questioned why waterfalls occur where they do. It’s a simple equation: Steep mountainsides + creeks = waterfalls.

I wouldn’t have called the Finger Lakes Region “mountainous,” though. Not compared to the Adirondacks or the Appalachians. “Rolling hills” is more like it. So where did all these gorges and waterfalls come from?

To find out, I walked through Taughannock Gorge – and back through time.

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Gorge-ous Ithaca: Getting to Know the Finger Lakes

Expectations. We’ve talked before about the expectations I bring to each new area I visit. How I go to a new place with certain assumptions? Only to find the surroundings have something unexpected to say for themselves?

Last summer brought me to a new region that has been on my bucket list for a while: New York’s Finger Lakes. In lieu of the usual family gathering in Michigan, my cousin and her husband invited me to join their son and daughter-in-law and a close friend for a week at their home in Ithaca, New York. For them it would be a stay-cation; for us, a chance for new adventures in a year where a change of scenery was desperately needed.

The company of family and friends was incentive enough. To further entice me, Becky and Ron promised lots of outdoor activities. Hiking, swimming, kayaking, gorges, waterfalls…

Gorges? Waterfalls?

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At Lady Autumn’s Command

It’s getting annoying. The constant, imperious interruptions. Can’t a girl get some peace?

I have been promising Wild Edge readers a Finger Lakes series for weeks. But every time I try to sit down and edit the photos, something else intervenes. From outside my window, the call comes, beckoning – no, demanding.

GO OUTSIDE. BRING YOUR CAMERA. NOT LATER.

NOW.

I tried, but failed, to resist the siren song of September. October was no different. It’s the trees this time. Changing day-by-day to brilliant gold and crimson. The march of the seasons goes relentlessly on, no matter what. One ignores it at one’s peril.

Once again, I am at Lady Autumn’s command.

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September Song

A melody drifts over the meadows, to the accompaniment of cicadas and crickets and birdsong. The tune is deep purple and golden, and it calls to the small creatures of the air with a silken voice: “Come to me! Feed on my rich nectar while you may!” The little aerialists are happy to oblige, raising their voices in sweet harmony to the music of the wildflowers until all the world is ablaze with the Song of September.

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Pteridomania: Fiddling Around with Those Fantastic Ferns

Have you caught Fern-Fever yet? Are you now seeing ferns everywhere when you wander through the woods?

In this series so far, we’ve been learning how to identify ferns. We’ve also taken a deep dive into the complicated world of fern reproduction by spores. Now that you are an expert, here’s a little pop quiz.

TRUE or FALSE…

Just kidding! There’s no quiz. It’s time to leave all the botanical nitty-gritty behind, and meet some new ferns. Join me in a fanciful field trip to get to what really matters: the wonder, beauty and just plain weirdness of those fantastic ferns.

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Pteridomania: A Sori Subject

In the throes of Fern-Fever, my friends and I spent countless hours trying to identify ferns in the field. The divisions and shapes of the pinnae, the form a cluster of ferns takes and the habitat where it lives all offered clues to a fern’s name.

But I quickly developed a habit of turning the fronds over to look at the underside, for I knew the strange structures found there held the key to the identity mystery. What was I looking for? The “fern-seed” of Shakespeare?

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Pteridomania

It was just a little over two years ago that my friends and I came down with a severe affliction. Don caught it first and in no time Robb and I were infected. The symptoms were unmistakable: feverish minds, euphoria, aching backs, frequent confusion, blurry eyes, obsession…

What dread disease plagued us? Why, pteridomania, of course…

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Milkweed Morning

It was a dark and steamy morning…The clouds offered conflicting gifts. Limited light made photography a challenge. On the other hand, with dew points in the 70s, the absence of the blazing sun was a relief. There was a dense layer of mist hovering over the surface of the creek, and the woods were cool. But my destination this morning was the meadows where patches of milkweed could be found. Continue reading