The Creek

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The first thing that many students think of when they think of Fredonia in the context of the outdoors is Canadaway Creek. But to them, it’s often just called “The Creek.” And to them, going to The Creek has certain implications.

“The Creek is where everyone goes to smoke, yeah,” admitted a Fredonia student who asked to remain anonymous. “But I go there with my friends, and sometimes by myself, too, to just look at the water and take a break. It’s very peaceful.”

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Other than offering a private place to smoke pot off-campus, The Creek also provides visitors with a wonderful view in either summer or winter. Usually rather low in water depth and prosperity, The Creek truly reflects the general attitude of the town of Fredonia – quiet and mundane, yet, when closely inspected, holding a secret serene beauty that people of all ages and interests can enjoy. Though, when The Creek is particularly full after a heavy rain or recently melted snow, it is surprising how much force and gusto such a little stream has.

People have been known to fish, raft, swim, and hike The Creek throughout the year.

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Running through much of the town, The Creek starts flowing in the town of Griswold, a few villages over from Fredonia, and ends up in Lake Erie, like so many things seem to do. In total, The Creek covers over 12 miles of land.

“I like to walk down The Creek whenever I get the chance,” said senior public relations major Tyler Stanley. “It’s just fun. I’m going to miss going there once I graduate, you know. It’s such a representation of Fredonia, even more than the downtown scene. I recommend that everyone go.”

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This post is only a general overview of Canadaway Creek. Because it has so much potential, and because I enjoy going there myself so often, I plan on having more posts related to The Creek.

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An unlikely friend

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His name is Wally.

I first met this little guy while I was moving into my house in Fredonia last semester. He was sitting on a bush a few feet away while my housemates and I labored with heavy furniture up and down the stairs to our front porch. We didn’t think twice about how close he was to us; most birds would’ve flown away with all the hustle and bustle that was going on right next to him, but this particular bird didn’t seem to mind us. In fact, after we were all done moving in, the bird flew in for a closer look, right up to the railing of our porch, where we were all sitting and talking about the upcoming year together. We were surprised by the bird, but we thought he was just a curious little thing, we didn’t know he was tame, or even had a name. That information came to us later.

We had grown more used to the bird and his tolerance of us humans. In only a few days, he had taken to us even more and often flew to our porch whenever he saw a number of us enjoying the outside air. He scared us all the first time he flew over to one of us and perched right on a waiting shoulder. After that first time though, more often than not, he was sitting on our lap or on an arm or, in my case, on my ripe head.

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It can’t have been a week from the day we first met our new friend when a man came walking toward our front lawn. Now, a little backstory — I live on Terrace Street, halfway between campus and downtown, right before the intersection of Temple and Central. Right across from my house is One Temple Square, a large building that used to be the Fredonia Normal School and is now an elderly home. Back in 2010, my sophomore year, a woman was murdered and then found in a dumpster on the premises of this place. I can see the dumpster from the second floor of my house. It’s easy to say that this place already had a reputation for my housemates and I.

Anyway, when this man came walking toward us, it was clear that he belonged to the old person’s home across the street. We were all uneasy. This man walked right up to our porch and spoke directly to the bird, not addressing any of us. He called out the bird’s name (“Wally! Come ‘ere, Wally! Don’t worry, he won’t hurtcha!) and held out his arm and shoved it in the bird’s direction, expecting Wally to jump on board. After a few more minutes of pestering Wally, the man finally decided to leave and plodded off across the street, back toward the retirement home. Before leaving, however, the man (whom my housemate quickly named “Gary”) assured us that the bird was his, that it had fallen out of a tree a short while ago and that Gary had found the creature. Gary claimed that the bird happened to like the man and often followed him around on ground or in air and that Gary had taught the bird to like other people too, and to perch on them and himself upon command.

Wally would also visit our neighbors and quickly became a neighborhood pet. After talking with them about the bird, I learned that they had a similar interaction with a different man, except this man was a lot more well kept and little less disheveled than Gary always seemed to be. This man lived down the road, just a few houses down from ours. He said that the bird was his, and that his name was Caesar, not Wally. He said that he had nearly raised Caesar from birth as the bird had fallen out of his nest as a chick. Upon hearing this news, it was clear to us that this man was Wally/Caesar’s true owner, not Gary.

It didn’t take long for us to develop a kind of detest for Gary. Gary would come by nearly every day because, if Wally/Caesar wasn’t with Gary, he was with us, and Gary knew this to be true. Gary would come by so often and without warning or permission, and he would take Wally/Caesar away from us.

We found that Wally/Caesar would eventually stop visiting Gary in the morning and evening and that he would roost above our door over night. Gary would come over less and less, as if he knew that Wally/Caesar preferred us now.

All was well.

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That is, until tragedy struck.

One day, while my friend and housemate Tyler Stanley was sitting in his bed, he heard a terrible squawking and shrieking. He ran over to the window and saw a fat brown cat struggling with something in it.

