Come mid-January, when I’m acclimatized to winter, I enjoy an occasional stroll on the icy surface of Lake Champlain. I favor bays sheltered from the brunt of winter winds where the ice has had ample time to thicken. I pull microspikes on over my boots and off I go.
There’s room to roam between Burlington and the breakwater that parallels the shoreline. The lake ice locks spectacular natural art in place. Bubbles trapped under December ice are entombed as January’s ice forms below. Crystalline patterns resembling minute stars form during the various freezing and thawing cycles that occur as lake ice interacts with fallen snow. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery has announced “Adaptations to Extremes,” an Art-Science exhibition set to run from January 19th to February 22nd.
An opening reception has been set for Saturday, January 19th from 4 to 6 pm, and a panel discussion writer Michael Coffey serving as moderator on Sunday, January 20th at the Bolton Historical Museum at 3 pm. Both events are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.
Hundreds of years ago, haunting bugle-like calls echoed through these hills and valleys. The sounds were made by bull elk to attract mates and fend off rivals.
Elk in the Northeast? Yes, elk were once the most widely distributed of North American hoofed mammals. Millions roamed over much of the U.S. and Canada. Adaptable to a variety of habitats, elk were found in the Adirondacks, and in most ecosystems except the tundra, deserts, and the Gulf Coast. » Continue Reading.
The other day I was driving through New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch, where my eyes are usually drawn to the tall mountains and long, cascading waterfalls on either side of the road. But on this day my gaze shifted toward the snowbanks lining the narrow highway. The sun was shining and the landscape glittered. The sparkle of sunlight on cold white reminded me of childhood trips, when I would look out the backseat window at passing fields and imagine all those tiny glimmers were winter fairies, twirling and skipping through the snow.
Snow sparkle isn’t (as far as science has revealed) attributable to fairies, but to light bouncing off the snow at multiple angles. “When you have a really cold snowfall, you tend to get a bunch of little individual plates,” explained Adam Gill, a weather observer and meteorologist with the Mount Washington Observatory. “It’s like billions of these little tiny reflectors all over the ground. If there’s a bright light source, if you’re at the correct angle, that light source will reflect back at you.” As we move across the landscape, our angle changes, and light flashes from different directions. » Continue Reading.
Had a unicorn pranced across the trail in front of me, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
It was one of those sparkly winter days, when snow drapes fir trees and glints across the landscape. I was at the top of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch, and an undercast made it seem as if the summit were a sunny island above a sea of clouds. To add to the wonder, there was something magical happening in the sky, which shimmered with color and light. » Continue Reading.
An educational program, “Emerging Invasive Forest Pests: Identification, Prevention & Management,” has been set for Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 from 9 am to 3:30 pm at the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Education Center’s Classroom A, 40 West Main Street in Canton, NY.
The program will provide information on four invasive species in the Adirondacks, Asian Spotted Lanternfly; Asian Earthworms; Oak Wilt; and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, as well as a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid scouting trip. » Continue Reading.
Few things seem as remote as the January sun in the North East. We see the light, but we feel almost no heat. In this way, winter can feel like a kind of exile – there’s a sense that the Earth has been flung to the farthest reaches of its orbit.
The idea that the winter sun is remote, however, is misguided. In fact, the Earth is closest to the sun when the Northern Hemisphere is in the deep freeze of winter. This extreme proximity is known as perihelion, and in 2019 it will take place on January 3. Conversely, aphelion – when the Earth is farthest from the sun – takes place during the height of summer, this year on the Fourth of July. The exact dates vary slightly every year, but always occur in January and July. » Continue Reading.
Some people keep lifelong birding lists. I’ve tried, but birds and I have never really hit it off. Too many colors, too many species, and I’m tone deaf, so birding by ear is completely beyond me.
I do keep a lifelong weasel list. I can tell you exactly where I was when I saw my first white-coated ermine and how many times I’ve seen a mink. My best fisher sighting was particularly memorable: I watched in awe as it jumped from tree to tree in pursuit of a gray squirrel. » Continue Reading.
In the ninth grade I was in chorus for a few months until the instructor offered me an “A” for the rest of the year if I dropped her class. True story. You would think a guy who likes music but can’t sing would at least enjoy humming, but that depends. Research has shown that humming can cause anxiety, depression, insomnia, and in some cases, ghosts. Also true — though of course I left out a few details there.
Humming to a song because you don’t know (or can’t sing) the words is harmless, unless maybe it is incessant and happens to irritate your co-workers. But many industrial processes like blast furnaces, cooling towers, and giant compressors and vacuum pumps can emit low-frequency or infrasound hums able to travel tens of miles. Because human-caused hums have unusually long wavelengths — in some cases more than a mile — the hum can travel easily over mountains and through buildings. » Continue Reading.
Every winter brings its annual a-salt on roads and walkways. In icy conditions, salt may be necessary for safety, but too much of it is worse than a bad pun. Cars, equipment, and concrete suffer in obvious ways, but damage to trees and other woody plants is less visible. Salt injures trees and shrubs by several means.
When road-salt spray hits twigs, buds and, in the case of evergreens, foliage, such direct contact causes yellowing of needles, and subsequent death of evergreen twigs and limbs. It also leads to stunted or deformed growth, such as witches’ brooms, on hardwoods. Severe or repeated direct exposure, especially for sensitive species like white pine or cedar, can kill the whole tree. » Continue Reading.
Even Santa Claus himself cannot grant a wish for a white Christmas — it is a coin toss whether the holiday will be snow-covered or green this year. A verdant landscape is not our Christmas ideal, but we can keep more greenbacks in the hands of local people, and keep our Christmas trees and other accents fresh and green for longer, when we buy local trees and wreaths.
Not only are Christmas trees a renewable resource, they boost the regional economy. Even if you don’t have the time to cut your own at a tree farm, do yourself a favor this year and purchase a natural tree from a local vendor. She or he can help you choose the best kind for your preference, and also let you know how fresh they are. Some trees at large retail outlets are cut weeks, if not months, before they show up at stores. » Continue Reading.
Under future climate scenarios, changing winds may make it harder for North American birds to migrate southward in the autumn, but make it easier for them to come back north in the spring according to researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
They came to this conclusion using data from 143 weather radar stations to estimate the altitude, density, and direction birds took during spring and autumn migrations over several years. They also extracted wind data from 28 different climate change projections in the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their findings were published in the journal Global Change Biology. » Continue Reading.
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted a research update with data to help maple and birch syrup producers respond to variable climate conditions.
The project has established baseline data for what are hoped to be continuing efforts to determine the optimal time to begin tapping birch trees in conjunction with maple production. » Continue Reading.
There’s a giant living in Coös County, New Hampshire. It’s a 61-foot tall tree, the country’s largest known American mountain ash. At last measurement, it stood at a height of 61 feet and had a circumference of 70 inches. That’s outstanding for a tree that’s described by most sources, including my old dendrology textbook, as “a small tree or shrub.”
This tree is a champion — but the species as a whole has a lot going for it. I love the mountain ash for the beauty of its white flower clusters and red berries. More importantly, though, it fills an important spot on the menu for birds and mammals, especially in winter. » Continue Reading.
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