Assuredly Winter

There’s no disputing it at this point: Newfield has started deploying Winter. We hope it’s at least a proper job of it–useful for snowshoeing, skiing, etc.–and none of that wimpy cold dreary gray eternity we sometimes get.

Our neighbors down the hill put up their Christmas lights just in time for the first substantial snow of the season.

Along an Esker

Our friend Stella joined us for Thanksgiving and a post-Thanksgiving recovery hike at Sweedler Preserve in Ithaca. The weather was brisk if our pace was not.

There is a lovely esker running down the Lick Brook gorge in Sweedler Preserve that features dramatic side drop-offs.

Glass With Class

Lori, Marie (neighbor friend), and I took a one-day introductory class in glass blowing at Corning Museum of Glass recently.  It was a blast.  We each created several pieces designed to introduce us to the fundamentals.  I can confidently say that none will be classified as art or serve any useful functional purpose.  There were no severe burns and our instructor, Ross, was a patient and skilled (and entertaining) instructor. The best thing we developed in class was an increased appreciation for the gaffers (master glass blowers) who make it look so easy to create spectacular pieces.

The Buck Stops Here

A young buck paused amidst the similarly-colored goldenrod making him difficult to spot unless he was moving.

Can you spot him? He blended in quite well as he slowly passed through our field of past-prime goldenrod.

Update Nov. 17: Our buck has returned and is less shy than during his initial visit. Now he feeds contentedly in our yard.

Cornell Arboretum Post-Peak

We were a couple days early for peak Fall colors last weekend and we were a couple days late for peak colors today.  Peak colors at the Arboretum were estimated to be approximately 2.337 days ago.

Guided Walk in the Arboretum

Created in the 1960s by Cornell undergraduate architecture students, these sculptures enabled students to learn first-hand about sculpture, design, engineering, and carpentry.

The Cornell Botanic Gardens is one of the many great gems in our area.  We joined a few other folks for a splendid walk through parts of the F. R. Newman Arboretum led by “Garden Guide” Dr. Peter Davies, a retired Cornell professor (46 1/2 years!) and expert on plant physiology.

We learned about fall colors, the dominance of green chlorophyll pigment which breaks down in the fall to reveal the yellow and orange carotenoids, and the anthocyanins generated by some species to create the vivid reds and bronzes, notably red maples here in the northeast.

We also learned of the effects of, and losing battle against, invasive species and the homogenization of the biosphere throughout the world.  We also learned of Ithaca’s four seasons: pre-Winter, Winter, post-Winter, and Construction season.

It was a comprehensively entertaining and interesting stroll on a beautiful Fall day. The Arboretum is a wonderful and ever-changing place to visit any time of year–highly recommended.

Back To School For Me

This piece, made from soda lime glass in a Corning Museum of Glass studio is my first-ever attempt at hot glass forming. (Substantial assistance was provided by a very experienced glass blowing instructor.)

I am very fortunate to be selected to train to become a Corning Museum of Glass “Glass Guide” (formerly called a docent).  I’ll be trained over the next several months to learn the basics of the art, history, and technology of glass; become more familiar with CMoG’s glass works and resources spanning 3500 years; and learn how to help the Museum’s guests have an enjoyable and rewarding experience at the Museum.

I was motivated to pursue this as a retirement activity to do something worthwhile for the community, challenge my brain with continuous new learning experiences, and “rub elbows” with some superbly talented Museum staff and a rich variety of guests.

Basically this is about my health.  Lori and I have the fundamentals of diet and exercise covered but I need something to keep the noggin healthy.  Research has shown that challenging the mind is crucial to it’s continued function and combating many of the effects of aging. Similarly, maintaining quality social interactions has great benefits for emotional and mental health.

I couldn’t think of a much more effective way to keep mentally active than working at a world-class museum with the world’s largest collection of glass objects, the world’s most comprehensive library of all materials related to glass, and an extraordinary staff devoted to research, teaching, and sharing the fascinating story of this one substance.

My first day of class I even got to make my first piece of glass art in one of the glass studios.  How cool is that?

 

Acadia, September 2019

We spent a week in Maine, mostly in Acadia National Park, and mostly canoeing and hiking when we weren’t relaxing in a very comfy, quiet, and roomy rental home. Our friend Stella joined us. We all had a great time in an extraordinary part of the country with ideal weather most of the time. We avoided the worst of the summer crowds jamming the place by visiting after Labor Day.

 

Taughannock Falls State Park Walk

At 215 feet high, Taughannock Falls is the highest single-drop plunge waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.

We hiked the rim trail circuit around Taughannock Falls State Park yesterday. It’s a reminder of how fortunate we are on several fronts:

  • We’re retired and can do things like this during the week on short notice. We usually only see a few other geezers and geezettes (if any) unlike on the weekends and holidays.
  • We’re healthy and fit enough to enjoy things like this. (Although this hike is easy, it’s daunting or out of the question for some of our friends and neighbors.)
  • We live within a few minutes drive of a wealth of parks, preserves, and trails here in this part of the Finger Lakes.

Looking at Taughannock Falls, it’s mind-boggling to know the walls are carved from deposits made over 300+ million years.  The carving itself started with the retreat of the last ice age glacier around 10,000 years ago and continues to this day as each year the waterfall retreats a few more inches, extending the gorge away from Cayuga Lake. Water, freezing, and thawing continue their inexorable excavation. I look forward to seeing what the place looks like in another 10,000 years.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Returning from a great concert by Pat Metheny at Smith Opera House in Geneva with friends Bill and Lanie, we stopped by for a quick visit to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a curious juxtaposition of the NYS Thruway and a 10,000-acre wetland refuge for birds and other wildlife.  Our brief cursory visit was rewarded with egrets, herons, kingfishers, ospreys, geese, and all kinds of other brown ducks we weren’t familiar with.