Almanack Contributor Edward Zahniser

Edward Zahniser

Ed Zahniser retired as the senior writer and editor with the National Park Service Publications Group in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. He writes and lectures frequently about wilderness, wildlands, and conservation history topics. He is the youngest child of Alice (1918-2014) and Howard Zahniser (1906–1964). Ed’s father was the principal author and chief lobbyist for the National Wilderness Preservation System Act of 1964. Ed edited his father’s Adirondack writings in Where Wilderness Preservation Began: Adirondack Writings of Howard Zahniser, and also edited Daisy Mavis Dalaba Allen’s Ranger Bowback: An Adirondack farmer - a memoir of Hillmount Farms (Bakers Mills).


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Poetry: Changes

Changes

Broken by brief rain
dull heat disappears
tail between its clouds
I recall late-August
mornings as a child
dressing by the fire
Oatmeal bubbled thick
in big blackened pot
Mountains unmoved
since we went to bed
Clouds now crest them
heavily like a toddler
riding your shoulders

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Poetry: Aging Vet

Aging Vet

Frayed old Army field
jacket keeps light rain
off my slim notebook
An aging vet, I’m like
a monk to desire with
only poems to show
Deerfly at 10 o’clock!
Mind pulls up to lose it
but instead the poem
veers off abruptly as
last winter’s ski crowd
beat their hasty retreat

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, March 7, 2020

Poetry: Not So Long Ago

 

Not So Long Ago

Half down the paved road
Husky sled dogs crackled
to chorus dinner time
Can openers slice
150 Alpo can tops
Fellow blackfly-buzzed
berserker mammals

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Nature, the Other, the Big Outside (In Memory of Howard Zahniser)

Nature, the Other, the Big Outside
In Memory of Howard Zahniser

Okay, now don’t look me square in the eye
but watch my ears wiggle — you see him there,
my father, your grandfather, a wise guy
(who was also a wise-guy), taught me to stare
at nothing hard enough to make my ears move.
It’s a great skill if like me you can’t dance
but still feel the need to strut some and groove
dressed not in Nordstrum slacks but Goodwill pants.

Okay, open that window there — yes, wide.
What’s out there is everything that’s not you.
Sure, nature—the other, the big outside,
what redeems you, where you go to renew
yourself, learn to listen, maybe make vows.
Smell that? Not fire and brimstone — balsam boughs.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Poetry: Stars Long Dead

Stars Long Dead

How hard this now seems
to leave so few memories
Who will reckon us up
once we’ve finished here
Stars stud the sky but pay
no mind to who’s elected
Many looking bright flared
out last lights eons gone at
186,000 miles per second
as the universe’s vastness
makes them seem to shine
still to astonish us tonight

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Poetry: Wind Refreshing Cabin Memories

Wind Refreshing Cabin Memories

Wind pushing uphill cannot clear
the mountain of this mist
nor quite bring on much-needed rain.
Aspen leaves quake on no ear,
their timeless tremulosa dismissed
with the white-throated sparrow’s refrain.

In the fireplace a green-cut round
of mountain ash boils out its sap
with flames pulled tall by wind
— that shouldn’t be bound
uphill. A freakish front’s mishap
let such a breach of etiquette in.

Crane Mountain lurks cloud-hidden
whereabouts unknown, memory
layered deeper than kitchen middens.
Dad recites Sandburg’s “There Is A Wolf in Me.”
until we’d pray the Lord our souls to take,
while the aura of the wolf kept us awake.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

Poetry: 400 Feet Closer to Heaven

400 Feet Closer to Heaven

Maybe 400 feet closer to heaven than we were
When we started climbing we sit beside the outlet
To the sphagnum-bed spring atop Eleventh Mountain
We siblings in age-order to the youngest, me,
Being Matt Esther Karen and then our Mom Alice
The logistician of our many wilderness forays
As even now we pause to sit beside the streamlet
To lunch on gorp and our tunafish sandwiches
And stare out across the valley and then low hills
To the mountains off toward and then in Vermont
But the view can’t compete with the big surprise
Of tomatoes we watch Mom dole out until Karen
Incredulous asks “We each get a whole tomato?”
Only her inflection giving away that it’s a question.
This unheard of event in our 1950s family life
Turns out to be a plump round juicy fact indeed.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Poetry: Below Crane Mountain

Below Crane Mountain

The barest puff of wind
makes poplar leaves tremble but
when we think “tea leaves” we visualize
chopped bits in their tissue-like bags

that hint at protocol, or Miss Manners,
maybe Hints from Heloise. Few now think
of the perforated-metal “tea ball”
— properly called “tea infuser” — that

Monica nicknamed the “weather vane.”
Back then we were all still native
poets who had not grown out of the role
by studying poetry in public schools.