“I was in my bedroom,” said Stanley. “I was laying in my bed and I had the window open because it was a beautiful sunny day, and I was looking at the parking lot across the street, and I heard this really horrible squawking noise. I kind of sat up in bed and looked across the street and I saw this cat running across the parking lot, and it had something in its mouth that was kind of, like, flailing around. I looked a little closer – I kind of like leaned out the window – and I saw that it was a bird and the bird looked really familiar. The bird was Wally.”

“At first, I don’t think we were sure [that it was Wally] because it could have been any bird, and Wally was pretty average looking. This bird was really trusting, and I feel like it wanted to play with this cat, not knowing that the cat was going to fuck it up.”

“We stopped seeing Wally around; that was another indicator that he was gone. Usually, he was sitting above our door or, like, flying onto our heads and stuff. Then the guy from across the street, Gary, had said something about, you know, “You guys let the cat get Wally,” so that kind of confirmed it. He was mad at us even though it wasn’t our fault. We didn’t do anything to Wally. We loved him.”

Our friend was dead.

And, the kicker of it all? Weeks before, our neighbors had named the brown cat that also been hanging around our houses and had grown close to us. The cat’s name?

Brutus.

That, friends and readers, is fate.

Wally/Caesar will always have a place in our hearts. And his memory will be forever emblazoned above our front door, shit-streaks and all.

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Russell Joy Park

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There are a number of places to go and hang out in Fredonia. Russell Joy Park is a particular favorite of mine.

The park sits secluded in a ring of trees tucked between Main and Water streets. There are two main entrances to the park, one off of Seymour Street, which itself is off of Main, and the other entrance is off of Howard, which is connected to Water. There is also a back entrance off of Hamlet Street that takes you through a small set of trails through the woods which eventually leads to the main portion of the park. This is my favorite way of getting to Russell Joy Park.

It probably won’t take you longer than ten minutes to get from the beginning of the trails to the end, but it’s a nice short walk, and there are several different paths to take.

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Alongside the trails runs a small creek which eventually runs in Canadaway Creek.  During the warmer parts of the year (meaning not now), the water level gets pretty high. You can even see fish swimming around in some of the stiller areas. In several spots, the trail takes you over the creek via a bridge.

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At the end of the trails, which gradually lead you up an incline, lies Russel Joy Park. There is a small field, at the center of which is a baseball diamond, complete with chain link fence and dugouts. There is also a small playground with swings and a jungle gym. There are also places to grill and a sizable pavilion and eating area with tables and benches, all covered by roofing. This is all part of the lower portion of the park.

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At the higher portion, atop another smaller hill, are more picnic areas and a few basketball courts.

Russell Joy Park is just one of the parks in Fredonia. Keep checking back at Outside Fredonia for more updates on other great places and things to do outside.

Forever Wild

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Though I’m sure most Fredonia students are aware of its presence, many overlook it. The small forest at the edge of the campus stands quiet even though it’s a nice place to go and find a small taste of the outdoors right on the SUNY Fredonia campus.

The woods push up against the far edge of campus, right up to Ring Road.

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Officially called “Forever Wild,” the wooded area, no bigger than a few square acres, holds a bit of mystery for Fredonia students. In my four years at the school, I’ve never seen students hanging out near the woods, even though there are several trails and open areas idea for recreational use.

The main trail takes you in a wide circle, skirting around the edges of the forest. There doesn’t seem to be a trail that takes you directly from one side of the woods to the other. So, if you choose to go ahead and make the trek right down the middle of the woods, you’re in for a rough time.

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The main entrance to Forever Wild is hardly that, located near the the intersection of Ring Road and Symphony Circle, right near the main entrance of the college itself. There are no signs or any real indications of an entrance to the wooded area. Judging by the look of the outside, you wouldn’t really know how extensive the trails are in Forever Wild.

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Every year, the most popular event that takes place in this lot of woods is Terror in the Trees, a “haunted” tour created by the theater department. During these tours, the woods are at their spookiest. However, for the rest of the year, Forever Wild remains a soothing place to enjoy the outdoors just a short way from the dorms.

Three Man Hill

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Though there are many sculptures on the SUNY Fredonia campus, one stands out among the rest. Three Man Hill is a sculpture which portrays three “men” standing and gazing across the campus. This sculpture is planted atop the only hill on campus, helping the sculpture to be seen from far away. Other than the famous clock tower, Three Man Hill is, perhaps, the most popular icon of the college.

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Besides the sculpture itself, Three Man Hill is also the actual mound upon which the men stand.

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Fredonia students often flock to the hill during all times of the year. During the warmer months on campus, which are few and far between, students go here to sit under the lonely tree that claims the far edge of the hill. During the colder months which Fredonia is so well known for, students sometimes sled or host snowball fights or make snowmen on the hill.

One of the best times to visit Three Man Hill is during the night. At nighttime, visitors can see the familiar Fredonia Lights stretch across the whole campus. If you walk through the nearby woods, Forever Wild, and then come out on top of the hill, the transition from the darkness of the forest to the widespread lights is truly breathtaking.

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