Adirondack Extravaganza: The Wild Center (photo heavy!)

Nothing lights a fire under a lapsed blogger like a blog-worthy outing!

And we took a quintessential autumn outing this week—to the Wild Center of the Adirondacks.

I’ve written elsewhere about this region of upstate New York I call home. The Adirondack Park is “the biggest natural park in the lower 48 states. It can hold Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks inside its borders.” 

About 20 years ago, the idea surfaced to build a natural history museum in the ADK Park.

Does that sound boring? It is anything but!

From that initial germ of an idea came the Wild Center, an amazing outdoor/indoor set of experiences that explains, informs, and celebrates the environment in these mountains.

Making the trip in autumn gave us the bonus of a glorious drive.

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The Center is in the town of Tupper Lake, about 1.5 hours by car from our house.

I could relay all kinds of facts and figures but the website does that better.

I’ll just show you some photos.

Planet Adirondack, a huge globe in a darkened hall, allows visitors to see storms across the earth in real time.

The animal inhabitants of the region, some living, some still informative in their preserved states.

Art of the indigenous peoples of the region and a place to make your own art

And a display to warm the heart of a weaver.

The Wild Center opened in 2006 but just a few years ago they added the Wild Walk. And what a wild and wonderful walk it is!

The attention to deal is amazing

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Lots of information

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. . . and inventive ways to bring it alive

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A small vignette along the way

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The seat of the swing says “Soar from tree to tree”

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Every inch of concrete walkway is imprinted with twigs and pine needles

The Wild Walk rises gradually from the forest floor to the level of the treetops.

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I can’t imagine a better place to teach about and honor the wonders of this region. And, even better, it’s all accessible to people of all generations and abilities!

We have many reasons to return:

  • to see the otters playing in their waterfall. They were shy the day we were there;
  • to see the place without marauding hordes of 12-year-olds. We arrived just as many buses unloaded kids on field trips;
  • to get a photo of me on the spider web! I really, really wanted that photo  . . . but not with hordes of 12-year-olds;
  • and to absorb more of the vast amount of information and experiences offered.

The lovely news is that we were given free passes to return! When we were leaving, I asked at the main desk for a phone number so, next time, we can call ahead to ask about the school trips (and avoid them!) The admissions manager overheard me and gave us passes to come back, as well as that phone number.

If you were visiting me and wanted to understand this part of our world, I would take you to The Wild Center.

And I would show you a moose:

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So soon . . . autumn

Imagine my surprise when, last week, on August 15, I saw this.

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Embers where there will be flames of color soon

The signs of autumn approaching are creeping in everywhere.

Apple boxes are appearing in orchards, with harvest beginning.

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Apples are even falling from some trees.

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The reeds in the bay start to grow brown, from the bottom up, as do corn stalks.

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What’s more fun about the photos of the bay, are the herons. We see them all summer but they’re solitary birds so it was exciting to see four at one time.

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They nest very near.

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The geraniums, bottom right, are on our seawall.

Late summer on the lake . . . it’s getting quieter already.

Are you seeing signs of autumn? Or maybe spring?!

The Big Questions

Nothing like an early walk on an exquisite spring morning to generate the big questions in life . . .

Why can’t I pick trilliums? It was illegal when I was a child; is it still?

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Was that deer flirting with me? Was she following me? Was she as interested in me as I was in her? Why is her tail white? Why can’t my iPhone camera keep up?

How much does a sailboat like that cost?!

Who will live in Mr. C’s little place, now that he’s gone? Will they grow tomatoes, too?

Why does my cat sit placidly and purr when we stick a big needle under his skin and deliver fluids and then bite me, hard, when I clip his toenails?

And a related question: Why can’t I drink alcohol while on antibiotics?

Where does that lilac smell come from? How can it be so poignant and nostalgic and moving?

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Which chore do I tackle when I get home? Which piece of wood do I sand and/or paint today? Which tomorrow? The next day? Can I just keep walking . . . and avoid the chores?

Why do I look so tubby in my silhouette?

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And a related question: Which kind of ice cream shall I choose today?

Why does 71 sound so old and seem so young? I’ll ask my husband—he’s reaching that birthday today . . .

Where does the time go? Are we using it to full advantage?

How can I fit it all in, everything I want to do on this perfect day, and still have time to acknowledge and honor a perfect day?

Can I do this all again, tomorrow? Please?

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Building Your Word Power: Sastruga

Over the years, I’ve posted photos of one of my favorite winter phenomena and a couple of years ago, blogger Sandra, from A Corner of Cornwall, told me there was a fancy name for it!

