Iroquois Thanksgiving Address

We gather with family and friends today to give thanks for all that we are grateful for. One of the most beautiful, whole, and comprehensive givings of thanks I’ve heard is that of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois); their Thanksgiving Address is better described by the Iroquois Indian Museum than by me:

“The Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen means ‘The Words That Come Before All Else.’  It is also referred to as ‘The Thanksgiving Address,’  ‘Giving Greetings to the Natural World,’ or ‘The Opening Address.’ Traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) say these words to begin and end each day, important meetings, ceremonies, and socials.   The Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen is an expression of acknowledgement, greetings, love, and appreciation for every part of the Natural World.  The Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen helps to bring the thoughts of the people together.  It is a way by which the Haudenosaunee remind themselves that human beings are only one strand in the Web of Life and that we are all connected to each other and to the rest of Creation.”

I feel that this thanksgiving has vital meaning for all of us who now occupy “Turtle Island,” the lands of the original people of North America. Perhaps these profoundly beautiful words from those who have lived here long before the rest of us can rise up through us from this ancient ground and help us live right with each other and with this land. They have as much meaning for all of us now as they have had at any time. Indeed, our future depends on thoughts such as these.

“Below is a video presentation featuring Mohawk storyteller Kay Olan’s spoken version of the Thanksgiving Address along with images created by Tuscarora graphic artist Melanie Printup Hope supplemented with additional photographs.”

I post this with the approval of the Iroquois Indian Museum. They ask that we please visit their website and support their museum by donating or becoming a member.

“We are a private non-profit with no line items or support from the government and can use all the help we can get.”

[By the way, if the embedded video below does not show up on your device (e.g., I don’t see it on my iPad; maybe because it is flash), just click on the link below to go to the original location on the Museum’s website.]

Check here for the original web location of this video.



A Thought on Indigenous Peoples Day

I was pondering last night the history of European American views toward living with nature, which have been dominated by mountain man and hermit images. Even Thoreau’s cabin seems somewhat like that (though it was just a 2-year retreat), or Anne LaBastille’s cabin in the Adirondacks. Not to say that there is no value to seeking solitude in the wilds to get closer to our true selves and nature.

What has been less common has been images of society living in harmony with nature; that comes harder to us, though we try. That’s one of the things I appreciate about indigenous American peoples, where both harmony with nature and mutually supportive and sharing community are integrated and seamless. Our society as a whole is mostly out of sync with that, as the behavior of our large corporations painfully and dangerously exhibits.

The old survival of the fittest model was dominated by thoughts of individuals surviving in nature, whereas our survival utterly depends on the social group. Hermits die off alone.

Joseph Knowles, depicted in his adventure in the Maine woods

A century ago, Bostonian Joseph Knowles did much to feed the myth of individual self-sufficiency in nature with his well-publicized naked walk off into the Maine woods.

First Snow Taughannock Falls

Late December brought two snows to the Finger Lakes, leaving a foot or more on our woods, fields, towns, and gorges. I made this short video (3 minutes) of the beauty of Taughannock Falls with the new snow and ice, accompanied by the composition, “First Snow,” by Ithaca musician Duke Koistra.

This short video is also included in my new episode of my Walk in the Park TV series which begins showing this evening (January 10) on Ithaca’s public access cable TV channel 13 at 9:00 p.m. and lasts for half an hour. In this episode, I also include my video “Winter Water” and pictures of a beaver along snowy Fall Creek taken by photographer Deanna Stickler Laurentz. Finally, I discuss the special Deer Management Focus Area hunting season that begins this weekend in parts of Tompkins County. The episode will also be aired on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and next Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. I plan to have the entire episode online on this blog by the weekend.

Fillmore Glen State Park

“Ithaca is Gorges” they say in this town at the south end of Cayuga Lake. But there are lots of other beautiful gorges in New York’s Finger Lakes region, including Fillmore Glen by the little village of Moravia in Cayuga County south of Owasco Lake, the next Finger Lake to the east of Cayuga Lake. This lush and scenic gorge is preserved in Fillmore Glen State Park, due to the efforts of Dr. Charles Atwood, a local physician and amateur botanist, who advocated for its protection and establishment of the park in the 1920s. The new episode of “Walk in the Park,” our public access TV show in the Ithaca area, features Fillmore Glen with photographs and video taken recently.

