Submitted by Guest Blogger: Kathy Barlow
Ten Reasons to be grateful in and around Saranac Lake
This year, after a rainy (and cool) spring and summer, autumn gave birth to warm days, cool nights, and a festival of colors in the mountains. The extended good weather gave us more opportunities to take advantage of all our area has to offer. Now, as the days are getting shorter and the stars shine a bit brighter into the early morning hours, we can take time to reflect on our good fortune and be grateful for a place that offers us these sensual feasts!
Health benefits to gratitude
Gratitude is a feeling of deep appreciation for something. There are many benefits that result from being grateful, including strengthening our emotional system, enhancing our wellbeing, and reducing stress and anxiety. Being grateful is one tool to help us re-center and generate positive energy. Thornton Wilder, the author, said that “we can only be said to be alive in those moments our hearts are conscious of our treasures." Saranac Lake is the perfect community to practice gratitude and become conscious of our treasures.
Saranac Lake hosts year-round activities that appeal to almost everyone — New Year’s fireworks, Daffest (our spring daffodil celebration), the annual HoboFest music celebration, the holiday Sparkle Village Arts and Crafts fair, and, of course, Winter Carnival — we are captivated with fun family events. There are many reasons to be grateful that we live in or visit Saranac Lake. This vibrant little community nestled in the Adirondack Mountains is alive four seasons a year with music, markets, and merriment.
Harmonizing with nature
Participating in activities and events can be tiring. Sometimes we want to get away from it all and find peace and solitude. Even in bustling Saranac Lake, there are quiet spots to practice gratitude and harmonize your life. Feng shui (fung shway) is the philosophical Chinese practice of harmonizing everyone with their environment. The principles of feng shui include wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These harmonic principles are naturally introduced into our Saranac Lake environment in subtle ways – the metal and wooden bridges, the fire in Berkeley Green and the trees, lakes, and rivers in our region. Being in harmony with life is also an outcome of being grateful.
Here are my top 10 favorite spots to find quiet and practice gratitude in Saranac Lake:
- The Riverwalk: The Riverwalk is an amazing brick-paved walkway that takes you alongside the Saranac River as it twists and turns its way through town. In total, the Riverwalk is a 3 mile, round trip journey. Starting behind Harrietstown Town Hall, the walkway traverses along the river. You may see fish, turtles, and ducks navigating the river, as well as deer stopping by for a sip of water. Beaver Park, a popular fishing location across the river from the Riverwalk, is also a lovely spot to enjoy the river. The Riverwalk has carefully tended flower gardens and flowering trees that span three seasons. The Riverwalk shifts its way across Main Street as it crosses the river and heads north. In a curious blend of urban and solace, the Riverwalk continues through commercial and wooded areas, offering benches along the way to pause and rest.
- Pine Ridge Cemetery: Pine Ridge Cemetery is steeped in local history and provides clues to some of the earliest settlers in Saranac Lake. The cemetery is divided into sections to provide discrete accommodations for religious and cultural preferences. There is a reverent hush from the busy nature of daily life in the cemetery.
- The Pines trails: The Pines trailhead is located down the street from the cemetery and provides a much more forested Adirondack environment. The trail system consists of a brief climb up a pine-needle covered trail, and then a short walk through the forest. Benches and chairs dot the way, providing a quiet place to rest. The trail connects Pine Street with Moody Pond.
- Moody Pond: Moody Pond might be my favorite meditative spot in Saranac Lake. The walk around the pond is slightly more than a mile. The road is well kept and flat, giving one the option of walking slowly or at a faster speed. The pond is at the base of Baker Mountain.
- Baker Mountain: A short hike up Baker Mountain provides spectacular views of McKenzie Pond, Lake Flower, and Upper Saranac Lake. Climbing up the well-trod trail becomes an integrated form of gratitude because you appreciate your limbs and muscles for allowing you to hike while rejoicing in the wooded surroundings.
- Denny Park: Located on the Saranac River at the corner of Pine Street and Bloomingdale Avenue. The small beach area is used as a kayak and canoe launch, fishing hole, and swim area. The constantly flowing river is a mesmerizing meditation to practice gratitude.
- Lake Flower Boat Launch: Despite being located on a busy street and being an active boat launch, the long view down Lake Flower, punctuated by Scarface Mountain, fills you with peace. Benches and picnic tables make it possible to sit for a period of time and commune with nature. The lake is very reflective of the sun and wind and, often appears to be dancing in time with the universe.
- Bloomingdale Bog: The bog trail turnoff is about a mile west of the Adirondack Regional Medical Center. This quiet trail meanders through bogland. Beaver, owls, and great blue and white herons call the Bloomingdale Bog home. Mountains rise in the distance, giving one the sensation of being cocooned by nature. The bog trail is ideal for hiking, trail running, and bicycling.
- Dewey Mountain Recreation Area: Dewey Mountain is a forested area with a very nicely marked trail system. It is peaceful in any season, especially after a late winter snowfall, when the earth is just beginning to shake off the bitter cold of the season.
- Lake Colby: Saranac Lake’s town beach at Lake Colby is a scenic, well-maintained beach surrounded by a forest of evergreen, birch, and maple trees. The site boasts a picnic area, boat launch, and fishing access.
Practicing gratitude in Saranac Lake is uncomplicated, available, and free! The Saranac Lake “cure” for tuberculosis was equal parts fresh air, rest, and nutritious food. The Saranac Lake “cure” for stress lies in balancing a busy, active life with time for reflection and gratitude.