New York is one of the most beautiful states in the union, and the Finger Lakes Region is one of the best areas of the state. There is a love and affection that I have for this area, due in part to how I was taught to respect and care for the woodland I visited as a child. There are amazing little spots around Rochester where I like to hike when I just have an hour or two, such as Corbett’s Glen, Durand Eastman Park and Mendon Ponds Park.
Finger Lakes residents are so incredibly lucky to live here, and, unfortunately, some take it for granted. The state and local parks give us great opportunities to search out and appreciate the wondrous wildflowers native to the area. Regrettably, some plants are being compromised and depleted by suburban sprawl, pollution, climate changes, illegal harvesting and animal damage. Native Americans have a saying that I often repeat: “We have not inherited the earth from our Fathers, rather we are borrowing it from our children.”
I was taught by my mother that wildflowers and the woodlands where they grow are to be cherished and protected. I learned these lessons from her while growing up on my grandma’s farm near Naples. My mother showed us where all of the great wildflowers were growing, and she made sure we knew not to pick them. She spent hours hiking in the spring to check on the colonies of her favorites – trillium and lady slippers.
It’s no wonder that later in life, when my husband Craig and I had a perennial plant nursery called “Hawk’s Nest,” we specialized in growing native woodland plants. It was quite a task to find growers who did not harvest plants from the wild, but we managed to propagate our own crops of trillium and many other native plants from seeds and from plants growing on our own property. Many gardeners are unaware that it is illegal to dig up native woodland plants that are not growing on their property.
A blossoming friendship
This love of native plants is how I eventually would make a connection with my friend Mark DeCracker. He traveled quite a distance to come to our nursery and procure trillium plants for his own woodland garden. I say “procure” because we actually traded trillium plants for his composted horse manure. If you’re a gardener, you’ll appreciate how good of a deal that was. Then, he and I exchanged stories of how trillium had impacted our personal histories. We found that he had actually hiked the land that was once my grandma’s farm, and taken photos of the woodlands where I spent my childhood.
Mark and I decided to start working on a project that might help to raise awareness of the wildflowers of New York, and the need to preserve their populations before it’s too late. He began filming still and video images of trillium colonies near his home in Wayne County, stumbling across hikers along the way, who would stop to tell him stories about their childhood memories that involved trillium.
Suddenly, we realized that the tales of trillium were connecting us to each other, and thus to the woodland where they grow. The legacy of our childhoods is held in our hearts, and lives on as we tell our stories, stories that connect the generations and unite our spirits as they are passed along. What better way to encourage the preservation of these flowers than for parents to take their children out for walks in the woods? The hope is that they will create their own memories each May as the trillium start to bloom, and grow a desire to return to the same spots with the next generation.
Connecting with nature gives us peace and grounds us in ways that smooth the road as we navigate our stress-filled lives. Leave the GPS in the car, and find that peace in a quiet walk down a woodland path filled with miraculous flowers. Perhaps you visited the same woods as a child. Then share your stories as the memories start to come back to you.
Your children may notice things along the path that you’ve never seen before, and they may learn things about you they didn’t know. At the very least, your legacy will be held securely in their memories to be passed down for the ages. The trillium make the experience more beautiful, but, more importantly, they are the living testimony of the memories you and your children have formed.
How to Donate
It is our goal that this video program, donned “Trillium Tales,” will help people to see what a wonderful experience it is to participate in an activity that requires no electricity, no gasoline and no money – except if you have to drive to your destination.
Mark’s high-definition images are much too beautiful for the standard online video venue, so our goal is to produce a 30-minute program for television. This is no easy or inexpensive task. In order to raise money for the video project, we will conduct private tours of “Trillium Heaven” – the area where most of the video was shot – and will be accepting donations through the non-profit organization called Trail Works, Inc. Corporate sponsorship is also welcome.
You may find recent footage from Mark’s video at this
Your donations are greatly appreciated and tax-deductible. Please make checks payable to “Trail Works Inc.” with the words “Trillium Tales Video” in the memo line.
If you have sponsorship inquiries, please contact:
by K.C. Fahy-Harvick