After more than six years, Saranac Lake resident Andy Flynn’s weekly “Adirondack Attic” column is no more. Flynn, the Senior Public Information Specialist at the NYS Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths, wrote regular pieces on Adirondack history centered on artifacts from the Adirondack Museum.
At its height Flynn’s column had run in five northern New York newspapers but in the last post to his Adirondack Writer blog, Flynn reported that his column had been cut by the Lake Placid News and Adirondack Daily Enterprise to biweekly. “In November 2008, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican cut my column,” Flynn told readers, “In 2006, the Glens Falls Post-Star also cut my column. The publishers and editors all cited the economic situation for their decision.” In a letter to publishers this week Flynn wrote, “Effective immediately, I am discontinuing the ‘Adirondack Attic’ newspaper column. Due to the declining number of newspapers that carry the column, and with the economic forecast uncertain, it is no longer a financially feasible product for me to produce. There is simply not enough income to cover the time and cost of production.”
Flynn had written more than 300 columns and collected them in a series of books published by his own Hungry Bear Publishing; part of the proceeds were donated to the Adirondack Museum’s Collection Improvement Fund.
To coincide with the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial, Adirondack Life has published Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History, a big beautiful book about a singular expanse of water and the lands that surround it.
Every page of the large-format hardcover tome is rich with maps, illustrations and/or color photographs. The book gives due attention to the glaciers and natural and human history that pre-date the July 1609 arrival of explorer Samuel de Champlain, who fired the starting gun for two centuries of European warfare and upheaval. The volume is divided into chapters about New York, Vermont and Quebec towns along the shoreline; the lake’s geology and biology; native inhabitants and their displacement; the waterway’s importance in colonial power struggles; its era as a highway for commercial transport; and finally Lake Champlain as a place of recreation.
Want to win a copy of the new, expanded Adirondack Reader? Thanks to a donation from the Adirondack Mountain Club, which published the latest edition of the Reader, Adirondack Almanack is giving away a copy of what Mary Thill called in her review a collection of “pivotal and perceptive accounts of how people have experienced these woods since the arrival of Europeans 400 years ago.”
Here’s how you can win: 1. Follow Adirondack Almanack on Twitter.
2. Tweet the following:
Just entered to win a copy of The Adirondack Reader. Just follow @adkalmanack and retweet – www.adirondackalmanack.com
We’ll be drawing at random on June 1, 2009. You must tweet by May 31, 2009. Good luck.
Adirondack Life turns 40 this year. In Park years, that’s the time it took to make 6,000 46ers, add 350,000 acres to the Forest Preserve and subtract 12 paper mills (by the magazine’s own count).
Another milestone has been reached: Betsy Folwell marks 20 years with Adirondack Life — half its existence — first as an editor, now as creative director and always, foremost in many readers’ minds, as a writer. The magazine has published a 250-page anthology of Folwell’s essays called Short Carries, and her prose is even clearer and stronger against the plain white pages of a book.
Some of Folwell’s finely-turned phrases take hold from the moment you read them; they underlie how we see this landscape as much as the granite that dictates what kind of moss, ferns and trees root here. For me, one of her most unforgettable essays is “Lessons From a Dead Loon” (July/August 1989):
“‘I thought maybe you could do something about this,’ the conservation officer told me as he laid the dead loon on the grass. A number-four snelled hook was stuck in the bird’s throat; he had drowned at the end of a fisherman’s set-line off Rock Island in Blue Mountain Lake.”
What struck me is not only that cops seek Folwell out for help, but how acutely observant she is. She knew “our diver . . . one of a pair that made the daily circuit from Lake Durant to Blue Mountain, as predictable as church bells.” She knew her bird just as she knows Elvis, the curled-lip black bear that cruises her back yard; Gerard, the old river driver; the “tow-headed tamaracks” in the October bogs; and the tourists who held a tug-of-war over a Sunday New York Times at a general store she ran one summer.
Short Carries: Essays from Adirondack Life by Elizabeth Folwell is available for $16.95 at adirondacklife.com and in North Country bookstores.
The recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal, Richard Louv identified a phenomenon many suspected existed but couldn’t quite put their finger on: nature-deficit disorder. Louv is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, is coming to the Adirondacks on Saturday, May 2nd to discuss the future relationship between nature and children. Since its initial publication, Last Child in the Woods has created a national conversation about the disconnection between children and nature, and his message has galvanized an international movement. Now, three years later, we have reached a tipping point, with the book inspiring Leave No Child Inside initiatives throughout the country. According to Last Child in the Woods two out of ten of America’s children are clinically obese — four times the percentage of childhood obesity reported in the late 1960s. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation. They are missing the opportunity to experience ‘free play’ outside in an unstructured environment that allows for exploration and expansion of their horizons through the use of their imaginations. In Sweden, Australia, Canada and the United States, studies of children in schoolyards with both green areas and manufactured play areas found that children engaged in more creative forms of play in the green areas.
