February 28, 2011

National Baseball Hall of Fame

The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY is a 3-floor museum that takes visitors through the history of baseball from the earliest memories of the sport to the present day. I had seen its familiar brick facade many times in photographs and it was awesome to finally stand in front of the storied building. As I strolled through the front doors, I could feel history washing over me as I thought about all of the baseball greats past and present that have walked through the same doors.

The tour begins in a room called "Taking the Field: The 19th Century." Here, one can find a ball from the very first series of games at which admission was charged, dating back to September 10, 1858. This part of the museum also features the Grandstand Theater, where one can view a 13-minute digital multimedia presentation about the beginnings of the sport. The journey continues through many rooms filled with rare memorabilia, classic photographs, art, and uniforms and equipment used throughout the years.

My Favorite part of the museum is the "Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery." I could have stayed in this room all day, perusing the sparkling golden plaques. Truly a place of great reverence and a must-see for any baseball aficionado!

After having watched my first Spring Training game on TV just yesterday (Yankees vs. Phillies), I am really enjoying the fact that I can conclude my series of Adirondacks memoirs with this post.  Wishing you a week of warm thoughts and sunshine. Play ball! :)

"For the Lord your God is he who goes with you
to fight for you against your enemies,
to give you the victory."

~Deuteronomy 20:4


February 25, 2011

Iroquois Indian Museum

The name "Haudenosaunee" translates into English as "People of the Longhouse," though they are more commonly known as the Iroquois. The territory of these people ranged from the Schoharie Creek to the Genesee River with a confederacy comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onandaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora Nations. In Haudenosaunee tradition, the longhouse is a sacred dwelling where the people would gather for events such as spiritual ceremonies, meetings, and social dances as expressions of celebration. It is only fitting that the Iroquois Indian Museum in upstate New York is built to resemble a great longhouse of elm bark as might have been found in the area 400 years ago. The museum has an extensive display of contemporary Iroquois arts and crafts as well as archeological exhibits.

Much of Iroquois history is relayed through their elaborate storytelling. To be an engaging orator is seen to be a great skill. As many of the exhibits at the museum explain, these stories are told "to teach, to improve behavior, to explain phenomena, and for pure enjoyment." Oration is the basis of Iroquois identity. At the foot of the museum's central staircase, one can find a turtle pool that tells the Iroquois tale of Creation. It goes as such:

The Chief of the Sky World, at the request of his pregnant wife, uproots the celestial tree in Sky World. Some say this is the shad bush tree, the first tree to flower in upstate New York. As she bends over she slips or perhaps her husband gives her a little push. Geese from the watery world below fly up to catch her as she descends to the water. The turtle agrees to be her support. Muskrat dives to the bottom of the ocean to bring up mud that will grow to be Turtle Island. Sky Woman gives birth to a daughter, who becomes our Mother the Earth. From her grows corn, beans, and squash -- Our Three Sisters. Sky Woman returns to the heavens and becomes Our Grandmother, Moon. 

While the story of Sky Woman has nothing to do with the biblical account of Creation that I believe in, I put great value on cultural differences and I find other spiritual precepts to be fascinating nonetheless. Another wonderful Iroquois story explains the appearance of cornhusk dolls. It reminds me of the Greek tale of Narcissus and goes like this:

There was a time when all cornhusk dolls had faces. They were sent by the Creator to be a playmate of the children. The very first cornhusk doll made was told by the Creator that she was to protect the children and keep them from harm. One day when they were in the woods, the cornhusk doll discovered a pond. Looking into the pond she saw her own reflection. She knelt down and began to admire herself. She stayed there for a very long time and forgot about the children. Soon, the children were in danger and the cornhusk doll was nowhere to be found. She was still at the pool looking at her reflection. The Creator saw her and told her, "You were given a job to protect the children and you forgot your instructions!" As punishment he took away her face and said, "From now on, cornhusk dolls will have no face!" 

One more story that sticks in my mind explains the existence of so many stones in the upstate New York region. Here it is:

Traditional enemies of the Iroquois, the Stone Giants were cannibals much feared. They lived in upstate New York before the Iroquois and they resisted being replaced. Like giants everywhere, however, they were eventually outwitted. When they died, their bodies became stones. That is why there are so many stones all around us. The mute stones are reminders that they once thrived.

Overall, the Iroquois Indian Museum paints a detailed picture of some of New York State's cultural legacy and offers a step into the world of the "People of the Longhouse." I definitely recommend paying it a visit if you're ever in the Cobleskill area. Cheers!!!

"The Lord your God is with you
wherever you go."

~Joshua 1:9


February 23, 2011

Howe Caverns & Secret Caverns

The Cobleskill area of NY boasts two cave tours: Howe Caverns and Secret Caverns. The entrances to both lie within a few miles of each other and I was able visit each of them during my trip to the mountains. First, I tried out Howe Caverns.

Imagine riding a silver elevator that takes you 156 feet below the Earth's surface. The doors open and you step out into a geological work of art, six-million years in the making. The chilly atmosphere immediately begins to nip at your fingers and the bare calves of your legs. You carefully negotiate the brick paths that run through the cave, marveling at the magnificent limestone formations, stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone deposits that surround you. Surprises wait at every bend in this vibrantly-lit natural wonder. I have to say that my favorite part of the tour is the boat ride. I took my seat on the gondola-style boat and let myself be absorbed by the prehistoric beauty that popped up all around me...

The second cave that I visited (on a different day) was Secret Caverns. Just like in Howe Caverns, the air is a year-round 52 degrees Fahrenheit with 75% humidity. Secret Caverns doesn't have an elevator, so I found myself plodding a series of damp staircases. I really enjoyed the ruggedness of Secret Caverns; its paths are much less developed than those in Howe Caverns and it really gives a feeling of adventure. The winding paths in this natural wonder house many beautiful features: the Alligator, the Suspended Ceiling, the Cave Monster, and, my favorite, the 100-foot waterfall. I stood beside the falls for several moments, the steady drumming of the water mesmerizing me. I really enjoyed my visits to both caves. This is a kind of beauty that only God could create. Cheers!!!

"For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do."

~Ephesians 2:10