We had friends visiting this weekend, on the last leg of their around-the-world honeymoon, and we packed ourselves into a car and went on a little road trip to Niagara Falls. The drive was beautiful, the roads framed with trees, brooks, and rivers. The hills were colored in charcoals, where fall’s yellows, oranges and reds had already drifted to the ground. The landscape had a quiet restraint to it, slowly descending into its winter slumber. As we drove past, chatting, the men embarking on a 20+ hour GPS competition, I felt myself slowly unwinding.

Our first stop was in Cooks Falls, a tiny village right off of the main road, with weathered wooden homes overlooking a thick, frothy river. We sat on the rocks by the river, snacked on pears and muffins, and admired the homes perched overhead, with their big enclosed porches. Ithaca came next, with its houses lined tightly together, in an array of bright colors. There were trees with the most beautiful red leaves, fiery and almost translucent, full of light. We strolled through the Farmer’s Market, right on the lake, families leisurely sprawled out on the picnic benches overlooking the water.

We drove around Seneca Lake, the roads dotted with wineries, vineyards lining the undulating autumnal landscape. We popped into a winery for a tasting, and the kind, silver-haired lady who was pouring our wine asked where we were headed next. When she heard we were thinking of exploring the waterfalls in Montour Falls, she leaned in conspiratorially, and whispered that there was a waterfall right around the corner, on a private property. Armed with a few bottles of Reisling, we got back into the car, drove down towards the lake, made a turn over a little wooden bridge, and saw the most spectacular waterfall right in someone’s backyard.

We stood gingerly by the fence, taking pictures and whispering to each other in hushed voices. As we headed back to our car, a van pulled into the narrow country road, and the driver signaled something to us. As he inched closer, he said: “You’re welcome to come into the garden”. So into the garden we went. The quiet, the sense of peace and of beauty was breathtaking. We stood there for a while, taking it in, feeling as if we had been given a big, unexpected gift by a benevolent stranger. It was my favorite moment of the trip.

We stayed at the Herb Cottage in Montour Falls, a quiet village, the houses spread out at arm’s length from each other. We visited one of the village’s waterfalls at dusk, the park empty save for the four of us. The mood was quiet, contemplative, the water gurgling.

Niagara Falls was next, with its towering clouds of mist, like huge puffs of smoke. Pretty dramatic.

Maybe that sense of unwinding explains the heaviness I feel today, as if I’m still wrapped up in a warm fog, everything seems a little heavy, a little blurry.

Hope you’re having a wonderful week, folks.

-Pictures 1, 2 & 6 by Noa Katz.