When Life Feels Dark and Hopeless, Search for Mushrooms

Sunday, September 25, 2022
It's been a challenging week on the home front, nothing deadly or tragic, just one of those weeks that  tested our endurance (and patience) and proved Murphy's Law is real.  Yesterday we escaped the chaos of the week by doing what we do to renew our sanity and took a drive to Grafton Lakes State Park. 

 From our previous trips, I know that at this time, after summer and at the brink of fall, the woods along the road of the winter entrance are dotted with colorful mushrooms.  As a passenger, it's fun to use my 20/15 eagle eyes to comb the sides of the road trying to spot these tiny specimens. Often they are only visible thanks to a tiny ray of sunlight shining like a spotlight on a celebrity on a dark stage.  Some of them appear to emerge from a log of a dead tree, reaching out horizontally, then rising up towards the sky, others rising out of decaying vegetation and dirt.

 I found and captured several in my camera lens from the passenger seat, though not as diverse a collection as other years.   I'm always amazed at the variety, texture, color and daintiness of these little fungi.

This morning as I was uploading my photos, marveling at these tiny jewels of nature, the detective work required in finding them from yards away in our slow moving vehicle, focusing from such a distance in challenging lighting conditions, I was reminded that spotting mushrooms in the forest is a little like discerning our blessings at moments of difficulty.

Have you ever heard the quote, "Don't let a bad day make you think you have a bad life"?  Such a good reminder, right?  Aren't there some days that are so challenging, so discouraging that for a moment we forget that our troubles are often temporary and most don't have a long-term effect.  In the moment, though, it feels like whatever is testing us is unfixable, maybe even insurmountable, but thankfully things often turn out ok.  

Searching for mushrooms is a little like searching for a ray of hope in the dark times.  Finding these little gems hiding in the woods, barely visible but for a tiny bit of sunlight, reminds me that in our darkest hours, it's important to focus not on the dark, but to search for the light - the light of our blessings. It's during the trials and tribulations of life that our blessings are hardest to see.  Despite the series of challenges that I was faced with last week, when I took a moment to really assess life as a whole, I have a lot to be thankful for.   Aside from the overwhelming situations that presented themselves, situations that were frustrating, challenging and at times depressing, my life is filled with beautiful gems, just like the mushrooms in the woods. I need to remind myself sometimes of those blessings, especially in difficult times, and move on and not get stuck in the darkness of one day or five.

This week, if life gets dark or difficult, remember these mushrooms.  They don't grow out in the open, in the bright warm sun easily visible where things are cheery and hopeful.  They grown on dead and decaying wood often at the base of trees, and in the dark and damp earth. They grow in spite of the surrounding conditions.  We need to be thankful, despite our challenges.  Sometimes our blessings don't shout to be seen, they whisper from the darkness.  Listen and look closely.  Some days we may have to search harder to be reminded of them but they're always there. Rejoice in your blessings and as I always say, focus on the light - even if it's just a tiny ray of sun shining in the darkness.

The Farm Store at Tiashoke - Sharing the Beauty and Bounty of a Family Farm

Friday, September 16, 2022

If there were such a thing as pumpkin heaven, I think it would be called Tiashoke Farm.  While that would accurately describe the vast number and varieties of pumpkins that populate the Farm Store and six acres of crop at Tiashoke Farm, it would definitely fall short of describing all the other goodness that awaits you at this must-visit family farm.

I've been visiting and blogging about Tiashoke Farm since 2019 (ok...I'm a little late to the party compared to most folks) but I've been a passionate fan ever since.  I honestly can't think of any place prettier in autumn or anywhere that offers more varieties of pumpkins (over 90 - the most ever) - in addition to gourds, squash, mums, and cornstalks.  

The Farm Store at Tiashoke is located in Schaghticoke, NY and their dairy farm in Buskirk NY.  It is a fifth generation dairy farm which now also produces beef and pork.  John and I had the opportunity to visit the Farm Store at Tiashoke today and meet Jessica and Stuart Ziehm and hear firsthand from Jessica how their newly expanded farm came to be.  If you loved the farm stand along Route 40 in years past, you're going to go crazy when you see the huge expansion on the hill!  The Farm Store's opening last weekend during the Washington County Cheese Tour brought over 2000 folks to the farm.  If you weren't one of those lucky folks, don't worry.  I've got a peek that I know will encourage you to visit soon.

