Yesterday’s 18 inches was too much for the groomers. Peggi and I cut our own trail in Durand and that is no easy task. It is more like snowshoeing without the snowshoes. There was a lot of stopping and looking around in awe. When we got back to our computers there was an email from the Cross Country Ski Foundation explaining the process when the snow comes this fast. Their snowmobile driver has to take two or three passes without the groomer attached before he can even try hauling the groomer over his tracks.
We are are hardy woods skiers and we used to poo-poo the wide open, windblown, groomed trails on the golf course but that was then. The groomed paths provide a whole different experience. It is a different type of skiing, faster and more skate like. Also, the packed down surface stays slick when the temperature gets above freezing. I’m really gonna miss winter when it completely disappears.
We got pretty excited about the Zoolander 2 opening on this weekend. My brother and sister-in-law were visiting colleges with their daughter and they were staying here. We thought it would be perfect for the whole family but we couldn’t get them excited about it. We settled for the Republican debate and had a good time with it.
The temperature never climbed above zero today so only four people showed up for Jeffery’s yoga class but oddly, the Hangover Biscuits at Kneads & Wants were already sold out by the time we got there. The cross country ski conditions were excellent but Peggi and I were the the only ones in the park. There wasn’t another soul out there. It was absolutely beautiful today. If you click on the photo above you see the sun was even out.
You have to keep a close eye on Lake Ontario. It looks different every time you check in on it. The upcoming warm weather is going to wreck the sculpture garden, nature’s installation, so you better stop down soon.
OK, so this will be an abbreviated winter. In short spurts it feels like any other winter. The cross country ski conditions the last three days have been near perfect. We skied from our front door to the lake and came back along the western shore of Eastman Lake. That path, a favorite with birders, is so close to the water, parts of it are often under water, especially when the beavers have been active. And it gets so much sun the snow melts quickly. The day after a fresh snow though is always nice and today was especially nice.
This year everything is different. We waited until January 18th for the first significant snowfall. Significant as in enough to cross country ski on. And we had to wait until the end of the day for sufficient accumulation. The moon was visible, the conditions were perfect and Durand’s most fragrant witch hazel, the one that normally blossoms at the end of February, was in full bloom.
A photo in this morning’s paper of a spunky Irene Gossin speaking in 1970 about environmental issues in front of a map of Irondequoit Bay caught my eye. She is in her nineties and went on to become Penfield Town Supervisor. The article rattled off all the issues she fought against over the years, some of them the same issues my father battled.
They described the home she and her husband built – three acres of land at the edge of a high bluff with a sweeping view of Irondequoit Creek and the wetlands that surround it. The article described the “home’s clean lines, open plan and careful situation in a copse of trees atop the bluff, concepts that Gossin said were meant to echo Frank Lloyd Wright, embraced the home’s location and, perhaps, helped inspire Gossin’s ardent defense of the wetlands so close at hand.”
I stopped right there. This must be a Don Hershey house. Sure enough Peggi found it in her database but we had no address. We have no pictures on the site and of course she is an original owner so there are no real estate photos online. We headed out to track down the house and spent the better part of the afternoon driving around. It took us to a neighborhood we had never really explored with dramatic views of Irondequoit Bay. We were essentially east of Tryon Park, south of the bay, west of Creek Street and north of the old Browncroft Boulevard.
I like to think Don Hershey’s design of the house fit Irene like a glove and she in turn was inspired to defend the beauty that surrounded her whole life.
Yes, I like putting something that looks like the subject in the middle of the frame when I take a photo. Not off to one side, right in the clumsy middle. I like emphasizing the space the so called subject occupies. I’m not so interested in drawing you in any further but it is nice when you have that option. A photo of this spot would be ordinary in the Spring or Summer. The Winter palette makes this a wonder.
