We visit the Utica Zoo every winter (admission is free until mid-March). Almost all the snow is gone, so we ventured, for the first time, up the nature trail. I didn’t realize there were animals up here, too: Mexican wolves, snow owls, some other critters that I can’t remember. It was a pleasant walk, and quite balmy for New York: 35 degrees.
These sculpted hands of marble were formed sometime in the mid-1800s, by a freed slave. They are the hands of famous abolitionist (and former Congressman and presidential candidate of the old Liberty Party) Gerrit Smith, intertwined with those of his beloved wife, Ann Carroll Fitzhugh. The freedman sculpted this as a labor of love for Gerrit Smith. The Smiths were fervent abolitionists, and Gerrit Smith was called the Stationmaster of the Underground Railroad. He gave money, much of his property, and a life of sacrifice, to runaway slaves and to the abolitionist movement in this country.
This sculpture was in the Smith’s house in Peterboro, NY, for years until a house fire destroyed their home. The sculpture was one of the things saved in the fire, and was brought to the home in 1936 of the Higinbothams of Oneida, NY, family friends of the Smiths. The Higinbotham home is now the Madison County Historical Society. We visited the place a few weeks ago, and I’ve been writing several posts about the wonderful treasures in the house. You can read more about it here.
Here’s a bit of trivia: The Smiths’ grandson, Gerrit Smith Miller, introduced the first herd of Holstein into America when he brought back cows from Prussia!
Taken at Oneida Lake, Lewis Point, NY. Just a few months ago, the lake was solid frozen. Snowmobile tracks were like zipper marks on the ice, and a few dark ice fishing shanties peppered the horizon. Now it’s just ice, and noisy geese in the melting areas. Too treacherous to venture out on the surface anymore.
The twigs on this scraggly box alder tree seem to be lifting its twining fingers upwards, to the bejeweled New York sky. I took this while seeing Oneida Lake. Box alder trees are plentiful in wet areas. They are considered junk trees, or weed trees, due to their rapid growth, messy hygiene, and inability to die (unless you dig ten feet down and yank out the stump; but even then, it may grow back). I have quite a few of these trees in my yard and they are my least favorite.
Still, in late winter, anything plant-like is a welcome sight.