Only weddings have kept me from watching the Can-Am Rugby tournament in Saranac Lake, held this year Friday July 31 to Sunday August 2. It’s so huge it spills into Lake Placid. Both towns are overrun with happy jock energy as a hundred teams of serious amateur ruggers from all over the Northeast and Canada converge in one of the largest rugby gatherings in the world.
It’s a bracketed tournament culminating in a championship match watched by as many as 3,000 people. There are men’s and women’s divisions, and this summer for the first time in the event’s 35-year history kids will have their own scrums. It’s a fantastic game, and the teams play hard. The best way to watch is to pack cold drinks, put on sunscreen and bicycle among the half-dozen fields in either town. Look for the black-and-red jerseys of the Saranac Lake Mountaineers.
I’ll miss the last day of rugby this year because on Sunday August 2 my friend Kelly and I will attend mushroom class at the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondak Loj near Lake Placid. First, experts teach us which fungi are safe to eat, then we go into the woods to find them, then we have them for dinner. The Loj offers a series of educational programs all summer.
This is also the season for slipping silently into the woods. The man who wrote the book on slipping silently into the woods is James Fenimore Cooper. His Last of the Mohicans, set in the French-and-Indian War southeastern Adirondacks, is my choice for a summer re-reading assignment. North Country Public Radio holds an annual summer reading call-in program, scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Thursday July 9. Readers are welcome to send titles to station manager Ellen Rocco beforehand at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll include them on a list on the station’s Web site.
Artwork: Uncas, Hawkeye and Chingachgook, an N.C. Wyeth illustration for The Last of the Mohicans