Crick’s Run

Shortly after entering the woods at the end of the road, we found orange ribbons marking the trail.

DSC00654 Orange Ribbon

We followed them and eventually discovered that in addition to orange ribbons, there were also reflective markers, the likes of which I had never seen before. Some were plain round dots.

DSC00652 Reflective Trail Marker

Others were “flag” types.

DSC00651 Reflective Trail Marker

They led to what appeared to be an old logging road that climbed up and up to a lovely old forest at the top of a hill. The view was well worth the climb.

DSC00663 Coffee Break View

Along the way, there was plenty to see, including intricate lichens and mosses on trees.

DSC00657 Moss on Tree

And footprints. I’m guessing this one is fisher. My glove could just barely cover this set of prints:

DSC00665 Fisher perhaps

The fox must have been very slight, not even breaking through the snow. Because the track wasn’t deep, it was difficult to get a decent picture of the track.

DSC00670 Fox Foot print

Squirrel tracks were equally difficult to photograph.

DSC00678 Squirrel Foot Prints

I didn’t even try to get the mouse tracks!

I couldn’t resist arranging these leaves that Glock (the German Shepherd) dug up while we ate lunch.

DSC00680 Just some Leaves

And after lunch, we chose a route that took us in the same direction as a bear!

DSC00682 Bear Foot Print

The hemlock-lined creek was running fast, making for wonderful water noises.

DSC00687 Ice in the Creek

The upturned tree was fascinating. I took several pictures, but was never really able to capture its essence. This is the closest I came:

DSC00694 Rocks and Roots

I started this post back in January when I originally took the hike. WordPress started misbehaving, so I abandoned it. Now WordPress is back… but I can’t remember what else I intended to share about the walk! It was definitely beautiful. Can’t wait to go back.

A Sense of Place

It was my turn to write for the weekly column.  Here’s what I came up with:

A Sense of Place
by Jennifer Schlick

I had a peak experience while on horseback in the summer heat and sun of Bryce Canyon.  Brilliantly orange hoodoos rose above me against a sky so intensely blue as I listened to the musical song of Canyon Wrens and watched the seemingly playful, though actually purposeful flights Violet-green Swallows.


Bryce Canyon National Park

I’ve walked in the desert, and learned the names of cacti and shrubs that can survive in a landscape of sun and drastic temperatures.  I’ve watched seals swimming in the waters off Cape Cod and poked around in the sand and pebbles looking for shells, marveling at the power of the moon to create the tides.  I’ve hiked above the tree line in the Rocky Mountains where the air is thin and the view magnificent.  I’ve camped in Arkansas just west of the Mississippi and watched dozens of species of birds fly overhead, and on the bank of the White River near the Badlands in South Dakota on a full moon night.


A Cape Cod Shoreline

All of these places hold special memories for me, but none of them is home.  None of them engenders that special “sense of place” that makes me feel whole.  It takes good old western New York forests and rolling hills, and streams to do that.

That phrase – “sense of place” – became the buzz-phrase of the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Psychology and sociology students wrote papers about it.  I found one online prepared by Jennifer Cross from the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University, written in late 2001 and based on interviews she conducted in the late 1990s with people in one particular location.  In the paper, Cross describes six categories of relationships to the landscape.  I looked for myself in these descriptions and found two that resonated – biographical and spiritual.

Pink Fog in the Morning

Keyser Lake, Camp Timbercrest, Randolph, NY

The biographical relationship, Cross explains, is “characterized by a strong sense of identification with place and a relatively long residence.  In these relationships, place is an integral part of personal history.”  I was born and raised in the Jamestown area.  I’ve been away from Western New York only for relatively short trips.  My longest times away were eleven months in Japan when I was a Rotary Exchange Student, and two and a half years while in school in the Phoenix, Arizona region.  Other trips were at most a month long.

So, yeah.  I have a long residence here.  And a good deal of my time since childhood has been spent out in it.  I grew up in that wonderful era when children were kicked out of the house after breakfast and only popped in when hungry.  We played in our yard, or the neighbors’ yards, or the schoolyard, (or the secret places we weren’t allowed to go to – shh, don’t tell my mom) from morning until bedtime.  I was privileged to spend two weeks of every summer at Girl Scout Camp in nearby Randolph, New York.  As Jennifer Cross explains, “spending time in a place creates memories and experiences, which become part of a person’s individual and community identity.”  This place is me.  I am this place.


