Skaneateles, New York
I am told, Skaneateles Lake is the cleanest in the whole country. And certainly, as I looked down into the water, I could see clear through to the bottom. No rubber tires, shoes or tin cans clogged the view. Boating and swimming are not only allowed, but heartily encouraged, as are wedding photography by the little fountain at the little memorial park up a little ways from the gazebo. Quaint just doesn't seem to describe the Village of Skaneateles. I must ponder upon the correct word...
We are staying at The Village Inn, which is a new place around the corner from - and owned by - The Sherwood Inn. It's a cute little house sitting atop the Paris Flea, comprised of four rooms and a landing area up from a little set of stairs leading from the front door.
Tonight we will dine in the Dining Room of The Sherwood Inn - which Joe says is something like a 4- or 5-star restaurant in the area.
We are here for the graduation of The Nephew, John (or Youngro), from Cornell University. First, Cornell sits on a hill. Let me make it clear that there is no iota of flat space on this campus other than the floors of the buildings, and the surface of the steps. Other than the obvious disadvantages, the hills give you a beautiful view of Cayuga Lake. Additionally, you could get very strong and very fast running up and down the hills. If you ran while at Cornell. Which I would not have done had I gone there because, well, there are just too many hills!
Another notable observations is that almost all of the buildings look like a church or a cathedral. Quite literally. Dorm buildings, libraries, class rooms... most of them look like churches with spires and buttresses. And there is a big, loud bell that plays all day from one of the bell towers.
As I said, John is the child of my heart and we are so happy that we could celebrate this milestone in his life with him. There was never a question of whether we were coming, the question was whether we would spend two nights or three nights and would we get time to squeeze in some winery tours. One must always consider one's priorities, you see. It appears we are hard-pressed to get in any tours given the full weekend and the fact that we must run tomorrow morning and then hit the road to get to Ohio. We decided that we will definitely come back for a long weekend (maybe later this summer?), and travel the highways and byways, following the grapes, to the little cubby hole wineries and stock our cellar up with the treasures of the regional vines.
The ceremony was in the Football Stadium and as we sat and looked around at the graduating class, the families and friends in the stadium, we realized that without us, John would be alone in the sea of people surrounding him. And we were more glad than ever to be there to share this special day with him.
The graduation was very good. In contrast to Hampshire College a few weeks ago, the ceremony was performed with all the pomp and circumstance expected out of a 136 year old Ivy League institution of higher learning. It was amazing to see the many faces of color and nationalities mingling together - it gave one hope for the world at large as these young people pass through the gates of Cornell with their idealism and freshness. I hope and wish that we, as the occupants of that world at large, welcome them and their ideas with open hearts and open minds. There is much to be learned from this latest infusion of new generation.
The President's speech was enlightening and engaging. His topic? Dirt. The lack of dirt at Schoellkopf Field where the commencement was held. His message was universal. I recognized themes of good and evil and the gray that lays between - addressed by morality plays and philosophers, from Socrates to Buddha. I pray and hope that the young people on the field took a breath from the excitement of graduation to hear his words. Maybe some of the words "stuck" in their brains deliberately, or maybe subconsciously without their knowing. They are students, after all, and they are used to learning by hearing and osmosis! And one day when they need to dig deep, find strength in their morality, perhaps faced with a decision that could have wide ramifications, or a small action that may seem so innocent, I hope they stir the words of President Lehman from the recesses of their mind: "How will you ensure that you do not wake up one morning and find that your soul has been polluted by choices you made in response to the crushing demands of life?" ... "The Slope can be slippery. And recognize that, for some kinds of dirt, the effects on your soul can be cumulative" ... "May you never be afraid to take the risk of getting dirty, but may you always be sufficiently sure-footed that you avoid the abyss of contamination."