Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Chatham Nature Writing Course

During spring semester 2015, I am taking a nature writing course for my MFA program at Chatham University. Each week here on my blog, I will be posting a nature journal entry that will revolve around and be informed by the physical world in general, and one place in particular. This is not so different from the other things I write here, so there will simply be more!

The above photo is from my chosen place. I had a hard time deciding in which little corner of Ithaca I wanted to spent the nature journaling portion of this course. I love the waterfalls, the forests, the trails, but in the end I chose a patch of land that I have visited only two times in all my years in Ithaca. It's a little promontory at the west end of Stewart Park that sticks out behind the Cascadilla Boat Club, where Fall Creek enters Cayuga Lake. 

There is a short loop around a tiny mud pond, a bench to sit on and reflect, and an excellent view north over the lake (below).

On 1/5/15 at 12pm
  • Temperature: about 20 degrees F
  • Wind: about 15 MPH, and gusts around 17 MPH
  • Feels like: 9 degrees (or, cold enough to lose feeling in your fingers even with two layers of gloves)
  • Clouds: partly cloudy with patches of sun

Animals seen: 
  • a handful of Mergansers on Fall Creek
  • Mallards on the creek and in the lake
  • hundreds of Canada Geese, in the creek, lake, land and air
  • a male cardinal in the shrubbery
Humans seen:
  • one runner
  • a really big boat far out on the lake
  • one walker along the creek

This picture is across the little mud pond to the Cascadilla Boat House. It's a falling down, old building that has some historical significance to Stewart Park. It's something I'd like to learn more about as I spend time at the promontory. In spring and summer the pond level rises and animals come along to bask and bathe there. This end of the lake has no doubt changed and shifted over the years of human habitation in the lowlands of Ithaca, I hope to learn more about that as well. 

The promontory is a special place. A spot I have much to learn about. I look forward to visiting there each week, sitting in nature, watching the birds on the water, and taking another step toward getting to know my Ithaca home more deeply.

I will collect these posts on my Chatham Nature Writing page, and you can also find them under the label ENG584.
(Photo on right is from the Boat House looking south over Fall Creek to Cornell.)

"To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from." -Terry Tempest Williams


Andrea said...

What a great idea. I'm looking forward to more posts. I've sadly neglected my nature-watching site since it's gotten cold. This inspires me to get back out there (but maybe not till after the temperatures top zero Fahrenheit).

Melanie Fox said...

I love your choice of place. I am especially intrigued to learn more about its history this semester. That boat house is just fascinating to me. A student in this class a few years ago wrote about all the "feral houses" in his town.