Nature not only benefits children and ensures their participation and stewardship of nature as they grow into adults, nature helps entire families. Louv proposes, “Nature is an antidote. Stress reduction, greater physical health, a deeper sense of spirit, more creativity, a sense of play, even a safer life — these are the rewards that await a family when it invites more nature into children’s lives.”
In addition to Louv speaking about nature deficit disorder, more than twenty-five organizations from throughout the region will be present at the Wild Center to offer information, resources and inspiration for families. Through increasing confidence and knowledge in the outdoors, families can learn how easy it is to become reconnected with nature. Activities scheduled throughout the day on the 31-acre Tupper Lake campus will range from fly fishing and nature scavenger hunts to building a fort or just laying back and watching the clouds as they pass in the sky above.
Louv will also officially open The Pines nature play area at the Wild Center. The Pines is a new type of play area designed entirely with nature in mind. Kids are encouraged to explore the play area on their own terms and in their own time. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For 45 years the cornerstone of any Adirondack library has been TheAdirondack Reader, compiled and edited by Paul Jamieson. The anthology, published by Macmillan in 1964, collected pivotal and perceptive accounts of how people have experienced these woods since the arrival of Europeans 400 years ago.
Any true Adirondack geek already has a copy of the Reader, but now you need another. The Adirondack Mountain Club last month published a third edition that adds 30 entries written since the second edition came out in 1982. Another reason to covet this update: pictures! A 32-page color insert of drawings, photographs, engravings and paintings spans Adirondack history, from William James Stillman and Winslow Homer to contemporary painters Laura von Rosk and Lynn Benevento. The original Reader had some black-and-white plates; the second edition had none.
It’s a hefty 544-page tome, but any book that attempts to get at the essence of the Adirondacks is going to be epic. Holdovers from earlier editions (six entries had to be cut to make room) include many “there I was” accounts, starting with Father Isaac Jogues’s 1642 description of having his fingernails bitten off by Mohawk captors (“our wounds — which for not being dressed, became putrid even to the extent of breeding worms”) and becoming the first white man to see the Adirondack interior — the first to live to tell anyway. Hard to top that kind of journey narrative, but almost every piece in the Reader commands attention. Entries weave back and forth between fiction, history, essay and poetry organized into ten subject categories Jamieson established nearly a half century ago.
Mixed in with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Francis Parkman, Robert Louis Stevenson, Theodore Dreiser and Verplanck Colvin are present-day writers Christopher Shaw, Christine Jerome, Sue Halpern, Bill McKibben, Elizabeth Folwell, Amy Godine and Philip Terrie, among others. Neal Burdick contributes an essay on the century-old silence still surrounding the question “Who Shot Orrando P. Dexter?,” a land baron hated by the locals in Santa Clara. Burdick also served as the book’s co-editor, assisting Jamieson, who died in 2006 at age 103.
“It’s still Paul’s book,” Burdick says. “I did the legwork. His name is more prominent on the cover at my request.” Jamieson approved each new writing, and many excerpts and articles were included on recommendations by other writers, Burdick adds. Burdick is editor of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondac magazine as well as a writer and poet in his own right.
More than any other book, this collection comes closest to defining the Adirondack sense of place we all feel but few can articulate. It’s as much a pleasure to read as an education, and Jamieson’s introductory sections feel prescient. He still seems very much the dean of Adirondack letters (a new edition of his classic Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow is also in the pipeline). Jamieson was an author, professor of English at St. Lawrence University, an advocate for Adirondack land preservation and canoe access, and an explorer of this region’s topography as well as literature.
The book is beautiful but alas blemished; sloppy proofreading has allowed typos to creep into the text, in both the older material and new additions. Further printings are planned, perhaps a paperback edition. We hope the copyediting will be brought up to the standards of the writers represented.
The Reader is $39.95 at book and outdoor supply stores, by calling 800-395-8080, or online at www.adk.org.
Two important sources of local history in Tupper Lake are becoming easier to find.
Louis Simmons’s Mostly Spruce and Hemlock, the classic history of the village of Tupper Lake and town of Altamont (also called Tupper Lake since 2004), will be reissued soon. Hungry Bear Publishing is working with Tupper Lake’s Goff-Nelson Memorial Library to produce a new edition of the 1976 book.