Everyone knows farmers are some of the hardest workers on the planet, and that goes for farmers' wives and kids.  It's obvious with one look at this massive operation that Jessica, whose mind clearly works overtime with creative ideas, has masterfully combined the family's devotion to agriculture with her passion for sharing the region's agricultural products.  The farm store is filled with regional food products, farm related toys, home decor accessories, locally grown flowers and so much more.  Five minutes into a conversation with Jessica, you realize her ambition and creativity are only just the tip of the iceberg that Tiashoke currently is.  The beautiful barn will one day be an event venue for meetings, paint and sips, social events and more.  While it may look like this is a retail venture, what drives Jessica is her passion for educating people about agriculture and shedding a light on Washington County's leading industry.  What drives Jessica's hard work is the desire to share the beauty and bounty of their family farm and both are evident in every direction you turn.  It's obvious that while Jessica is the master mind behind this jewel, she has a village (and family) alongside her making this dream become a reality.

I can't wait to see what's next for Tiashoke Farm Store.  Whatever is coming is sure to be a thing of beauty and will reflect the life and love this family exemplifies along with their dedication to keeping the farming tradition going for many more generations.  Jessica....it was a pleasure getting to know you today.  Your enthusiasm and willingness to share your story and vision and your family farm was inspiring and heartwarming.  Thank you for providing the community with a great family friendly venue.  

Visit Farm Store atTiashoke  this season for all your autumn decor.  This weekend  (September 17 & 18) is Pizza & Pumpkins at the Farm Stand.  Joe's Dough to Go will be there to satisfy your cravings.  Tiashoke Farm Store is located at 11834 Route 40, Schaghticoke NY.  Follow them on Facebook and Instagram....



Let's Monkey Around at the Jungle Experience Zoo

Sunday, September 4, 2022

 I don't know any kid that doesn't love animals.  Do you? So visiting the Jungle Experience Zoo has been on our 'to-do list' all summer and we finally made it there this past Friday.

Jungle Experience Zoo is located on Route 149 in Granville, NY.  Conveniently open everyday from Memorial Day till October 1st, with appointments available  for indoor experiences and events year-round.  Admission is a very reasonable $12 per person for anyone over 10, kids 3-10 are just $10. Under 3 is free.

We arrived at the zoo around 11:00am on what felt like the best weather day of the summer.  There were already about 10 cars in the parking lot so not at all crowded, and even when we left 90 minutes later, there was a healthy crowd but still a comfortable amount of people to navigate around.  The zoo is small and compact - great for grandparents and a nice environment for keeping an eye on wandering little ones.  The entire zoo was immaculate, including the pet enclosures.  It's obvious the animals are well cared for and loved a lot!  Most of them came from rescue situations and are living their best life in this little exotic zoo.
There were a variety of animals from farm animals to camels and zebra, monkeys to wallabys, a baboon, a pair of otters, and a whole lot of snakes in the reptile exhibit.  Some of the animals were wandering free including goats, a llama, a giant tortoise, some chickens and a friendly emu.  There's exotic birds and a lesser armadillo.  For an extra fee, visitors can have an up close and personal visit with a number of animals.  Our grandson got to meet and feed Zambia, the Asian Binturong (bearcat).  More like a big stuffed animal, Zambia was gentle and friendly.

Rooney the Baboon

This is just a small sampling of the animals at the Jungle Experience Zoo.  To see even more, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JungleExperienceZoo  If you love animals or have kids or grandkids that do, I strongly urge you to make a visit to Granville soon.  It's not the Bronx Zoo, but it's close to home, reasonably priced and a lovely 1/2 day's worth of entertainment without breaking the bank.....unless of course you need a face-to-face with the animals.  Those 'experiences' which last 10 minutes are on the high side at $35 per person, $40 for certain animals.  If you are a reptile lover, you can hold a python for the bargain price of just $10.  No thank you.  I'll pass.  If you're dying to see the Lynx, here's a tip.  They're nocturnal and don't wake up till later in the day.  We got lucky and Raven, the owner, woke them for us.  All the staff are so friendly and anxious to share their knowledge about the animals and make sure you have the best experience.  
Just a few last pieces of information.....there's only a porta pottie on the premises, but it's super clean.  There's a small picnic area - in the reptile section.  There's plenty of shade throughout the zoo and there is a souvenir shop.   So pack a lunch and plan a trip to Granville before October 1st.  They are located at 6601 Route 149, Granville NY.  Open everyday 10:00-5:00pm.  

Life As I See It Header

Never Miss A Post - Follow by Email

Sign up here to get the latest blog post delivered to your inbox.
Never miss a post again!