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Adirondack Explorer

Monday, January 1, 2018

Quaking Aspen: Capturing Winter Light

Near the house where I lived during my Colorado years, there was a trail that wove through a sprawling grove of perfect quaking aspen trees. In spring, the soft green of emerging leaves was one of the first signs of warming weather. Come fall, their gilded leaves, fluttering in the breeze, reflected in the river, turning everything to gold. Even in winter’s rest, their stark trunks and bare, branching limbs were lovely against a backdrop of deep snow and craggy mountains. Except the trees weren’t really resting. Little did I know that, even shorn of their leaves, they were still >>More


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tim Rowland On Adirondack Winter

You know you’re starting to acclimate to the North Country when you see the thermometer reading 24 degrees and you wonder if it’s even worth building a fire. At this particular moment, anything above 20 would seem like a steam bath. As I did my morning chores, the mercury hovered (which feels like the wrong word) at 12 below; the horse droppings clacked against each other in the muck bucket like billiard balls, and a couple of eggs had frozen and burst before I came to collect them. We do not take the cold lightly. We have read all the >>More


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Beech Bark Disease

If you’ve ever seen chevrons on the bark of an American beech, you know you’re looking at a tree that’s been hugged by a black bear. And you’ve likely been impressed with the bear’s climbing ability. And perhaps looked over your shoulder while you were busy being impressed. But bear-clawed beeches aren’t as common as they once were. The American beech, Fagus grandiflora, has become another member of the North American “trees-devastated-by-imported-pests-and-diseases” club. Beech trees are still out there in the forest. But many of the big ones are gone, victims of the notorious beech bark disease. It’s a one-two >>More


Sunday, December 24, 2017

(Flying) Reindeer and Climate

I recall years ago; two young boys having a conversation. “There’s no such thing as Santa Clause,” the older boy insisted. But the younger boy wasn’t buying it. Come Christmas Eve, he was going to stay up all night, just to catch a glimpse of old Santa and his legendary sleigh full of presents. What excited the little guy the most though, was the thought of seeing those remarkable flying “reindeer on the roof!” “Santa’s reindeer really can fly, can’t they?” he asked me, catching me completely off guard. I hesitated; then told him that reindeer were deer; very much >>More


Saturday, December 23, 2017

New Stoddard Book of Lake George Photos

The Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls has just published Water & Light: S.R. Stoddard’s Lake George, a new work on the photography of Seneca Ray Stoddard. The 160-page book features 150 of Stoddard’s photos, as well as some samples of his painting, sketches and cartography. As a 19th century American photographer, S. R. Stoddard is often ranked with William Henry Jackson and Carlton Watkins, and the quality of his photographic compositions is compared with many of the Hudson River School painters. It is estimated Stoddard took some ten thousand images in the Adirondack Mountains alone. Born in Wilton, NY, >>More


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Adirondack Insects: Cluster Flies

So here’s my movie concept: during a laboratory accident, a scientist exchanges his DNA with a fly. Over the next few weeks, our hero slowly shrinks in size and transforms into an insect with black spiky body hair, maroon eyes, and translucent, buzzing wings. What distinguishes this movie from previous versions of “The Fly” is that this time, the scientist swaps his genes with a cluster fly. Instead of developing super-fast reflexes, he becomes clumsy and lethargic. Instead of rampaging through a city terrorizing people, he alternates his time between crashing against the window and lying upside-down on the floor, >>More


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Magic Mushrooms and Red Noses: Holiday Bioluminescence

As a kid I was enthralled by TV nonfiction shows. Nova and Frontline had great stuff, but my favorites were Christmas documentaries like Frosty the Snowman. Over the years I’ve been disappointed that no further work seems to have been done on the many questions left hanging by the original researchers. Take the whole glowing-nose thing. First documented back in 1939 by Robert L. May in his book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the story surrounding the phenomenon is well-known. Since no one has come up with a scientific explanation, I have decided to tackle the issue. Bioluminescence is a natural >>More


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Lake George Land Conservancy’s Christmas Bird Count

For the past twenty years, the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) has contributed data to the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a national bird census tracking the status of bird populations across North America now in its 118th year. From December 14 through January 5, volunteers across the country brave the elements to count local birds for one day within a designated 15-mile circle. All data is then reported back to the Audubon Society. According to LGLC Communications and Outreach manager Sarah Hoffman, everyone is welcome to participate. There are regular contributors each year to the LGLC Bird Count so >>More


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Adirondack Wildlife: The Ermine and Snow

The snow around the region this week is a blessing.  For several members of our wildlife community, a forest floor that remains free of snow into December becomes problematic, as a dark background contrasts with their newly developed coat of pure white fur. Among the creatures that change color in autumn as part of a survival strategy is a small, yet especially fierce predator – the short-tailed weasel, better known to trappers and backwoods sportsmen as the ermine. In summer, the ermine has a thin, light brown coat that causes it to blend into any woodland setting. Additionally, the small >>More


Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Afterlife of Logs

My three children have participated in a Four Winds Nature Institute program that recruits adult family members to lead grade-school nature learning. I have worked with several moms and dads over the years to pull together materials for hands-on lessons about communities, habitats, and the natural world. The activities usually ended with crowd-pleasing puppet shows. During my first year in the program, in a rare moment of advance planning, I read the entire year’s program, and was glad I did: “Snags and Rotting Logs” was scheduled for November, when I anticipated most logs would be frozen or buried in snow. >>More




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