Truth is, I'm more of a cover-alls and Carhartts guy than cap and gown type. But I still have the final paper I wrote for that course. Its pompous title: "History and the Landscape - A view across Washington County over the years". It's pretty lame - no footnotes, a skeletal bibliography, handwritten. This, in a class where others handed in work so original and well researched that it was destined for publication.
My paper - notice the high quality graphics
My scholar-less little thesis was more like a seed than a fully developed flower. Mostly I just wandered around the county trying to see how the natural landscape had influenced what people had done here. Now, all these years later, technology has changed but my inquisitiveness remains the same. Looking back - at that course, at that paper - I see the genesis of my wash wild blog. I still like to wander the backroads, to wonder about all the things that have happened here, from over a billion years ago up to today. And wonder where we're headed tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, I want to tell you about a few upcoming opportunities. The college, now known as SUNY Adirondack, has some fall classes that may be of interest. I see in their catalog that they still offer a full semester "History of Warren and Washington Counties - His 270". It covers Native American occupation up to the present. I'm still waiting for a Big History type of course. That would start from the very beginning, the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Then (once the sun and earth have arrived on the scene) it would detail the various orogenies and other geologic events that have lead to the landscape we see today. We'd learn how the slates, limestones and iron ores that have influenced the county's economic history were created. Glaciation and the development of soils would be covered. Finally, there would be a segment on the botanical colonization that produced the plant communities and ecosystems we see today. Also a brief look at how the animals, including one we're particularly fond of, came here. Lots of field trips and a deeper understanding of the natural stage that has shaped the human story. If Professor Donald Minkel and colleagues ever develop such a course I'll be the first to enroll.
In the meantime, here are some items from the current Continuing Education catalog relating to Washington County:
* Adirondack Lavender 101 - Tour their Whitehall lavender farm with the Allens and learn all about this beautiful and useful herb. Friday, September 22 from 1 to 3pm.
* Fort Miller walking tour - Paul McCarty will guide the group in visiting this historic hamlet. Wednesday, September 27 from 1 to 3 pm.
* Bakers Falls walking tour - Learn how Hudson River waterpower lead to early industrial development. Wednesday, October 11 from 1 to 3 pm.
* New Skete Monasteries Tour - Unique architecture in a peaceful mountain setting. Friday, October 13 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm.
* Slate Valley Quarry Tour - Stops at the Slate Valley Museum and a quarry in the Granville area. Saturday, October 14 from 9 to 11 am.
* Tour and lunch at the Skene Manor - Enjoy a visit to Whitehall's very own castle. Friday, November 3 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
* SUNY Adirondack also has a Lecture and Lunch Series with talks on the Feeder Canal, the Battenkill and the Slate Valley.
* Find out more about these and other offerings here.
* Also of interest: Lake Champlain Bridge Guided Walk on Sunday, September 24 from 1 to 3 pm. Meet at Chimney Point State Historic Site, Vermont. A Vermont Archeology Month event.