Hemlock Lake, USA - Jim Howe

My Watermark is Hemlock Lake in the Finger Lakes, New York.

What’s always drawn me to water is river and creeks. I grew up in Rochester, New York; I spent most of my life there. I moved to Tucson, Arizona for a while and there was no water on the landscape – you really had to search for it. Coming back to Rochester for a job with the Nature Conservancy, I rekindled my love affair with rivers. I bought a canoe and there’s nothing I love more than being on the water, going down a river, not knowing what’s going to be around the bend, just being carried by the water bobbing along it, and in the summer just being able to fall into a creek or a river.

I’ve misnavigated a rapid and I found myself swimming a rapid – not a good place to be. So I think respect for water is key. Not just respect for water and the sustenance it provides us, but water as a powerful force too. In my current job at the Nature Conservancy we’re thinking a lot of coastal resilience and making sure that people who are living on water are doing so in ways that are safe for them and safe for their property.

One place that has really captured my soul right now is Hemlock Lake, which is the source of drinking water for the city of Rochester. It’s an undeveloped Finger Lake – a very rare commodity – only about 30 miles from the city of Rochester. (The lake is) about 8 miles long and half a mile across, and you can be on the middle of that lake in a canoe on a July day and no one is around. And you’re only 30 miles from Rochester. It’s just a great way to rejuvenate your soul and reconnect to what we’re all from. Being on it and being in it is so important to me.

It’s important to me because I know I can go there and rejuvenate. I can take a canoe out on the water, I can fish, I can hike, (and) I can have beautiful views of this blue waterbody with green forests on the side. It’s a place where I go to rekindle my spirit. And I think nature does provide that. There’s a term now that I’ve heard called 'forest bathing', where getting out into nature really does rekindle your soul, mentally and physically. It’s so important to connect with water, to be in it and on it, and that’s something that I’ve always treasured about living in upstate New York.

Hemlock Lake, USA
Matthew Chisholm
Jim Howe

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