Posted by: penpatience | September 3, 2014


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“I SURVIVED THE CLIMB – BY JUPITER!”  new narrative, non-fiction article, is scheduled for publication in the September/October 2014 publication of The Lighthouse Digest. Read the story and purchase the magazine at:

“WHEN THE LILACS BLOOM,” my new fiction short story is available in the July/August/September 2014 issue of The Storyteller Magazine. Read the story and purchase the magazine in September(edition postponed until December 2014) for a nominal cost at:

WRITERS WORDS:I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog. “No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.” –Eleanor Roosevelt




I looked forward to summer trips to Thacher Park when I was a youngster. Located 15 miles southwest of Albany, New York near Voorheesville in Albany County on State Route 157, I had fond memories of picnics, swimming, hotdogs and hamburgers on outdoor grills with afternoon jaunts walking the trails. I still remember the waterfall on the lower trail and the magnificent view from the high trail’s overlook. I knew nothing about the park back then and didn’t care. Like any kid, I just liked the fun times. Many, many years later a return trip this past summer changed all that.

The inquisitive mind of this writer wanted to know all about this beautiful, well- maintained recreational area including why it was named after John Boyd Thatcher. I discovered that John Boyd Thacher (1847-1909) was a wealthy man who built a fortune as owner of Thacher Car Works. He had an important career in politics, serving as mayor of Albany, New York, a New York State Senator and was also a writer and book collector. Thacher purchased a large plot of land in Central Albany County, New York, and upon his death, his widow, Emma Treadwell Thacher, donated in her husband’s name 350 acres to the state. In 1914 with the stipulation that the land be used exclusively as a public park and a natural scenic reservation the land became known as John Boyd Thacher State Park.

When I read that the park was situated along the Helderberg Escarpment, I had no idea what an “escarpment” was and had to look it up. “An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from faulting and resulting erosion and separates two relatively level areas of differentiate elevations. While scarp is synonymous with a cliff or steep slope the surface of the steep slope is called a scarp face.” I developed a new respect for those aged cliffs when I read that this escarpment was one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. It safeguards six miles of limestone cliff-face, rock-strewn slopes, woodland and open fields and provides a marvelous panorama of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains.

It was a beautiful August day. We walked the trails, munched on sandwiches at a rough-hewn picnic table that must have seen years of previous family picnics. We relaxed and enjoyed a pristine environment (there are no trash cans allowed within the park: if you bring it in—you take it out) that has endured and been cared for through generations. The view from the Overlook was breathtaking and to realize that all this beauty resided almost in my own back yard was mindboggling.

A  beautiful field of colorful “weeds:” Milkweed, Buttercup, Queen Anne’s lace, Thistle— often unappreciated wildflowers when they appear in unwanted places made this gardener’s day.

Thank you, Emma Treadwell Thacher for your great gift!

Next Musing: Country Music – It Ain t Like it used to be!


  1. I loved reading the article in MaryJanesFarm. I would love to know if I could use the picture shown to put on a tote. I just love it. . Didn’t know how else to get ahold of you. Sorry… Gail


    • Gail,
      Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed my Trowel essay. MaryJanesFarm supplied the photo for my article. I agree, it’s a great one. I suggest you contact the editors for permission to use the picture.


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