Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remembering January in late May - the Finger Lakes

Summer's arrived in NYC so why not remember a chilly, snowy morning in the Finger Lakes?

View of Seneca Lake
It was the middle of January, 2011. That is certainly not peak tourism season in Central NY State. The bloom is off the rose; in fact the leaves are off the rose and just about every plant that's got enough sense to shed it's leaves when the days begin to grow short and the nights turn frosty. No, from late spring through the fall foliage is when the crowds pack the winery tasting rooms, and wander a little bit stewed through the parking lot, back to their party limo or bus. Then it's eye-rolling time for the people working at the vineyards, the phone serving as an early warning system for the pourers, the last place the amateurs departed, and what direction they are heading.
Cayuga Lake

Seneca Lake from Damiani Cellars tasting room
No, in the Finger Lakes, winter's a time when the winemaker insists on pulling out things he or she hasn't released yet, pouring a quarter of a glass and watching and waiting for you to pass judgement. It's a time for gazing through the picture windows toward the lake below, but you can't see the lake, swirling, sniffing, sipping, swishing, and either swallowing or spitting. It seems a moment frozen in time, a moment for contemplation.

Skaneateles in winter

The towns are quiet, even the tourist towns, like Skaneateles, NY, a picturesque place at the northern end of the lake of the same name. The stores are open, a few shoppers wandering in and out, but not the summertime crowds who stroll the sidewalks determined to have a good time or else.

Winter's not too bad in a place like that. The snow can be fierce and beautiful, it can be deadly, but it doesn't have to be. The winds whip around but they aren't gales - just a strong breeze, the nip on the nose reminding you that you've still got a schnoz worth blowing - as indeed you will need to if you stay out in the cold for a while.
Skaneateles NY

One thing is certain: the daylight is neither broad nor bright, especially when the clouds roll in.
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