Almanack Contributor Guest Contributor

Guest Essayist

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with a biding interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Slow Start for Snapping Turtles

snapping turtle One moonless May evening, my husband and I walked down to our local pond, flashlights in hand, to look for toads. We were delighted to discover hundreds of them, floating, darting, and jockeying for position in an explosion of courtship. Their surround-sound trills left our ears ringing.

The toads were frenzied, focused only on each other, and highly concentrated in one small, shallow section of the pond, which prompted my husband to wonder if they weren’t awfully vulnerable to predators that way. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

What the… Adirondack Turkey Vultures

“Mom, there’s a really big crow in the compost,” my son said one day early this spring, followed closely by, “Wait. What is that bird? It’s huge!”

I peeked out the back window to find a bird, huge indeed, a red head atop of cloak of dark feathers, sitting on a corner post of the garden fence, peering into the compost heap. Two others perched behind the garden, high in a tall white pine tree. The red head, naked of feathers, easily gave the birds away as turkey vultures. While we see these vultures often during the warmer months, soaring in circles high in the sky, we’d never seen them up close. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Appreciating Adirondack Woodchucks

woodchuck One summer we had an ongoing battle with a woodchuck. Unbeknownst to us, it had dug a burrow in an ideal location — in the center of our dense raspberry patch, about 10 feet from our vegetable garden. The woodchuck then dug a hole under the garden fence and feasted on beans, peas, and other tender vegetables. We filled the hole and placed a large rock over it. The next day the rock had been moved and the hole re-dug. We tried more rocks, then sheets of metal roofing, but every day these barriers were removed. Finally we put a Havahart trap near our garden — and caught a young skunk (which was released, very carefully)!

In addition to eating vegetables, woodchucks dine on clovers, grasses, dandelions, goldenrod, asters, apples and berries. They occasionally eat insects such as grasshoppers. In the spring, before much green vegetation is available, they will also feed on the buds and bark of deciduous trees and shrubs. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Spoonwood: Mountain Laurel

mountain laurelIf you were fortunate enough to grow up with freedom to roam outdoors, there are likely certain places that stick with you. For me, one of these places is a thicket of old mountain laurels that my brother and I hiked through on our way to an outcrop we called The Ledge. What I loved about them was how their shreddy, red-brown trunks forked and twisted, like trees in a fairy tale, or in the Haunted Forest on the way to Oz. In early summer, they held delicate pink and white flowers that were sticky to the touch — another sign that they were, if not enchanted, at least special. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Web of Mystery: Euonymus Caterpillars

Ermine SpindleJanet Hayward Burnham, of Bethel, Vermont, was driving to the bank one day when she saw a tree on the side of the road that looked like it was covered in decorative webbing, “cans and cans” of it, as if for Halloween. However, it was June.

Burnham is an illustrator, children’s book author, and writer of sweet (as opposed to sexy) romances and mysteries. She is, in other words, an intellectually curious person and she pulled over for a better look. From the sidewalk, she could see that the whole yard was covered in cottony webbing. Deep inside the webs were yellowish-white caterpillars with black heads. “I’d never seen anything like this in Vermont,” Burnham said. “Clearly, it was infested with something. What were they? Should we be concerned?” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Mute Swans: An Adorable Invasive Species

swan by Adelaide TyrolThe big white birds paddling gracefully across a Massachusetts pond last November surprised me. I’d grown up in the town I was visiting and had never seen swans there, although my friend assured me they were resident birds. The only mute swans I’d seen before, years ago, were floating along the River Thames between Eton College and Windsor Castle.

Swans in England have a long history, and the mute swans along the Thames are, by law, the property of the queen. Mute swans on our side of the Atlantic are a more modern phenomenon and have no such protection. In fact, wildlife managers have been working for years to reduce the population of this species in order to protect native habitat and waterfowl. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ellen Rocco: All The News Fit To Air

ellen roccoNorth Country Public Radio is like a river, working its way through the geography of the Adirondack North Country. We adjust to a changing and sometimes erratic environment, but we’re always there with a reliable flow of news, information, stories, and music of our communities, our country, and the world.

