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No.18: A December Story.
Hints of Balsam and Pine: Nature Reflections in a minor key from our quiet corner of the Adirondacks. For Fourpeaks Guests and anyone who ever dreamed about a wilderness getaway. CLICK & GO! (On this page.) Adirondack Letter No.18: "A December Story." Photo Essay: 10 photos with captions. For better nature photos (35mm film, Nikon F3), seeTrillium at Sugar Camp in '97. There's more at Adirondack Nature Photographs. (On the next page.) List and Links to all the Adirondack Letters in this series.
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"A December Story." (Photo Essay)
"A December Story" Adirondack Letter No.18
Subject: A December Story
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2006 19:22:09
From: Martin (Your Adirondack Guide)
To: Fourpeaks Visitors
At: < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Dear Fourpeaks Visitor,
When Tyler got done with the roof at New Camp I asked him to come
up with me to Wolf. There was still time to take a look at
possible structural problems there. Ice last year formed a great
solid sheet over the granite ledge the camp is built on. By Spring
it reached to the top of the foundation blocks. We got under and
checked. There was no sign of movement.
The roof hadn't been looked at in years and there appeared to be
evidence of water dripping. Tyler checked the roof. The half-lap
was still sound, no buckling. But the dripedge was over the
roofing material, he said, not under it like it should be. Next
day he came back and tarred it over.
That was the last of the scheduled maintenance work for this year.
Precious little time for it between bookings earlier in the season
so the work carried on part-time evenings till after dark with
lights from the generator. But there are now new roofs on Ridge
and The Cabin, a new workshop and jeep shed at Camp Barn and a
good feeling we're ready for what lies ahead--freezing air
temperatures, long nights, ice and deep snow.
For some Northcountry residents this change brings death--only the
seeds survive. Others go dormant till Spring, the life sap not
rising again for several months. There are many beautiful and
interesting strategies for survival. The queen bumblebee finds a
rocky crevice for a clay mausoleum. She emerges in time to start
over again. Honey bees live through it all on a store of honey,
crowded together for warmth. Most birds fly South, some for great
distances. The monarch finds the tropics finally. Our deer head
North for the flat open farm country along the St. Lawrence.
Retired people with no work to keep them here go South, living
together in snowbird communities.
Many residents continue their activities year-round, making
adjustments to keep warm and for getting around. I'm one of them.
Another is the black-capped chickadee. Family life on hold for the
season, they flock together in groups of twenty or more, following
the lead of the strongest and wisest for a food supply. They're in
my pines now, and have been for several weeks, darting back and
forth to the feeder by the window without rest all day long. It's
said their brains are specially adapted to remember the thousand
hiding places where they've stored the seed. At night they rest
covered up and compact for the cold at night.
I take a walk midday to sit at the little rise of land above the
pine swamp here. The sky is dull after the early morning drizzle,
but the trail underfoot is alive with muted color, leaf mold,
branches, green grass, granite and black water running down from
Bassett high above. George comes along running ahead and waits
there. I found the spot almost the first year I was here--one of
my favorites for sitting outdoors. I had the boys clean it up last
year and put a bridge across the rocky waterway. A clear acre now
I saved five or six strong young maples for the future of it. Over
the years I've resisted putting up a shelter, a small building or
even a bench and table. It's the kind of natural place where one
may find that moment of thorough relaxation one looks for in
meditation. The tops overhead move in the slightest breeze over
the regular solid black trunks. We walk out by Ziz-Zag with
quanities of water running down the ledges there.
By now the patterns of life here have noticeably slowed. Robbie
had called, the chains were done. Nothing else I care to do, late
afternoon I drive out the long way along the river. The water is
full after the rain we've had, but the torrent there appears to
have little energy. The visible world has nothing remarkable in
it. I don't think I passed a car all the way and there were no
people about along the road or in town neither. His place is
empty, the family at school or work. There's a big field behind,
vacant and brown, with pine far off that follow a boundary
somewhere in the distance. I pick the chains up from his
I pass Smith's farm on the way back, buildings unused but still
standing in the grey light. They were active farmers in their day.
They had the land along the river that's now Boynton's. They
sugared up at the Perkins place--it's them I got that farm from.
Pat was the last one alive. She showed me many old photos, some of
which I still have. Fifty degrees and drizzling, a flock of turkey
cross the road by the flats. I stop and am interested in the order
of them and their concentration.
Thanks for reading this. December's the last month. With your life
in order, you're ready for Winter. Make some time to slow down
(Availability Calendar). http://4peaks.com/femailw.htm
Take a walk with me to the rise in the pine swamp (photos).
Find a natural place on your own and get the views (trail notes).
Warm up by the fire in a real Adirondack cabin (all about it).
Your Adirondack Guide,
Martin (and George)
P.S. If you liked this letter, save it for the links, and tell a
friend! If you didn't like it, please send it back with "REMOVE"
as the subject. Thanks.
Member Whiteface Mountain Visitors Bureau
Member Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau
This is No.18 of a really occasional Letter, "Hints of
Balsam and Pine from our Corner of the Adirondacks," for
Fourpeaks guests or anyone who ever inquired about a
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