The rocky shoreline of Seneca Lake (in New York’s Finger Lakes region) has been the playground for generations of my family. Many happy childhood hours were spent collecting beach glass, shells, and driftwood. The glaciers which made the Lakes have left endless deposits of shale and stones. At the water’s edge, we would amuse ourselves by scribbling secret messages on miniature slates, searching the cliffs for fossils, holding stone skipping competitions, and digging snug harbours for our tiny boats. For a treat, Grandfather Parrott would take us for a ride in the old green wooden rowboat. “Row, row, row your boat” we would sing as we made our way up the Lake to view the “shower bath” waterfall at High Banks and the mysterious Cudjo’s Cave. We would sit in the boat shivering and looking at the Cave as Grandfather would whisper “Those that go in never come out!”
Lately, we have been bringing the shore to the cottage garden. Carrying pails of lake stones up the stairs from the beach to the cottage, we have been able to create a shale footpath. Shalestone Vineyards just down the Lake is a testament to the excellent stone terroir for grape growing and wine making.
The shores of Cayuga Lake, our neighbouring lake, are one of the few places where “Lucky Stones” can be found. These are rocks with fossil worm holes. Our friend, Florence, a plucky eighty-year old, makes a living combing the beach for these fossilized treasures. Legend has it that they bring good luck to anyone who finds one.
Sheldrake Point, on Cayuga Lake, seems to be epicenter for discovering these stone amulets. Several years ago we considered buying a charming shingle-style house there named “Lucky Stone Lodge”. You entered under a rustic arch with the name of the property worked in sticks. The owner of this unique house had been a prominent geologist, and the Lodge was packed with amazing collections from the natural world – strings of Lucky Stones hung by the fireplace, and other geological wonders were displayed everywhere. Trophies from the material world, included walls decorated with the lids of antique porcelain chamber pots. The editors of the World of Interiors would have loved it! This is a place that remains in my dreams. Sheldrake Point Vineyard is nearby, and they honor the local geology with a full-bodied wine named “Lucky Stone Red”.