Almanack Contributor Laura Bellinger

I am a retired teacher who enjoys the outdoors, especially the Adirondacks. My parents took us camping when we were kids, then we attended 4-H Camp in Speculator (a former CCC camp). As an adult, I served on the Camp board for 8 years. I went to my friend's camp in Bloomingdale (Saranac) for 10 years. We enjoyed cross country skiing, canoeing, fishing, snowshoeing, etc. I still hike, cross country and downhill ski, snowshoe. I bicycle and ride a Harley. I play the organ at a 300 year old church.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Shopping local at Wren’s Earth Refillery, Isaan Thai in Sharon Springs area

woman at counter

Motivated by curiosity to visit two new area businesses, I got up early and started. My first stop was Wren’s Earth Refillery in Sharon Springs. I love the name, concept and mission. There are lots of new distilleries, but a “refillery?” The business is located at the end of an “off the beaten path” road. There are scenic views, along with a pretty little pond. The namesake, Wren, was outside and the first to greet me. She was eager to introduce me to the two small goats, who, she told me, are named Snow and Marigold.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

NYC “Suffs” musical has historical roots in Johnstown and Saratoga

Elizabeth Cady Johnson statue in Johnstown, NY

My friend had 3 tickets to see “Suffs” in NYC. One person had a conflict, so I was able to go! “Suffs” is a musical about the suffragette movement–women fighting for equal rights and the right to vote. We took a bus from Latham, organized by the Saratoga League of Women Voters. During the trip, Women’s Rights Awareness Campaign Chair Patricia Nugent spoke to us about the Equal Rights Amendment, which women have been working to get passed for 100 years. Many people think it has been ratified at the federal level, but it still has not. We were reminded to “turn the ballot,” as many people forget that amendments are on the back.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A U-Pick Lavender Experience at Slate Hill Flower Farm

A woman surrounded by lavender plants

Over Father’s Day weekend, my friend Rosemary and I were looking for our next adventure. So, on Saturday morning we set out for the Slate Hill Flower Farm in Sharon Springs for a “u pick” lavender experience. Slate Hill Road is the next right after the Beekman Farm. As we passed through the small town of Ames, we wondered why there were so many people and police directing traffic, then I remembered it was Ames Old Home Days.

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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Caroga Lake farm store: Produce, stuffed bread, cannolis for a cause & more

Stuffed bread and cannollis.

On Saturday, June 8, my friend and I decided to make the best of a rainy day, so we drove to Caroga Lake for the grand opening of a new farm store called The Farm Store at the Ranch. As you can see on their Facebook page, they sell produce, some flowers, locally-sourced meats, and a dozen eggs for $2! I bought a cannoli and we split a 2-loaf package containing stuffed bread. Both with cheese, one with bacon, and the other with sausage. Many of the baked goods are made by the women at Haven of Hope. (I feel less guilty about the cannoli knowing the purchase goes to a good cause!)

Tuesday, June 4, 2024


Empty birds nest

Tonight, agitated,

blown about and ruffled,

I retreated to the porch.

I stole a piece of blue sky,

plucked a fluff of white cloud,

and added a feathery leaflet from the walnut.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Pitching In For Wintergreen Park Clean-Up & Cookout

Laura Bellinger at Devil’s Hole.

On Saturday, May 18, the Friends of Wintergreen Park sponsored a Clean Up and Community Cookout. It seemed like a good cause, so I grabbed a pair of gloves and a rake, and joined them.  This is a grassroots group of volunteers who love this park located in Canajoharie, NY. As explained on their Facebook page, Canajoharie is named for the “Boiling Pot” located in the Wintergreen Park gorge. Canajoharie means “a kettle stuck on a pole.”

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Thursday, May 9, 2024

Wiawaka Center for Women: A rich, historic gem along Lake George

A few days ago, the Ethel Gathering Group (a group of women who meet for lunch and other activities) posted on Facebook that Wiawaka needed volunteers for spring cleanup in anticipation of opening for the season.
This caught my attention because I remembered that last year Lake George’s Minne-Ha-Ha captain pulled close to shore and specifically pointed out Wiawaka, briefly explaining that it’s a center for women.

After reading the Facebook post, I checked the center’s website. When I saw that one of this summer’s events will be about Katrina Trask, I knew I had to visit. A few years ago, I was able to take a 3-hour, in depth tour of the very private Yaddo where we heard about Katrina’s amazing (and tragic) life.

