My Hector Home: Protecting the forests of the Finger Lakes

Willow looks over the world from an upstairs attic window. “What are we doing inside, Mom?” she whines with soft little moans. “The sun is shining. Let’s go.” Willow is my walking buddy now that I’m on my own.

We’re ready. Willow wears her “Hector hunting cape.” This time of year, all the fashionable dogs wear orange in my neighborhood. “Got a dog cookie?”

Bareboned basswood trees reach for blue sky. My husband’s ashes are buried by a tall red oak near this basswood clump.

Stream water dances across the shale: water, earth, and light.

My son Anthony and his friends built shale walls, tables, and a fire pit almost twenty years ago. It’s my personal Stonehenge, the place where I invite friends for fires and rituals. An ancient pine stands guard. There are many species of trees in this part of my woods–shag and smooth bark hickory, red, white, and pin oak, ash trees that fight for life against a borer, white and red pines, hard and soft maples, and a few young chestnuts that won’t make it to adulthood because of a blight. The woods is under environmental stress with the loss of many species in recent years. Fracking is the newest threat. My friend and helper Matt Hoff and my conservation forester Mike DeMunn help me follow healthy forest practices to keep the forest strong, but environmental challenges are everywhere and fracking threatens to undermine our best efforts.

In early winter, delicate moss decorates the shale with a few snowflakes for accent.

Vic and I bought this land in 1973 and signed a conservation easement with the Finger Lakes Land Trust in 2005. We hoped to protect the beauty and health of this place. Since Vic’s death, I’ve relied on the fields, forests, and long views for healing. When grief overwhelms me, I walk the trails and remember that I am part of the natural cycles of time.

After today’s walk, I am rewarded with this sunset. Willow is rewarded with a warm nap.

Governor Cuomo, don’t allow gas companies to frack New York State. I love the beauty of my land, the purity of the air, and clean water just as you love the place you call home. Help us protect what can’t be replaced.


For more posts about the environmental threat of fracking and gas storage to Seneca Lake and all the Finger Lakes, see Angry Faces, Churning Water and Angry Faces, Placid Water. For more information about fracking in New York State, go to Gas Free Seneca and Hector Clean Water. Please sign this petition to stop fracking in New York.

  1. Beautiful! Even without the stunning photos, your words make the images come to life in very powerful ways. Can’t wait to be in Hector for Christmas!! Love you.

  2. Just lovely, Elaine. I remember your telling me about the stone “cathedral” your sons built. I got to see it tonight, here at my desk in California. And feel the warmth of your woodstove. And yourheart. xxxx m

    • Marli, thanks for your warm and encouraging response. I imagine a sunny day isn’t unusual where you live. Have a peaceful and love-filled Solstice.

  3. Thank you, Elaine…a virtual walk in your beautiful woods was what I needed…

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