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Gristmill: Not Dead Yet

Wed, 06/26/2024 - 18:06
At Watkins Glen State Park.
Julie Greene

It’s not dead yet. Nature, that is. Stopping off in Watkins Glen for a hike as we drove Daughter #1 to her college town an hour or so north and west of there, the paths into and around the state park’s spectacular gorge and 19 waterfalls were as packed as peak-season Disney World.

Turns out tour companies had brought them in by the busload, cameras in hand, from far-off lands — Edison, New Jersey, for instance.

Get it while you can, tourists, because it was a smoking 90 degrees in the shade up there on Saturday, and who knows when the infernos might ignite, Canada-style, across the wooded land.

As a sideshow to the falling-water glory, though, in the parade of humanity it was a mite worrisome to note, speaking of Disney throngs, the sheer unhealthful fleshiness of the native born, in their scant summer wear, even as they schlepped across slick stone footing and up the innumerable steps carved out by the desperate workers of the Depression era.

And, Americans, can we ease up on the tattoos? Never mind the long-expired coolness factor, have you thought about what they’re going to look like when all that skin starts to sag? Leave them to the convicts and the conscripted.

Still, fellow citizens, seeing you appreciate the natural surroundings as you earnestly traipsed through this astonishing state park, one that I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of — it ranks up there with the “Grand Canyon of the East,” nearby Letchworth — was encouraging. Because it could be noted on that blistering afternoon that we’re cutting it awfully close, in terms of reversing any effects of climate change.

Climate denialism, the somewhat related “heads I win, tails you lose” election denialism, social media’s reality and rationality denialism. What are we doing? 

It’s probably useless to tell anyone to read novels or go to church. But a restorative hike is a start.


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