Fillmore Glen State Park waterfall Gorge Trail Moravia, NY Cayuga County

A small waterfall about a mile up the Gorge Trail in Fillmore Glen

Fillmore Glen is named for Millard Fillmore, 13th president of the United States, who was born in 1800 in a cabin a few miles east of the park. He was the first “log cabin president” and the first president born in the nineteenth century. He was also the first president who rose from modest means to the middle class. Find out more about Millard Fillmore in our Walk in the Park video episode, “Fillmore Glen State Park.”

Official White House painting of President Millard Fillmore

Official White House painting of President Millard Fillmore, by G.P.A. Healy 1857

The climax of Fillmore Glen, and also the part most easily viewed, is the Cowsheds, a waterfall, rock amphitheater, and overhanging rock formation just a short walk from the picnic pavilion and swimming area in the mouth of the gorge.

Waterfall Cowsheds Fillmore Glen State Park gorge Moravia, NY, Cayuga County, Finger Lakes

The Cowsheds is the scenic star of Fillmore Glen.

In the photograph above, large slabs of limestone have fallen from the overhanging roof-like ledge up to the left. Freezing, thawing, wetting, drying, and high water have weathered and eroded out the Cowsheds.

For a full photo essay see our earlier posting, Fillmore Glen in Fall.

Our show on PEGASYS, “Fillmore Glen State Park,” also includes scenery from Cayuga Lake, Lick Brook Glen, Buttermilk Falls State Park, and culminates with photographs and video of fall foliage in Fall Creek Gorge, Ithaca Falls, and Cascadilla Glen in Ithaca and next to Cornell University. Watch our show on Ithaca’s cable access channel 13 at the schedule below or right here online.

View over Ithaca Falls and the city of Ithaca

Looking over Ithaca Falls and the city

Watch the show right here without leaving this page:

This episode, “Fillmore Glen State Park,” will premier on Ithaca’s channel 13 this evening at 9:00 p.m. It will be shown again according to the following schedule.

Walk in the Park, the TV show, airs weekly on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable TV channel 13:

Thursday,  9:00 p.m.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Sunday,    10:30 a.m.

Tuesday,    8:00 p.m.

It also is shown at other times as the station manager chooses.

Walk in the Park TV Show!

Ithaca NY public access TV about parks, nature, history, concerts, news, environment

I have begun a new series on Ithaca public access television (PEGASYS) cable channel 13, called “Walk in the Park”! It is in a “magazine” format, with segments about various parks including events, park news, interpretation of cultural and natural history, park-related issues, and lots of photographs and video clips.

Each week, I will feature items posted on this blog and much more. The program runs half an hour. Soon after the show is recorded, I will post it online with a notice on this blog. I plan to create a page here with all of the shows and their summaries. If you don’t subscribe to Time Warner Cable TV in the Ithaca area, you will only be able to see the show online.

Each episode will run four times over the ensuing week. The first showing each week will be on Thursday and the final showing will be the following Tuesday.

Weekly Schedule through August:

Thursdays,                9:00 p.m.

Saturdays,             10:30 a.m.

Sundays,             10:30 a.m.

Tuesdays,              8:00 p.m.

In this week’s episode, airing first on July 12, I feature images and video from the shadows and reflections of Buttermilk Glen, a video of Ithaca’s Independence Day fireworks at Stewart Park, Newtown Battlefield State Park (with more information than last week’s blog post including bird photographs), Watkins Glen historical photos, and news from Robert H. Treman State Park about new trail features and a new exhibit in the Old Mill about the CCC camp in the park in the 1930s. Watch it here!

In future episodes, there may be guest appearances by park squatter and backwoods philosopher Ichabod. Click on his picture below to see his short commentaries and rants. But beware, they don’t call him “Icky” for nothing!

Ichabod park woods opinion nature humor

Ichabod emphasizes a point.


Not So Wildflowers

dame's rocket, wildflower, garden, invasive species, Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, Finger Lakes

Dame's rocket grows along the Larch Meadows Trail in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY.

Most of us are delighted to see pretty wildflowers along our roads and in our woods. But many of those flowers are not so wild, and some introduced plants may push aside our native species. Dame’s rocket, often mistaken for garden phlox, is one that started in the garden, but has leaped the fence into our natural environment. And sometimes dame’s rocket (originally from Eurasia) is included in so-called wildflower seed mixes used to beautify highway median strips and similar places, unintentionally spreading this invasive species into new areas.

