Community

It amazes me how a small town pulls together. If someone becomes sick, there are various fundraisers to help the family, a meal chain is created and a village rallies.

We have no real emergency except we won’t be able to drive our own cars anywhere due to the bridge’s washout. Yesterday a neighbor’s friend built a temporary walkway so we can at least somewhat safely cross the gap.

One of our neighbors’ cars is already on the other side of the bridge at the repair shop. It has been offered up as a vehicle for us all to use. Another friend offered the use of their car. Our UPS driver called the house and asked if I wanted my packages left at work!

A neighbor across the road from the bridge said we could keep a car there. Construction engineers were here scratching their heads figuring out the best way to tackle this new development in the midst of replacing the bridge anyway. Obviously we would like five minutes to scoot one of our cars to the other side.

I’ll be able to at least walk to work but will probably cancel other plans. Tim will catch a ride to his concert today.

And why haven’t the bluebirds left yet?

Maybe they want to get their fill of these beautiful berries.

Stranded

and we are not even on an island. Eight years ago Hurricane Irene stalled over the Adirondack mountains and dumped umpteen inches of water into the already swollen rivers. There is a bridge on our road that crosses the mighty Boquet (pronounced Bo-kwet) which is usually a serene stream.

With all the rain that bridge got washed out. For one month we could only cross the river to the “mainland” on foot. We have had a temporary bridge since then. This month work began on the replacement bridge. Ah, but Mother Nature had other plans.

The mighty Boquet in full force

Yesterday we had another storm that dumped 3 inches of rain overnight, the river flooded the banks and roads, washed out the replacement bridge, and almost took a large backhoe with it.

Now there is a large gap between us and the road.

My son suggested I try to jump it. I don’t think so. This and a large sinkhole in the road will have to be repaired before we have any hopes of driving out of here again. Plans are afoot to walk to work on Monday.

Within an hour of discovering this, all our neighbors had been in touch with one another to make sure everyone was OK. We saw the Sheriff when we walked down to the bridge who suggested we call 911 if we needed anything. Anything?

Now there’s a new pond in the field.

And all is well at home. There’s a loaf of bread proofing in the oven and I have a loom to warp and perhaps a zillion other projects to keep me busy.

High Peaks are peaking

We live in a region of the Adirondacks called the high peaks, named for the 46+ mountains over 4000 feet in the area. They have been ablaze with color. People pull over on the roadside to try to capture the colors with their phones and cameras. It’s not always so easy.

There was smoke over the pond on an early morning venture.

Looks pretty drab after all.

Yesterday we wanted to swim but found the pool was going to be full of kids and no lap lanes would be available. Instead we went for an afternoon stroll out back. Holy cow!

Tim blended in quite well with the trees

The colors were stunning. Even the ground cover was bright red.

Next year’s blueberries?

Tim took me to a lookout with great views of our little home sweet home and the mountains. What a beautiful place.

Time to get out the woolies.

A trip to the University health center brought a surprise. A sculptured sewing machine and quilt, three stories high. Perfect fall colors.

Road work

Travel means more time to knit. My last trip enabled me to finish a mitten and knit two hats for friends’ birthdays. It was fun to design one hat on the fly. The mittens have a clever cuff, you turn the knitting inside out after half the cuff is knit. A little mind blowing. (It doesn’t take much these days). Although these projects will only pass through my hands, many things I have knit on the road become my souvenirs and remind me of a time and place.

Milet mitten by Ysolda Teague

This little froggie is lucky I didn’t have to take the car out the other morning. He was hanging out on the garage apron. He looks a little stern anyway.

Our travels took us back to Montreal last week to see a fabulous concert by the Montreal Symphony. It was a matinee and we spent the afternoon walking around Mount Royal. The population is almost four times the number in Quebec City you feel it. No bonjours, hellos or even head nods. Every one is on their own mission in their own thoughts. Been there, done that.

Small town living is the life for me.

A table set for friends

Monarchs are getting ready for their big trip south. Their numbers have fallen by around 75% over the past 20 years, largely due to reduction in milkweed. Our food chain depends on the birds, bees, butterflies. This is serious. The larvae need the milkweed. The adults enjoy nectar, or so it seems to me. Fort Ticonderoga and Saranac Lake shops provided plenty of nectar for the butterflies.

We’ve had frost at night. Time to hit the road butterflies.

