Friday, October 28, 2011

Foliage Findings in Wine Country

Seasons are built in changes in scenery.  I was once told that the four seasons in New York State are: almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction. Despite the tales of never-ending winter, there four distinct scene changes in Upstate. Over the last two weeks the trees have started to change colors.  We're approaching peak leaf-peeping season, or, for those not from the northeast, driving out to the country and to look at the pretty colors. In Upstate New York there are untold numbers of roads, parks, and trails to admire the technicolor forests.

As beautiful as this time of year is, I find myself the most frustrated when trying to pictures of the dramatic scenes around me.  I am by no means anything more than a shutter-happy amateur when it comes to photography.  Just the same, I always feel like the detains are lacking in my attempts to capture the elaborate color palette of the fall.

Mountain overlooking Warwick Valley Winery
With the threat of all the leaves disappearing and particularly stressful work weeks behind us, my friend Erica and I set off through the woods, literally, to Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery.  Depending on which way you come from there are some seriously winding roads to get there but the view is fantastic.

Road to the winery
Cayuga Lake was my first wine tasting experience back in September and I underestimated how busy the winery would be on a Sunday afternoon.  The tasting bars did a good job keeping the masses in order and happy.  The tasting itself was a good deal ($5 for seven samples of wine and cider plus a souvenir glass) but it was obvious that the main reason you go to Warwick Valley is to spend the day.  Everyone from the locals to Manhattan escapees were claiming tables and blankets on the lawn armed with a bottle from the winery/distillery shop and munching on food from the cafe.

Back garden of Tasting Room and Shop
It was sweater weather at its finest as Erica and I enjoyed hard apple cider and baked brie surrounded by orange and yellow maples.  I got out my trusty point-and-shoot, and tried to snap some decent pictures but they still don't do the colors justice. The relaxed and picturesque environment was just what we needed and the cider didn't hurt either.  I can't wait to go back for an artisan pizza and wine, and maybe attempt some more artistic photos.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beautiful Fall Weather?

Jack-o-lanterns and Snowflakes in October
I had a post singing the praises of fall weather scheduled for tonight. However, after the mess that happened this afternoon I decided to switch it up a little bit.  The weather report suggested snow but it did not mention the six hours of flakes with definite accumulation.  The sudden season change completely threw me for a loop.  In the morning I was contemplating how long I could go without having to turn my heat on full time and by the time I left lab I was fighting the urge to turn on Christmas music. Unfortunately I've lived in this part of the country for too long to be completely surprised that it snowed in October.  I just hope this isn't the beginning of six months of constant snow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autumn Pastimes

This past weekend felt more like June than October but I'll take any nice weather I can get after Labor Day.  With the sun out and the leaves changing, it was the perfect weekend to head to the corn maze.  One of the nice things about being in Upstate New York is there are dozens of apple orchards, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and haunted hayrides around.  The farm we went to featured a corn maze (with evening haunted options), hayride to the pumpkin patch, and a petting zoo.  I was more excited about the latter two.  I do not like not knowing where I am in a maze or otherwise.  We didn't break and records going through the corn maze but we made it with me getting too anxious.  That's a lot better than I can say for the solar system corn maze from Earth Science.

Can you see the way out?
No surprise to anyone, I liked the petting zoo.  To be fair is was a little weak.  One calf, a few goats, two piglets, and some poultry.  Poultry is a petting zoo? It still seems a bit risky to me.  A dollar bought you a bag of feed which the goats were not shy about trying to steal.  The star of the set up was the calf.  He was just as content to try to nurse from my thumb as eat the feed.

So cute!

Being a country girl I was really hoping for a horse-drawn hayride.  Motorized hayrides tend to bring back memories of filling the barn with hay bales in the heat of the summer.  Alas, I couldn't find a farm offering horse drawn rides.  There were several toddlers on the wagon with us.  I was smiling while listening to the parents tell their kids to choose a pumpkins they can carry and remembering how well that worked when my parents told me and my brothers to choose our pumpkins carefully.  Sure enough, the tots all came shuffling back to the wagon struggles to hold their bright orange trophies. The Boyfriend and I picked our own pumpkins and headed home to prepare for phase two of pumpkin picking.

Extreme pumpkin carving had been on television so we had big plans for our pumpkins.  After an hour of careful carving, Our jack-o'-lanterns were complete!  I'm still impressed by how well they came out.  It was so much nicer not trying to carve a large squash in the biting cold like some jack-o-lanterns from Halloweens-gone-by.

The Boyfriend's Jack-o'-Lantern and My Jack-o'-Lantern
The fall harvest creates many fun activities for farm visitors.  Not only are corn mazes, apple picking, and pumpkin patches quintessential autumn pastimes, they are also excellent ways to support local commerce.  Check your local listings and gather the troops for a day of low-cost seasonal festivities.