“Everyday Kindness of the Back Roads”

[Charles Kuralt]

back-roads

The back roads of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Cortland counties certainly welcomed us with a special pastoral kindness.

Have you ever experienced an overwhelming sensation that something was simply meant to be? That is exactly the feeling we’re left with following our trip. It truly was a delightfully fortunate happenstance; we both had good health, my breathing was good, the weather was gloriously warm and sunny, there were no border crossing queues, we ate  delicious food and the countryside we toured through was beautiful. Serendipitous seems to be the best word to describe the timing and destination of our recent trip to the Finger Lakes.  In this post I’d like to share with you my favourite stop on this trip.

Skaneateles is an Iroquois word meaning ‘long lake’ and this is, indeed, a long, narrow, finger-like lake. Interestingly, Skaneateles Lake is the cleanest of the Finger Lakes; its water is so pure that several local municipalities and the city of Syracuse all use it, unfiltered. On day two our travels took us all the way around Skaneateles Lake; south out of the village down the west side of the lake, and back to Skaneateles via the east side of the lake. Skaneateles Lake is the highest of the Finger Lakes so the back roads were hilly offering some fabulous views of the water. Our route led us uphill and down, through beautiful forests, rich farmlands, lush vineyards and picturesque hamlets and villages.

It was late afternoon by the time we returned to the village and we ended our day with a visit to Shotwell Park, a war memorial honouring local veterans.

shotwell-park

Shotwell Memorial Park

The focal point of the park is a tribute garden to all local fallen warriors from The World War.  It was meant to have been a single monument (this was, after all, to have been the war to end all wars).

the-world-war-role

A second tribute garden, with an honour roll of those who gave their lives in World War II was dedicated on Memorial Day 1950. Since then, two new tablets have been dedicated to those lost in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Plans are in place to add tablets in memory of those sacrificed in Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.

When we entered the park the sun was beginning to set, bathing the park, the monuments and the lake in a beautiful pinkish-mauve light.

view-of-lake-from-tribute-garden

Skaneateles Lake from the Tribute Garden in Shotwell Park

The air was still, the flag unfurled, the lake as smooth as glass. Silent, serene, ethereal. There were no other visitors that afternoon. Reading the Honour Roll, I was overwhelmed by the number of fallen heroes from such a tiny village. The beauty of the tribute garden on the edge of the lake was breathtaking. I enjoyed a moment of reverence, of respect, of awe and of remembrance of The World War service of my Granddads and the World War II service of my dad. It was an emotional interlude and, easily, the highlight of my trip.

shotwell-memorial-park

Skaneateles Lake from Shotwell

Shotwell Memorial Park truly is one of the most beautiful World War memorials and I am grateful for having had the chance to visit.

The back roads of New York State welcomed us with everyday kindness and gave us a splendid little holiday.

‘Til next time, y’all…

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“On the Road”

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“On the Road”

My dad enjoyed Walter Cronkite. A lot! If the television was tuned to an evening news broadcast, it would very often be so that dad could catch Mr. Cronkite. We were always a one-telly home so Mum and I watched with him. My favourite part of this broadcast was Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” segments which were fodder for my very active youthful imagination. One of Mr. Kuralt’s oft-expressed sentiments, and the impetus for his stories was that the everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines. This quote is the inspiration for my own rural rambles. Whilst writing this post, excitement and trepidation are warring in my head because on Wednesday Cam and I will be “On the Road”…

Doctors (mine, at least) never discuss with their patients the lingering, non-medical aftermath of a serious disease/illness. In my case, it is the complete loss of self-confidence. My fear of venturing too far from home, just in case. My fear of taking on a big project, just in case. My fear of planning – pretty much anything – just in case. That fear shrinks my world into a very tiny orbit which is, I must admit, not at all healthy nor is it conducive to making a full recovery. Come American Thanksgiving at the end of this month, it will be six years since we have been away from home overnight, even for one night.

I’ve written about change architecture in previous posts and this time my sweet husband was the architect of my change. He pretty much decreed that we would go away for a couple of days this month; not too far so that it would not be stressful for me – just in case. I know this trip will present logistical challenges because oxygen is still very much a part of my daily routine. I also have to sleep with my shoulders/head raised (a semi-sitting position, if you will). At home we have an adjustable bed, but in a hotel? Calmly, efficiently and ever so kindly, Cam allowed for all of these concerns – he will pack the oxygen machine and a slew of tanks, my mask and my cannulas and he purchased a wedge pillow for the hotel bed. As our very dear friend would say:  “What a gem!”

Destination: Skaneateles, NY

Choosing our basic destination was easy – Finger Lakes; we love that region in New York state. This time we’ve chosen the village of Skaneateles which is on the northern tip of Skaneateles Lake. The village itself is quaint and old-fashioned with lots of interesting small shops, galleries, pubs and restaurants – many with lake views. The lake is small enough that we will be able to drive it’s entire perimeter. And photographs…

“Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.”
[Susan Sontag] *

A quote which could well have been written about me because no sooner do I know I’m travelling than planning for photographic memories begins. Of course there will be lake photos and town/building photos but this time there will also be waterfall photos. Squee! Carpenter Falls, Angel Falls and the Bear Swamp Cascades are all adjacent to the lake. Carpenter Falls is a drop of nearly 100 feet and, with care, one can walk behind the falls. This is something I’ve wanted to do for many years now so – dream come true – I hope! Skaneateles is also home to what has often been described as one of the most beautiful WWII memorials in the world. It is located in Shotwell Memorial Park and that is also part of our itinerary. Away. On the road.

This week another phase of my recovery will take place. Although, to most people, this two-night trip would be insignificant and not worthy of mention, to me this is a huge milestone, one I am happy to brag about and one that becomes, I hope, the beginning of many more adventures.  So, Wednesday morning, we’re off…

were-off

“We’re off!”

 

’Til next time, y’all…

*A very cool and appropriate quote because Ms. 
Sontag is the late partner of the amazingness that is Annie Leibovitz!