Prior to that time, he occupied a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse on Droms Road, near Grooms Corners in Clifton Park, his home for 98 years. [Read more…] about 20th Century’s Witness: Elmer Droms of Saratoga County
These words will likely sound familiar to anyone who has undertaken the journey to become a 46er, as they are inscribed on a plaque at the summit of Esther Mountain, High Peak #28. The plaque was placed on the summit in 1939 by The Adirondack 46ers to honor “the indomitable spirit” of the peak’s namesake, Esther McComb. [Read more…] about A Mountaintop Plaque Recalls Teenage Adventurer Esther McComb
“Those kind sting!” he declared. He was the third student that month to point out the same kind of caterpillar as stinging. I remembered being warned away from hairy caterpillars as a kid, but I’ve since picked up many – of various types – with no ill effect. I wondered, could the hairy-caterpillars-sting story be a myth? [Read more…] about Urticating Hairs: The Defense Hairy Caterpillars
Autumn is coming to a close. The brilliant fall foliage is past peak, if not already layered in the compost bin. The last geese are honking their way toward winter homes. Predictions are proffered (sometimes cheerfully, mostly not) for how cold and snowy this year’s winter will be.
Sources for seasonal predictions vary. The Farmers’ Almanac and traditional tales are often cited. How soon those geese head south, for example, is supposed to indicate how difficult winter will be. We trust these bits of folklore because they often have a scientific basis and seem to work. [Read more…] about Woolly Bears And Winter Forecasts
As I waded in Lake Champlain one summer, a fellow bather explained that just a little farther out, refreshing spring water would cool my feet. I have heard that old wives’ tale repeated at Lake Arrowhead in the Pennsylvania Poconos, and in Lough Ree in the Irish midlands.
The explanation of colder, deeper water is simpler, however, than coincidentally occurring springs. And as the seasons change, the same explanation turns the lake world upside down. [Read more…] about Seasonal Turnover Keeps Lakes Healthy
Two chipmunks vie for seeds on our front lawn. One lives directly underneath the bird feeder. Another hails from the far side of the house, address unknown.
The chipmunks appear identical to me: same size, same stripes. Same interests, namely seed hoarding, aggressive chittering, jumping into the bushes and back out again, and brazen stiff-tailed standoffs with the dog. [Read more…] about Chipmunks Are Preparing For Winter
In 2011, my husband and I planted 128 fruit trees on a hillside, mostly apples, but the back few rows included stone fruits. Our apples began producing with gusto after only a few years. We made gallons of cider and sold bushels of heirloom apples. But the plums have required patience. Their blossoms are so delicate and our springs so unpredictable that after eight years, there were still varieties we had yet to taste.
Over the years, we have been loyal. We have not eaten anyone else’s plums. Then we were rewarded when all five of our small Stanley plum trees produced dark blue fruit. By the end of that September, they had almost ripened. [Read more…] about Coyotes Prepare for Winter
The Northeast is home to dozens of species of mammals, hundreds of varieties of birds, and tens of thousands of different insects, but few lizards. This is the story of the five-lined skink.
Though I am fond of reptiles and often seek them out, I have never seen a skink. Unless you’re lucky, determined, or a rock climber – or some combination of the three – I’m betting you haven’t either, at least not in our neck of the woods. [Read more…] about New York Lizards: The Five-Lined Skink
Sitting in a grassy field on a late summer day, I watched dozens of dragonflies roaming the sky. Their slender bodies drifted in and out of view as they rode the air currents. I thought of the cool autumn days to come and wondered where these dragonflies would go. [Read more…] about Fall Dragonfly Migration
Plenty of backyard birdwatchers consider blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) the villains of the avian world. Mark Twain best summarized anti-blue jay sentiment when he compared the bird’s principles to that of an ex-congressman. In Native American lore, blue jays are portrayed as thieves and tricksters. Understandably, this songbird generates antipathy for its nest marauding, birdfeeder bullying, and generally aggressive attitude. Boisterous and colorful, blue jays are seen as unrepentant by their detractors. [Read more…] about The Benevolence of Blue Jays