Icy Layers, Chautauqua Gorge, Mayville, NY

Cross describes the spiritual relationship as being “based on something much less tangible than personal history. [The interviewees] describe relating to place in a profound way, of having a deep sense of belonging or resonance that is difficult to describe and is often unexpected.”

This happens to me most often when hiking.  I am simply awestruck at the beauty that surrounds me, the diversity of plants and animals, and the interconnectedness of it all.  I am humbled to realize I am a part of it, too.  I breathe the forest air and have the sensation that the forest is breathing my air – that we breathe together as one whole being.  The water rushing or meandering or trickling through gorges, streams and gullies is my life blood.  We are one.

DSC00441 Frosty Morning

A Frosty Morning, Allegany State Park, Cattaraugus County, NY

I now have two dear friends and a daughter who live out west and who tell me all the time how much I would love Colorado.  Another friend extols the virtues of his Florida home and tempts me with photographs of wildlife and ocean landscapes and sunsets.  My siblings-in-law have retired on a little island off the coast of Honduras and beg me to come visit.

Visits might be fine.  But I don’t know how any place but western New York can be home.

DSC00404 Busti

Mist and Mystery, Busti, NY

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Audubon Nature Center, 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania.  For more information about the Nature Center, call (716) 569-2345 or visit

Jennifer Cross’s paper can be found at


A Healing Walk

Came home from Colorado with a cold.  Spent the week taking it as easy as I could and still go to work (or work from home).  Sunday (no hunting allowed in the Park) was a day to clear out my lungs!

Only walked about 3 miles.  It was enough.  It was gorgeous!

DSC00441 Frosty Morning

I took more photos, but this is the only one I liked!

Checked several trees for Hemlock Wooly Adelgids.  Found none!  Whoo-hoo!

Stay-cation – Day 2

After coffee and some delicious home-baked apple muffins, we hit the road for a couple of not-too-far-away nature-y places.  First, the Alder Bottom Wildlife Management Area – where I took a very random assortment of pictures.

IMG_6492Alder Bottom

IMG_6424Northern Crescent
Northern Crescent

IMG_6432 White Pine at Alder Bottom
Big Old White Pine

IMG_6440Blister Beetle
Blister Beetle

IMG_6469Bear Scat
Bear Scat

This picture was just down the road from the parking area:
IMG_6495 Alder Bottom

Next stop was Chautauqua Gorge.

IMG_6521 Maple branches reflected in Creek
I take way too many pictures of reflections in the water… or shadows in the water…

IMG_6542 Crystal Clear Waters

…or leaves in the water.

IMG_6531Leaves on the Creek

IMG_6534 Reflections on the Creek

IMG_6540 Autumn in the Creek

IMG_6599 Gorge Abstract - Reflections in Creek

IMG_6626 Leaves and Waterfall

IMG_6632 Leaves in the Rushing Water


And then there are the rocks…

IMG_6566 Rock Detail

IMG_6621 Fossil

IMG_6649 Fossil

The forest provides lots of interesting images, too.

IMG_6535Red Maple Leaf in Ironwood Tree

IMG_6567 Banks

IMG_6592 Running Strawberry Bush
Running Strawberry Bush

IMG_6554 mushrooms on mossy log

IMG_6622 Precisely Punctured

IMG_6617 Christmas Fern
Christmas Fern

IMG_6556Leaves in the Grass

IMG_6559 on the banks at the gorge


IMG_6500 Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel

IMG_6502 Witch Hazel Shadow
Also Witch Hazel

IMG_6518 Lichen

We also drove up to Luensman Overview Park – just for a look, not for a hike.

IMG_6659Luensmann Overview Park

On the way back to Kat’s for dinner, followed by “art crimes” we stopped by a beaver pond on Stebbins Road. I took a lot of pictures, but got stuck in the processing on this one:

IMG_6677 Stebbins Road Beaver Pond Color
It’s upside down.

