Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ithaca the Beautiful

Taughannock Falls on a rainy fall morning

Misty early winter sunrise above Taughannock Falls gorge

After having lived for way too long in the bustling, chaotic concrete jungles of New York City, I finally was fortunate to be able to escape to the serene, nature lover's paradise of Ithaca NY and its countless waterfalls, many natural rock gorges, verdant meadows, forests and vineyards. The past year and a half have been spent making my home cozy and comfortable, exploring some of the natural wonders of this area, meeting new people and most of all, calming down from the all too hectic pace of life of NYC.

Ithaca is home to two colleges, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College plus the Ivy League Cornell University and they have contributed international flavor, creative and intellectual stimulation to this 'centrally isolated' (as my neighbor fondly calls it) town. In the heart of the city is a wonderful traffic free (except for foot traffic that is) zone called 'The Commons' which has become the cultural and creative hub of the city. It is dotted with islands of greenery, inviting benches for resting or reading, tables and chairs inviting you to enjoy the offerings of nearby restaurants and catch up on recent goings on with friends, elevated areas for soap boxing, musical or poetic recitals, semi-private niches for intimate conversations and easy pedestrian access to the many interesting shops which line the streets.

Ithaca proper is located at the southernmost end of Lake Cayuga, the longest of all the finger lakes. It is situated in a valley bisected by the run-off from Lake Cayuga and over time it has gradually expanded up onto the highlands which run from North to South along both shores of the lake. Near town these highlands have been named simply West Hill, South Hill or East Hill depending on their location. Cornell straddles the top of East Hill and Ithaca College nestles near the top of South Hill. Both command breathtaking views of Lake Cayuga, Ithaca and surroundings.

Ithaca was founded in 1789, chartered in 1888 and has a permanent population of about 30,000 people. It was blessed with a rugged beauty carved by long ago glaciers, which left behind awesome stream and waterfall carved gorges, fertile soils which today produce delicious wines and many healthy fruits, nuts and vegetables. Ithaca, due to it's beautiful surroundings, rich heritage, progressive atmosphere and sophisticated cultural life, has attracted more than it's share of artistic and creative individuals. Living here one can enjoy the best of all worlds, natural beauty, peaceful ambiance, creative and intellectual stimulation, all in a small town setting.

I would like to share some of my explorations and adventures in this wonderful region with you, through my art, my photographs, my words - to allow you to share in my tremendous appreciation for all it has to offer - it's people, the many feathered and furry inhabitants sharing their space with me, it's thundering waterfalls, the whisperings of softly gurgling streams, the ever changing seasons!


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