My obsession with one "finger"
consummated, a second campaign was born; go for two handfuls! Over the past eight
years I've walked around six of Keuka's sisters, relishing the discovery of their
similarities and differences. They vary in size, from three-mile-long pinky, Canadice,
to the 35-mile-long index finger, Seneca, whose 600 foot depth reaches below sea
They vary in function, too: Hemlock and Canadice are wild, uninhabited
reservoirs, while Cayuga and Seneca are virtual inland seas, home to Wells, Ithaca,
Cornell, Hobart and William Smith colleges, with global access by boat via New
York's canal system and the Great Lakes.
Seneca's orchards speak to the
agricultural legacy of the Iroquois. The vineyards and wineries
of Keuka, Seneca and Canandaigua are a monument to commercial success, while stoney
reminders of that tough-to-cultivate, yet vine-friendly soil common to most of
the lakes. Gamefish jumping and fishing boats dotting every lake are reminders
of what has drawn sportsmen here for generations.
beautifully-kept real estate suggests opulence and smart ecology are not mutually
exclusive. The intense level of recreational activity found on Conesus on a summer
weekend is in sharp contrast to the isolation just over the hill on Hemlock Lake,
where, one bitter March day, I stood a stone's throw from a pair of bald eagles
and watched them hack away at a frozen carp protruding from the thick ice.
When one considers the plethora of cottages, bed and breakfasts, wineries, marinas, public boat accesses, beaches and full-service
parks found on these lakes, perhaps the Iroquois saw into the region's future
when they named lake No. 7 "Canandaigua, the chosen place."
If you go: Year-round fishing, summer boating and water sports, cruises, fall
wine tastings and foliage viewing, ice fishing and snowmobiling. Call the Finger
Lakes Association at 800-KIT-4-FUN for further information.
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