As we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary, I’d like to share some of the highlights of our history and my observations as station manager for the past thirty-five years. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Monroe and Siy: Act Now To Stop Invasives

ais sources for adk parkNo place in the state or nation is more vulnerable to aquatic invasive species (AIS) than the pristine waters of the Adirondacks. New York already has the highest number of non-native forest pests in the country and is adjacent to the continent’s main gateway for the introduction and spread of aquatic invasives — the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. As the map shows, the Adirondack Park is literally surrounded by waterways that harbor dozens of destructive species threatening the Park. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 9, 2018

A Porcupine’s Salt Cravings

porcupine When I was growing up, my family rented a vacation home on a mountain in southern Vermont. One night we were awakened by our dogs barking. Soon we heard a persistent gnawing on the outside of the house. My Dad went to investigate. His flashlight beam revealed a large porcupine with black, beady eyes. My father scared it away, but it returned other nights.

Why would a porcupine chew on a house? It’s not so much the wood they’re after; it’s the finish. Most paints, stains, and wood glues contain salt. And porcupines crave it, just as we humans crave potato chips and roasted peanuts. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Commentary: Make Adirondack Railroads A Priority

20th Century Transportation PrioritiesFour unprecedented March Nor’easters caused millions of dollars in damage, kept utilities scrambling to restore power, and disrupted transportation up and down the east coast in 2018.

Choosing policies that will make matters worse should be the last thing to do in New York State, but that is what is happening in the Adirondacks and the Catskills. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Critter Crossings: Amphibians In April

salamander crossing There’s a myth environmental educators like to tell, and it goes something like this: after every long northern winter, spring returns. Days lengthen, temperatures rise, the snowpack slowly disappears, and one afternoon, it begins to rain – a soaking, 45-degree rain that continues well into the night.

On that one big night, all of the wood frogs and salamanders and spring peepers clamber out of their winter burrows and migrate – up to a quarter-mile, on tiny feet – to their breeding pools. An explosion of life, all on that one big night. We call this myth: Big Night.

In reality, most years, our region experiences several Big Nights, one or two Medium Nights, and sometimes a smattering of Small Nights. It all depends on the weather. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Adirondack Raccoons in Spring

baby racoonsOften, during my forays into the woods behind our house, I wonder who might be occupying the holes carved into tree trunks by time and nature.

The barred owls I hear hoo-hoo-hoo-hooing, maybe, or the chittering red squirrels. And, chances are, there are raccoons in some of those hollows, high above the ground. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stone Walls: An Iconic Landform Primer

stone wallWhen you think about the iconic landforms of the Northeast, what comes to mind? The mountains, of course. The lakes. Of course. Rivers? Probably.

But there’s another. Stone walls. An estimated 100,000 miles of them. They might not be as impressive as the Great Range, Hudson Gorge, or Lake George, but collectively they make a big impact on the landscape and the creatures who live there. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Backswimmers: Upside-Down Aquatics

backswimmerI had just finished my safety talk to some middle school students when I heard a bloodcurdling scream. In many years handling aquatic insects and other small water creatures, I have never been wounded. Crayfish have once or twice gotten hold of me but never drawn blood. So I was quite surprised to hear through the minor chaos that a student had actually been bitten.

There were no crayfish where we sampled in Winooski, Vermont floodplain ponds and only one likely candidate to produce such a scream. It was the reason I had specifically warned my students to use forceps. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Otter Slides: Sliding Shenanigans

otter I have been living with an otter. He’s long and sleek, a graceful swimmer with an insatiable appetite for fish. At first he was just my boy, a chubby little toddler, happy to snuggle and follow his big sister around. But on the first snow fall of his second year of life, I watched him in his slick blue snowsuit climb up our steep hill, point his round little head down the hill and go, a daring headfirst belly slide. He repeated and repeated until at last he fell asleep at the bottom of his sliding trough, a smile on his red cheeked face. I knew then that I should have named him Lontra canadensis, instead of Liam Samuel. » Continue Reading.


Page 1 of 2112345...1020...Last »