Monday, December 22, 2008

Hanukkah in Santa Cruz with Micah and Family

We arrived in Santa Cruz on the 17th after a somewhat difficult flight. We were scheduled to transfer planes in Las Vegas but the airport was socked in by a once in three decade snowstorm. We had to divert to Burbank and catch another plane to San Jose where Micah picked us up. There was quite a bit of turbulence on landing and takeoff at Burbank because we came in during a downpour. It is great that the Southwest is getting all this rain and snow, but maybe they could have spared it for our trip?:) Of course our luggage didn't make it until the next day, but we always pack our 'carry-ons' with that in mind. I guess we are really having a semi old fashioned winter. I do understand that, even with all of this snow and cold, we are on track to have the 9th warmest winter on record. I guess we have really forgotten what a 'real' winter is really like.
Santa Cruz is cold and rainy, but compared to the Adirondacks, it is a generous relief.
Pacific Ave. is full of holiday shoppers and street performers. The ethnic, racial, cultural diversity is a pleasant mind opening after the mono-cultural/racial/ethnicity of the Adirondacks. It is sometimes frustrating to deal with the isolated folks who think of the United States as a white anglo protestant country. I wish I could bring them out and spend some time in a place like Santa Cruz with them and talk about what it really means to be an American.

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah and we had a gentle generous celebration with good food, singing, candle lighting and gifts.

Here is a picture of me peeling potatoes for making Latkes.




















Miguel Lighting Candles

















Juan Watches
















Samson with his new hat
















Esther

















Micah Prepares appetizers

















Natalia



















Naomi's new Jacket

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brrr.....!

Temperature is 8.5 below zero F. And, we have 8+ inches of new snow. Winter is really here. Leave for Santa Cruz on Wednesday, thank G-d.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December Drive

Driving home from the transfer station in Schroon Lake. Thinking about my place in the world and what meaning my life has - you know, the usual preoccupations of mind when going to the dump. (By the way, I'm definitely not an ironic or sardonic person. I'm grindingly serious.) Looking at the open water of Paradox Lake. Thinking about how forbidding it is on this cold December day with furious flurries of snow and a cold wind and stone gray subdued white/brown/green landscape. The open water itself is so dark and has such depth to the darkness like inkiness. Thoughts of how trite my thoughts about it are. How lacking my descriptive powers. How inadequate to the power of what I'm seeing. Can't think of anything to describe such an amazing phenomena as that dark water so moving and frightening and awe inspiring and so black like you can see down into the depths of the blackness and it doesn't end - just snuffs everything out. And then I think I would like to be able to describe things like a poet describes things? My lip curls at the thought that I could do such. I remember how Marilynne Robinson so amazingly described the water under similar conditions in Housekeeping and made it such an important part of her book. It was the numbing welcoming nothingness that called to life. Then I thought of the book How to Read a Poem, by Hirsch and remembered that he says that the reader is essential to the writer. There is a dynamic energy between the Poet and the reader. This made me feel somewhat more connected to what I was seeing and to creative effort. In the face of lack of descriptive powers, I can at least read and be awed and pass it on.
While thinking about this relationship between the poet and reader, I drifted to the Kabbalistic Mystics of Safed who thought of the vessels containing the creative energy of God as having shattered upon creation - the force of creation was just too much to be contained. These mystics saw the job of humans as having to find these shards of vessels and reveal them and prepare them for the return to the creative source. For the mystics, this was done mostly through the meditative efforts of study and prayer. This struck me as not too different from the relationship between the poet and reader. Reader, critics, teachers, book groups, all read and explore the text, comment on it, and pass it on to others. And, all of this creates a 'public' for poetry which affects how the poet conceives of his/her work and continues the creative process. Then my mind wandered further afield and I thought of Thoreau who chastised the Town Fathers of New England for missing the boat by not designating a 'cloud watcher' to appreciate the beauty of all the clouds that passed overhead. In a sense he saw that no one was meditating on the creation so that it could become part of the creative process. This, of course was also reiterated by Edward Abby in Desert Solitaire as he was sitting in the shade of his trailer in Arches National Park spending a hard day watching the clouds overhead. So far, I'm stacking up ways to feel connected to the world at a pretty good rate and giving myself some pretty good company. I'd say it's a pretty good afternoon in early December in Paradox.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Below Zero and FSC Timber Harvest