We even had a name for the one-pound blocks
of store-brand A&P oleo margarine.
We called them “Marfak” for Texaco gas stations’
big red sign above their lubrication bays.

Even in light winds, cut tea leaves go poof ,
to scatter like our close friends from youth.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Poetry: Roughing It

Roughing It

I remember cold backpack mornings in Augusts
in the Adirondacks in the late 1960s, hanging-in
our sleeping bags long after waking from sleep
on our tarps only to watch for the longest time
while sunlight clambered down from tree tops
to give us the warming inspiration to crawl out
our snug sleeping bags and launch the new day.

Once with my late sister Karen in an open-front
lean-to shelter along Diamond Mountain Brook,
where a side trail leads to the Siamese Ponds,
the weather had been so warm that we took
our summer bags, only to find the lean-to floor
bare of the expected insulating balsam boughs.
Just barely past midnight we both awoke

bone-cold, deciding to sit up in our bags, our
feet propped on our backpacks, keeping them
off the cold lean-to floor. It reminded me how
Karen and I once rode eastward from college,
home for our Christmas break in the back seat
of a classmate’s car whose heater didn’t work.
At five degrees, we wore our gloves on our feet,
while we sat on our hands to keep them warm.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Poetry: Adirondack Mountain Matins

 

Adirondack Mountain Matins

Tremulous aspen leaves applaud
each breeze without discrimination
Unseen hummingbird wing beats
render human heartbeats both
static and ecstatic by comparison

Monarch caterpillars munch milkweed
to make themselves toxic to predators
These mountains are great grandparents
to the far Himalayas and wear down
slower than the novice monk’s stout will


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Poetry: Somehow Changed

Somehow Changed

The woman asleep upstairs in the old summer cabin
awakens to the voice of a psychic Welsh friend
four states away. She hears her name called twice,
the voice pitched low, low and guttural.

The woman peers out the narrow open window
to the left of the fieldstone chimney.
A black bear growls up at her, once, twice.
She recoils from the cheese-cloth-screened window.

Theirs is now the last dwelling on the former dirt road
out of an upstate New York hamlet two miles away.
The steep last 80 yards of their road is still dirt.
The woman will recover sleep but is somehow changed.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Ed Zahniser: Part of Your Barn Is on Me

Howard Zahniser Cabin Bakers Mills Johnsburg NY photo by John WarrenBig John Dalaba spoke of his land as himself. A few years before he died in 1951, he and my father Howard Zahniser stood looking out at the view of Crane Mountain from our cabin that his daughter Pansy and husband Harold Allen built on the part of the family farm Big John and his wife Hester had deeded to them as a wedding gift in 1938.

A corner of the cowshed built onto Pansy and Harold’s barn still sat on the Dalaba farm, not on the gifted part, which my father and mother Howard and Alice Zahniser had bought in 1946. Harold and Pansy then sought to move downhill to a larger, flatter farm with far better road access for the long, cold, snowy winters. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Poetry: Memory by Intinction — Siamese Ponds Wilderness

Again this early morning
I leave the kitchen light off
as I eat my cold cereal with milk
to re-mind me of our long ago
days at our Adirondack cabin
that promised an imminent
fishing trip to the backwoods
with each year’s hoped-for surprise
finds of new beaver work there
thrilling to Trout’s tug on our line
in this communion of the saints
my brother Matt holds the chalice
and then produces the bread
from his shoulder-slung creel.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Poetry: Glossing a Misplaced Area of Memory

Back in the cabin after five wet days camping
five and a half miles back in these wildlands—

beside the long shifting beaver meadow kept open
since the loggers left their flooded “flowed land”

and its rotted log dam gave out soon afterward
—the pungency of wet wool drifts to the corners

of the front room as the fresh fire kicks up
when someone picks up your wet pack

whose surprising weight pulls them off balance
to tell us how what we don’t know while walking

can always come clear later like the brook trout’s
—you hope—first tentative tugs on your fly line

ground-truth the atavism of the limbic brain
to send you back to the city renewed

like Antaeus as maybe your father once said
while he taught you backpacking’s rudiments.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, March 2, 2019

Poetry: Howard Lean-To, Adirondacks

During our own Tang Dynasty we stirred
space-age orange powder in hot water
on cold mornings beside Johns Brook
stomping our feet for warmth outside
the Howard Lean-to.

My bro Matt’s wife Ann wanted to take a dip
in the brook, more like a small river
here at the base of the high peaks.

For Matt it came down to “I will
if you do” and Ann did do.

Later we packed-out by the well-worn
trail we packed-in on, but by then
it was a different way.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.