Pam and I were drawn outside the day after Valentine’s a bit of sun, an unreliable warm breeze, a promise of exercise. Our expectations were disappointed for all but the last at the foot of the Taughannock Falls gorge trail.
We had a reminder mid-February marks the start of avian mating behavior with this addition to the view from Taughannock Creek, the first large waterfall. For the cold, drizzly excursion I chose the IPhone, in a waterproof case, for the images. The fanicful birdhouse inscription reads “The Old Birds from Pa.”
The winding gorge takes a general east, southeasterly direction. Where the sun cannot reach the snow was reduced to a treacherous slushy ice mix more nasty than dangerous.
Of all the area hiking experiences, Taughannock Gorge Trail is the only one available year round. The gorge is wide with enough room for the footpath to avoid the cliff edge. Today, there were places were ice formations were throwing large ice chunks down the slope. The park ranges place tree trunks along the cliff base, with warning signs to stay away. Still, there are visitors who stray too close with fatal outcomes reported by local news.
Pam was fascinated by the appearance of snow and ice accumulated on the talus, here seen from the Taughannock Falls viewing bridge.
You can just pick out the viewing bridge in the Falls Overlook video.
Taughannock Falls bound by ice is a most dramatic sight. I need to post photographs from a 2005 visit during an especially frigid February. Here, the falls have thrown off the ice, leaving this house-size chunk.
The surrounding gorge walls are continually frost coated by the mist.
In more clement seasons the Gorge Trail ends much closer to the falls. Today, it was closed as, during winter and especially thaws, blocks of the sandstone cap break away to fall with great force across that part of the trail. This viewing area is visible in the Falls Overlook video.
We have a selection of teas at home for brewing afternoons as a pick-me-up. Some brought back from travels, most from a local supermarket. This Japanese green tea brings to mind my childhood and our trips to Long Island to visit my Mom until she passed away June 2013.
As you can see from this photograph of the tea in a white lotus bowl, there are pieces of pink and white stuff mixed in. These are called by the Japanese “sakura”, cherry blossoms.
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In Japan, since the 8th century, “Hanami” is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming sakura or ume tree. Here in the United States, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated commemorating the 1912 gift of Prunus serrulata Japanese cherry trees from Tokyo to the city of Washington.
Traditionally cherry blossoms remind the Japanese of clouds, the blooms come out en mass, the tree changes shape with the breeze. Viewing sakura brings to mind thoughts of the transience of existence, the fragility and transience of the exquisite blooms leads one to appreciate the moment. The following photograph of Pam was taken a month before my Mother’s sudden decline and passing in 2013. We’d travel to Long Island several times a year to visit her, then take in familiar sights.
The tree over Pam is called a Shirofugen (Scientific name: Prunus serrulata, of the Rosaceae family) and is one species planted around National Tidal Basin, Washington D.C. Shirofugen blossoms are described “Flowers double, deep pink at first, fading to pale pink.”
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Growing up, our family visited the Planting Fields, a state park, several times in the spring and summer. As an adult with a growing family in Glen Cove, right around the corner, the Planting Fields were a welcome outing and visited several time times a year. The following photograph, taken that same May 2013 day, was a favorite park scene.
The two flowering cherry trees in the foreground are a type of Japanese sakura called Yoshino, one the most popular flowering cherries in temperate climates worldwide. All Yoshinos are clones from a single grafting and propagated throughout the world. The scientific name outlines the cross breeding of this variety, Prunus X Yeaoensis. Behind the cherries is an Oak tree, new leaves a bright green, and a pink child’s playhouse cottage.
A changing scene of the park is the now frequent visits by wedding parties and photographers, groups of Asian people, the bride and groom posing under the clouds of blossoms. By frequent I mean a steady stream, one after the other, when the blossoms are full.
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In 2007 I spent hours framing and capturing the following photograph on a Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, during a visit to my Mother, who was widowed December, 1995. I used an inexpensive tripod, a Kodak DCS Pro slr/c camera body with the Canon 50mm f 1.4 USM lens, a UV filter and lots of time. There were no interruptions that day, at 5:30 pm I had the area to myself.
This child’s garden playhouse, framed by an ancient oak, pink Japanese cherry blossoms and gracious lawn was awarded a Photographic Society of American, Pictorial Print Division, Print of the Month award, published in the society magazine for that month.
