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Adirondack Explorer

March, 2015

The Sibley Guide to Birds: Second Edition
Author: David Allen Sibley

Review by: John Thaxton

Bird book gets better On one of our semi-annual trips to Cape May, New Jersey, in May of 1998, we saw a report on the Internet of a red phalarope at the municipal gravel dump, which featured a two-acre puddle after three days of hard rain. So on the way to the storied Cape May Hawk Watch Platform we stopped by the gravel dump at 7:30 a.m. and saw David Sibley, all by himself, his spotting scope on a tripod next to his easel, his binoculars around his neck, a camera handy. I literally had to touch him to distract >>More


January, 2015

The Legacy of Fort William Henry: Resurrecting the Past
Author: David R. Starbuck

Review by: Philip Terrie

History meets tourism Adirondack historians, including me, have given short shrift to the story of Native Americans in our part of New York. We have all paid too much attention to the generally shared assumption that the Adirondack region was used only seasonally by Indians who thus had no permanently established towns or villages here. The surrounding river valleys were indeed more hospitable in the winter than the higher elevations in the Adirondacks, but that doesn’t mean that Indians didn’t know this region, use it, and have a variety of important connections with it. One of the chief sources of >>More


November, 2014

Trees of Eastern North America
Author: Gil Nelson, Christopher J. Earle, and Richard Spellenberg

Review by: Ed Kanze

  The giants among us For all the vaunted magnitude of the largest animal that ever lived, and still lives, consider the largest living trees. A few giant coast redwoods skyscrape nearly four hundred feet above their California roots, while the tallest tree of our eastern forests, the white pine, may shoot nearly two hundred feet toward the energy source that fuels its prodigious growth. By comparison a blue whale is puny. From stem to stern, the largest individuals measure not quite a hundred feet. In the Adirondacks and across much of the North American landscape, trees loom larger than any other kind of organism. Every one of us >>More


November, 2014

Adirondack Cookbook
Author: Hallie Bond & Stephen Topper

Review by: Betsy Kepes

  Beaver stew, anyone? The Adirondack Cookbook features a smiling young man on the cover, a pipe in his mouth and two big strings of fish in his hands. Of course an Adirondack cookbook should contain recipes for trout, but there are also recipes in this small spiral-bound book for these mountain edibles: wild turkey, eel, squirrel, squab, snapping turtle, bear, duck, rabbit, beaver, and grouse. Fortunately authors Hallie Bond and Stephen Topper include recipes for more familiar local ingredients like potatoes, apples, maple syrup, and blueberries. Bond is a historian who worked for many years at the Adirondack Museum. Topper is a chef who has worked in several restaurants in the Adirondacks. >>More


November, 2014

Garden Gourmet
Author: Yvona Fast

Review by: Susan Bibeau

  Local seasonings Yvona Fast’s Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your North Country Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market compiles recipes from eight years of the author’s North Country Kitchen column which has run in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise since 2005. Like the weekly column, the book focuses on using local North Country produce and ingredients to create food that is not only healthy and fresh but most importantly, simple to prepare. “Cooking does not have to be complicated,” states the author, “A salad of freshly picked, vine-ripe tomatoes accented with a little salt, pepper, parsely and chives is simple. Add a hard-boiled egg or some crumbled feta and you have protein. >>More


November, 2014

Adirondack Rock
Author: Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas

Review by: R.L. & Karen Stolz

  A rock-solid guidebook Standing beneath a strikingly steep, six hundred- foot dolomite tower in the Italian Alps, studying a recently published guidebook, we looked up at the rock, perplexed. The route couldn’t go that way! It just couldn’t! And it didn’t. This was our third, and final, time being misled by this beautifully produced, full-color collection of misinformation purporting to be a rock-climbing guidebook to the most beautiful routes in Val Gardena. We unceremoniously stuffed the handsome book into the bottom of a pack and proceeded to climb what appeared to be the most appealing line to the tiny summit. It was, in spite of the guidebook, a pretty good >>More


November, 2014

Adirondack 102 Club: Your Passport & Guide to the North Country
Author: Marty Podskoch

Review by: Neal Burdick

  Join the 102 club The Adirondacks are a mishmash of municipal and county jurisdictions. Take Saranac Lake: it’s a village that straddles two counties and three towns, none of which is named Saranac Lake. Just to make things more complicated, a town in the Adirondack Park is what’s often called a township in parts of America that appreciate some sense of order. But if we are near Saranac Lake and announce we are going into town, we mean the village of Saranac Lake, not the town of St. Armand, which we may already be in and is one of the three towns that the village dribbles into. You get >>More


September, 2014

Man and Nature: George Perkins Marsh
Author: David Lowenthal

Review by: Phillip Terrie

A lesson for our times When we fiddle with nature, there can be unforeseen consequences. When we fiddle with nature in big ways, entire civilizations collapse. This was the essence of a densely written book, Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, published in 1864 in New York and London. It wasn’t much anticipated, and the author, George Perkins Marsh, a former congressman from Vermont, was little known. Yet it went on to be an international bestseller, was translated into multiple languages, was repeatedly updated in expanded editions, and is now generally recognized to be one >>More


September, 2014

Journey with the Loon
Author: David C. Evers and Kate M. Taylor

Review by: John Thaxton

ALTHOUGH I’VE READ several books about loons, a couple of them gloriously illustrated, Journey with the Loon strikes me as the most scientifically informed and appropriately illustrated study of loons I’ve ever experienced. David C. Evers is the executive director, founder, and chief scientist of the Biodiversity Research Institute and has been studying loons since 1987; his wife, Kate M. Taylor, has worked with loons since 1995 and before joining BRI worked for twelve years overseeing the scientifi c program for the Loon Preservation Committee in New Hampshire. Evers and Taylor have done the yeoman work, and then some, and they write with a casual, relaxed style that not only delivers a wealth >>More


July, 2014

An Adirondack life
Author: by Edward Kanze

Review by: by Betsy Kepes

As nature lovers, we hoped to take root not just anywhere, but in, or along the edge of, a wild place. We insisted that the spot be governed by restrictions certain to prevent abuse. We had seen the landscape of our youth despoiled by “development”—a curious word often meaning the reduction of a landscape from a habitat shared democratically by thousands of species to a place dominated ruthlessly by one.

Watching the pageant of nature play out at our place, a grand show with tens of thousands of actors crowding the stage, it’s clear that appointing ourselves stewards of “our” eighteen acres would be ludicrous. The web of interconnections, an “Internet” if ever there was one, is impossibly complex, so much so that it would be impossible for anyone to comprehend it, let alone manage the system intelligently. All we can do is try to be on our best behavior, live modestly, take care of our needs, and hope for the best outcomes.