November in this part of the world can be cruel but not so this year. We’re still looking for things to do outside while the temperature pushes sixty and the skies are clear. We’ve been chipping away at a giant pile of wood, stuff we hauled home from our neighbor’s yards when they had their trees trimmed, and we have enough stacked up to go in the firewood business. The whole trick is stacking it so we can get at the oldest first, the stuff that is the driest and most ready to provide BTUs in the dead of winter.
There are too many deer around here. They strip the low vegetation in the woods and wander into traffic looking for ornamental shrubs in people’s yards. You can’t hunt on park land so there are very few preditors. We have coyottes but not enough to keep the deer population in check. The zoo in Durand Eastman used to have deer behind fences. The zoo folded, took down it’s fences and the deer remain. The woods behind our house is like a petting zoo. That is until mating season.
You can smell deer this time of year. It is hard to tell if the bucks are having the time of their life or if they are just all bulked up to do business and frustrated. They roam the woods alone tracking small groups of does and chasing them straight up steep hillsides. They take on other males, violently banging their heads against the racks on other bucks in knock down duels. We even saw three going after each other in an open meadow over the weekend.
We tried to find this secret sidewalk years ago. I forget who it was that told us about it but we gave up. Olga, recommended it the other day so we gave it another shot. It is not as close to Charlotte as we thought. In fact the entrance is twenty one big houses down Beach Avenue from the Charrlotte bath house. We counted so we could tell others.
The sidewalk runs behind the David Geffen style homes that line the beach, between the homes and the lake. So as you walk westward the patios and boat houses are on your right overlooking the lake and the backs of the homes are to your left. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary at the end with about ten rosarys draped over her arms. When we got there we turned around and walked back. You feel as though you’re going to interrupt a croquet game but everyone is very friendly.
There is the canopy above the woods that has almost filled out and then there is the canopy of Mayapples at your knees. I got down on my kness to take this shot of the beautiful Mayapple blossom in Edmunds Woods. I’ve been there three times this Spring with my father to follow the rapid changes. Mayapples grow in colonies derived from a single root and only the ones with two shoots produce a flower.
As beautiful as they looked, in full bloom surrounded by the snow, I did not take a photo of our daffodils this morning. I “old school” savored the site. By the time we got up to the park the snow had melted and cherry blossoms took center stage. Shelley scoured the base of some exotic pine trees looking for the pinecones to serve as handles on the exquisite pine needle baskets that she makes and sells in Adirondack gift shops as well as the Memorial Art Gallery’s gift shop. The base of the Austrian Pine trees offered perfect specimens.
How come Boston’s getting all the snow and we only have two feet on the ground? The grass is always whiter.
It was five below zero when we woke up this morning and it is currently an even zero. I think zero is an even number. A local dj said the record high for this day is 51 and the record low is -14 and he offered this, “I’d be curious to know if we broke a record for the low high today.” There is a whole other category of weather stats out there that are being ignored. The high lows and the low oohs for the day.
Donations to the Rochester X-Country Ski Foundation are in order this year. The groomed trails in the parks are the best option for skiing due to the lack of a substantial snowfall that would cushion the trials in the woods. And all that time out in the open covering a vast expanse of open land (golf course) has made us better skiers. When we first started it was clearly a trudge. I would say we skied no faster than we would move through the snow on foot. Then came a slow glide and it was much less effort than walking and we covered more ground. Now we have taken to studying the motion of skiers who ski like you would skate. We mimic them for a few strokes and then stop to marvel at the scenery.
The trails that wrap the shorelines of Durand and Eastman Lake are some of the prettiest trails in the park. Most days you won’t see a soul and that only heightens the suspense when do cross paths with someone, usually a birder or their nemesis, the dog walker, sometimes a couple of lovers or urban fishermen with makeshift poles and drywall buckets.
Just before I took this shot we came across a couple, maybe twenty-five or so. The guy had his phone thrust forward framing a selfie with him and his girl in the woods. A sad little boy, maybe five or six, was standing behind them, left out of the shot. And the woman was holding onto a leash with a muscular, gray colored dog at the other end. The path here is narrow and the dog looked aggressive. We backed up into the woods to let them pass, just a few feet from us. The girl was holding the leash with both hands and as the guy asked her, “Do you have him?”
