January 4, 2022

The Mystical Magic of a Waterfall

My son David arrived from his home in North Carolina a few days before Christmas. We’d planned good food, mellow vibes, and hikes. Two years of Covid made visits rare, so it was a gift to be with him.

On Christmas Eve, we left our dogs at home (all five of them) and drove to a waterfall about half an hour away. I hadn’t been to Havana Glen for decades which made me wonder about my priorities. The ravine and park are small by local waterfall and gorge standards, and we were the only people there.

As we entered the ravine, I felt held by the enclosing stone walls as though we were entering a holy temple. Because we were the only people around, there was no need to mask. The noisy splash and wet beauty of many small waterfalls softened my concerns about Covid, climate change, and our fragmented country. Nature ruled the day.

We climbed wide metal steps along the cliff wall with the stream pounding against shale on our right. My right hand gripped the rope near the stream while my left reached out to caress solid stone cliffs. Frozen waterfalls were ice sculptures dripping in the wilderness although we were just outside the city limits of the small town of Montour Falls.

David standing on rocks on left

David led the way up the slippery steps through the narrow gorge. I lost sight of him when  he rounded a turn in the trail where the ravine opened into a large maternal womb with a gushing waterfall crashing into a pool below the cliffs. Awe struck by the beauty, I inhaled the living breath of Eagle Point Falls. I hadn’t remembered it was so powerful, but maybe I hadn’t been there during a wet time those many years ago.

David and I stood rapt, first watching and listening, then taking photos. I wondered at the healing magic hidden in this mysterious and lesser known glen so close to my home. I wondered if the Seneca Indians  camped or created ritual here and wanted to know their name for the falls.

Walking back to the car, I felt calm and cleansed by the water and the gift of sharing such mystical beauty with my son.


Have you taken time for special hikes during these stay-close-to-home days? Did trying to avoid Covid change your holiday plans? The day before this hike, David and I walked to Taughannock Falls with his friends but everyone wore masks, so it was nice to feel the misty air of Havana Glen on my maskless face.

For a post about a sacred ritual for Seneca Lake, the destination of the water from this falls, see The Sacred Water of Life: Prayer Walk for Seneca Lake. For a post about the importance of nature in my family, see Healed by Nature, Inspired by Love. (Photos for this blog by David and Elaine.)


  1. January 18, 2022 at 11:27 am



    What a lovely reflection at the beginning of this new year, Elaine. As another reader wrote, it soothed me just to read about your exquisite hike with David and to see the photos.(That first photo of the two of you goes straight to my heart.) We have a magical gorge and waterfall (small as well) about an hour’s walk out our front door but it involves rather intense scrambling down (and later up) a steep, wooded hillside which has prevented me from going for the past few years — so your post helped me imagine myself there.

    My husband and I were able to experience the mystical magic of holding our new grandson (Ro) on January 7, a few hours after he was born. We weren’t sure we were going to be able to make it, but my husband managed to dig us out of the snow so we could drive the car. Births during Covid are certainly a different experience, though Ellie was fortunate to be able to give birth in a birthing center and be home a few hours later. (Being snowbound for a couple of weeks turned out to be a gift for us in that we at least didn’t have to worry about transmitting Covid.)

    Just immersing myself in your post again this morning has felt healing. Thank you, Elaine, as always for your generous sharing.

    1. January 19, 2022 at 1:58 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Anne, you have your home waterfall deeply in memory and it’s not going anywhere. I’m glad my hike with my older son brought good memories. We had a lovely few days together with two waterfall excursions.
      The best image is you holding a newborn grandson less than 2 weeks ago. What a gift it is–as I know from watching ecstatic friends when a grandchild enters their life. I can only imagine giving birth in the days of Covid, but I’m grateful Ellie and Ro where able to come home soon. Such joy for you and your family. Congratulations!

  2. January 10, 2022 at 5:37 pm

    Mark Liebenow


    Ah, the solace of being alone in glens and canyons with the winter flow of creeks and waterfalls!

    1. January 13, 2022 at 1:39 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Or being with just one person I loved–my son. It’s a small, but exquisite hike.

  3. January 10, 2022 at 10:12 am



    That sounds like a marvellous day trip!

    1. January 10, 2022 at 4:14 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      It was, Lydia. A half-day trip which was just right. The day before we walked to the big waterfall in our area which is a 215 foot straight drop, but there were many more people walking there. We were alone at Havana Glen.

