Thursday, March 26, 2015


     It's hard not to feel sappy this time of year. The sun is getting stronger and and the juices are flowing in plants, animals and people. My fields are a mosaic of bare ground and snow. So far the up and down temperature swings (I had single digits one morning this week) are resulting in a gradual melt with little flooding. I've seen deer, turkey, geese and a lone coyote trotting across my rye seeding. Robins and sparrows are busy courting and nest building and I drove thru a flock of starlings so thick it was like a black speckled blizzard.
     The Hudson has opened up and now is the time to observe waterfowl. Birders often set up scopes and cameras near Fort Miller where River Road gives easy access. Gordie Ellmers is an accomplished wildlife photographer and you can see some of his work on exhibit at the Greenwich Library. The library also has the Gill Room dedicated to local history and is the site of many interesting programs and meetings. In summer there's a colorful flower garden by the entrance
(you'll have to wait a bit for that).

Gordie Ellmers photo of a Snowy Owl

     One of this weekends events is Raptor Fest up in the Fort Edward Grasslands. Here you will encounter live birds and people who are passionate about them. Also keep an eye on Southern Adirondack Audubon Society's web site as they will be hosting bird walks as the season progresses. The old canal towpath leading out of Fort Edward is often a productive walk for birders with water, brush and fields providing attractive habitat.
     Birds aren't the only thing worth looking up for. Did anyone see the beautiful pairing of Venus and the crescent moon last Sunday evening? While only a tiny sliver of the moon was lit by the sun the rest of its disk was clearly visible with earthshine. Plus the sun has been active lately so we could be treated to a northern lights display at any time. Also there was a nova in the constellation Sagittarius  earlier this week. The exploding star became naked eye visible for a few days but has since faded like 4th of July fireworks.
     This is my favorite time of year to watch sunrises. From my farm the sun comes up directly over the top of Mt. Equinox on the spring and fall equinox's. This is a serendipitous coincidence of geography and I feel blessed. Over the last few weeks I've watched on successive mornings as the sunrise inched north along the spine of the Taconics, up Little Equinox, then over the summit on March 20, finally continuing down slope towards the col called Wind Gap before reaching Bear Mountain. Better than any map or calendar, dawn tells me where I am in place and time.

Mt. Equinox on right with Bear Mountain to the left

     Bernice Ende is also feeling the tug of the new season. We went up to the Rogers Island Visitors Center to hear her farewell talk Saturday evening. She has made so many friends over the winter that it was standing room only. The event was full of warm goodbyes, hilarious tales and thoughtful reflections. She plans to resume her cross-country ride around the first of April (that will be April Fools Day, Bernice!). Fort Edward will never forget Ende, Essie and Spirit. You can keep track of her progress on her website. Late breaking news: Bernice will talk one more time at Skidmore College in Saratoga, at 1pm on Tuesday, March 31 in Emerson Auditorium.

     Finally, the March Place at the Table has to be about pancakes and maple syrup. Gwenne, Holly and I went over to Mapleland Farm's sugarhouse on Bunker Hill Road last Saturday,
 the first day of two open house weekends. So did a lot of other people. It was great to watch kids and their families learning about Washington County's first harvest of the new year. Holly got to discuss ag issues with Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner who was attending the event. The Breezy Hill alpacas
were a big attraction and the setting is classic - tree lined dirt road, bumpy hills open and wooded, and the high Taconics to the east with Woodlawn, Dorset and Mt. Antone etching the blue horizon.
And the meal! Fluffy, thick pancakes, sausage, Cabot butter, warm maple syrup and hot coffee. Yum!
Thanks to the Campbell family for a fun time.
     Check out Upper Hudson Maple Producers for details and directions to this weekends open houses. And don't forget, Rathbuns in North Granville serves breakfast with their maple syrup on Saturdays and Sundays year round.
     Like the sap, I've got to run. It's spring in this special place.

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