Winter just doesn’t want to happen this year. We get a little good snow for skiing and then it rains on top. This makes a hard crust and [doesn’t allow for] much control on cross-country skis unless you have steel edges, as some do. I never had any, mine are just no wax, but I still rub a candle on mine. I once went up for in-service training at Whiteface Mountain for telemark training. I only had one pair of skis, the same pair I still have with no edges and toe bindings.
Most of the other guys had cross-country skis with steel edges, just like downhill skis. I said, “I’ll have to go with what I’ve got.” Gary Hodgson had the same skis, so we went over on what I call the “kiddie hill” and we made several runs down that, but we were not able to make telemark turns. We watched the others coming down the big hill from the halfway mark. We decided, “What the hey, it can’t be that hard” as the others were making great turns back and forth across the hill. Of course, we had no safety straps on our skis… just a toe clip. I remember the lift operator questioning us as we were getting on the lift without a binding strap, but he let us go.
We got up to the halfway point and got off. It was pure ice…now what? We started down and tried a couple turns, but I was traveling so fast there was no way I was going to make any turn. So, I would snowplow to a stop and think about it again. Watching the others, Peter Fish and John Chambers (our trainers) [were] doing these turns. Gary and I tried several times on the way down, but we were going too fast and looking to get killed, so we would snowplow and stop. Eventually, we made it to the bottom and on that run Peter lost a ski, which without a safety strap, went gliding down the hill through the parking lot and almost into the Ausable River.
Gary and I went back to the kiddie hill and skied the rest of the day without ever making any telemark turns, and I still haven’t ever done one. A bird long thought extinct has been found on Fergusson Island, a small island of Papua New Guinea. This bird, a Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon last seen 140 years ago was reported by natives in the mountains there. A team went in and set up trail cameras in areas where this bird might inhabit. Sure enough, they caught it on camera walking through the area. Great find…and you wonder how many more of these missing animals and birds might still be out there.
The world is so big and there are places that people don’t go. Many new plants are found each year that have never been identified before. Most of these plants are given the name of the finder as part of their name. Several new creatures are found in the depths of the ocean, as we probe deeper and find things never seen before. I have enough trouble remembering the names of the ones I have found and identified, let alone finding a new one…but I’m always looking, as you never know.
In my columns over the past almost sixty years, my family, friends and others that I’ve met while out and about have been mentioned…and if they screw up, they might even get mentioned twice. My older brother, Bob (my best friend), has been in many columns as we had many adventures together over the years. [He was] born with a gun in one hand and a fishing pole in the other, just like me. He traveled much more of the world [thanks to] his job than I did. In his National Guard Unit out of Schenectady, they resupplied the bases in Antarctica and the North Pole via Greenland and they sometimes made rescues there.
In his outdoor adventures he did the same…big game hunting in many western states, some with me, [and] others with his son Bobby. He even did an African Safari with his wife, Ruthann, taking several large, big game animals. During the last forty-plus years, he also ran a fishing charter [called] Perfect Day with Ruthann both on Lake Ontario and the last few years on Lake Champlain. He took many people out on his boat over the years. Some of these folks were anglers, and some had never caught a fish before…but they did that day, for sure. Many caught the biggest fish they ever caught in their lives, and they have pictures to show for it.
Sadly, I have to report that Brother Bob passed this week at age 81, after a battle and loss to cancer. He will be missed by his wife, Ruthann, family, and many of his friends and neighbors who he was always caring for and keeping in touch with [by way of ] a friendly phone call or helping hand. RIP Bob.
My sister, Wendy, sent a picture of her white amaryllis that just came into bloom, [and] I like the pretty colors. I had seventy-five Evening Grosbeaks most every day this week at the feeder and a new bird, a Brown Tree Creeper, which you must look close to see as it’s so small. It works around under the suet cakes picking up dropped bits of food. [It is] so small, it probably doesn’t need too much to keep going.
I’ve only seen one White-Throated Sparrow this week, so one may have perished from the cold. I’ve never had one stay all winter, but this one is sure trying to. I didn’t make it out skiing this week (even on the good snow) as my ankle still needs some rest, but maybe this week. The snowmobiles sure have been running all weekend, making smiles on some locals’ faces in town.
Beaver on the Matt’s Trail under control, being flat in my cellar, but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top: Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon. Photo provided by Gary Lee.