Then I turned it Black and White, just for fun:
IMG_6677 Stebbins Road Beaver Pond BW

There are many more pictures from that place… but that’s all I’ve processed so far…

Roast Beef dinner followed by collage-making rounded out the evening. (Maybe I should scan/photograph my masterpiece…)

Embracing Art

I wrote this article for the Audubon’s weekly column:

Embracing Art
by Jennifer Schlick


Anything can be a “canvas” for nature tangles – even painted rocks.

I don’t remember the incident, but the story continues to be told about the day I came home “sick” from the first grade. My mom says she gave me a bath and got me settled on the couch – where all sick children wait for health to return. Eventually she got me to admit that I wasn’t sick at all. Apparently my class was making a farm mural. Each child was assigned something to add to the scene. I had been asked to draw a rooster and, well, I didn’t know how. My first traumatic art moment.

The following year, on one of those warm, wonderful, almost-summer days, the art teacher, thinking she was doing us all a big favor, took our class outside to sketch in nature. I remember this one and it still gives me a knotted stomach. I spent half the class trying to decide WHAT to draw, and the rest of the time trying and erasing until there was a hole in my paper. By this time, age 7, I had decided that I couldn’t draw and that art was not for me.

IMG_9746   IMG_9842
The leaves on the left were part of the inspiration for my first ever “Nature Tangle.”

IMG_0724 Nest Box Nature Tangles

At one of our Secret Gardens Tours, I found this birdhouse decorated with Nature Tangles!

In my late thirties, in an attempt to face my fear of art, I signed up for a drawing class.  After introductions (and true confessions), my wonderful instructor said something that completely changed my outlook. “Drawing is a learned skill. It’s not that you CAN’T draw. You have never been taught. You have never learned to draw.” How liberating! I still “can’t” draw, but now I know it is not because there is an innate deficiency in my character, rather simply because I haven’t practiced drawing. Now, when I see opportunities to make art in community with others just for fun, I often take advantage. Such was the case a few years ago when at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage I saw a listing for something called “Nature Tangles.” After a quick overview of this easy-as-doodling technique and looking at some samples, we took a walk outside looking for the patterns and lines and textures that might inspire our own creations. And once inside, transferring that inspiration to paper, we were all in the zone – uninterruptable, absorbed. When the announcement came that class was over, we were shocked; the time had flown by!

My drawing was no masterpiece, but it was good enough to display in my office! And the process was absolutely meditative.

Boy Fairy

One of Sarah’s wonderful fairy creatures – Boy Fairy

The Nature Center is pleased to offer you the opportunity to experience Nature Tangles (and overcome your fear of art?). On Saturday, August 15, 2015 from 1:00pm until 3:00pm, fine arts teacher Sue Yauchzy will lead us through a process not unlike the one I experienced at Allegany. She and I have had fun going through the art catalogs to purchase sketchbooks, pencils, markers, and erasers – all of which will be yours to keep after class so you can keep on doodling!

If three-dimensional art is more your cup of tea, you might consider joining Sarah Hatfield to learn some of her techniques for making imaginative creatures. On Saturday, August 22, 2015 from 10:00am until 12:00pm, you can turn pine cones, acorns and their “caps,” dried flowers, twigs, and bark, into fairies, birds, squirrels, or dragons. These whimsical creatures sit nicely on window sills and fireplace mantels, or tuck neatly into spots in your garden where they can stand guard over your flowers. I know there’s at least one of you out there who wants to learn how because you wrote it on the evaluation form after the Woodcock Whirl, where Sarah’s creations graced the tables.

Girl Fairy

Another of Sarah’s creations: Girl Fairy

The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the center and its many programs for adults and children by visiting or calling (716) 569-2345.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.

Coming Soon: Audubon Days at Panama Rocks!

I recently wrote this article for our local papers:

Coming Soon: Audubon Days at Panama Rocks
by Jennifer Schlick

IMG_4542 Mother's Day 2015

Enjoying the Rocks (sans Lolli) on Mother’s Day.

