Skaneateles, Ontario and Green Lake

Skaneateles looking north
Skaneateles looking north

Skaneateles is another lake near Syracuse.  A Finger Lake.  I learned to swim in another Finger Lake, Canandaigua. It was cold. Finger Lakes are stoney, long and narrow, deep, and if you had a map, they look like fingers. They are beautifully framed by long hills,  and home to a burgeoning wine industry.  It used to be that NY State wine was basic rotgut, but that has changed big time.  Read  Summer in a Glass by Evan Dawson, and you’ll be running out to get some.

Beloved cousin Alan's place on Lake Ontario
Beloved cousin Alan’s place on Lake Ontario

Another lake that features in upstate New York topography is Lake Ontario.  It’s a Great Lake.  My cousin lives there most of the summer and delighted us with descriptions of the ice caves that form from wind action on the shoreline in winter. Big ice caves.

Ice Caves are big
Ice Caves

As a child, we went to Lake Ontario to experience big waves in the summer.  Maybe they just seemed big, but that was our little ocean, complete with sunsets from the bluffs of Fairhaven State Park.

Ontario in summer

Another exciting topographic feature Upstate is Montezuma Swamp.  It’s a national wildlife refuge, close to my heart because I volunteer at Ding Darlilng NWR here in Florida.

Montezuma, named after the Aztec Emperor
Montezuma, named after the Aztec Emperor

Montezuma is  a great birding spot, especially during migration, but July wasn’t bad either.  We saw black terns (I hesitate to call it a life bird, but it was one, see my post  “A Crow Gets Even” and many other shorebirds. Great to see birds in their proper colors, unlike the drab plumage we experience during Florida winters when the birds spend their time with us.   Topping off the trip to Montezuma, we counted 22 great blue herons in one spot. That would be a Battery of Herons.

Just a few of the 22 we saw
Just a few of the 22 Great Blues we saw

And then there’s my friend Lauren’s backyard.  She has transformed a  city lot near the University into a Garden Haven. (capitalization deliberate).  She has three ponds, bird feeders, lawn chairs and art shows  in her backyard…she is a ceramic artist who makes pierced  lanterns, dragons and other things, but many come by just to see the garden. You can get an idea why.

It's a narrow lot
It’s a narrow lot

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For our final day upstate, we choose a walk in Green Lakes State Park.  The lakes really are green, and very deep, so deep the bottom water never gets to the top, and who knows what lives down there. Stuff that makes it green, I think.

Green Lake in Fayetteville, NY
Green Lake in Fayetteville, NY
There are fish in Green Lake

Next up, heading downstate…Stone Barns, Rockefellers and Roosevelts, Storm King and Tarrytown ahead.


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Retired journalist, writer, editor and teacher. Our lives were lived in the Washington DC area, but I was born in upstate New York. Love nature, birding and reading. Volunteer at Ding Darling NWR . Proud mom of two, married to a wildlife photographer.

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