I love this little concrete structure on the west side of Eastman Lake. It is stately in all seasons and maintains its dignity even when assaulted by graffiti. It appears permanently boarded up now but I remember crawling inside. It might have been used as a pump house at one time because the lake levels are managed. It astounded me when I heard that these lakes were manmade a hundred years ago. How could man make something so beautiful?
According to our neighbor, Jared, his wife is suffering from postpartum depression after releasing the Monarch butterfly she had nurtured from the caterpillar stage. For years my mother-in-law gave us a subscription to National Geographic. We have a whole yellow spine shelf and I really should know the Monarch story. Maybe it just has to be real for me to learn. I thought they migrated from Mexico to Canada and back and they do as a group but individually they don’t live long long enough to make the journey. They go through three or four life cycles on the way.
Milkweeds are key to the butterflies existence. They lay their eggs on the blossom. The caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves and the crawl inside themselves to create a chrysalis which eventually turns transparent before the Monarch emerges. It is all rather mind-blowing.
From our bedroom window it looked like someone had dumped plastic trash behind a big tree in the woods behind our house but I quickly realized it was a fresh batch of mushrooms. Down the road we spotted a really young fawn, so young it was wobbly, and it was all alone. We tried not to startle it but we did and it got up and ran around us like it wanted to play.
Steve Greive drove by in a brand new pick-up. He bought it on line and drove to Pennsylvania to pick it up. He told us the Town fixed a water break near the wetlands and filled their hole with crushed stone and covered that with top soil making a prefect setting for turtles to lay their eggs. He told us they lay their eggs on the full moon in June which was just a few days ago. Sure enough we saw a big one, maybe a foot diameter, dart in to the tall grass.
Just made it home in time to catch the opening of the Brazil Mexico game.
These lilac blossoms in Durand Eastman make a rather late entrance but it is a grand one. There is a plaque next them with some history. We stood here for quite a while yesterday giving all our senses a workout. Here’s an abbreviated version.
“George Eastman, of Eastman Kodak fame, bestowed a gift upon the City of Rochester that in time became known as Durand-Eastman Park. It is a magnificent piece of property close to Lake Ontario, with hills, rivers and small lakes. If one were looking for a bit of the mountains and hills of China with their mirror lakes, he could not find a more ideal spot in which to plant some of the horticultural wonders of that land. Here Springtime comes gradually and winters are tempered by the great lake.”
Bernard Slavin, the Park’s first Superintendent (and “composer”), planted a number of lilac seedlings. Circumstances forced the widening of a park road and the lilacs were removed. Fortunately a cutting had been successfully rooted and grown in Medina, Ohio. It was brought back to the park and has naturalized itself from seed as lilacs on occasion do. Today it is known as S. julianae ‘George Eastman”.
“Liacdom is filled with circumstances of serendipity!”
So many masterpieces, so little time. As I see it you take them down, one project at a time for seven bucks, or you swallow the Gigunda package for a Benjamin. “Down Where The Bitey Things Breed” from Pete LaBonne’s 1994 “Mega Fig Leaf Man” was last weekend’s theme song for me.
We were spending quality time with Pete and Shelley and I skipped a few days of showers so by the time I spotted the tick on my chest it was engorged. That is bloated. We had exchanged bodily fluids. Peggi got a hold of him with our tweezers but snoot was still drilled down and hanging on. Weekend evening options are scattered about town but most were closed so we headed out to Webster to an Urgent Care on Barrett Drive, a street that didn’t even exist when I lived out there. It was named after Webster’s long time town attorney, the man who gave the commencement speech at RL Thomas when I graduated and the father of my buddy, Joe.
The doctor out there numbed my skin and used a small scalpel to remove the snout. I went home with a fourteen day supply of antibiotics. Hoping I don’t wind up like The Punk Singer.