Oh, Canada

We had a last minute vacation when a caretaking stint fell through and we had already booked the time off. We headed north to Quebec and experienced urban living and wilderness within two hours of each other.

First stop, Old Quebec City. We walked for hours, ate dinner out every night and joined the other tourists admiring the St. Lawrence River. One night, there was a live piano player (so much better than a dead one) who accompanied silent films on a large outdoor screen. Charlie Chaplin was more funny than I imagined.

I admired the old buildings and use of stone. And surprisingly, the lights.

When we had our fill of city life, we headed further northeast to the Saguenay Fjord. We hiked and went on a whale watching tour in Tadoussac at the mouth of the Fjord.

It delivered! Although we did not see any of the renowned Beluga Whales, we saw lots of Minke and Humpbacks, diving, doing the whale tale thing. I didn’t even try to get any photos. I did get photos of other boats watching the whales.

When the tour company told us, due to the south wind, we were bound to get wet and the temperature was in the low 60’s, we opted for the Big Boat. I took this photo while I was down below enjoying a cuppa.

The fjord and the St. Lawrence seaway are magnificent. The fjord is 300 meters deep in many places and is a perfect meeting and eating place for several species of whales and seals (as our guide yelled phoque). Cliffs rise on either side and sunrises and sunsets were stunning.

Tim spotted this jewel of a spot on our way to Tadoussac and we returned for a short hike the next day. This statue was out a viewing platform overlooking Rose du Nord, the pearl of Saguenay. Perhaps she is Rose. It’s a beautiful fishing and farming village tucked into its own cove on the fjord.

After a few days on the north side of the fjord, we headed south to the national Parc Saguenay at Riviere Eternite. We had the cutest little Echo Chalet. We were glamping! All we brought were our sleeping bags and towels.

We stretched our legs and took a few hikes.

I almost opted out of getting the view from the top. We met a woman on our way up. As we approached the summit, she had abruptly turned around and was headed back down because she had seen a bear.

So what did we do? We banded together and kept walking. To Tim’s annoyance (because he wanted nothing more than to see a bear) I made as much noise as I could. Subsequent research confirmed black bear attacks are very rare – only about 20 in the past 20 years – but the most recent occurred September 5 in …Canada. Oh my!

We made it home to find geese flying west? And a stunning view right from my porch.

It’s always good to come home to the Adirondacks, which no longer feels like wilderness. French lessons begin today.

New Horizons

 We have sailed Lake Champlain for several years. A lot of our time was spent around Northwest Harbor in Westport. To be sure, there are beautiful anchorages and mountain views but it’s wonderful to have a change of scenery, which is what our new little red speedboat provides. And we don’t have to spend three nights on the sailboat to get there. (Spoken like one who has crossed over to the dark side, with a two stroke engine no less).

We’ve been to Lake Placid, where we had a trial run, the northern part of Lake George, Basin Harbor, Button Bay, Valcour Island and island camping in Lower Saranac Lake. 

Boating season in the Adirondacks is quickly coming to an end. We went kayak camping the past few days and the thermometer dipped into the 30’s at night. Luckily we were comfy mummified in our sleeping bags. The weather was still nice enough to be on the water during the day and we even took a brief swim.

Although the lean to was great, I do not sleep in lean tos. I have visions of mice running through my hair while I snooze. Zip me in a tent anytime.

We shared the lake with three loons who called to each other throughout the day and night. A perfect Adirondack accompaniment. At home we hear coyotes and they are not all that different.

We managed to kayak through an unlikely passage. The map clearly showed water around an island. It forgot to mention cattails and lilypads. We had at least ten inches of water at anytime, which is all we draw in kayaks. Some areas were so close, paddling was impossible and we had to resort to poling.

The scenery was spectacular, company was outstanding, camp food was passable and a good time was had by both.

The big and little things

As always, summer in the Adirondacks flies by. The days are getting shorter and the nights colder. Work and visiting with friends and family has kept us busy. The new boat and truck are working out. We took a fabulous camping trip with the next two generations and Oma’s red boat was a big hit. And as hoped, I am having fun doing the repairs as I am able.

I have sewn and repaired the boat canvas, installed a couple of cleats, gathered a tool kit, greased (or in this case floated oil) for the trailer’s wheel bearing and, oh yes, dropped some money. Spare tires, jack kit, radio, new horn and a couple of minor repairs. It begins.