The picture above is of the skidder used to bring logs from the woods to the landing where they are cut to size and loaded on a truck for delivery to the mill.
Last night was the first of the season with below zero temperatures. It was 3.6 below zero early this morning - a real signal of the onset of winter. Yesterday our logger moved his skidder onto our property as a signal to begin our scheduled harvest. This harvest is being conducted according to Forest Stewardship Council standards which means that it is being done with the highest standards of environmental sensitivity. We are particularly proud to be a part of this effort sponsored by the Resident's Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. This will be the second harvest on our property under these standards and our third harvest in the last 8 years. So far we are happy with the results and the value of our forests has been enhanced. The following is the website for the organization.
http://www.fscus.org/

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tovah in Paradox

Bekah, Mitch, and Tovah came to visit in Paradox this weekend for a last get together before we take off to California and a visit to Samson, Esther, and the family out there. We gave Tovah a refurbished sled that was Samson and Esther's ten years ago. It needed a sanding, a little tightening of some of the joints, and a new coat of stain. A few ribbons made it more festive and Tovah had a little 'fun machine'. Here is a video.
video



It's a little hard to hear, but she says: "Let's do it one more time." at the end of the ride and at the end of each ride. And, there were many rides. You can guess that the adults were tired long before Tovah.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner with all the family

Our Thanksgiving this year was with family in Chicago, and what a Thanksgiving meal it was! The Turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and pie were prepared by Jenna and Mark and Naomi and me at Mark and Jenna's house. Everything else was brought pot luck by the rest of the family. And it was some feast of American and Philippino food. I can't even begin to name all the dishes, but you can see from the pictures below that it was nothing short of spectacular.
Whole Tilapia fish below














































Maria led us in 'Grace' with her mom and dad and proud grandma looking on.
















Then it was time for us all to dig in and enjoy!
















And, finally, play and rest after the big meal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Michigan Ave., Chicago

MICHIGAN AVENUE, CHICAGO, NOVEMBER 2008

Art Institute,
Ancient Aztec, Inca, and Maya
Ceramic faces peering from America's hidden past
As real as you and me.

Grant Park,
Architect Gehry, new twists given
Thoughts of Barack
Finally agreed
Like you and me
















Walls of glass bricks
Faces illuminated from inside
Reflections on pools in between





















Mirrored Bean
You and me, all of us, a world
Reflected, refracted, bending, dizzying






















Portraits of reflections of us taking pictures
Digital reality piled on itself
Swirling, spiraling, sweeps of
bits and bytes

Shaken to the edge of all that was real
I shatter down to the ground
My pieces fall
onto you

Embattered by emotion
Comforted by the
Ease of your warm touch.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tovah and Masie Mouse House

videoSo, Tovah plays with the Masie book/dollhouse that she got from Aunt Micah! She is literally spending hours engrossed with it. We are visiting Tovah for a couple of days this weekend just before we take a big trip to Chicago to spend time with Maria! Tovah is definitely a morning person. This morning she came into our bedroom and we told stories for about a half hour with persistent requests for more, more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Change you can believe in


Who says we can't change? Here I am in my pajamas and bathrobe. Naomi has been trying to get me to expand my wardrobe categories for over 30 years. Finally, I have succumbed. Although with the recession/depression and us being retired, I'm not sure the timing is really very good. In the past, I slept in my BVDs and got dressed in my day clothes when I woke up rather than sleep in pjs and dress in a bathrobe when I awoke. This cost less and made for less clutter in my closet. Oh, My! Who knows why I'm now changing. Maybe because I am more playful in my retirement and have more time to lounge around in the morning and, and,....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dreary November Day


It is a cold misty bitter pale gray November day. I'm sitting in my dining area looking out at Moose Mountain. It is hunting season and right now I'd just as soon be in here looking out there with my mind wandering over hunts of years ago.

