May 13 – Mother’s Day – and what better way to spend it than with my daughter. My gift is Bridget, and her gift is she does the five-hour drive through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania to Ithaca in upstate New York while leaving the music-to-drive-by selection to me. As you might imagine, we get in a lot of Van. We left Big Sur on May 1 with one goal: to get to Ithaca by May 13, the start of Senior Week. We made it. Exams and papers and year-end projects were all finished up on Friday, and as is traditional, this final week before Ithaca College graduation on the 20th is turned over entirely to parties and saying goodbye to friends as they leave to head out into the world beyond Ithaca. Bridget graduated from Ithaca last year, but many of her then-Junior-year friends are getting their turn this year, and she’s down for the party. I know most of her friends, but it’s understood that this is my week to fade into the background. And no better place to do that but at Bridget’s friends Britt and Jake’s place, which is just far enough out of town to be away from the madding crowd.
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And so went the week – a little of this, a little of that, and a whole lot of pollen in the air. Spring has sprung in upstate New York and it hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. But it’s hard to stay indoors when surrounded by the beauty of Ithaca. Sitting among the hills at the southern end of Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes Region, Ithaca has so much to enjoy in the great outdoors (achoo), not least its gorges and waterfalls.
If you’re heading out of town on Route 79, there’s a pull-off at the side of the road. Bring your water bottles to fill up with mountain water and take a bit of Ithaca with you.
A self-professed live music junkie, Shannon is the author of Astral Weeks Live: A Fan’s Notes, a book about her year on the road attending singer Van Morrison’s epic live performances of his widely acclaimed album Astral Weeks. To find out more about the book or to order a copy signed by the author, click here.