My online gallery (see link below) “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”, has this print available for sale on high quality photographic stock with optional framing.
This week, I submitted the photograph for my Getty portfolio. As of today, I have not received their decision.
A reader’s comment to this blog, thank you “Urban Liaisons” prompted me to explore the word, Lucifer. “Lucifer”, in Christian tradition, refers to the devil as it was in a time of glory before the fall from grace. The original, ancient meaning of Lucifer is the planet Venus as it rises just before the sun at dawn. In this sense, the name refers to the bright beauty of the spot. The effect is heightened at midday when the hiker passes from the relative gloom of Devils Kitchen to the full light and sweep of the waterfall chasm.
Standing next to the falls on the Gorge Trail, the stone wall of the Rim Trail Overlook is overpowered by the grandeur of the 300+ foot cliff. The falls photographs were taken from behind the wall.
Occasionally, we have experienced individuals climbing over the wall to stand on the other side. “Why?”
Summertime thick stands of tiger lilies flourish on the cliff face. Can you find the withered leaves?
This session I finally “cracked” the puzzle of the Devil’s Kitchen Waterfall. I posted the results to the online gallery yesterday, for your enjoyment. Click the link to go there.
“Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart,such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept. I wanted Mother, withher gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.”
from “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist, Writings from the Ozarks” edited by Stephen W. Hines”
In this third part, we continue hiking Treman gorge, approaching Lucifer Falls, viewing another waterfall further downstream and returning to the trailhead.
Tiny Trumpet, unknown
I have never achieved a satisfactory capture of the waterfall in the Devil’s Kitchen, a place where the creek flow is diverted south by a projecting ridge. Less than 100 feet later the easterly direction is regained where the water plummets over Lucifer Falls.
The annual in fall of rock in Devil’s Kitchen uproots and crushes plants growing there. There is scant soil, the roots of this shiny purple trumpet bloom took hold in a microscopic crack. The plant is so thin, the flower so tiny it is lucky my gaze found it.
As trail winds around the ridge a stone wall rises on the right and for good reason. The stream shortly reaches the brink of Lucifer Falls, 115 feet high. Gorge walls fall away, the trail steepens. Here is the view from the trail next to the brink.
At hand, on the right, a growth of ferns has survived many seasons. Flowering plants are, in geological time (across billions of years), a relatively recent development compared to these non-flowering ferns. The first flowering plants appears 120 million years ago compared to the first ferns, 360 million years ago. Oddly enough, the spread of flowering plants affected evolution of ferns, an increase of fern speciation in parallel to the rise of flower plants.
While descending the stairs next to the falls brink, look to the right to see this ecosystem, a result of water seeping from the sedimentary rock stratification.
Here you can see how, at lower flow levels, the inactive sections of the fall lip become a garden. In our climate, the entire brink is active for rare and brief intervals during spring thaws. Note how, closer to the active brink, the grasses give way to mosses. Where grasses grow the brink is almost never active.
The trail wall is a lighter color than the cliff, this is how you can see, on the right, the steep trail descent.
Pam and I turned around here. This is some work I did August 2014 of a notable fall downstream from Lucifer. I used the 24 mm Canon lens here, cropping the image. My goal was to include the stair, for interest, with sunlight on the upper stairs; the water in shade.
In part 2 of this series, we return to the starting point. Siting of a water mill requires immediate access to the potential energy of falling water, something called “head.” Upper Treman Park was once a prosperous hamlet with the mill as the kernel. Today, the head that drove the mill is a lovely cascade behind the substantial and intact mill building. Easy walking distance from parking, this is a well known park feature.
Here are three versions of a portrait of Mill Falls using different lenses for varying effects. All were taken in the same season and approximate time of day, being early evening.
My composition emphasizes the mass of rock wall above the bench and into which it is placed. The limestone slabs are from a different source, they are not built from the material removed from the cliff.
Seeds and Flowers
A dandelion on steroids. If you can help with identification of this plant, please post a comment.
The are like people, sitting there. Kenneth Graham’s genius, in writing “Wind in the Willows”, was to recognize the likable characteristics of the toad. I find myself concerned about their survival, although they must survive. Earlier in the season they are pea sized. I resist an inclination to move them to what may be a more promising location, preferably with a stone house and chrome brilliant motor car.