November

Cold gray granite hills
Tan, brown, and shades of green are
muted by chill shrouds of mist.
Ridges, rills, mountain tops remain
but faint hints in the array.

Hot blood pumps feet to mountain crests
Gun cocked!

Testosterone spiked, ears pricked.
Rutting deer, the prey.

Explore, ascend, kill, breed.
Life clear, no ambiguity here.

But, November is to decay.
Time to give way.

Youth triumphs season.
Old November men fade to gray.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Electric Lights Over the Kitchen Island


And so it has come to this! I'm actually installing new light fixtures over the kitchen island. I'm only hoping that I don't burn the house down or destroy all our electrical service. This is a first for me. But, so far, it seems kind of easy, despite wrong sized screws to hold the plate over the wiring box - or whatever it is called. And, despite tormentingly sketchy instructions from the Chinese manufacturers, the thing seems to be working. Except that tomorrow I have to buy the proper length screws to hold the cover plate. I'll include a picture of the finished product when it is all done. Sanity was facilitated by Naomi's great help and by Midori's beautiful violin playing on the stereo.


Finished job!
Here is the promised photo of the finished project. Yes, those are two loaves of fresh baked bread. Potato bread! And this time I did wear an apron.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hunting and Baking Bread

Walking and Hunting

Today Naomi and I took a walk to the marsh at one of the corners of our property. I decided to take the gun along for the walk since hunting season is open. I figured that if a buck was willing to stand and watch us long enough for me to take a shot, then I should have the gun along just to oblige him. Naomi is fond of venison and tolerates the killing part that is necessary to indulge her fondness. She is not at all squeamish and has helped skin all sorts of game including a bear I shot a number of years ago.
I was looking for deer sign, of which there was the usual amount for this time of year in my neighborhood. Most of the sign is near the fields and house where the deer like to eat the crab apples, flowers, and the clover from the lawn. It's better eating than in the woods.
There was no sign, along the path we took, of the coming rut. The rut makes bucks careless and less risk averse, which increases the odds in the hunter's favor. Bucks also create an assortment of rut specific sign that is pretty easy to see in the woods and indicates their presence and patterns of their behavior.

Baking Bread

When we returned from our walk, I decided to bake some bread. My favorite is something called "Posy's Russian Black Bread". It is made with cornmeal, chocolate, molasses, mashed potatoes, whole wheat flour, and rye flour. It is a little complicated to make and remains quite sticky during the kneading process but is well worth it because it is so delicious! There is something very sensual about the smells, texture, and resiliency of the dough as it rises. It becomes firm, elastic, and very responsive to each push of the heel of my hand. Yes, that is flour on my stomach and I should wear an apron!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Snow and Shelling Beans

First snow is always an exciting time. Of course, when the first snow is this early and this little, one can count on it disappearing soon. Fall will continue for probably another month before we get the first snow which will really settle us into winter for the duration. But this first snow is like the flashing yellow signal on the crosswalk - hurry up and get to the other side because winter will be 'truckin' on through' pretty soon. Yes, those Adirondack Chairs do have to go into the barn before real winter sets in.
First snow is also a great gift for getting out into the woods with the rifle to see where the deer are and what their patterns are this season in anticipation of the serious hunting to begin with the rutting season coming up.
But, today, the first snow seems to penetrate coldness into my bones and make me hunger for hot soup lunches and the warm wood stove. Maybe this is because of the blustery winds, continued flurries, and the fact that everything is so wet from the ample rains of the last few days. It will be a good day for an afternoon nap.