“In more than 30 years since it was published, Louis’s book has achieved cult status in Tupper Lake,” Hungry Bear publisher Andy Flynn said in a press release.“I’ve always said that, next to the Bible, Mostly Spruce and Hemlock is the most-read book in Tupper Lake.”
Because only 2,000 copies were printed, Spruce and Hemlock has become collectible and costly. The new edition will be paperback and an index will be added. Proceeds will benefit the library.
Louis Simmons was editor of the Tupper Lake Free Press 1932-1979. He continued to write for the paper and served as Tupper Lake historian until his death in 1995. William C. Frenette, Simmons’s nephew and another Tupper native deeply fascinated by his home region, took over as historian. He also wrote an entertaining column on local life and history for the Free Press.
Frenette died in 2007 but now his “Transitions” columns can be read again at a new Web site, tltransitions.com.
Here are a few words from Bill Frenette, for the season:
“There is an old saying: ‘Spring is the reward for those who live through the winter.’ How do we know that spring has arrived? Let’s count the ways: my neighbors, Jackie and Al Smith, are back from Florida looking trim and healthy; Charlcie Delehanty has reported seeing two immature and one mature bald eagles as the river opens near the sorting gap; Jessie’s Bait Shop has stored their ice augers and hung out their “Maple Syrup For Sale” sign in front of their newly updated fishing equipment; and geese can be seen feeding happily on Mary Burns’ front lawn along the the Raquette River, recently freed of ice.”
Photograph of L.C. Maid, Charles Knox, Howard Brown and unidentified man on a boat ride. Courtesy of Goff-Nelson Memorial Library, Tupper Lake.
Hulett’s Landing on the east side of Lake George is the subject of a new Adirondack blog, The Huletts Current, and a new book by George Kapusinski whose family operates Huletts-On-Lake-George. It turns out I’m connected by marriage to the Hulett family that established Hulett’s Landing. So I thought I’d offer a little history – one that ties eastern timber rattlesnakes with an early noted librarian and explorer (now that’s a combination!) and at the same time adds a new steamship to the history of Lake George. » Continue Reading.
Storey self-published this guide to Adirondack natural history in 2006 and sold out the first printing in the first year. The reason, no doubt, is that it’s readable and relevant. Storey was the former Chief Naturalist at the Adirondack Park Agency (24 years at the APA!) and he wrote the book we all need to keep in our car, backpack, and back pocket. In fact, my only complaint is the book’s format doesn’t make it easy to pack – it could have been a lot smaller, even with all the info and images packed in there! This book is more than a guide to our local flora and fauna, more than a wildlife guide, it covers geology, geography, forestry, history, cultural anthropology, environmental politics, from the life cycle of the black fly to the problems of upland development. The diagrams, illustrations, photographs, are illustrative beyond comparison. From “Grenville Continent Rifting and the Lake George Rift Valley” to the illustration of a 50-years of a hemlock and yellow birch growing on a rotting log resting on a glacial erratic rock, this book shows you the basics and backs it up with detailed explanations. The tracks of common animals, identifying common birds, leaves, trees, fish, soils, insects, eskers, kettle holes – its all there and more.
This book will do what it says it will – explain, in vivid and easy-going detail, why the Adirondacks look the way they do. I’ve been thinking about doing a “Ten Books Every Adirondacker Should Own,” and when I do, this book will be on that list.
Arcadia Publishing has been making a name for itself as a publisher of small local history books since the company was founded in 1993; they have now more then 5,000 books in print. Most folks are familiar with their Images of America, that uses the photo collections of local historical societies, collectors, and others to good effect. More recently they’ve expanded to a Postcard History Series. This year, Arcadia published Scherelene Schatz’s The Adirondacks, a Postcard History Series look at the whole park. About 127 pages of postcard images are organized in chapters on the Eastern, Central, and Western Adirondacks, the High Peaks, Lake Placid and Ray Brook, and Saranac Lake. Schatz drew on local library and her own large collection of vintage postcards to present a fairly varied collection. There are plenty of scenes of local hotels, roadways, and natural places; the book is more limited when it comes to people, town and streetscapes, and wildlife. Unfortunately the lack of color hurts some of the cards, notably the first card in the book, originally a colorfully modern “Greetings from Lake George” that falls flat in black and white.
Still, the book has a number of interesting views and those interested in local history will find The Adirondacks worthwhile.
