This poppy is from an evening lecture by Gary Snyder with an awesome garden party in the Botanical Gardens after.
Cornell Campus during the golden hour
Sometimes I sit by our garden like it is an old friend. I snuggle up the the Kentucky Wonder beans and wait for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird to stop by on its traplining route that includes the zinnias, the pole beans near the kitchen window and the Kentucky Wonders near the old boat. I watched some ants take down a small dollup of rich blackberry jam made by my mom. A few weeks ago I spent nearly a whole Saturday soaking it up.
Recent adventures in kombucha-making have made for a rather sweet version, so I am still working on my timing.
An abundance of fungus at Ringwood Nature Preserve lately
While Eliot biked around Lake Cayuga, I went for a nice long run and then drove up the lake to Long Point State Park for some swimming and putzing around. I learned about the park from a man who sells jewelry at the Farmer's Market. A friend bought a necklace from him with these tiny little lake shore stones and old pieces of porcelain (like lake beach glass of the ceramic variety) and I asked him where he found them. He told me about this cool swimming and beach combing place, so I went to check it out. I've never been a huge fan of places where you have to swim in the designated "swimming area" and I am also a strict rule follower, so that made for a bad combo. I did meet a nice older couple who really wanted my picnic table and in exchange for the table, the women gave me a tip on the best spot to look for lucky stones. So, I foraged for stones with an elderly lady until I lucked upon one. With a measly google search, I can't figure out what causes these holes. Some sources say "fossil wormholes" and most others have lots to say about their ability to bring good luck. Sounds perfect!
I finally got word from Eliot that he was close to the town of Aurora where we planned to have an early dinner before he finished the last leg home. Here he is with his turn sheet and some hearty poutine at Fargo Bar and Grill. I had to have one last dip in Cayuga before my drive home.
The next day we had a big breakfast and a fun adventure. We swam at a secret waterfall, drove to The Farmhouse Brewery for a tasting and good company, stopped at the Route 96 Road Side BBQ Diner (don't worry, Diet Coke is a once a year thing for me), where Eliot had the Route 96 Fix (a special peanut butter and fried egg burger). Then, we couldn't pass up the maple shakes that we didn't have enough cash for and they kindly just gave to us. Oops!
Bean pride and a plum tart made with the plums I canned in Idaho last summer.
If you have yet to try the dosa at the Sadya Snacks booth at the Farmer's Market. Get yourself on down there! Perfectly paired with a Hopshire beer on a rainy evening. We used to get these every now and then in Sydney as a special treat. They are the perfect combo of salty and sour, but with all the comforts of crispy carbs. Delightful!
Evening harp and Guinea fowl heading up to roost in Weeping Willow trees
Garden pride and adorable caterpillar feet
The Ellis Hollow Fair: friendly sheep, a dunking booth, a White Elephant Sale, an abundance of apple pie, a cake walk, a silent auction (totally scored a yoga pass), and a physics bus.
On March 10th we had about 24 hours of rain and an increase in temperature, so we were pretty sure that would be the night. The salamanders would be slithering to their spawning grounds! My only experience with this was a game we used to play when I did environmental education at Pickering Creek Audubon Center where students would learn about salamanders migrating to and from spawning grounds crossing the very dangerous human-made road. Some students were cars and some were salamanders, some got squished, and some made it through. This is a pretty easy concept to grasp, but I didn't realize just how much of a mass movement it is. When we first moved to this little spot by Cascadilla Creek we were really excited about the nature preserve at the top of our hill. Ringwood Nature Preserve is known to be an important area for herps, including the locally rare, Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonii).
The ponds fill with water and the warm rain helps to defrost the soil. The herps are stirred by something - perhaps it is the warmer temperature, the warm rain drumming on their winter home, the ice thawing around them, or maybe it is a smell we humans are unaware of, or fairies. They stir and move toward the site of their birth, you know, the kind of birth something that hatches from a gelatinous egg in a pond has. So, they move to these ponds where they were laid by their parents. Go read about salamander spawning if you have time. Some crazy stuff happens!