Shelling Beans

We also are busy shelling our dried bean crop. This year I grew more dried beans than I ever have before. They are mostly still waiting for Naomi and me to finish up the shelling process. We could have thrashed them outside on a big tarp, but somehow we always seem to opt for the slower method of opening each pod by hand and stripping the beans away. The picture is of the pile of plants with pods attached on a tarp in my 'office' upstairs in the cabin. I grew several different kinds - Navy, Pinto, Kidney, Jacobs Cattle. It is fun to have a variety for various soups, salads, chilies, etc. Naomi is busy shelling while I'm writing this!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cape Ann, Massachusetts - gathering compost


Each fall, after our rental season is over, Naomi and I take a trip to the New England Coast for a little R&R. The last few years, I take the occasion to gather some seaweed as compost for my garden. I understand that seaweed can offer the garden many trace elements that the garden doesn't ordinarily get from regular land based compost. I also like it because it is very fibrous and takes a long time to completely break down, thus adding good tilth to the soil.
It makes the car smell like the sea on the way back home! I take this as another advantage - prolongs the vacation.

Cape Ann Oct. '08

Wind whipped waves splayed
against a gently sloped beach

Each erupting from below,
Animated by desire to break free

Is the whole ocean conspiring,
Throwing itself upon the land?

Complicit wind shears the crest
Wresting desperate drops aloft

Thrilled by towering waves above me,
Trembling at the thought of rules broken

"Thus shall you come and no farther,
And here shall your proud wave be Stopped."
Job 38:11

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Birthday Party













It was Tovah's second birthday last Friday. She had a great birthday party on Sunday afternoon which Naomi and I attended along with her other grandparents and assorted friends and friend's parents. There was not a melt-down among the attendees. In the accompanying video (all the way at the bottom of this post) you get to see most of the people who attended the party. Bracha was still visiting from Israel and played guitar and sang for us.

video

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sukkot















And so, It is Sukkot!
The pictures were taken at the time that we built the Sukkah and relaxed with our cousin, Bracha, from Israel - just after Yom Kippur. This is my favorite holiday - celebrating the harvest and camping out. It really connects with the land and is a perfect environmental holiday. The Pilgrims self consciously modeled their Thanksgiving holiday after Sukkot.
During the holiday one eats meals and sleeps (weather permitting) in a three sided hut reminiscent of an
Adirondack leanto. Traditionally, the Sukkah is decorated with the seven agricultural species of the Land of Israel. One also waves, in six directions including up and down, a Lulav and Etrog as they are held together in hand. The lulav is basically a palm branch with myrtle branches on one side and willow branches on the other. The trees can symbolize fruitfullness, life giving water, and sensual beauty and strength. The Etrog is a fruit, somewhat like a lemon, which is grown in Israel. It is citrously fragrant, beautiful, and has the pistil remaining on the end. Just to be sure the symbolism is not missed, the Rabbis ruled that the Etrog must be turned just before the waving so that the pistil is pointed in the direction of the waving. It is no mere accident that the Etrog played an important part in European Jewish folk traditions as a fertility enhancer for women.

Observations and Reflections while sitting in my Sukkah

I sit in my Sukkah

Air expectantly still.

Candle burns without waver

Save my will.


Lulav and Etrog

Him and Her I wave.

Arching palm, fragrant fruit,

Sparks pulsing through air.


Blue Jays throb through,

Harsh cries daring-do.


Woolly alder aphids,

Thousands within eyesight,

Waft through the air

With their waxy white.


I sip my wine, eat my bread.

A jet passes overhead.


I am startled by

Neighbor’s rifle report.

His mouth’s ear - tasting deer-

Is deaf to any tort.


An early evening owl calls

"Who looks for You-all".


The entire universe

Billions of years hence

A dense black dot

Or, an empty lot


Meanwhile the wise one said:

"Praise God,

Obey the commandments",

Swat the late season mosquitoes

- Dead!