This guy was in the road when I drove to work last week.

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So handsome. I kept my distance and he lumbered off in to the field.

Yesterday, I spotted this salamander during my walk.

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On a mission.

We seem to be spending a lot of time in Saranac Lake recently. This week for dinner and a play. This show was on display after a rainstorm.

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Remarkable!

First you buy a little boat

A takeoff from the title of one of my favorite books, “First you row a little boat”. Well this is my sequence. We sold our sailboat and my plan was to buy a little runabout we could tow from lake to lake in the Adirondacks.

I found a 15 foot 1966 aluminum Starcraft in Lake Placid. The captain and I took it for a spin, the 1971 Mercury motor ran fine, and I bought it.

Then I needed a little truck to tow it. In some ways, we have crossed over to the dark side and a fuel efficient truck would soften the landing. I found a 1997 Ford Ranger, 300 miles away, but the price was right and it had a current inspection.

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Since my son lives nearby, I asked him to buy it for me. He saw it, confirmed it ran well, but was a little incredulous it was the truck of my dreams. In fact, he got pulled over within the first ten minutes of driving it.

I took mass transit to the truck, got it registered and took it for its maiden voyage- six hours north to the Adirondacks.

My son and daughter-in-law tracked my trip and I arrived home uneventfully.

Now the captain is off trying to haul the boat home while I visit my daughter in DC. Hopefully the next photo will have them ( boat and trailer, not boat and captain) tethered together in my driveway. 

They both need work but are simple enough it might be fun?

Trail running

I lost my running mojo for a while. I didn’t mind because I also enjoy walking, it just takes longer to cover the same distance. Last week an article in Outside magazine about falling caught my eye because, in my small circle of friends and acquaintances, there were three serious falls last winter, one of which ended in death. It was an especially icy winter at home.

I don’t engage in most of the activities described, but I must walk on ice and enjoy trail running. The article includes the line, “if you trail run, you will fall”. So true. I proved it yesterday. I have fabulous trails I can access from home.

It was a slow motion, in my mind, fall and as I went down, I thought the words, if you run, you will fall. I just stay relaxed and rolled with it. A good philosophy in general. I run with my iPhone to listen to music and in case I fall and can’t get up. Luckily my leg took the brunt of the fall, my hands didn’t even get dirty, my wrists survived, and my iPhone played on.

This was after my most scary episode on the trail so perhaps I was distracted. I must have passed a ruffed grouse nest on my way out. Well on my return trip, the hen was pissed! She came after me, all puffed up, tail feathers spread, hissing, and beak ready to bite. I know she was only a foot tall but she scared the bejeezus out of me. I even let out a yelp, but there I was in the woods with noone to hear me, or did the trees hear me?

Perhaps I should have read this article in the Adirondack Almanac before heading out. It contains this information:

Perhaps the most remarkable display of parental courage for a creature of its size is seen in the hen ruffed grouse. This bird will aggressively confront and challenge any human that happens to come too close to its recently hatched chicks.

Don’t I know it. They call it an unforgettable wildlife experience. I was so ruffled myself I couldn’t even take a photo of the little chicks heading up the slope while she chased me a hundred yards down the path. Every time I stopped, she headed towards me.

Here is a photo from Wikimedia Commons someone else was brave enough to take. It captures the open beak ready to bite while making scary hissing noises.

It might be a while before I take to that trail again.

The little things

We are caught up at home and settled back into civilization. Back to work, banking, shopping and consuming. Hmmm. Memories of Deal Island arrive every day.

There are simple pleasures at home. We have sandy soil and partial sun due to a mountain to our east. Nothing grows very well. This peony limps along but it has at least 3 blooms this year. Pretty pathetic in comparison to some but beautiful nonetheless.

Tim found this little hummingbird trapped in our garage. It spent the night there. He nudged it outside and I made a batch of nectar. I dripped some into its beak with my finger. I couldn’t even see her swallow. After a while at least she started to look around. I went indoors and watched with my binoculars. It was like watching a newborn take its first steps. I saw her flutter her wings and perch up on the dish of nectar. Some time later she was gone and off with her pals to do hummingbird things. I will never know if it is her at the feeders but will imagine it is.

Strawberries are finally in season and delicious. Both Tim and I brought a quart home. Too many strawberries. So I made a batch of strawberry jam in my instant pot. Good on toast, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and on vanilla ice cream.