Few incidents in nineteenth-century Adirondack history have been more often recounted than the famous Philosophers’ Camp at Follensby Pond. The story of how Ralph Waldo Emerson and an assortment of VIPs from the Concord-Cambridge axis camped for several weeks in 1858 on the shores of a virtually untouched lake deep in the wilderness has become a familiar chestnut in the Adirondack canon. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy – Ethics’
Paul Schaefer’s ‘Whole Scheme of Life’
My father Howard Zahniser wrote the following in his monthly Nature Magazine book review column in 1945, the year before he first met Paul Schaefer and first came to the Adirondacks. Nevertheless, Paul would have been one of the “few of those” my father invokes:
“Many of us seldom get, or take, the opportunity to sense the magnitude of the whole scheme of Life of which we are only a part. We know only the rush of human events, and we seldom even challenge the presumption of those who call this rush the march of time. Only a few of those who are in the midst of this rush, and it includes us all, can ever be expected to break pace long enough to fall in step with the greater procession that moves through the natural seasons.” » Continue Reading.
Philosophers’ Camp Talk In Saratoga Springs
In 1858 some of the leading lights of American art, literature, and science camped together on Follensby Pond near Tupper Lake at what is now known as the Philosophers’ Camp.
The gathering was organized by Willam James Stillman, artist and editor of acclaimed art magazine of the time, The Crayon. It included transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poet James Russel Lowell, Harvard scientist Jean Louis Agassiz, and others.
The meeting at Follensby was widely covered in the popular press of the time and fueled an interest in the Adirondacks and retreating into the wilderness to write, make art and discuss the issues of the day. » Continue Reading.
ESF Joins Science and Humanities Network
SUNY ESF, through two of its regional campuses, has joined a group of leading biological field stations in a network devoted to bridging the gap between scientific inquiry on one side and arts and humanities on the other.
The college’s Newcomb Campus and the Cranberry Lake Biological Station, both in the Adirondacks, are members of Ecological Reflections, a network that brings together scientists, writers and artists to explore the connection between science and the humanities. The network grew out of a National Science Foundation-funded Long-Term Ecological Research program. » Continue Reading.
Early Morning On The Cabin Porch
The importance of religion is not so much the forgiveness of sins as it is awareness and gratitude, I tell my sons, Eric and Justin, aged twelve and fifteen, respectively. Amazing grace throbs in daily life, I tell them. There are debts of love owed life.
We are not Jewish, but I sometimes think it would be easier for me to teach them the Hebrew language, which I do not know, than to tell them about this untellable story, which, in a way, I do know. » Continue Reading.
Ed Zahniser: There Is A Wolf in Me!
My sister Esther is a therapist in London, England. She specializes in voice dialogue therapy. Her work tries to engage the client’s heretofore unacknowledged multiple inner voices in constructive dialog with each other. Esther is highly intuitive. She can still work up her own fright by recalling from childhood our father Howard Zahniser reciting a poem she and I remembered as “There Is a Wolf in Me.” It turns out the poem by Carl Sandburg (1878–1967) is titled “Wilderness”:
There is a wolf in me . . . fangs pointed for tearing gashes . . . a red tongue for raw meat . . . and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.
I can still conjure my father reciting the poem to us as he stood framed by the doorway from our kitchen pantry-way into the dining room of our childhood home in the Hyattsville, Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.
No matter that the house no longer exists. No matter that our father Howard Zahniser died 50 years ago. No matter that I have since seen wolves in the wild and witnessed their extreme wariness toward their bipedal primate nemesis humankind.
What was so frightening about the poem may be the fact that, truth to tell, there is probably a wolf in each of us. What if my wolf got out? What if your wolf got out? » Continue Reading.
Johnsburg: Where Wilderness Begins
My father and mother, Howard and Alice Zahniser, named our cabin Mateskared not long after they bought the place in August 1946 from Harold and Pansy Allen. It sits at the end of a road off Route 8 in Bakers Mills, Warren County.
The late New York State conservationist Paul Schaefer partly owned the land to the west of our place. Paul served as middleman on the deal because our family lived in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. We were a two-day drive from the Adirondack State Park in those days. I was not yet one year old. » Continue Reading.
Naj Wikoff: A Better Way to Divorce
Once in LA, I saw this middle-aged woman driving a black Porsche Carrera GT. The license plate read, “WAS HIS.”
