Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Places We've Been, Part II

You might expect to see aquamarine water like this in the Caribbean -- but these pictures were taken just outside dull, dreary Syracuse, in Green Lakes State Park, where Dad and I took a walk a couple of weekends ago. The color of the water beggars description; if I hadn't taken these photographs, I wouldn't believe it myself.

The two lakes in the park are "meromictic," meaning that the water never overturns, so that the bottom layers of water stay forever on the bottom and never mix with the layers near the top. The lakes are the plunge pools of long-gone waterfalls from glacial days, and their depth, plus dissolved minerals in the water, explain the water's extraordinary clarity and color.

Walking trails run along the shorelines of both lakes and, on the lovely October Sunday afternoon when we visited, were crowded with happy people running, walking their happy dogs, or simply wandering along the way we did, marveling at the beauty of it all.

Chalky white banks are visible just under the water all around the shorelines. These are "marl reefs" that have built up over the years -- and continue to grow -- as the result of annual precipitation of calcite and other minerals from the water. Because of the lakes' rare attributes, they have been extensively studied by scientists, and as we saw on our visit, the scientific studies aren't over yet.

Dad did his part by holding up a tree or two in the old-growth forest of sugar maples, cedar, hemlocks, and tulip trees that surrounds the lakes.

We saw lots of surprising things that day, but I don't know if anything startled us more than the black squirrels. I didn't know there were such things, but we saw several of them -- as fat, black, and glossy as Halloween cats -- scrambling around the park. I apologize for this blurry picture, but they move fast. It turns out that black squirrels are found in several places and are a well-known phenomenon in and around Syracuse. Who knew?

Coming Next: Places We've Been, Part III, featuring four states, many Murphies, a midnight wedding, gorgeous mountains, elusive waterfalls, and a very weird hotel. Congratulations, Michael and Alyson!

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