Mark Frauenfelder over at BoingBoing has a review of James Howard Kunstler’s new, World Made by Hand. A futuristic novel set in an an upstate New York town (somewhere in the Washington or Saratoga counties?), Kunstler’s book looks at what the world could be like in a future laid low by energy shortages and global warming. According to Frauenfelder’s review:
The story is told by Robert Earle, who used to be a software executive. Now he’s a hand-tool using carpenter living in a town in upstate New York without Internet, TV, or newspapers. The electricity comes on every couple of weeks for a few minutes at a time. When that happens, nothing’s on the radio but hysterical religious talk. Rumors of goings-on in the rest of the world are vague…
The story kicks off when Earle (who lost his wife and daughter in the plague and hasn’t seen his 19-year-old son since the boy took off a couple of years earlier to find out what’s happened in the rest of the country) is elected mayor and joins a search party to look for a freight boat and its crew, which disappeared on its way to Albany. Their horse-mounted odyssey takes them on a tour through a post-apocalyptic world of insanity, greed, kindness, corruption, and ingenuity.
While life in Kunstler’s world is lawless and harsh and populated with opportunistic characters that make Boss Tweed look like Glinda the Good, it’s not without charms. Local communities are active and productive. Neighbors all know each other and look after one another. People grow and trade their own produce and livestock, and meals are tasty — lots of buttery corn bread, eggs, chicken, vegetables, streaks, fish. They get together and play music a lot, and because people aren’t stuck in their living rooms watching TV, they actually attend live performances.
Kunstler has been a frequently discussed here at the Almanack; at Amazon you can buy World Made by Hand.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has published a new edition of Adirondack Trails: Eastern Region, and the book is now available for purchase from ADK and from bookstores and outdoor retailers throughout the Northeast.
The latest edition in ADK’s comprehensive Forest Preserve Series of guides includes completely updated trail descriptions for the region extending from Lake Champlain on the east; to the High Peaks, Hoffman Notch Wilderness and Schroon Lake in the west; and Lake George and the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness in the south. Each Forest Preserve Series guide covers all New York state trails in its region, and they include complete information on lean-to shelters, campsites, water access, distances, elevations and road access. Detailed driving directions make it easy to find each trail.
This 3rd edition was edited by Neal S. Burdick and David Thomas-Train, and produced by ADK Publications staff Ann Hough of Keene, Andrea Masters of Ballston Spa and John Kettlewell of Saratoga Springs.
Purchase of this and other publications helps support ADK’s programs in conservation, education, and recreation. Also available are hiking, canoeing, rock-climbing, and cross-country skiing guides; natural history guides; and cultural and literary histories of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks.
To place an order contact ADK, 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845, (518) 668-4447, (800) 395-8080 (orders only), or visit ADK’s Web site at www.adk.org.
Adirondack Almanack gets a lot of requests to link to new blogs and nearly all of them we turn down because they don’t have anything to do with the Adirondacks. By the way, our criteria for inclusion as an Adirondack blog is simple – it should be written in or about the Adirondacks. A new blog from Andy Flynn promises both.
Flynn, from Saranac Lake, reports that he:
Writes the newspaper column, ‘Adirondack Attic,’ which runs weekly in five northern New York newspapers. It features stories about artifacts from the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. Andy is the author of the book series, New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, with volumes 1-5 in stores now. He owns/operates Hungry Bear Publishing and lives in Saranac Lake, N.Y. During the day, he is the Senior Public Information Specialist at the NYS Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths.
A recent post covered his so far unsuccessful attempts to save a historic one-room schoolhouse in Ellenburg Center (Clinton County):
In this case, I contacted the Adirondack Museum to see if they were interested in saving this schoolhouse, No. 11, in Clinton County. Not really. You see, they already have a one-room schoolhouse, the Reising Schoolhouse, built in 1907 in the Herkimer County town of Ohio. The Reising Schoolhouse was located in the extreme southern part of the Adirondack Park. The Ellenburg Center schoolhouse is located in the extreme northern part of the Adirondack Park.
The Adirondack Museum’s chief curator suggested I call Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) in Keeseville, which I did. The director and I spoke about the situation and agreed it would be a good idea to see the structure first. If anyone can help with saving an historic building in the Adirondack Park, it is AARCH.
So, that’s where we are. If there is any way to help, we’ll try to make it happen. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find someone in the Adirondack region, hopefully in Clinton County, who can help preserve this one-room schoolhouse, an important part of our rich North Country heritage.
Give Andy’s new blog a read, and lend a hand in his latest effort if you can.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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