Fall Remnants

We’ve had a wonderful Fall this year but, alas, it must come to an end. The last few bursts of color are now being torn away by the relentless winds and we’ve had our first durable snowfall to remind us what we’re in for.

Later this week we get a respite with some nice weather, albeit with the subdued palette of grays and browns settling in for the duration.

Early Voting

Tuesday is garbage day for us. We decided to take out the trash: we joined 150 fellow Tompkins County residents to avoid the rush and stand in line for 1.5 hours for early voting. There were about 200 socially-distanced, masked, and shivering voters in line by the time we left. It was heart-warming to see such a great turnout; it far exceeded what we’ve experienced in previous elections.

voters standing in line

Cemetery Tour

It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

Woody Allen

Lori and I enjoyed a tour of the Ithaca City Cemetery led by Christine O’Malley of Historic Ithaca. The cemetery started with its first residents in 1790 and, after a few expansions during Ithaca’s growth, ran out of space and sold the last of its plots in 1930.

Our tour was a fascinating mix of historical developments including headstone technology, restoration efforts, social attitudes toward cemeteries, class distinctions, esthetic trends, and Ithaca history.

In the days before formal city parks were developed, cemeteries were commonly used as appealing green spaces for enjoyment and socializing. This lovely cemetery attracts many visitors every day out for walks in the quiet and peaceful setting. We can see why in our visit on this beautiful Fall afternoon. It’s a wonderful place to spend an hour or an eternity.

Sweedler Preserve

Nearing the end of prime Fall color season, we returned to a favorite hike at Sweedler Preserve, just minutes from our house. The steep trail was strewn with colorful wet fallen leaves making the footing a bit slick at times. As is often the case, we had the hike all to ourselves. Nearby Buttermilk Falls State Park lures most of the tourists, leaving Sweedler and Thayer Preserves to far fewer visitors.

Quite the visual feast is jammed into the relatively short loop hike: waterfalls, hemlocks, a wide variety of deciduous trees, eskers, a flood plain with an explosion of wildflowers in early summer. Resident squirrels and birds reminded us of our visitor status as we passed through.

It’s been quite a beautiful Fall this year and we’ve been fortunate to get in several hikes to enjoy it. Nature will soon be scrubbing the remaining colors away in preparation for Winter.

South Hill Recreation Way

On another gorgeous Fall day, we walked for a couple miles along the South Hill Recreation Way. Our original plan, hiking Logan Hill in Candor, was thwarted by a steep and narrow one-lane dirt road with no place to park out of the way near the trailhead–I’ll bet the trail doesn’t get used a lot. We decided to look into the South Hill trail as a Plan B since we have been curious about it having driven past many times.

The trail is easy, relatively flat, and was particularly gorgeous this time of the year. The east half of the trail is very scenic with beautiful hardwood trees and dramatic steep gullies and gorges on either side. The west half is through a more residential area, not nearly as scenic, and is busier.

We can imagine this trail must be quite busy all year round with convenient access by locals to walking, jogging, bicycling, and skiing.

Fall at Fillmore Glen

Wanting to enjoy another hike during our exceptionally nice Fall this year, we selected Fillmore Glen State Park near Moravia NY. It’s named after Millard Fillmore, the 13th president of the US (and usually in lists of the top 10 worst presidents in our history).

The beautiful gorge trail, which we’ve enjoyed in the past, was closed due to damage so we opted to walk a loop around the rim trails. Whether walking the north or south rim trails, hikers are immediately confronted with substantial up-hill trudges to get to the heights above the gorge. We started on the south rim and returned on the north rim. The north rim trail is our preference–it’s scenic and wanders through some very nice hemlock forests.


No Shenanigans!

Businesses and customers in Ithaca and Tompkins County have been very responsible in observing best practices when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health department numbers are a testament to that commitment.

Gimme! Coffee, our favorite among many very good coffee shops in the area, has a sign outside their State Street shop listing the rules: “Wear A Mask, Social Distance, No Shenanigans!”.

Of those three, can you spot the directive that exceeds the CDC guidelines? Yes, No Shenanigans! goes above and beyond the minimal standards for responsible behavior during the pandemic.

We heartily endorse the No Shenanigans! rule and urge other businesses to adopt it as well. In fact, it should be adopted across the board for local, state, and federal government too. Imagine how much better our lives and experiences would be with a universal No Shenanigans! policy in place.

Brilliant, Gimme! Coffee, we applaud you.

Stevenson Forest Preserve

We are fortunate to live in a place with easy access to a multitude of beautiful natural areas within a few minutes drive of our house.  Among those is a little gem, the Stevenson Forest Preserve, part of the Finger Lakes Land Trust.

This preserve, at 83 acres and less than 2 miles of trails, makes up for its modest size with some beautiful (and rare) 150-year-old hemlock woods as well as several other distinct woods and a large variety of other features.  Oak, maple, ash and many other trees provide a canopy over vernal pools, ferns, and a wide variety of sylvan vegetation.  Mature old woods and expanses of young saplings share the hilly landscape. One trail leads a short way to an open field along the woods edge providing a nice vista to the east.

This site packs a lot into its diminutive size and provides a beautiful and relatively quiet alternative to the bigger, better-known parks in the area. We look forward to returning in the Spring to enjoy a completely different experience as nature goes through its cycles.