Sunday, September 1, 2013

End of Summer

It is Labor Day weekend in the Finger Lakes.  This time of year is bittersweet for me.  Being a professor at a college I look forward to starting classes and seeing all of the new faces at school.  The fall also brings spectacular colors as the leaves on the trees change color and the apples are picked and eaten.

This summer was special for me.  I took off from work, and, among other ventures, spent the summer looking for invasive aquatic plants in the lake.  My search ended this weekend when, my husband and I canoed the southern end of Skaneateles Lake looking in the stream inlets for Hydrilla, an invasive species recently discovered in Cayuga Lake.  This plant is an aggressive invader that chokes out other native species and spreads prolifically.

We didn't find any Hydrilla but we did see a Bald Eagle perched on a tree branch, oblivious to the jet skis that were motoring all about.  Then, suddenly, we heard what sounded like a waterfall.  We stopped to pinpoint the noise and noticed that across the lake a rain shower was heading right towards us.  We quickly paddled under the nearest Willow tree for cover, but were drenched anyway.

Summer in Upstate New York is ephemeral, and pretty; I hate to see it end.

I also spent weeks swimming with friends.  We would meet in the morning and swim a 1/2 mile- 1 mile a couple of times a week in the lake.  We got to know all of the moods of the water.  I have done this training for the past eight years.  Each year we mark the passage of summer by swimming a mile with over 200 other people in the annual Skanraces - Escape from the Judge - race event.  This morning as we jumped off the Judge Ben Wiles at 8 am.  The skies were cloudy, the water calm. The only waves were those stirred up by the hundreds of swimmers.  I thought about how all of the swimming and training over the summer pays off, and what a joy to finally be done with it.  Now though, I sit and think, I wouldn't mind it if summer lasted a bit longer.  I am not ready to let it go.

This summer, I also accomplished something I always wanted to do: I wrote a book. It is set in the Finger Lakes, a coming of age story about a young woman (Emalee Rawlings) who, after the tragic death of her parents in an apparent murder/suicide, navigates her way through adolescence to adulthood.  What she experiences is something we all know well, that people and places we encounter throughout life change the way we think.   The book follows Emalee from her home in Canandiagua Lake, to college at Hobart and William Smith on Seneca Lake, and finally to the wilderness of Algonquin Provincial park in Canada.   It is a testament to the beauty of wild places and the importance of protecting them.  My goal in writing the book was to educate and entertain. It is appropriately enough called, 'Ephemeral Summer'.  Look for it next spring, I can't wait until until then.