Saturday, March 31, 2012

CAUTION:LONG POST AHEAD! Lily Lake Meanderings

My weekly one-and-a-half mile walks around Lily Lake in Chenango Valley State Park have been enjoyable. Not only do I get some much needed exercise but I also have a chance to add to my abundant supply of reference photos to use to illustrate my annual calendar. (This year's theme is "A Walk Around Lily Lake"). I realize that I could easily do drawings gleaned from natural sightings in my own backyard, but I like doing drawings based on an area everyone has access to, a place not only rich in natural sightings, but rich in natural history and personal memories. (I think most everyone in the region has a wealth of park memories)!

The park's two lakes formed when massive glaciers melted eons ago; an elevated, narrow, winding road separates Chenango Lake from Lily Lake. It's steep, with no shoulders; I'm mindful of how difficult it must've been for the engineers and construction workers who created the road atop this narrow boundary decades ago.

Some of my earliest memories formed at "State" park involve my family. We picnicked, cross-country skied, skated, swam, swung in park swings, grilled countless burgers and hot dogs, boated, fished, biked, walked and shared special moments over and over again in every season (including bracing Winter birthday picnics for me when I was a teen and a sweet 16 birthday picnic for my daughter, which included her first official drive in the family Impala in the spacious parking lot).

When I was about four, my oldest brother, Jack, showed me where wintergreen berries grew on the shady, descending section of the lake trail. I remember the slippery pine needles giving way underfoot on the trail that seemed mortifyingly steep. Despite my feelings of walking on a scary path that might send me head first into the lake, I was enchanted by that small tidbit of knowledge which has stayed with me always. Even now, whenever see the bright red berries amid glossy leaves, I feel transported to the very moment he first pointed them out to me. I also can still recall the fun of collecting pine cones with my Brownie troop under the lofty pines lining the park's entrance.

Our family enjoyed following our own set of park rituals each time we visited. First, we always looked at the trout in the feeding tanks by the little creek that emptied into the Chenango Canal, and we'd always look for and comment on the largest ones. Nearby, we often took family photos with the small waterfall in the background. (When my first child was born, we detoured through the park to take our new family's photo on our very first trip to Grandma and Grandpa's home in Chenango Bridge).In late October, 1969, Jack and Bev (his wife), my brother, Gary, and I also walked around Lily Lake trying to make sense of our beloved brother, Jim's suicide, as my parents planned his funeral. The park not only provided a place to celebrate everyday joys with family and friends, but it also offered a soothing place of consolation and contemplation when our lives seemed shattered by loss.

After my Dad died last Autumn, I found myself seeking solace in the park again. It is truly healing to step outside daily routines and walk the same ancient path repeatedly, like a walking meditation in a place that seems sacred because of so many rich memories in a place of natural beauty... I'm no longer mourning the loss of a very full life and great love (because aspects of those will always be with me).Nowadays, I walk the same trails and just enjoy each bend in the path, while trying to notice to the many natural changes from week to week...I'm learning the art of being present in the present.


The Tween Lakes Pavilion at Chenango Valley State Park


Watch your step!




Signs abound of beaver activity.


Things are looking up...


Icy reflections




At one point, you skirt the golf course. These trees border the water hazard hole.


Frozen lily pads


A beaver lodge


This will be in my calendar...


Each bend in the path has another breathtaking scene...


Tiny florets on twigs in midwinter...


A small pine in water


See how the leaves absorb the sun and sink into the ice a bit?


A bit of moss...


and ferns...


Frosted grass...


I Love this image!


Icy fault line



Chill out...


I hope Heaven looks like this...or maybe this is Heaven on Earth...


Another day...


My hiking companions (sons) set a brisk pace


Recent warm weather jump started Spring blooms... trailing arbutus...


My daughter had fun with leaves...


Turtles love to sun, too


Stretching for optimum sun...


Another tiny bloom...




Another couple enjoying the lake...


I saw only one clump of coltsfoot...


My daughter


Wintergreen berries


Mossy carpet


A typical scene


Fossils underfoot

Mystery plant!

Mystery blooms- I have to research what these tiny magenta blooms are...


I have to ID these blooms, too

I'm sure next week will have a multitude of new sightings!

1 comment:

Becky said...

Thank you for sharing your special place with us. We enjoyed our first visit there and will be returning. John Burroughs wrote about the sounds ice creates. I wonder if the ice fault you pictured made an audible sound when it cracked?