Saturday, October 4, 2008

Visiting Maria in Chicago!



Today we visited the Farmer's Market in Oak Park. Berries galore and tomatoes were enjoyed by all - along with some coffee and homemade donuts. It was a beautiful fall day!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Aldo Leopold's Shack


So, on Thursday, I flew to Chicago to visit My daughter, Jenna and her husband, Mark, and my Granddaugher, Maria. On the first full day there Mark and I took a trip to Baraboo, WI to see Aldo Leopold's 'shack'. It was a pilgrimage of sorts. Well, maybe not 'of sorts', but probably an actual pilgrimage. It was a three hour drive from Oak Park to Baraboo, WI. On the ride Mark and I had a long discussion about community connections, fragmentation of society and whether that fragmentation exists now any more than in the past. Discussion involved what makes a community and how we can recognize one. I presented the idea that the romanticized traditional geographically bound communities based on neighborliness and kinship can be basically destructive of humanity - promoting provincialism and prejudice, limiting educational opportunity, intellectual curiosity, and generally generating constraints on human potential and sometimes resulting in destruction of the environment. I argued that a more cosmopolitan mode of living can promote intellectual and creative growth, emotionally healthy individuals, less prejudice, and more compassion for fellow human beings. I pointed out the contrast between Sarah Palin, living all her life in Wasilla with few outside experiences and closely bound with her kin and neighbors, compared to Barack Obama, raised in Kansas, Hawaii, Indonesia, and living in Boston, LA, and Chicago. Sarah of 'Drill, Baby, Drill', pipelines, anti science, familial retribution, cronyism, etc. Barack of environmental awareness and concerns, universal health care, science and reason, interest in and concern for the rest of the world. This turned out to be an interesting discussion to have before going to Leopold's 'Shack'. This was the place of inspiration for Leopold, who grew up in Iowa, went to High School in New Jersey, College in Connecticut, worked and lived in New Mexico, married a Spanish American woman and wound up spending much of his adult life in Wisconsin (living and working in a community of scholars - students and colleagues who came and went), where he wrote one of the seminal books on expanding the notion of community to include the environment in which we live.
Maybe the idea of community needs to include the notion of a community that we make, each of us, of our friends and relatives, as we choose. This community can sometimes be partly or even mostly located in a particular geographic area, but almost everyone needs to step out of that area for a significant time for meaningful integrating activity in order to broaden their perspective of humanity and their knowledge of their self. Modern communications and travel make this easier than at any time in our history.
My own community includes, with a few very significant exceptions, hardly any of my neighbors. It is mostly my family scattered in Massachusetts, Saratoga, Chicago, California, Alaska and close friends flung far into places that their interests and opportunities have taken them. This community is close knit and responsive and nurtures me and I don't think my sense of committment to humanity and the world has suffered because it is far flung.
I thank Mark and my blog-journal for the opportunity to sort some of this out in my own mind.

Check out the link below.
www.aldoleopold.org/

Bracha visits from Israel


This past Monday, on the way back from the Garlic Festival, we picked up our cousin Bracha who is visiting from Israel.  We are having a wonderful time showing her our place and visiting around the area and putting her to work in the Garden.  This is her first visit to North America.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Compost


So, yesterday I turned my compost. I'm not a very careful composter, but, if one is not in a hurry, composting tolerates most anything. I like to think of these piles of organic materials as my next year's tomatoes. You can see that the fall colors are coming on. The compost consists mostly of hay that I gather from bush hogging the fields and from sundry garden debris. This compost combined with ample manure, which I either buy or gather from neighbors who keep animals, is basically what keeps the garden going.