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Sunday, April 28, 2024

A Childhood in Randall: Fishing, penny candy & playing in Grandpa’s barn

A couple pose at their home

During the 1970s-80s my family lived in Randall. When my siblings and I weren’t building forts in the woods behind our house, we were riding our bicycles through a tunnel which went under the thruway and led to Lock 13. If I was alone, I would bring a book to read next to the Mohawk River. With friends, we would bring fishing poles in hopes of catching a perch. Sometimes we hit the jackpot when a big boat would pass through the locks and the people would give us a dollar. We would pedal to Joe’s gas station and spend it all on penny candy. Sadly, the tunnel is now blocked off, but there is a fairly new welcome center.

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Friday, April 19, 2024

Delving into the Red Bark Phenomenon

Red bark on a white pine tree.

Every morning, I walk along state highway 67 in Ephratah, NY.  Recently, I noticed that a few of the fir trees by the side of the road appeared to have red bark.  I did not know if this was a type of tree that I should be able to ID or if something else was going on.  I Googled “red bark” and found articles about “Red Bark Phenomenon” such as this one.

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Friday, April 12, 2024

Experiencing the eclipse at ADKX with friends, including an ADK first-timer

Two people wear eclipse glasses and hold up signs

My friends, Rosemary and David, joined me to view the eclipse from the ADKX in Blue Mountain Lake. Thankfully, we had an uneventful ride there. David lives in Williamstown, MA, and this was his first time in the Adirondacks. Rosemary had taken this ride with me before, so we pointed out lakes and landmarks, including Pig Rock. The only short congestion we encountered was at the intersection in Indian Lake. We made it to the museum and staked out a spot. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Museum staff were helpful and friendly, as were the guests around us.

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Monday, April 8, 2024

Like Father, like Daughter: Harris Stearns’ war memoir a must-read for history buffs

Memories from the Forgotten War book cover

My father (Elwyn “Pete” Bellinger) recently called to say hello and then to reminisce about Garoga, where he grew up with three brothers and one sister.  My Dad’s father, Frank, and brother, Frank (“Sonny,”) helped build the first Rockwood-Garoga-Lasselsville firehouse. During our conversation, my father asked if I had ever heard of Harris Stearns, or his book, Memories From The Forgotten War. My father knew Stearns and seeing him walking one night, gave him a ride home on his motorcycle.

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Sunday, March 31, 2024

An Early Spring Irving Pond Cross-Country Ski Trip

I decided to take advantage of Saturday’s (March 23) snow dump and go cross-country skiing today, March 26. Last year when I tried to ski, the sole fell off a pair of brand new boots that had been in my closet. Since 3 pin boots are no longer an option, a local shop put new bindings on my 80s skis (which I refuse to part with). Good thing I tried to put the new boots in the new bindings before I left the house! I could not figure them out–I finally had to watch a video because once one boot was in, I could not figure out how to release it.

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Friday, March 1, 2024

Naughty Girls Snowshoeing/Hiking Weekend

Four women in snowshoes by Indian Lake

Every year, a subgroup of the Mohawk Valley Alpiners hiking club, the Naughty Girls, spend a weekend at Troost Lodge [at] Camp Fowler, for a snowshoe adventure. This year’s trip fell on Feb. 9-11. I had heard stories [about this trip], but was invited for the first time this year so [I] was not sure what to expect. My mother and I skied at Oak [Mountain], then wandered around the former Zeiser’s Hotel, now Tracy’s Rustic Relics, to use up time until we could check in to Camp.

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Monday, February 12, 2024

Trekking through Rockwood State Forest

Rockwood State Forest sign.

Today, [Saturday, Jan. 27] I joined members of the Alpiners hiking club for a trek through part of the Rockwood State Forest in Fulton County. It was 35 degrees [with zero] precipitation as compared to last Saturday’s 4 degrees!  We were prepared with both snowshoes and microspikes.  Because it has been fairly warm and so rainy, we decided we only needed the spikes and hiking poles. Piper the Wonder Dog and Nikki also joined in the fun.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Speculator: Oak Mountain Memories

oak mountain ski lift

As everyone knows, it’s been a tough winter for outdoor enthusiasts.  I like to ski on Fridays and the recent pattern seems to be a good storm Sunday through Monday, then by Friday, it’s been 40 degrees and rain.  I took a chance and drove to my favorite mountain on a recent morning.  Thankfully, the conditions were amazing. Well groomed, hard packed, and fast, but not crusty or icy. Everyone looked like an Olympian!

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