OK, I’ll be honest: I don’t often go hiking places where I can’t take my dog. That’s why Panama Rocks fell off my radar. And then for Christmas, I received a season pass. So, on Mother’s Day, Lolli the Pup stayed home and I went with my husband and daughters to a place I hadn’t experienced in years. We picnicked first, then headed out to explore the trails, scavenger hunt clues in hand. We scrambled up to get closer views of some of the formations. We rested for a bit on a nice outcropping and set the camera timer to get a great family photo. We cooled off at the Ice Crevice where there was still snow! We read all the signs, and figured out all the clues – and yes! We found the treasure! We had such a great time I’ve been back twice since. Poor Lolli.

IMG_4915-Scrambling on the Rocks

Stay on the trail, or choose a more challenging path.

If you haven’t been in a while (or ever?), I encourage you to join the Audubon Nature Center staff and volunteers at Panama Rocks on Saturday or Sunday, August 1 and 2, 2015.

The trails are rugged, but not too difficult. Or, you can MAKE it difficult by scrambling up the rock faces, or squeezing yourself through narrow passages, the most famous of which appears on the map as Fat Man’s Misery.

The park has been privately owned and in operation since 1885. The current owners, Craig & Sandi Weston, purchased the park in 1979 and have been working to restore historic buildings and protect the natural beauty for the thousands of visitors that explore from May through October. During one of my visits, a conversation with Craig & Sandi’s son Jonathan about partnerships led to this grand experiment – a collaboration between Panama Rocks and Audubon Nature Center.

IMG_4933 - Ferns and Rocks

Experts will be on hand to teach about the geology and trees found in the scenic area.

August 1 and 2, 2015 have been dubbed Audubon Days at Panama Rocks. Nature Center staff and volunteers will be available at the Rocks to answer your questions about nature, programs at the Nature Center, and more. In addition, there will be activities for children, guided nature walks, and maybe even a few of our education animals. Folks who join or renew their membership in the Audubon Friends of the Nature Center group will get 14 months for the price of 12. There will also be a drawing for a free one-year membership.

I’m especially looking forward to the geology and forestry walks that will be led by Tom Erlandson and Dan Anderson. Both are retired instructors from Jamestown Community College and both have a wealth of knowledge to share. At 10:30am, you may choose either Geology or Trees. The walks will repeat in the afternoon as follows: On Saturday, Geology is 1:30pm and Trees is at 3:30pm; on Sunday, Trees is at 1:30pm and Geology is at 3:30pm.

Dave Moller and Gary Cuckler

The duo “Steel Rails” (Dave Moller & Gary Cuckler) will play on Saturday from 2:00 until 4:00pm. Maybe longer!

Saturday visitors will enjoy music by Gary Cuckler and Dave Moller from about 2:00pm until 4:00pm. Sunday visitors will be serenaded by Bill Moran. We’re working on a few other surprises… but not everything was in place when this article went to print!

Panama Rocks is open daily from 10:00am until 5:00pm during the spring, summer, and fall. Every day, including during Audubon Days, regular Panama Rocks admissions will be in effect: general admission is $7.50, children ages 6-12 are $5, children ages 5 and under free. Panama Rocks is generously donating a portion of each admission to the Nature Center on Audubon Days, so your fee will be helping TWO nature organizations at the same time!

IMG_4607 - Found the Treasure!

Test your puzzle-solving skills and see if you can find the hidden treasure.

IMG_4913-Interpretive Sign - human history

Signs along the trail teach about human and natural history.

We are hoping to make this the biggest attendance weekend of the summer for Panama Rocks. And since word of mouth is always the best advertising, won’t you help us spread the word? Tell your friends – in person, preferably, or if you are on Facebook, join the event at 692951320836189/, then invite your friends to go with you. Bring a picnic, blanket, lawn games. Perhaps you know people who are coming to Jamestown for the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Maybe they would like to spend a morning or afternoon exploring nature before heading downtown.To minimize the impact on the scenic area, please plan to picnic on the upper grounds where picnic tables, trash cans and recycle bins are available. Folks are asked not to take food or beverages into the scenic area – only reusable water bottles are permitted.

Panama Rocks is located at 11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, New York. Learn more about the park at their website, The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, New York, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Nature Center at

Many thanks to Jonathan & Holly Weston for starting the conversation.

Click here for more pictures.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.