Winter Gems

Ithaca Falls in the winter. Photo by Arleigh Rodgers
02/20/2020
by Arleigh Rodgers

I’ve hit on this topic a few times, but it’s only recently that I have started to explore Ithaca and the surrounding areas. Thanks to my car, I have much more liberty than a few years ago when I first started attending college without that handy form of transportation. Since then, I’ve become much more familiar with the city I call home for most of the year. I have explored restaurants, new outdoor activities, and shared my findings with my friends and family.

One of my favorite parts about Ithaca is how close all the gorges and waterfalls are. I’ve been to Buttermilk Falls a few times, but usually it’s during my summer preseason when I come to school early for field hockey. Our team once went to Buttermilk on a particularly warm August morning and hiked three miles. It was our rest day in a week of intense training and early mornings, but the view was always beautiful: waterfalls at every turn, lush green leaves — even the muddy tracks on the ground had a compelling pattern to follow.

However, only recently have I been to Buttermilk during the winter. It’s not a place I would usually go out of my way to see in the coldest season of the year because the hiking trail is closed off. But my boyfriend was visiting for the weekend — from Virginia no less, where the weather was almost always above 50 degrees — so I decided to bring him to a few noteworthy places we hadn’t visited before. One of the places was Buttermilk. I warned him it might not be anything crazy in the winter, that we might just be staring at blocks of ice while the cold, cold wind whipped around us. But how wrong I was.

The sculpture that towered before us was surely carved by many of the whipping winds and chilly evenings I had spent holed up in my room with a sweater on. The waterfall still had a constant stream of cold water cascading down its front, but most of it was frozen in chunks, icicles, and half-finished flourishes. It was mesmerizing and enthralling. We were really cold, but the view was worth it.

Little things like that keep my hope alive for Ithaca in the winter. While the sun may not beat down as brightly — if at all — gems like Buttermilk shine on instead.


Arleigh Rodgers is a junior English major at Ithaca College. She is currently the assistant Life & Culture editor at The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student-run newspaper. She enjoys reading, playing the piano and visiting the Ithaca Farmer’s Market every weekend.

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