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Adirondack Explorer

September, 2011

Notes Collected in the Adirondacks: 1897 & 1898
Author: Arpad Geyza Gerster

Review by: Philip Terrie

The library at the Adirondack Museum houses thousands of rare and valuable items, from historic maps and the business records of long-defunct logging companies to the personal papers of major Adirondack personalities and hard-to-find government reports. Among the most fascinating of the many treasures are diaries, handwritten day-to-day accounts of life in bygone times. Some of these are by humble folk, like the poignant journal kept by Juliet Kellogg, living on a remote farm near Minerva in the 1860s and describing the isolation and travails of a hardscrabble life. At the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum is the diary >>More


January, 2011

Long Distance Testing the Limits of Body and Spirit in a Year of Living Strenuously
Author: Bill McKibben

Review by: Phil Brown

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, we asked Bill McKibben to ski the entire Jackrabbit Trail in a single day and write about it. Saranac Lake to Keene. That’s twenty-four miles, but that wasn’t enough for McKibben. When he turned his story in, I learned he started instead at Paul Smith’s, where there is an orphan piece of the Jackrabbit. By following this trail and then a railroad bed, he was able to make it to Saranac Lake and add ten or eleven miles to the trek. Why extend an already-lengthy trip by slogging along a boring railroad track? I thought Bill must >>More


November, 2010

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love
Author: Kristin Kimball

Review by: Philip Terrie

KRISTIN KIMBALL’S The Dirty Life is the story of an urban, highly educated woman and how she moved to the Adirondacks and learned to be a farmer. Instead of worrying about commuting and her 401K, now she thinks about the weather and whether the hogs are warm enough. This profound shift in priorities puts her in touch with a way of living and thinking that most Americans know nothing about, but these are “the kind of thoughts that have occupied the majority of the human race—the agrarians—for most of the history of the world.” She and her husband, Mark, operate >>More


September, 2010

Up on a Hill and Thereabouts
Author: Gloria Stubing Rist

Review by: Betsy Kepes

DURING THE DEPRESSION, how did a single mom with two kids support herself in a rural Adirondack community? From the distance of over seventy years, Gloria Stubing Rist recalls her mother as an entrepreneur who built a shack of salvaged lumber and created the Top of the Hill dance hall. “Mim” planned to sell coffee, cigarettes, and home brew to men working on the state road to Schroon Lake from Ticonderoga. But the start of the roadwork was delayed. Mim didn’t say anything to us kids, but young as I was, I realized we were in big trouble. There we >>More


March, 2010

Noah John Rondeau’s Adirondack Wilderness Days
Author: William J. O’Hern

Review by: Betsy Kepes

IN 1946, THE ADIRONDACK HERMIT Noah John Rondeau wrote entries in his annual journal in a complicated code. Fifty years later, a recent college graduate, David Greene, deciphered the symbols. Rondeau was fond of nicknames, and some of the journal entries didn’t make any sense until Richard Smith, an old friend of Rondeau’s, helped interpret the cryptic remarks. Next it was William O’Hern’s turn to put the decoded information into a book. The back cover of this latest book about the famous hermit hints that secrets are to be found inside the mysterious journal, but readers who are expecting revelations >>More


July, 2009

Heartwood
Author: Marylee Armour

Review by: Neal Burdick

It all began when one person decided to introduce an acquaintance to high technology so he could record his low-tech life. “I didn’t really start out to write a biography,” says Marylee Armour of her book Heartwood: The Adirondack Homestead Life of W. Donald Burnap. The book, first published in 1988 (so when we say “high technology” we aren’t talking iPods), was reissued in 2007. “I wanted to help Don learn to use his new tape recorder. It’s hard to just start telling your stories into a microphone, so I began to ask him questions. Later, with miles of recordings >>More


January, 2008

Schroon Lake
Author: Lueza Thirkield Gelb

Review by: AMY GODINE

The Adirondack landscape of Lueza Thirkield Gelb’s memoir, Schroon Lake, is not the stuff of High Peaks travelogues and dark Romantic vistas. It’s well-groomed and meticulous, a place where homes have names—like Almanole, or The Big Place—and long, curling driveways. Where deviled eggs are cooled on lake ice and sofas swing on the porch. Boathouses, school buses, woodpiles as neatly stacked as porch furniture in the late fall—these are the vivid strokes that animate Gelb’s story, the lovely little details that helped this book win the Adirondack Center for Writing’s award for best memoir of 2007. But under the light >>More


January, 2008

At the End of the Road
Author: Ruth Mary Lamb

Review by: BETSY KEPES

In her new book of essays, At the End of the Road, Ruth Mary Lamb reflects on her experiences living in a remote valley west of Lake George. In 1990 she and her husband, Sandy, left their busy life in Boston to live in a ramshackle farmhouse they dubbed Journey’s End. Ours was a reverse migration: from easy living to pioneering. We looked forward to problem-solving without electric or phone lines, using primitive plumbing, and harvesting enough firewood from our 160 acres to keep warm in winter. We would put in gardens and try living simply. Most of all, we >>More


May, 2006

Notes Collected in the Adirondacks: 1895 & 1896
Author: Arpad Geyza Gerster Edited by Sidney S. Whelan Jr.

Review by: CHRISTOPHER ANGUS

Hungarian-born Arpad Gerster was a 19th-century Renaissance man, an artist, writer, musician, keen observer of the natural world, early conservationist, pioneer of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and the author of Rules of Aseptic and Antiseptic Surgery, the textbook that set the standard in the United States for maintaining a sanitized operating room. He was a linguist who spoke six languages and the possessor of considerable wit, humanity and knowledge, usually untainted by the mawkish sentimentality of the age in which he lived. This memoir of events surrounding the doctor’s hunting and fishing vacations at >>More


March, 2006

Women with Altitude
Author: Carol Stone White

Review by: KRISTIN KIMBALL

Everyone in the North Country knows an aspiring 46er or soon learns to recognize one: firm calves, purposeful expression and a lofty to-do list. Forty-Sixers earn the title, of course, by climbing all of the Adirondack High Peaks, most of which top 4,000 feet. The Adirondack Forty- Sixers organization, established in the 1930s, records more than 5,500 members. Less numerous are the winter 46ers, those who scale the peaks while everyone else is curled up in front of the fireplace; rarer still are the female winter 46ers. As of March 2001 (when the logbooks atop the trailless peaks were removed >>More