We aren't entirely sure how they navigate, but they might end up passing perfectly perfect ponds on their way to their one and only place of first home. These ponds are so small that they don't support fish, which might like a tasty amphibian or amphibian egg treat.The adults spawn and lay eggs that they attach to vegetation in the water and then move onto land. Spotted salamander eggs sometimes contain green algae which will consume the carbon dioxide salamander embryos produce and turn it into oxygen that the embryos can use. I am not even joking.
Young salamanders feed on small invertebrates once they hatch out. Some species may take as long as 5 years to reach sexual maturity and some species, like the Spotted salamander can live for more than 30 years. Can you believe that!!!??? Who knew? Not this bird nerd.
So, we bundled up with more layers than we needed because warm air was just too crazy to comprehend and we are birders and birding is very slow and can be quite chilly when it is raining. We scrubbed our hands and we headed up the road to find some neighbor friends already out and about with flashlights and we walked the road near the ponds. There are salamander fences up that guide them to a safe culvert (like bumpers at the bowling alley), but of course there were individuals that didn't get caught and funneled by the fence, so we helped those get to the right side.
There is something so heart-warming about watching grown men hunch over and try their hardest to pick up little frogs and salamanders and gently walk them to the other side of the road. I honestly haven't had so much fun in a while. What's more warm and fuzzy feeling than getting animals to safety with your neighbors? Below are some blurry attempts at capturing the magic. Heaps of herps in all sorts of varieties!
A Spotted salamander moving along and halfway across!
A Spring peeper and the entrance to the culvert with fencing on either side.
A local hand model and a Spotted salamander
I think this is a Jefferson's slithering along!
Not so lucky - there was a lot of this.
I am pretty sure this is a Jefferson's that Eliot found in our yard later that night.
A gifted CSA led to the discovery of the watermelon radish (with ID help from Donald), Old Raj martini (thank you Jed) with extra olives and an "Embrace the Gray" colored manicure (my first in at least two years), self-gifted Wegman's tulips with Dolly Parton and sunshine, puzzle from my lifter upper dear friend Katie, Ringwood hike with Eliot, Eliot and Sarah cider taste test Saturday night, driving home from work early, snow from the den above a giant pile of shaded laundry, our Sycamore, Aurora, NY on Cayuga Lake for Valentine's Day, curriculum development for Wall of Birds at CLO, matzo balls and guest-left pink champagne by the fire while dreaming of trips to Africa, sunshiny puzzle working today, tulip demise, and a hike at Ellis Hollow with some found vandalism.
Sometimes you need to leave work before the sun sets.
Luckily, our new Canadian friends taught us how to play Crokinole, and it is super fun!
It isn't a real party until there is a blow dart competition.
Bathroom art is important.
The Cayuga trail blazes are works of art. Below, old and new beaver sign. There is nothing for scale, but that Cottonwood is one of the largest I've seen.
A stop at our local brewery, Hopshire, for some sunset behind oak.
Sunday brunch at Classic Chef's in Watkins Glen before some chilly, but sunny hiking. This place was amazing!!! There were people eating old school tall dish sundays, rice pudding, BLTs and dressed up! The lady behind us had definitely had her hair done and her most exquisite clip on earrings adorning her ears. It was like a little time capsule with perfect home fries, golden glittered formica tables and chunky white coffee mugs. I love diners!
You can even see a waterfall from the diner!
Check out these sweet bathroom tiles!
Below is a hike in Watkins Glen State Park. The lower trail is closed due to its state of ice, but the upper trail had great views, hemlock, sunshine, flocks of birds, and we finished up at an area with a lot of cattail and a hemlock hammock tree. It was a grand adventure.
And then, the Superbowl, biologist style, with a a little hedgehog friend at half time.
About Sarah's Blog
This personal blog might be stream of consciousness for a little while, but I hope to share my discoveries in nature, food, travel, and thoughts from deep within in my brain folds. It is not peer (or even family) reviewed and is similar to a journal or field notebook that happens to be open to the public. I am a recent PhD graduate and transplant to Ithaca after thirteen beautiful years in Colorado and Idaho. I can also be found in the links below.