Find out about Dame’s Rocket In my short video (4 min, 25 sec) here.


Buttermilk Falls from on High


Buttermilk Falls State Park from air, Ithaca, NY, Tompkins County, Finger Lakes

A Google Earth image of Buttermilk Falls State Park. The long cascade of the falls is is in the lower middle portion of the picture.

The long cascade of Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, NY is fun to look at from a number of angles. For more than ten thousand years, Buttermilk Creek has been splashing down the steep east slope of Inlet Valley, just a few miles from the south end of Cayuga Lake, the longest of the eleven Finger Lakes. Over the millennia, the creek has polished out a charming gorge that ends in the long, frothing falls.

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY, Tompkins County, Finger Lakes, gorge, waterfall, aerial

Buttermilk Falls from the air. Photo by Bill Hecht.

Ithacans and visitors have enjoyed the unique, soothing beauty of Buttermilk Falls since the early 1800s. Local businessman and philanthropist Robert H. Treman and his wife Laura Treman donated the falls to the people of the State of New York to become Buttermilk Falls State Park in 1924.

Buttermilk Falls State Park. Ithaca, NY, Tompkins County, Finger Lakes, upstate, gorge, waterfalls

Buttermilk Glen as seen from West Hill in Ithaca

The deep crease in the side of Inlet Valley that is Buttermilk Glen can be seen for miles around.

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY, Tompkins County, Finger Lakes, gorge, waterfall, hiking, trail

The upper portion of Buttermilk Falls as seen from the Rim Trail

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Gorge Trail, waterfall, Ithaca, NY, Finger Lakes, hiking

The main falls as seen from the Gorge Trail

As it is still early spring, the Gorge Trail has not yet been opened by the state park. Though the huge ice formations that block the gorge in winter are mostly gone (freezing weather could make the trail treacherous again), there are other hazards that must be minimized before it is deemed safe to open the trail. Each winter, water that has penetrated the surface of the shale cliffs freezes and splits the rock, which can crash down onto the trail without warning. A team of “scalers” must systematically rappel down these cliffs and remove loose rock before the trail will be opened, which typically occurs in April.

Scaling loose rock, Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY, Finger Lakes, hiking, safety, rock climbing, rappelling

A member of the "scaling team" removes winter-loosened stone from the face of a cliff over the Gorge Trail.

Buttermilk Falls is said to have gotten its name from the milky appearance of the water as it splashes down hundreds of short ledges.

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY, waterfall, gorge, Finger Lakes, Tompkins County

Buttermilk Falls swashes down from its gorge in early March.

Buttermilk Falls is one of the grand natural wonders of the Finger Lakes region and New York State.

Taughannock’s Rim

As winter nears, some trails are closing in our state parks and at some other gorges that are publicly accessible in the Finger Lakes. At Taughannock Falls State Park, in the past, the trails on the rims of the canyon have closed for the winter because of dangerous icy stone steps. That appears to have been modified. The Gorge Trail, on the other hand, usually remains open through the winter.

The Upper Falls at Taughannock Falls State Park

The Upper Falls, about half a mile upstream from Taughannock Falls, is only visible from the old railroad trestle that crosses the gorge between the two rims and connects the rim trails.

Take a five minute trip with me on the North Rim and South Rim trails at Taughannock and find out about the new winter rules, in this second episode of my video series, “Gorges TV.”

If you would like to see more of my videos, check out my YouTube channel, “Walk in the Park.”

Gorges TV! Trees Hang On

hemlock tree Buttermilk Falls State Park gorge Ithaca, NY Finger Lakes

A hemlock tree grows atop a ledge in Buttermilk Falls State Park.

Hi, folks

I have started a new short video series as part of my YouTube channel, “Walk in the Park.” It’s called, “Gorges TV.” My first episode is called, “Trees Hang On,” and I explain how trees adapt to living on the side of gorge. It’s five minutes long and has lots of pictures of amazing trees in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY. Here it is…

Check out my other videos on my YouTube channel.


