- The High Falls of the Genesee river furnished the power to mill much of the western grain traveling along the early Erie Canal. Rochester was known as “Flour City,” but since then the area has hardly lived up to potential, rusting and industrial. The city keeps trying to make this into a hip new area, but the recession broke the first efforts.
- Meanwhile, the Genesee Brewery (a real big affair over a hundred years old) realized what a prime location they occupied on a cliff opposite the falls, and has recently built a large beer museum, tasting room, and restaurant.
- It’s a pleasant place to spend afternoon August hours, plastic cups of Genesee beer in hand, on the roof deck, listening to a live band playing Rolling Stones classics. A pedestrian footbridge over the gorge carries tour groups, couples wanting pictures, and on this particular Sunday, a person marching with a Puerto Rican flag from the nearby festival.
- Lake Ontario extends to the horizon North, has wide sandy beaches and surprisingly large waves, capable of wrecking sailing ships in the old days. A huge metropolitan park with carousel occupies one corner of the intersection with the Genesee, where the seemingly inactive “Port of Rochester” welcomes shipping to the United States. Small restaurants line the docks along the river, and a half-mile walkable breakwater extends to a lighthouse.
- New York never fear running out of drinking water _ half its border is on this lake, and almost all the water and snow that falls on lower Canada passes through here on the way to the St. Lawrence. For those that prefer a less civilized experience, a few miles up the shore there is a large park with undeveloped beaches _ still sandy _ beneath high bluffs almost as wild as when they were first encountered by Europeans.
- The Strathallan has the best location in Rochester and knows it. Taken over by Hilton a few years ago it has renovated upscale (sadly in my opinion) to become a prime destination for weddings and corporate events. One of its new amenities is a rooftop café to overlook sunset on the skyline with a beverage of choice.
- I was a little shocked to discover that we had traveled far enough west that the sun goes down a half hour later in this time zone than it does in Huntington. I tend to think of the world as discontinuously greater. When places like this were founded, every local time was different. Nobody cared. Only the coming of the fast railroads forced the issue by making our standard time zones so that train timetables would make sense to anyone. We watched the later sun go down, looking exactly like the earlier sun does back home, if we only take the time to go out and experience it.
- Newly opened rows of sunflowers greet my return to the usual haunts. Surprising changes can occur to the environment in less than a week. Even more surprising changes to my outlook. A good vacation helps me reorient and establish new perspectives.
- The ride up was an adventure: heavy dead stop traffic jams all through New York, then just when we thought we could relax, the nasty sound of something under the car detaching and dragging along pavement. With that eventually cleared up, driving through a Niagara from the skies outside of Syracuse. On the other hand, it made us appreciate a country where cars can be repaired in the middle of nowhere in half an hour, automobiles and roads don’t care about rain, and a comfortable lodging and adequate food await at day’s end. The trip back, by contrast, was like a car commercial _ well above the speed limit, no delays under clear skies, only light traffic the whole way until within a few miles of home, where one of the local roads was being torn up by the water utility.
- Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo is smaller than Huntington’s (18 acre) Hecksher, but manages to contain _ in addition to the usual suspects (monkeys, sea lions, snakes, fish, birds) _ a snow leopard, an Asian tiger, a white rhino, two polar bears, four elephants, and three lions. Here the king of beasts surveys the fat luscious snacks parading below him. In another area a bald eagle, probably injured with flight feathers clipped, preens alongside a pond.
- I bring this up because sometimes I feel caged and clipped in what I do here. Any artisanship requires limits to allow mastery, and in this day and age most limits are self-imposed and completely arbitrary. This current blog format has served me well, but I want to experiment a bit over the next month, and maybe
settle into something different. The pictures will remain similar, but the thoughts they trigger may veer in different directions. Nature is inexhaustible, my commentary on it far less so.
- Nights are cool and dry, days delightfully warm with heat in full sun. Adequate rainfall has kept most foliage lush. Yet, for the observant, summer is winding down. Nights come on more quickly, the sun is moving south. Some trees are showing hints of fall color.
- I claim to love all seasons, but like everyone around here I sometimes wonder in the depths of winter if it is worth the trouble. Tuned to the culture of my youth, when September marked a time of returning to school or beginning the push to end-of-year at companies I worked for, I find this is the time for resolutions and plans and projects. The challenge is always to find the best ways to use enforced indoor activities. And so, more than New Year’s, I start into thinking about the next year and what I want to accomplish.
- Spartina dispersing seeds into late summer wind and wave. More miracles, that beds of grass can come from such tiny dry kernels. Contemplating the spread and continuation of life _ positive impossibility rather than evolutionary competition _ can be far more rewarding than studying the entire remainder of the cosmos, stars and all.
- I can be religious in the sense that I believe there is an awful lot of the reality of our universe that nobody is capable of understanding. I’m no neo-Platonist _ our reality is far more substantial than shadows in a cave _ but our reality is only part of much more. I am not religious in that I think worrying about it, trying to figure it out, or submitting to my own or other’s ideas of what metaphysical reality (or purpose or meaning) may be is completely futile, silly, and almost a blasphemy on merely accepting and appreciating existence.