🍁 Peak foliage mode
Orchestrated death, the art of conversation, and thick-sliced bacon
Welcome to Wanderfull! We’re in peak foliage mode here in the middle of New York State. It’s so beautiful! I’m also right in the middle of my marathon training plan for Philadelphia (November 20). Those leaves are the silver lining in having to go out and run for hours (and hours) during the weekend!
A Tip for the Modern Worker
Start or end business interactions with casual conversation. Take time to relate to each other as you would in person. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation or derail the goal of the meeting. Is it Friday? Ask about weekend plans. See interesting art in someone’s video background? Ask if there’s a story. Opening the door with conversation can lead to a deeper connection.
I tweeted that out exactly a year ago and it’s part of my Handbook for the Modern Worker. I love getting to know people better in all settings. Getting started seems like the hardest part, but it doesn’t have to be. Just a simple question can get the ball rolling. Case in point: I was getting ready for a hike last weekend and saw a couple next to their bikes at the overlook. They were eating their lunch. I casually asked, “Did you ride up here on Black Diamond?” (Black Diamond is a rail trail that connects Ithaca to Taughannock Falls State Park). They had! They said it was a great ride and asked if I was familiar with it. I shared that I lived just up the road. The woman stood abruptly and exclaimed, “You’re Scott Dawson!” She gave me a huge hug. Her name is Anna and we graduated a year apart in high school. She took off her sunglasses and yeah, of course! We hadn’t seen each other in 31 years, but we enjoyed the next 10 minutes talking about the varied and interesting ways our lives intersected. And there you have it, the magic that conversation can spark, and it kindled with just one question.
I drew this and wrote the accompanying annotation as part of my #365DayDraw project 6 years ago today.
Ode to thick-sliced bacon:
"Oh, thick-sliced bacon, how I love thee."
Actually, that's it. Pure poetry.
This week, before anyone knew that this edition’s picture was scheduled to be thick-sliced bacon, that was the very topic of dinner conversation one night. Seriously, I’m NOT making this up. I was going to wax poetic about how wonderful thick-sliced bacon is in a BLT, especially when sourced from our local meat CSA (Cayuga Sunrise Farm), but I’m going to share the dinner conversation instead.
Rewind to 1997 when Amy and I were vacationing in Germany’s Berchtesgaden. We stayed at a bed-and-breakfast and sauntered into the breakfast room long after the sun rose. Thick-sliced bacon was on offer as part of a delicious spread. The proprietor came over to speak with us as we tackled our generously-loaded plates. “What plans do you have today?” they asked. We gleefully shared that we were headed out to hike the Watzmann. “The Watzmann?” They glanced at their watch and frowned. “You should have been started by now.” Really? We wondered why we were mostly alone in the breakfast room. The Watzmann is 2,712 meters tall. The nearby Jenner, 1,874. And, the Jenner featured a delightful cable car that we could descend on. So we ascended the Jenner that day with our bellies full of bacon. And yes, we returned via the cable car, arriving just in time for dinner. We’ll have to go back someday for the Watzmann, but we’ll have to save the bacon for another morning.
I love this season in New England, especially while running or hiking. There’s a new vibrant scene around every corner, and on this particular stretch of South Street just around the corner of my home, it’s like running through a canyon of color.
Did you ever wonder why fall foliage can be so colorful? I’ve returned to this wonderful New York Times article from JoAnna Klein year after year, mostly to read the first paragraph. The article goes on to detail the ins and outs of this beautiful transition leaves go through. But yeah, the introduction is pure gold:
Leaves scream their final cries in color before dropping to the ground. Their shouts — in golden, crimson, or scarlet — eventually fade to brown bellows, and their lifeless bodies dry up on the forest floor. It absorbs their crinkly corpses and that’s it — worm food. The fall of a leaf in autumn is an orchestrated death. A complex, brilliant, beautiful death.
🦅 You’re outside and hear the most interesting bird call. Blue Jay? Robin? How can you know for sure? Merlin is one of my favorite outdoor apps. “Sound ID listens to the birds around you and shows real-time suggestions for who’s singing.” It’s available in the US, Canada, and Europe, and it’s pretty cool. My favorite recent use of this technology was in Taughannock’s gorge. I heard a screeching cry and fired up Merlin, who dutifully listened for the next few seconds and told me it was a peregrine falcon.* Wow!
🔊 I’m rediscovering the joys of working with brain.fm on in the background. We were lucky to score a lifetime membership when they offered that a few years ago. They have monthly and annual options now, but I highly recommend giving it a try.
😂 While we’re on the topic of ambient noise, I’m gonna plug my Work-From-Home Soundscapes app. It’s a tongue in cheek commentary on legit ambient noise generators. If you work from home for any amount of time, it’s worth a laugh.
* A little local history about the peregrine falcon: they were photographed as early as 1926 in Taughannock Park. The species disappeared from the area in the mid-1960s due to the use of DDT, and in 1970 they were placed on the Endangered Species list. The species was removed from the list in 1999 after successful falcon release programs in other locations, but… the peregrine returned to Taughannock park in 2020! The cries I was lucky to hear were young fledglings honing their flying skills in the gorge.