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival



Garlic Ice Cream is surprisingly good! Although I don't think I'll make a regular habit of it. This Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is quite an event. Good music, great food, if you like garlic. And, above all, a great selection of garlic for sale - many varieties of good healthy stock at very reasonable prices. There are also many tables of information staffed by knowledgeable people with information for those who want to grow their own. There was quite a crowd. They expected 40 to 50 thousand, but the weather was not the greatest which probably kept it down some. Still, the traffic flow was well maintained with lots of competent professional guidance and support. Things flowed smoothly and there was no alcohol, so it was definitely a family oriented affair.
We went with Naomi's sister and brother-in-law. There was a variety of food and music and crafts to keep us all interested and satisfied.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Garlic Planting

Finished planting 8lbs of garlic sets today.  Don't ask what I'm going to do with all that garlic come next August, but if you're interested in some, send an email to joemahay@yahoo.com next summer and we'll see what we can do.  
It has been dry for the last few weeks with the soil quite brittle and crumbly for several inches down - a little like store bought ground coffee left too long on a pantry self.  It  started to rain about noon today and is expected to continue for a couple of days - good news!  Great to have all that garlic tucked away in  the neat garden beds waiting for the rain.  All I have to do is put a 'comforter' of straw on top, which I will do after the rain thoroughly wets the soil.
Lots of bird activity today.  This morning I came upon  a warbler trapped in the Garden Shed, which fluttered out as I entered the door.  This afternoon there were Robins galore in the wet bushes around the house and there were flocks of Jays marauding the woods.  A spectacular Piliated Woodpecker alighted on the big pine tree behind the house tentatively tapping the trunk searching for a treat as I was awakened from my afternoon nap.  There was a steady rap of rain on the bedroom's metal roof. The gleaming colors of the wet fall leaves were enhanced by the diffuse light of a cloudy day.  Life seems good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hike to Hammond Pond

The picture on the right is of the outlet brook for
Hammond Pond.
Yesterday, Naomi and I hiked the short hike into Hammond Pond. It was a beautiful fall day after the first hard frost of the season. You can see the first hints of fall color. Had a great relaxing time.
Naomi took a video of me eating a cucumber that is pretty funny! Enjoy!
video

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Visiting Tovah in Florence, MA


Hello from Florence. We're visiting our Grand - daughter, Tovah. Having a great weekend. We visited a small farm at the Vocational High School where their was a Holstein sharing Grandma's name - Happy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Garden Harvest - First Frost - Maybe

As we were working on getting the garden prepared for the first frost of the season, we discovered that the mice had started to harvest one patch of our carrots before us. Naomi decided to beat them to the rest of the harvest and so she stands with a bucket of carrots and the garden fork in her hand.
We picked squash and mulched the vines. We ate the last of the sweet corn for lunch. All the savors of the summer foods - tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., take on a bittersweet emotional tone as the season advances. This first frost is always a marker. The smells change from seedy and flowery to musty and mouldy as the bacteria and fungi begin to dominate in the life processes.

The garden has been abundant this year. You can see it is also rather wild and rank. We sometimes long for the precise orderly gardens one sees in the magazines, but it doesn't seem to be in our nature. We are always trying to cram more into life than there is room for.

The web of fencing you see most clearly against the sky is 8 feet high and extends 4 feet underground - protection from the deer and the woodchucks. Behind Naomi and to the right (click on the photo to enlarge) are a couple of ceramic sculptures done by one of our daughters when she was in college. In the background on the right is Moose Mountain. Like it's companion, Owl Pate, it is about 2500 feet and about 1600 feet above the garden on the valley floor. The air drainage from those two mountains and the others in our neighborhood gives us some of the coldest temperatures in the region on those quiet clear nights of fall and winter.
PS: Wouldn't you know, it didn't freeze!
PPS: First Frost occurred sometime while we were away on the weekend of Sept.19-20-21.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Raven Nest


This picture of Owl Pate Mountain was taken as I was standing just above a Raven's nest that sits on a rock ledge on our property.

