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.