Westfield, New York
I could have stayed closer to Buffalo while Bill is in SoCal, but we're not in this area just because there's a major airport nearby. We're here because it's close to Chautauqua.
Not the county, the town, or the lake. I want to visit the Chautauqua Institute. Which happens to be in the county, in the town, and on the lake, all of which are lovely as well.
When I first read Sherry's post (be sure to read it, there are lots of wonderful photos and information) about this amazing place I knew I had to visit. I wasn't sure I could get here before the season ended, and in fact my visit was on the day before the last day.
One day isn't enough to scratch the surface, but even one day is more than I can describe with any justice.
Rarely does one find such a wonderful blend of art and smart. Of open minds and strong opinions. Of opportunities to learn, and opportunities to teach. Of dogma and denominations. Of spirituality and science. Of community and individuality.
Making this an even more special experience for me is Joann who is a friend of Sue's, and who generously provides a guest pass, and the pleasure of her company over lunch and a personal foot tour. She has been coming every season for years and, like Sherry, Joann is a passionate ambassador for the program. Per usual, I fail to get a photo :-(
The institute is only 20 minutes from home and after picking up the pass and parking Piper, Tessa and I make our way to the amphitheater for the morning lecture.
|Week days at 10:45 AM the auditorium fills for the morning lecture. It holds over 4000 including the choir seating area. Still not big enough, a new auditorium is being built on this site for next season.|
|While rare anywhere else, reading the Chautauqua Daily is the first thing one does here. Paper Boys in 1920's period clothes and cap sell them throughout the grounds.|
|President Tom Becker retires tomorrow after 33 years of leadership. When he gets a bit teary to begin the announcements, the full auditorium rises to their feet with thundering applause.|
|Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Geoffrey Ward, historian and author. Good friends share their personal insights on jazz, genius and race.|
|With narrow streets and limited parking, smaller wheels are more common.|
|For every speed. Shuttles also provide free transportation throughout the village.|
Joann and I meet following the lecture and make our way among the crowd to Bestor Plaza where eateries, a book store, and the visitors center line the side of the central gathering area. Musicians play under the trees. Beautiful gardens and stately old homes surround the plaza. It's part going-back-in time, and part the-rest-of-the-world-needs-to-catch-up.
We enjoy lunch on the patio with good food and even better conversation. Afterwards Joann shows me a couple highlights including the Athenaeum Hotel, built in 1881. The Grand Old Lady is spectacular. We also see the Womens' Club of which both Joann and Justice Day O'Connor are members. Sweet!
|Later on the bus tour I learn that the cut-outs along the rail are bats, who have a wonderful history here until white-nose disease eliminated the local population.|
|From Google images, the Athenaeum Hotel|
She leaves me at the Hall of Philosophy for the afternoon presentation by Rabbi Kantor. I am forever grateful for the time I got to spend here with Joann.
|Education and entertainment - Rabbi Kenneth Kantor|
|The Hall of Philosophy is a beautiful outdoor space for listening to the lecture and songs referencing African American influence on Broadway. We all sing along to many favorites.|
|While the surrounding area is different, the Hall itself looks much as it did in 1874.|
|Here front porches are works of art.|
|Large ones include many denominational houses|
|The original year is posted on most.|
|Flags and flowers.|
|A pale pink favorite back in the trees.|
|Several statues with water features|
|The site of the founder's original cottage as both garden and art.|
|Kirsten Engstrom's United We Stand sculptures|
|and joy among the gardens.|
|Residents and visitors enjoy all the recreation of the large lake.|
If you get the chance, come. I know I'll be back.
|There are other locations throughout the country on the Chautauqua Trail.|
|So many kilts|
|Each clan has a small booth with history including shields and plaids "going back" hundreds of years.|
The festival is on the shore of Lake Chautauqua and many folks enjoy the music from the water.
|Ancient tradition and modern recreation share the water|
|Parking's a challenge so this is a great way to arrive for the festivities.|
|All sizes and speeds here.|
Then I spend way too much time observing this dancing pink castle.
|going on here?|
|Ohhh, fixing the tent frame!|
|What every grown up princess hopes is in her castle :-)|
|I manage to see one caber toss as we're leaving|
|Getting balanced before the toss|
|I have nothing to compare it to, but the toss flips the log completely over in the air and sends it about ten yards. I'm impressed!|
Sunday I am a lazy slug all day. It's wonderful.
A wonderful surprise awaits me Monday morning - cool temps! For the first time in weeks I leave the door open, the AC doesn't come on at 8 AM, and we sit outside enjoying our big green yard.
|So nice to be comfortable outdoors!|
|I extend our stay so Bill can enjoy a full day here.|
I tell the ranger I'm only 60, and she let's me in for free anyway. Saving nearly $20 in two days, I'm very much liking the people of western New York!
Although "beach" is a big stretch of the term as I know it, Tessa immediately knows where we are. The sound of the waves, the Sea Gulls on the floating dock, the life guard chair - she is definitely at the beach!
|Such a dork.|
|When the ears are all the way up, she's flying.|
|Not much sand on this little beach|
|but the water is nice|
|and it sounds like the beach|
|and we have it all to ourselves.|
|The gulls take flight as we walk away|
|Nice water views from the cliffs|
|This very large building is the only thing here. No signage. All locked up.|
|Pretty chalet style architecture|
|Spiders and wasps have taken up residence|
|One peek inside and I decide to explore elsewhere....|
|The grass and trees are green and the bridge is strong|
|but the creek is very dry.|
|The ranger tells me that although the area is in a drought, the lake is higher than normal for this time of year. Mother Nature probably knows what she's doing :-)|
|Max with Daddy Nick and Pop Pop (yes, the baby has the most hair)|