Divorce can be nasty, expensive, and tough on the kids, families, and friends. I have friends who said they were lucky to get out still owning their golf clubs. I know people who decades later are still traumatized by a past divorce, be it their divorce or that of their parents.
A reality of living in small towns is after the divorce you still meet your ex at the art center, grocery store, post office, waiting in line to vote, or attending civic events and holiday parties, encounters made more difficult if the divorce could have been a scene out of the film “War of the Roses.” Friends are often put in an awkward position as they may care equally for you both and don’t want to take sides. The kids though, they really take the beating. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park: Changes In The Air
Change is inevitable, constantly working its influence on everything around us, including ourselves. Sometimes it unfolds slowly, like the lines on a person’s face as they age, other times it develops swiftly, like the devastation from a magnitude seven earthquake.
The Adirondack Park has never been immune to change. Whether natural, like the glaciers that once scoured its landscape, or human-induced, like the massive timber extraction of earlier times, the accumulation of these changes made the Adirondacks what we know and love today. This evolution continues today, evident in the gradual wearing down of the mountains, the successional transition of beaver pond to meadow and beyond, and forest flattened by intense windstorms.
» Continue Reading.
Leave No Trace: Don’t Feed Wildlife
Happening upon this scene brought mixed emotions. I love the weasel family (Mustelidae), especially the American Marten (Martes americana), so I was naturally excited to be able to get so close to this one. That was only because someone had left a pile of dog food at a campsite. » Continue Reading.
Lake Trout Research At Follensby Pond
Can well-managed lakes in the Adirondacks provide important refuges for lake trout in the face of climate change?
That’s the focus of a new intensive research effort being conducted at Follensby Pond, a 1,000-acre lake purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 2008.
The pond offers the perfect opportunity to research lake trout at the southern end of their range, to determine how these large and ecologically important fish could best be managed and protected given rising temperatures and other environmental changes. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Backcountry Ethics: Building A Fire
Fire has held great fascination for man ever since Prometheus stole it from the Greek gods and put it in our hands. Or so the myth goes.
This allure for combustion extends to the backcountry, where every popular campsite contains either a well-maintained fireplace or a makeshift fire ring.
Even wilderness enthusiasts loathe abandoning this love of fire, despite all the adverse impacts that accompany it. » Continue Reading.
Cabin Life: The Forgiveness of Snakes
I don’t usually think about snakes, but I’ve had a few run-ins in the last couple of days, and I haven’t really had a choice but to think about them. Now, I’m not one of those people who screams like a little girl when he sees a snake (anymore), and when I do happen to think about them, it’s usually because a garter snake is slithering away out in the driveway or curled up on one of the rocks out in the yard.
The other morning, I stepped out of the front door and was handed a small garter snake. My friend had picked the ten inch snake up right outside the door. We each let him run through our hands and then dropped him back into the grass. Now, I know it’s bad to handle wild animals, but it’s nice to feel the soft motion of the snake on your hands. It’s also a reminder that these guys aren’t out to do us any harm, and just want to eat the bugs around the garden. » Continue Reading.
State Loses $2.5M Follensby Grant Amid Calls For Funding
The Adirondack Council urged state lawmakers to increase funding for environmental priorities in the FY2013-14 NYS Budget in testimony today at the legislature’s budget hearing. The Council cited the recent loss of a $2.5 million grant secured to aid the purchase of the Follensby Tract as a sign that New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) needs an expedited increase in funding.
Adirondack Council Legislative Director Scott Lorey called for an additional $11 million to be added in the EPF and also urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to rebuild the staffing at key regulatory agencies whose budgets have been cut in recent years, including the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency. » Continue Reading.
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Understanding Timber on Protected Lands
Abbott: Put that out. There’s no smoking in here.
Costello: What makes you think I’m smoking?
Abbott: You’ve got a cigar in your mouth!
Costello: I’ve got shoes on…. It doesn’t mean I’m walking.” – One Night in the Tropics, 1940
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.” – Phaedrus, 428-348 B.C.
Usually, when I hear someone refer to a “philosophical problem,” it is safe to assume they have stumbled upon something contested or murky. Anything without clean borders and an obviously correct side that good people can agree on is often dismissed as a “philosophical problem.” Also consigned to this fate are questions that seem simple until you look closely and discover a thicket of overlap and conflicts. In my experience this is usually because what appears to be the question is either not the real question or not the whole question. I’m going to try to untangle a situation that falls into the latter category, but before you chuck this column onto the philosophical slash heap, stay with me, and let’s talk timber.
» Continue Reading.