At the end of our big move, we found ourselves in central New York. More specifically, Ithaca. And here's how I feel about this new location: !!!!
Honestly, of all the places for Paul and I to land, this has got to be one of the locations most suited for us. I grew up in rural western New York, and the environment, the wild plants and animals, the woods and ponds and streams, are all rooted deep in my heart. Ithaca has those familiar things, but it also has -- magically, it seems to me -- robust centers for higher education and research, diversity in its people, thriving food culture, AND extraordinary natural features. Plus, we're only a few hours drive from our respective families. It's a wonderful combination of the familiar and comforting together with the new and exciting.
Speaking of Ithaca nature, here's a taste of the area from our first days here. Yes:
Those last two pictures are from Fall Creek, right near the center of town. My goodness. As they say, "Ithaca is gorges." And there's much more like this still out there to see!
The picture at the top of this post is from Six Mile Creek and the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve, where we walked on a hot afternoon earlier this week. Lots of people were swimming in the creek, a Louisiana Waterthrush foraged along the water's edge, and Eastern Chipmunks were all over the place. It's so nice to be around Eastern Chipmunks again. This little fellow had a mossy perch near the path:
And this chipmunk found the perfect spire from which to watch over his/her territory:
A small log floating in the creek seemed to be covered with some protruding material, like nails stuck into its surface:
On closer inspection, this turned out to be the highest concentration of damselflies I've ever seen. The females were depositing eggs in the water (or possibly on the submerged portion of the log?) while the males stuck straight up into the air, balanced on the ends of their abdomens, which were attached to the females' heads:
Wow, what a weird sight. Incidentally, I didn't see these damselflies on any other surface in the creek. There must have been something special about this one floating log.
And of course, I can't give an introduction to Ithaca without mentioning this place:
It is so strange to see in real life an entity I encounter daily on my phone and computer. (All About Birds is my go-to bird ID and information resource, and I use eBird almost all the time.) We walked briefly in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Sapsucker Woods, and the place was just as fantastic as I expected: very pristine, calm, and welcoming. A Green Fringed Orchid (Platanthera lacera) displayed its incredible blossoms near a boardwalk through swampy woods. Seeing a new wild orchid is just about the best welcome to Ithaca I could have!
The pond near the lab's main building was beautiful and so active with bird life:
And right above the visitor center's entrance, a Mourning Dove was calling from her nest:
I've never seen a Mourning Dove nest before, nor a Mourning Dove chick. What a cute little ball of fluff:
So yes, I am very happy with this new location, and so excited to explore more. The best part of all this is: we're here long term. House-buying is even somewhere on the horizon, with the tantalizing prospect of having a bit of woods (and meadow, and pond, and garden, and...) all our own. But that will come later. In the meantime, let the Ithaca adventure begin!