I have often heard the Ravens from our house as they squawk in their raspy gravelly croak, like old movie sound tracks of prehistoric reptiles. Today, as I was taking this picture, the pair appeared in strong voice. I had the time and decided to explore a little and see if I could find where they were nesting. A little clambering about on my part produced a narrow view of one corner of their nest planted on a ledge with a protective overhanging crag. One of the birds was standing on its edge.

Ravens are more numerous now than they were 35 years ago when I first came to the Adirondacks, but they still are a wondrous bird - big black scavengers and hopefully 'forever more'.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fish Story


Last Sunday, 9-7-08, Naomi and I and friends of ours - another couple and their young boy - were canoeing on Johnson Pond in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest. It was a bright clear beautiful early fall day. The boy was in a junior sized kayak and having a lot of fun scooting around the older couples. We took a close look at some of the Pitcher Plants, Sundew, and Bladderwort. Telling the story of these three carnivorous plants is always a fun part of anyone's introduction to Adirondack wetlands. The young man expressed some exception to the 'disgusting' digesting insects in the bulb of the pitcher plant.

The resident loon couple, which we were hoping to see and hear, were absent. Probably they were either on their way to the ocean for the season or visiting some other pond looking for something to eat.

We proceeded to canoe down the narrowing channel of the pond that leads to the outlet. There are several very nice beaver lodges on the shoreline with channels approching them from the open water. These provided great challenges in manueverability for a young man in a kayak.

As Naomi and I approached the second of the lodges, and were a little distant from the others in the party, there was a great splash and commotion next to our canoe. Water splashed on Naomi's face. My immediate thought was that a beaver had taken umbrage at our appoach to her lodge and was trying to intimidate us with the old 'splash of the tail' trick. Instantly, however, there was the heavy thumping of a very large nothern pike thrashing around the bottom of our canoe. I couldn't say I actually saw it throw itself into the boat, but there it was. Quite intimidating with it's gaping jaws and sheer size. Our friends and their son came over to see and share the excitement. The event made the trip truly memorable. I took my pocketknife and severed the spine just behind the head and took the offering home for a treat of fresh fish. The fish measured 35 inches and had numerous bloody marks from leeches.


Friday, January 4, 2008

New Beginnings

Yesterday, I spent a good part of the morning on the phone attending, by speaker phone, a meeting of the Executive Committee of the RCPA during which we updated our new Executive Director on issues facing the Adirondack Park. One thing that was reviewed was the Press Release announcing our hiring of the new ED. Michael Washburn has a Ph D. in Forestry from Univ. of Penn.

One of the main focuses of the RCPA is the Unit Management Planning process. This is a good thing and something very related to helping protect the HPWF. It is interesting to me to note that so much of what I do almost everyday is related to the place where I live.

In that spirit, I spent much of the afternoon reading about Tu B'Shvat which is the Jewish new year of the trees. It is an environmental holiday, as are many of the Jewish holidays which are rooted in the yearly agricultural cycles of the middle eastern Mediterranean climate. This particular holiday also uses the tree as a spiritual metaphor for human beings and of spiritual guidance. In Jewish tradition, the tree is a symbol of the Torah the ultimate guide for life.

In Israel, the holiday is a kind of Jewish Arbor Day during which school children go out into the fields and plant trees.

The day is seen as the day that the new year's life force begins again deep in the roots of the tree. It is also the time of the first budding of trees in the Mediterranean wet season after the first winter rains. So, it is a kind of rebirth of the land.

Even in our climate in the Adirondacks, this season is a time when one can begin to prune the trees because they have entered the lowest point of activity before the new growth begins in the Spring. The Sap has dropped about as far into the roots as it is going to go, before it begins to flow again.

It is a good time for a new beginning for the RCPA with a new executive director.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Today, I spent time running around Northampton looking for a way to hang my maps in our room so that I can study the geology of the area around the HPWF.

