Feeling Grateful On An Autumn Day
I was born in mid-September. I have always loved this time of year. As I get older, I get a little more hesitant about accepting the coming of Winter, but Fall has always been a favorite season. I love the fields in late September and early October, the colors, the texture, the warm afternoon sun, harvest time, the dry corn stalks, the squash and pumpkins, the crisp mornings and the warm days.
I used to spend a week at this time every year in the Adirondack mountains at a lodge on Blue Mountain Lake. The same people came every year and ate large meals morning and evening family style at common tables then spent the days wandering through the woods on well worn trails or canoeing or shopping in the small hamlets of the Adirondack Park.
As a child I had to travel a great distance to be in woods like those of the Adirondacks. But these days I need only go just down the hill, less than two miles to Taughannock Falls State Park.
I spent Sunday afternoon feeling very grateful that such a beautiful preserve is so close. I don’t take advantage of this park enough and I guess have always taken it for granted to some degree because it is so close. But on Sunday afternoon when it was warm and breezy and a brilliant blue sky day, I walked the rim trail and reminded myself how wonderful this park is. there are all manner of trees and plants and fungi. Wildlife and flowers. I have a great affection for hemlock trees and the parks of the Fingerlakes are rich with stands of these beautiful evergreens. The groves are dark and the ground below them is soft and quiet built of layers of their tiny needles and decaying stumps, scattered with ferns and low vegetation. The paths of the rim trail wind over well worn roots as it snakes along the edges of the gorge.
Taughannock Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, higher even than Niagara. It can be a tiny trickle or a roaring torrent, depending on the season and the rainfall. The gorge is wide and deep with sheer walls.
The rim trail rises steeply on the North side up a climb of about 120 stone steps from the base of the park by Cayuga Lake. Up past the campground eventually leading up to the parking area at the overlook where many drive to observe the falls. Then continues past through beautiful woods, occasionally breaking out by the road until it reaches the crossing bridge at the top of the park. Then turns back along the South side to wind back down to the base again. All along the way affording beautiful views of the gorge, the falls, the lake and creek below.
I passed many hikers walking their dogs and their children, but for the most part, walked alone quietly, feeling the breeze and hearing little more than my own footsteps and the cawing of the crows overhead. When I am in a place like this I can’t help but think of how the Native Americans that once lived in these woods must have experienced this place, and even farther back to when the glaciers were carving out these valleys, and the eons of water flow through this gorge that so gradually carved out this incredible landscape.
I am blessed to live here, so close to this beauty, to have it literally in my back yard and free to walk whenever I choose. I am thankful and lucky. It’s a gorgeous spiritual place.
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