Sastruga (pl. sastrugi) It means: “ridges of snow formed on a snowfield by the action of the wind.”

When the wind screams off the lake, it sculpts the snow into constantly changing shapes . . . sastrugi.

Some are subtle.

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Some are gorgeous, sinuous, and flashy.IMG_3303

It may look like striations in rock

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Or waves of water, breaking

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Or just plain peculiar . . .

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This was from earlier this week. Those “duck bills” have an overhang of at least a foot!

Sastruga–A new word for you–you’ll need to use it three times, in a sentence, to make it your own . . .

Would you ever have a need for such a word, in your neck of the woods?

Winter’s Silver Lining

At this point of winter, we Northerners look for silver linings.

Many are the reasons to pity the poor Southerners, but one presented its silver self this morning.

Freezing fog and the delicate, sparkling rime it leaves behind.

I’m no meteorologist and I would have to look up the specific conditions that give us freezing fog, but Northerners know it is distinct from garden-variety frost.

In its wake, freezing fog leaves the most delicate fuzz of crystals on the entire outdoors. Every tree and twig and dried weed and fence post is enrobed so they all appear a bit softened, muted, as if behind a scrim.

(If you click on the photos, you can count the little spikes of ice!)

The temperature rises a degree or two, the sun comes out, and it’s gone. Winter is cold and a little bleak and hard-edged again. 

But we had our silver lining for a moment . . . and that counts for a lot during winter.

Beyond My Ability to Capture

They’ve come. 

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They’ve gone.

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And I still haven’t gotten a really good photo of them . . . 

Few things cause me more agita than seeing something spectacular and a little unusual and not being able to share it with you.

And for that reason, the snow geese that come through here on their migration have  been a source of great agita.

Every November, septo-quazillions of snow geese arrive. I think they choose this area because we have lots of water and protected bays as well as many, many corn fields that have recently been harvested. 

They are the absolute highlight of late autumn for me. I follow them around with a camera and, yet, I am never satisfied. I can’t capture the sheer numbers of them, I can’t capture the racket they make, I can’t capture the way their white wings, with the black tips, glitter against a blue sky, and the way a mass of them, rising from the lake, appear to be a storm of snowflakes, falling up.

The first time I ever saw them, I was taking a walk by the lake and could see a line of snow across the bay. But it was well above freezing and that couldn’t be snow . . .

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Plus it was moving.

My mother and I went to watch them a couple weeks ago. The geese were all placid and happy and chortling near shore. I said to my mom, “If I were a different kind of person, I’d throw a stone, just so we could see them all take off at once.”

A moment later, a small plane flew low overhead . . . and the geese all took off at once. And me, not quick enough to get a video that might’ve conveyed the majesty . . .

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A few days later, I drove home at twilight. We’d had snow that covered the ground and made it difficult for the geese to find leftover corn. But at that moment, three huge harvesters were at work in the fields . . . and uncountable geese were whirling and swirling and rising and falling around the harvesters.

A Thanksgiving all-you-can-eat buffet for hungry birds.

All along the rural road, cars pulled over to watch the scene. I sat and gawked and took a ton of photos and was so excited  . . . and the photos look like nothing special at all.

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Maybe some moments are not meant to be captured, to be frozen, to be stopped in time. 

Maybe the snow geese are simply to be experienced. 

Maybe you need to come next November and see them for yourself!

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Autumn Respite

It seems the internet and airwaves are awash with bad/crazy/scary news. I care about it all and am paying attention and cannot wait until next Tuesday, when I will be pressing my nose up against the window at my local polling place, eager to vote.

And yet . . . one needs a break. One needs a reminder that our world isn’t only bad/crazy/scary. You, my blog friends, offer many and excellent reminders of that. And I want to contribute my own, from my lovely part of the world.

Autumn has been awesome this year. It’s always my favorite time of year, here in upstate New York, in the Adirondack Mountains, near Lake Champlain. But this year the color of the trees, in addition to being bright, has persisted longer than usual or so it seems to me. A few trees fade and more have taken their place.

I can’t give you the freshening breeze that makes the leaves dance and sparkle. I can’t give you the tang of woodsmoke or the crunch of dry leaves beneath your feet. I can’t give you the snap of an Autumn Crisp apple or the sound of the snow geese as they make their raucous way south.

But I can give you the sights of autumn. Many, many sights of autumn. You can click on them as you choose . . . I just know I feel better having been out there, in our pretty world.