At the dinner table, Bekah, Naomi, Mitch, and I reminisced about certain business establishments along Route 74 and along the Hogback Road (officially known as North Road). We all had a good chuckle, but later I realized that these stories about these businesses are part of the HPWF story. So, I will give a brief summary.
  • First, the business along Hogback is a 'Tea House'. This is a little Tea Garden and Pastry place open by reservation only. I understand, from talking to the owner, a friend of mine, that this is a common kind of enterprise that people travel to as part of a vacation trip. There evidently are these kinds of places all over the country just waiting for people to call ahead to visit on their travels. Kind of like vineyards with wine tasting shops, rural craft shows, country Bed and Breakfasts. I don't think this person is making a go of it. She is very nice and very talented, has great tea and pastries, i just don't think this is the right location. Our area just doesn't have the right atmospherics for such a place. Roads lined with off kilter trailers, barns and abandoned homes with the roofs caving in, five cars parked in the mud tracks in front of the trailers with only one sometimes in working condition, etc. Nearest other business is A-B-C distributors with most of its business traffic between 10pm and 2am and with periodic police raids.
  • Second, the business in Paradox, near the intersection of Letsonville Road and Rt. 74 is Dad's Place. This business is a tragically funny. I don't even know how to tell the story without being condescending. First, it was a little restaurant. To tell you something about it, your first have to know that the sign out front of the restaurant had the word restaurant spelled incorrectly on both sides of the sign and each spelling was diferent from the other. Restaraunt and Resterant. Naomi and I were very excited about a new business opening in the area and eagerly went to try it out. Naomi ordered fried chicken and when she put her fork into the chicken, it erupted like Mt. Vesuvius spurting oil all down her front. This did not really deter our interest and we continued to patronize the place until I ordered a glass of Orange Juice one day and after drinking it even though it tasted a little funny, I noticed the ring of caked on Tomato Juice around the bottom of the glass. This was a little too much for us. When the business failed shortly thereafter the family turned it into a small grocery. One day we ran out of paper towels, or something, at home and ran down to the store to make a purchase. The young woman informed us that they were sold out of paper towels. A quick perusal of the store revealed that they probably average less than one of most essentials. Needless to say, this business also failed. The hard part of this was that the family was enterprising and eager to do well. The father, who was the namesake of the place(Dad's Place), was dying of cancer and the family was trying to hold things together. Just not very successfully.
  • The last business we discussed was the Campground along the Schroon River at the bridge across the river on Rt. 74 in Severance. For many years this operated as a pretty regular campground along a pretty, if somewhat exposed, stretch of a beautiful river. It recently changed hands. I don't personally know the owners, but they seem to be running a little subsistence farming operation at their house along side the campground. They have a number of antique tractors and farm machinery. They have numerous chickens, more or less penned in, and some sheep. The chickens and sheep make quite a mess of most things. It really looks like a fairly unkempt farmstead in the finest Adirondack tradition. There is a sign out front advertising farm fresh eggs. At the end of the season each summer the sign announces a drag queen show. This caused quite a stir in the Severance community at first. There was a competing sign across the road spewing out anti gay hate speech. The local papers were full of stories and letters to the editor on one side or the other. The local substation of the State Troopers is nearby and after a couple of months a stop was put to the hate signs. The drag queen shows continue.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Day

A day of new resolution.

As part of my thoughts for the new year I've been thinking of using my blog as a type of journal of experiences and thoughts regarding the Hammond Pond Wild Forest that borders my home place in Paradox, NY.

Today, Naomi and I started a new experiment, moving into a room in our 'middle daughter' and her husband's home in Florence, Mass. This will be just for a couple of winter months and to allow us to live with a little breath of civilization, and to acquaint us with our newest granddaughter - Tovah who is just over one year old.

Part of my plan for the next couple of months is to learn about the geology of the Hammond Pond Wild Forest area where we live. I have a couple of geologic maps from the NYS Education Department which I have brought with me to hang on the wall for study.

Life is most fun when I have some 'projects'.

Naomi and I have made a nice cozy room for ourselves.