Cut-leaved toothwort is an early "spring ephemeral" wildflower, growing here near the South Hill Recreationway.
In this 47th episode of Walk in the Park TV, we explore trails and wildflowers in parks in the Town of Ithaca, NY, as well as attend the tenth annual tree planting for the Richard B. Fischer Conservation Award, this time honoring the Cornell Plantations Natural Areas Program. We look at the new glacier exhibit at the Museum of the Earth and we go out on Cayuga Lake on the first tour of the season for Ithaca Boat Tours from Steamboat Landing at the Ithaca Farmers Market. Finally, we explore Lake Treman and the rim of Owl Gorge at Buttermilk Falls State Park. Walk in the Park is a weekly public access television series on Ithaca’s cable channel 13. Check the schedule for show times.
The woodland floor is beginning to burst with beautiful little flowers that are in a race with the trees overhead to get as much sunlight for growth as possible before the forest leaf canopy closes in above.
Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), in the buttercup family, emerges on a dry woodland ridge in Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY.
Watch this one-minute Walk in the Park video about our early spring wildflowers!
(Note: the link to owlgorge.com referred to in the video is temporarily unavailable, in the process of transfer to a new website.)
In this week’s episode of Walk in the Park (#43, recorded 3/20/13), we celebrate the arrival of the spring equinox and then take a trip last summer on the Blue Ridge Parkway, from its northern end near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, to the Peaks of Otter in George Washington National Forest. Then we look at the hazards of entering our Finger Lakes gorges too early in the season, including a dramatic video of high water at Buttermilk Falls. Stay tuned for a future episode of Walk in the Park TV where we continue on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Black Mountains of North Carolina and the highest mountain in the eastern U.S.!
You can watch this episode on Ithaca’s public access cable TV channel 13 on Sunday, March 24 at 10:30 a.m. and once more at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26. Or, you can watch it online right here!
On March 12, 2013, Buttermilk Creek showed the ambivalence of winter heading toward spring as snow was followed by rain to bring high water to Buttermilk Glen in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY, in the Finger Lakes region. In this short video (less than 3 minutes), watch the swollen creek gain speed and power as it thrashes through the gorge and pounds over waterfalls toward the Cayuga Inlet Valley below.
In this episode (#39, 2/20/13) of Walk in the Park TV (Ithaca, NY public access cable channel 13), I take you on a tour of the major tributaries and subwatersheds of Cayuga Lake, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Using beautiful aerial photography by Bill Hecht, we visit Cayuga’s Inlet Valley; the Lindsay Parsons Biodiversity Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust; Enfield Glen and Lucifer Falls in Robert H. Treman State Park; Buttermilk Falls State Park; Sixmile Creek Nature Preserve; Cascadilla Gorge; Cornell University; Fall Creek and its gorge and Ithaca Falls; Salmon Creek and Myers Point in Lansing, NY; Taughannock Falls State Park; and the rest of Cayuga Lake including the Seneca River and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Finally, we trace the flow of Cayuga’s waters through the Seneca and Oswego River system to Lake Ontario, the Great Lakes, and the St. Lawrence River. Watch it here!
This show can also be seen on Ithaca’s public access TV channel 13 this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and next Tuesday, 2/16, at 8:00 p.m.; and at other times the station may decide.
Huh? What could such different regions have in common? Well, there are some commonalities, and there are great differences. The two regions are parts of much larger river basins, the Colorado and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence respectively. Both are eroded into ancient sedimentary rock layers. One is arid, and often desert, while the other receives abundant rainfall. One has been drastically altered by glaciation, while the other apparently has not. In this week’s episode (#37) of Walk in the Park TV, we return to the Grand Canyon (following last week’s show, “Walk Across the Grand Canyon“) and look at the bigger picture.
The South Kaibab Trail hugs the base of this cliff near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
After that, in honor of the Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, we take a look at real ravens, including ravens at the Grand Canyon. And finally, we briefly discuss uranium mining at the Grand Canyon.
See it here online, or watch it on Ithaca, NY public access TV channel 13, this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. each day, or next Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8:00 p.m., and at other times the station may schedule it until Wednesday, Feb. 13 (check just before the hour and half hour and the day’s cablecast schedule is usually posted briefly).
What’s all this hype about “Groundhog Day” and woodchucks emerging to see their shadows? (Groundhog and woodchuck are the same rodent, Marmota monax.)
A woodchuck hole by Owl Gorge in Buttermilk Falls State Park shows no sign of activity on Groundhog Day.
Well, I’ve been watching my local woodchuck hole in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY over the years, and there has never been any sign of activity on February 2. Chances are, my neighbor is still asleep with its heart beating about 4 times per minute and with a body temperature maybe around 40 degrees F. Maybe they emerge by this date in southern Pennsylvania where all the fuss originated, but they seem to be still snoozing here in the cold woods of upstate New York.
A groundhog eats during a more benign season. Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson
Groundhog Day seems to have originated with the Pennsylvania Deutsch. It occurs on the same day as Candlemas, a Christian holiday celebrating an event in the early life of Jesus, the “Presentation of Jesus at the Temple,” when Mary and Joseph took the baby to the Temple in Jerusalem for Mary’s “ritual purification” and “redemption of the first born” according to the Law of Moses.
But Groundhog Day also may have arisen from Pagan festivals regarding the changing of the seasons, such as the Celtic Imbolc, that marked the halfway point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox and was considered the beginning of spring. Perhaps Candlemas was a Christianization of a Pagan weather holiday, and maybe Groundhog Day is a Pennsylvanification of Candlemas.
In any case, folks, we’re about half way to spring!
Watch my silly 92-second video from February 2, 2011 checking this same woodchuck burrow in Buttermilk Falls State Park:
Three people sit near the ruins of the former mill at Buttermilk Falls sometime in the 1800s.
Three people sit near the old mill by the base of Buttermilk Falls, in this old photo provided by photographer and local historian Bill Hecht. As with many of the gorges and mills around Ithaca and the Finger Lakes, mills gave way to those seeking the balm of scenery. This photograph suggests that transition. In the 1866 book, The Scenery of Ithaca and the Headwaters of Cayuga Lake, edited by Spence Spencer, we find that it was a sawmill in his description of this very scene for prospective tourists.
A page about Buttermilk Falls in Spence Spencer's 1866 book, The Scenery of Ithaca and the Headwaters of Cayuga Lake.
There is a beautiful swimming area at the base of Buttermilk Falls in the state park in Ithaca, NY. Once one of the most popular swimming areas in Ithaca, accessible by city bus, this idyllic spot has been open only on weekends during recent summers, due to budget cuts and lifeguard shortages. But in the 19th century, the falls were valued for another use.
The swimming area at the base of Buttermilk Falls. Photo by Stilfehler
Water power! A mill once stood by the falls, using the height of water in the gorge to power its machinery.
In this 19th century photograph, you can see the remnants of a mill once powered by the falls. Image scanned by Bill Hecht.
I’ve seen other photographs of this mill, but I don’t recall exactly what it did, or where the water was conducted from. Upstream from the waterfall, there once was a dam that I understand impounded part of Ithaca’s water supply, at the time privately owned by Robert H. Treman. Perhaps this was also the mill pond.
If anyone has more information about this mill, please let me know with a comment below.