  4. January 10, 2022 at 5:33 am

    Aladin Fazel


    Wow! It was a fantastic adventure for sure. You have such magnificent surroundings. It reminds me of home in Tehran, where we could quickly reach such a similar environment. Here in Bielefeld, Germany, we have the only forest to escape to, and we are thankful, of course. Thank you, dear Elaine, for taking us a little on this beautiful trip.

    1. January 10, 2022 at 4:12 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you for walking with us, Aladin. We were lucky to have a moderate day because we’ve had bitter cold since then. I usually spend holidays with both sons, but the younger one traveled this year. It was nice to spend time with my older son. I’m glad you have the forest. That’s where I usually go because it’s closest. Blessings.

  5. January 5, 2022 at 10:26 am

    Cathy Shipos


    Thank you, Elaine! I never knew about this park or falls and can’t wait to visit it come Spring. Jim and I are spending the months of January and February in warmer climes. Currently enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the Atlantic rolling in on the shores of South Carolina.

    1. January 5, 2022 at 3:13 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Hi Cathy. Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you’re spending cold months in a warmer place, although that Washington DC storm made me glad to be north and avoid the snow. (Weather is upside down.) Maybe we can walk Havana Glen together in the spring and have a picnic outside. There are many tables there and I haven’t seen you for a long, long time. Blessed New Year!

  6. January 5, 2022 at 4:03 am

    susan scott


    ‘..the living breath of Eagle Point Falls..’ – that jumped out at me Elaine. And makes me realise and be in awe of all in Nature that lives and breathes .. and that to inhale it and breath it out is a wonderful meditation in itself.

    How lovely that you had David with you to go on this expedition. This time round we didn’t have our son David and wife Jüte with us as her birthdate is really soon, so best that they not travel from Johannesburg down to here.

    Plettenberg Bay is really busy in the season so apart from a few walks down to the lagoon we haven’t done much exploring. I’m hoping that we hire a boat in the next few days and go up river. I always feel so refreshed and calm afterwards. It is such a beautiful space and place. Tie up on a small river beach, put out sarongs, have a simple meal, plunge into the river and swim to the other side and back again. A leopard has been spotted a few times cruising along the cliffs. Very rare sighting.

    The town is emptying out now .. holiday makers are on their way home. We’re travelling up to Johannesburg fairly soon – cataract ops, teeth to be attended to – and hopefully to see the new baby! The cottage where we stay is in the prettiest suburb, ideal for walks, a park close by, many trees in the ‘burb, up and down .. I’ve been thinking of that for the last little while.

    I’m a little hopeful about this upcoming year.

    Love, Susan

    1. January 5, 2022 at 3:00 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      I agree, Susan. And there’s something about the wild energy of falling water and wind in a rushing waterfall. The air feels alive with vitality.
      I’m thinking of your David and Jute since I know you’ll be a grandma soon. How exciting for you and your family! I’m glad you have a plan to be in Johannesburg to meet the baby. Instant love–or so I’m told.
      Your boat excursion sounds delightful–and I assume leopards are not interested in people. I’m glad they’re there or anywhere in this world.
      I spent the morning doing diagnostic tests at the local hospital. Mammogram was clear but I have to wait for my medical provider to call and report results of bone density test. Along with hearing, that’s been my weak spot.
      I’m glad you’re hopeful about the coming year. I will be when the covid rate starts dropping here, but it’s intense now so I decided to do what’s called Instacart for groceries this week. I order online, pay a shopper, and don’t have to go into the store. It’s too hard to be sick when living alone and I have some concern that a sinus or inner ear infection would rob me of the hearing left in one ear. So, I’ll wait a little to go back into stores.
      Blessings to you and blessings for the birth. I’m so moved by all David and Jute do to help the world and soon that baby will be a video star.

  7. January 4, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    Marian Beaman


    Reading your immersion in the nature of the glen and falls made me feel calm and cleansed too. The overcast day gives your photos a mystical quality, so lovely. I’m glad you could spend the holiday with David.

    I enjoyed sharing steps with you through through the narrow gorge and then winding through to view the gushing falls. Last week, Shirley Showalter (who often comments on my blog) visited with her husband. We relished the antics of ducks and a heron on the lake and then took a short hike in the preserve to a brook, not gushing right now because we need rain.

    Maybe you need to return to Havana Glen soon. It sounds like the perfect place for renewal. Thanks for sharing this reflection, Elaine. And blessings on the new year ahead.

