0516 – Spring Has Arrived

_MG_2181_01_LR_10Strawberries are on the way. This strawberry field at Story Farms, here in Catskill, will soon be the site of an annual Spring ritual – little kids out with Mom and Dad picking their own – childhood memories that run through generations. Jim and Irene and their operation are local treasures.

Cindy and I took advantage of a beautiful Sunday afternoon and drove up the mountain, with a couple of destinations in mind. First was the Platte Clove cabin I will be spending time in this July, courtesy of the Platte Clove Artists in Residency Program. After a brief tour of the cabin we hiked down to the base of Plattekill Falls, one of twenty or so falls that run the length of the Clove.

_MG_2176_01_LR_12The cabin is situated just above to the right of the top of the falls. Six days and nights – yes, I am excited!

From there a short ride over to the Mountaintop Arboretum, with its sculpted gardens and a grand view of the Catskill peaks. But it was the small pond that caught our attention.

IMG_9733_01_LR_10Floating just under the surface, seemingly everywhere, looking like pearls suspended in diaphanous  sacs, were clusters of salamander eggs. And it continues to amaze me to watch nature do what it does. I marvel at it.


IMG_0785_01_LR_10More images here from a sandstone I picked up recently, mostly brachiopods. As ordinary as they seem to be, it should be noted that brachiopods first appeared on the scene during the Cambrian Period (540 to 485 million years ago). Even more amazing is that a small number of brachiopod descendants still exist today.

IMG_0729_01_LR_12Various extinctions have occurred throughout time. I read recently that, “…for complex organisms, the average lifespan of a species is only about four million years – roughly about where we are now.” (that from A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson)

IMG_0761_01_LR_12I also read the other day in the New York Times a story that got way too little attention given its import. Entitled Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears, it states:

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years…

…The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

IMG_0744_01_LR_10I always thought that collective self-awareness was a logical step forward in evolution. Now I sometimes find myself wondering if we aren’t just one of the many species this planet has seen many times before with a limited lifespan.


Global climate change is real. Let your representatives in D.C. know that effective measures can still have a positive effect.Click on the link below for phone numbers:


_MG_2222_01_LR_12Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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Ausable Chasm

Driving down the west side of Lake Champlain we ran across a place called “Ausable Chasm.” I had spotted their brochure in  a local diner, on the rack that advertises the nearest Putt-Putt, Zoom Flume, and all other attractions designed to entertain the American Family on Summer vacation. Usually, I drive right past such places, more than happy to avoid the lines, the bored kids wishing they were home with their xbox, the deep fried objects vaguely resembling food, the… you get the picture, I’m sure.

But I learned a long time ago that “tourist sites” exist for a variety of reasons (commercial opportunities often high on that list). Most important among them is the idea that there is often something very cool there to witness or experience. Well, Ausable Chasm , it turns out, is that very place. We did have some things in our favor. It was a beautiful day for a hike. Schools had not yet let out for the Summer. Best of all, Ausable Chasm tells a fascinating story of geologic history.

Thankfully, stepping on to the first trail erased any notions of “tourist hell!”  In fact, the next two plus hours were filled with wonder and amazement. First discovered in 1765, this sandstone gorge was formed nearly 500 million years ago during the Cambrian Period and claims to be one of the oldest attractions in the country. Walkways rim the Chasm, dropping down to various levels throughout its length, offering views experienced by visitors for the past one hundred forty years.

“Seneca Ray” Stoddard (whose stereoscopic views of Ausable Chasm I present here) photographed the Adirondacks during the latter part of the 1800s. While his work exposed the Adirondacks to a post – Civil War audience eager to travel, he is perhaps best remembered for his documentation of unregulated mining and logging devastation. That work led to the 1892 “Forever Wild” clause in the New York State Constitution. Two exhibits of his work are currently on view at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. and the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls, NY.

I discovered “Seneca Ray” after our trip, and only then did I begin to match the images. In my follow up research I also discovered an 1888 catalog Stoddard shot for the Ausable folks – an interesting travelog from another time. It is downloadable as a PDF here.

Equal to the spectacle of a carved out canyon are the wonderful patterns that the rock creates. Between the layers of sediment, chemical reactions in the sandstone from age and leaching, and the strange fracturing, you’d think that someone took paint and a broad brush to the chasm walls! I’ll end this week with images from the “painted” walls interspersed with a few more views of the Chasm.

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Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Thanks again for the visit.