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Where Did Summer Go?

Bare Hill at Vine Valley
Bare Hill, Middlesex, NY

It’s hard to believe that we are into September already. Where did our summer go here in the Finger Lakes Region of NY State?  We have already celebrated the start of the traditional harvest season around Canandaigua Lake. Descendants of the Seneca Indians who used to live around Canandaigua Lake gather at the top of Bare Hill and light a bon fire as a signal to all Lake Dwellers that the harvest season has arrived.

Site of Cermonial Campfire on Bare Hill

The State of New York has purchased approximately 300 acres of land on top of Bare Hill. On these 300 acres, there once stood a Seneca Indian fort. It was undoubtedly made of wood but also ringed with stones. Unfortunately, the stones were used to make the base of the road which leads up to the Bare Hill Unique Area and we can only imagine what this fort or meeting place originally looked like.

Bare Hill Unique Area

The “Ring of Fire” celebration is held the Saturday before Labor Day. The ceremonial bon fire is lite on top of Bare Hill as a signal that the Harvest season has begun. Modern Lake Dwellers all around Canandaigua Lake in turn light their own bon fires and/or safety flares as a signal that it is time to start closing their cottages in preparation for the coming winter months.


Due to our unseasonable spring weather that brought cold temperatures and much rain, many corn fields could not be worked and planting had to be delayed. Many of the fields where corn would have normally been planted either lie bare or have been planted with a grass cover crop which will be cut for cow feed this fall. For those Seneca Indians who lived around Canandaigua Lake a long time ago, a poor or failed corn crop would have been a disaster as they depended upon dried ground corn mixed with dried deer meat to sustain them over the cold winter months. As for the rest of us modern Lake Dwellers, there’s always “Wegmans” grocery store to sustain us over the winter as fresh fruits and vegetables can be easily transported from all over the world.