    1. January 5, 2022 at 2:47 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, Marian. We can’t get the rain to stop here and that’s the world of climate change–but the dangerous storm near Washington DC was well south of me. The weather is upside down. We had a day or 2 of cold and now it’s melting and muddy again. Fortunately, our excursion at Havana Glen was on a warmer day so the steps weren’t icy even if the ravine walls were. I will return to Havana Glen on a warm day when the sun is higher in the sky. I know it will be spectacular with more light, but the ice was a good light source for our trip. I’m glad you and Shirley had a chance to see each other and explore your world. Blessings, peace, and good health in 2022 to you and Cliff.

  8. January 4, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Deborah Gregory


    Dear Elaine,

    How wonderful it must’ve been to have David home at Christmas and no doubt Anthony came over too for another long awaited family get together during what has been such a difficult time for most families. I imagine you and your home home filling up with much love and laughter and the noise five happy dogs make as they fight for closest proximity to the log burner. Ha-Ha! Or did Disco retain her territorial hot spot!

    Nature ruled the day, I love that! Thank you for sharing the magick and mystery of this beautiful waterfall with us. It must’ve felt like you were stepping into the Otherworld as you describe the setting as a large maternal womb. And I love how quickly you fire my own imagination as you wonder if the Seneca Indians camped or created ritual there.

    Since finishing work we’ve visited two ancient woodlands and wandered down to local beaches many times. We always stop to our favourite tree elders to say hello and pause at certain points along the beach to watch the tide crashing in, especially on stormy days. Looking forward to seeing Mother Moon in the next day or two as she places Her fingernail deep in the sky.

    Love and light, Deborah.

    1. January 4, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Deborah, it was wonderful to be with David alone. Anthony spent Christmas in Mexico and California with friends and played music at venues where vaccination proof was required. I missed having everyone together and the constant jiving and laughter, but when we’re all together, it’s hard for me to have the deeper conversations that happen one-on-one. David and I enjoyed beauty, relatively mild weather, waterfalls, and delicious food, including an A+ dessert shared with a friend–and good conversations. We kept it simple with a Solstice ritual and a few practical gifts and decorations. Disco is no match for Lil’Bit the Chihuahua who had his own special pillow next to the woodstove. Willow snuggled into her own bed in quiet corner across the room, and Disco retreated to the couch. David’s other dogs spread themselves around. We took them all for walks in the woods every day, but Disco doesn’t get to be the boss with Lil’Bit around.

      The waterfall is a 40 foot or 12 meter straight drop, but the whole environment is mystical and beautiful in every direction. Photos don’t quite capture it. (Do they ever?) I need to go alone on a brighter day for photography. There are a few sunny days in this week’s weather forecast so I hope to see the Moon-Jupiter conjunction Jan. 5 or maybe tonight, too. New Year’s Blessings to you and Lin with more beautiful days in the woodlands and near the ocean. I hope you don’t get a complete shutdown in England. The covid situation here is alarming and I’m glad I love staying home. May we have Peace and Civility.

      1. January 5, 2022 at 4:49 am

        Deborah Gregory


        Oh, how joyful then to have had your son David all to yourself! Ha-ha! Lil’ Bit had his own pillow next to the woodstove … I did laugh and hope that Disco didn’t sulk for too long! I do love hearing about your dog adventures too and wonder if either Willow or Disco react much to the monarch nursery, especially as you brought them inside, your office I believe, for a bit last summer?

        Well, I couldn’t keep away from a waterfall so close by after your beautiful description and photos. I’ve just seen your latest night sky photo on FB, wow, what a beautiful clear night you had! Re shutdown, Boris seems determined to just “ride it out” despite the fact that our case numbers for this island are higher than the whole of the US … go figure, it doesn’t make sense! Deep sigh.

        1. January 5, 2022 at 3:10 pm

          Elaine Mansfield


          Disco never sulks, but she wanted to play or snuggle. Lil’Bit wasn’t interested. Neither Willow or Disco are interested in the Monarchs on the back porch in summer. I rarely bring Monarchs inside unless the nights are cold and it’s time for a late Monarch to migrate. It’s probably overprotection, but I fret when it’s so cold they can’t fly and it’s migrating season.

          I can’t imagine walking the narrow trail to the waterfalls with dogs on leash, so they’d have to stay home. At home, they run free because they’re good girls and stay close to me on the trails and in the woods. I visited two other waterfalls today on my way to town, both near a road rather than in a park. We have waterfalls here! And nothing about Covid or politics makes sense! I’m grateful for Beauty, Love, and poetry. They make sense.

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