Fillmore Glen in Fall

Millard Fillmore cabin at Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY Finger Lakes

This cabin is a replica of the cabin that Millard Fillmore was born in, in 1800.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, my wife and I called Fillmore Glen State Park in Moravia, NY, just south of Owasco Lake, the next Finger Lake to the east from Cayuga. We were very pleased to confirm that the Gorge Trail was still open due to the mild weather this fall. Normally, it is closed earlier in November. We had a lovely walk in Fillmore Glen.

Millard Fillmore was the 13th president of the United States and the only president from central New York State. Fillmore Glen is named after him, as he was born in a cabin a few miles from the park. The cabin shown was reconstructed in the state park from another cabin of similar age.

Memorial to Millard Fillmore, 13 president of the United States, near Moravia, NY, in the Finger Lakes

The memorial to President Millard Fillmore is a few miles up the hill from the park, in the area of his birthplace.

Probably most visitors to the park get this view of the glen, the waterfall and cliffs known as “The Cowsheds.” It is said that before the park was created in the 1920s, local cattle would wander into here in the summer to cool off. Another story says that cattle rustlers hid their stolen stock in here.

Cowsheds waterfall Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY Finger Lakes geology

The Cowsheds is at the mouth of Fillmore Glen and is the most visited feature in the park, just a short walk from the picnic area and pavilion.

The overhanging cliff of the Cowsheds is made of the Tully Limestone. That rock layer also forms the hard cap of the waterfall. The Tully Limestone is very widespread. It forms the bottom of much of Taughannock Gorge and the lip of the first short waterfall there, on the west shore of Cayuga Lake.

Charles Atwood memorial, Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY, Finger Lakes, history

This memorial to Dr. Charles Atwood, the "Father of Fillmore Glen," is at the beginning of the trails to the gorge.

Charles Atwood was a local physician and amateur botanist who lobbied hard for the preservation of Fillmore Glen in the 1920s due to its remarkable botanic diversity and richness.

Stone stairway to the Gorge and Rim Trails, Fillmore Glen State Park, Finger Lakes

This stone stairway leads to the beginning of the Gorge Trail and the Rim Trail.

We took a walk into Fillmore Glen, beginning with these beautiful stairs.

Gorge Trail, overlook, Cowsheds waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY, Cayuga County, Finger Lakes

The Gorge Trail climbs to its first stop at this overlook above the Cowsheds falls.

Dry Creek, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes, Gorge Trail

"Dry Creek" careens around this bend on the Tully Limestone to the lip of the Cowsheds falls.

A mossy tree in the gorge at Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

Fillmore Glen is so humid that moss freely grows on trees, much as in a rainforest.

Fillmore Glen State Park, Gorge Trail, Cayuga County, New York, NY, Finger Lakes

Fillmore Glen has a wild, lush feeling. Visitors are fewer here than at some of the better-known parks in the area, and the twists and turns of the trail give one a sense of solitude.

Gorge Trail, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

The mild days this fall allowed the park to keep the Gorge Trail open later in the season than usual.

Foot bridges, Gorge Trail, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

A number of bridges shift the Gorge Trail from one side of the glen to the other.

Gorge Trail, waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes, Dalibarda Falls

Dalibarda Falls splashes down the north bank of the glen into Dry Creek. It's name probably comes from a not very common forest plant, Dalibarda repens, commonly called robin runaway, false-violet, or dewdrop. Perhaps Charles Atwood named this lovely waterfall.

Soon the Gorge Trail emerges into a rugged, more open area.

The Pinnacle, Gorge Trail, waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

This high cliff gives this part of the glen its name, "The Pinnacle."

The stream passes between rock walls and over ledges.

Gorge Trail, the Pinnacle, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

The creek passes between wet, rocky walls.

A pattern of fractures in the rock called joints is particularly pronounced in the Pinnacle area. Rocks fall away along two sets of fractures that intersect at nearly right angles, resulting in this zigzag pattern in the cliff in the picture below. The sedimentary rock,  shale and siltstone, occurs here in alternating layers that are softer and more durable respectively. As the shale layers erode slightly more rapidly, the harder siltstone persists and protrudes, which exaggerates the layered appearance.

The Pinnacle, Gorge Trail, waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

Rectangular joint fractures in the layered siltstone have resulted in this unusual pattern in the cliff along the trail in the Pinnacle area.

The Gorge Trail at Fillmore Glen will close very soon for the winter. Consider making a trip to this lovely, lesser-known natural gem next season!