September and October bring opportunities for the Finger Lakes Museum visitor – both on and off the water
by Natalia Kivimaki
Director of Operations, Finger Lakes Museum
Many people of the Finger Lakes rate summer as their favorite season but others argue that fall is hands-down the best. As a Florida transplant that never had a true fall season, (there’s only hot season and hotter season, if you want to know the truth), there’s something incredibly magical about seeing those thick fall clouds rolling across the sky indicating that a change is coming.
The cooler weather reminds you to grab a light sweater and your favorite pair of boots as you leave the house for the day. The smell of the traditional seasonal baked goods seems to waft through all the open windows of neighborhood houses, as well as in the mom-and-pop and grocery store bakeries. Local breweries, wineries and farms celebrate the season in style with fall festivals, complete with fire pits, chili, hayrides and hot cider. Apple-picking activities make their way onto September calendars, and dragging the wagon filled with 70 pounds of apples counts as your workout for the day.
Yes, the weather is cooling and leaf-peeping is taking over as the hobby of choice, but there’s no reason that residents and visitors to the Finger Lakes can’t continue enjoying time out on the water. The Finger Lakes Museum concludes their program season with two paddling activities – lovely ways to get out and explore the fall foliage of the season. The Equinox Paddle takes full advantage of the crisp late afternoon air on September 24, and the Fall Foliage Paddle on October 8 uses the peak foliage colors to give a breathtaking view from kayaks travelling down Sugar Creek and Keuka Lake. Both programs are led by ACA-certified kayak instructors, and end with a bonfire and refreshments. Participants learn the basic strokes that allow for maneuvering through the waters with ease: forward for moving forward, reverse stroke for slowing down and backing up, sweep stroke for turning and the draw stroke for scooting sideways. Words like stern, deck and bow will make a lot more sense after the instructors guide you through the parts of the kayak. Clothing for fall kayaking might require a few more layers, but the basic guidance of lightweight, non-cotton, non-zippered items are still recommended, and a life vest is a non-negotiable. Don’t worry if you don’t have a life vest, as the museum provides these for all participants.
For those seeking a non-water activity, a walk through the Townsend Grady Wildlife Preserve wetlands area will provide visitors with an immersive fall experience, as the Finger Lakes Museum’s maintained trails are shaded by native trees in various colors of the season. Interpretive signage along the main trail culminates in a 200-foot boardwalk and lakeside octagon pavilion, a perfect spot to sit and take in the majestic views of Keuka Lake in all its autumnal change. Each trail takes just a few minutes to walk, so there is no need for special gear, but stable footwear (possibly waterproof, based on weather conditions) would be a good choice. Layers are also recommended, as the tree cover might shade you for a few minutes and be chilly, while spots of open sky will keep you warm and toasty in the rays of the sun. A camera (or camera phone) is not a requirement, but you don’t want to miss the opportunity to snap a photo or two of the area as you explore.
Whether your fall activity is on the water or on land, take some time to enjoy the change in the season. There are many wonderful opportunities to spend time outside and in nature, as well as indoors with friends. Grab your cozy socks as you take a hike through the various trails of the numerous state parks that dot the region. Knit a hat (or purchase one from a local shop) in your favorite team colors to prepare for a football game. Enjoy crockpot chili that’s been slow simmering all day. Rake leaves and jump in them just because, recapturing that childhood magic from years ago.
Fall is a beautiful time, one that many states don’t get to experience. It’s a gem of a season, and we would be remiss to ignore all the enchantment that it brings with its return.