Archive for July, 2020

Jul 16 2020

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Siamese Ponds Wilderness

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After months of reading and research for a new book of somewhat abstract, philosophical speculation, I figured it was high time for me to venture into deep woods for a while and get real. I loaded my old expedition backpack, scrawled my destination on the white board in the kitchen, then kissed Judy goodbye. The 3-hour drive into the south/central Adirondacks was an easy one. I was on the trail a little after noon.

For many years I have wanted to visit the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. I think about it every time I go back to the West Canada Lakes Wilderness – my favorite haunt immediately to the west. There’s no time like the present, I figured, so I hiked the narrow path six miles back to Lower Siamese Pond. It felt good to stretch my legs and work up a good sweat again despite the bloodsucking bugs. One of the scattered t-storms in the area caught me half a mile the pond, but I didn’t mind. A cool downpour on a warm day when my t-shirt is already soaked with sweat isn’t a bad thing. The rain stopped by the time I reached the pond.

A loon greeted me with its wild call shortly after I reached the pond. I made camp on a knoll out of sight from both the water and the trail. I gathered up some wet wood, stripped the bark from it and had a good campfire blazing a couple hours later. After a late dinner, I walked down to the edge of the pond to groove on the great wild silence as the last bit of twilight faded away. Then I settled into bed as a pair of barred owls hooted back and forth. Loons called out all night long.

First thing in the morning, I went back down to the pond’s edge to splash a little water in my face then sit on a rock just looking around, thinking about nothing, nothing at all. Eventually snapping out of that trance, I said out loud: “God, I love the Adirondacks!” Then I returned to camp for a leisurely breakfast. When I was good and ready, I broke camp, packed up and left. I savored the hike out, moving as slowly as possible, stopping once to sit next to the East Branch of the Sacandaga River, which was moving even slower than I was.

Two days later I’m still a little sore, but the overnighter cleared my head. Have returned to my philosophizing and other literary work with renewed vigor. Oh yeah, it’s truly amazing what a little time alone in deep woods can do.

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Jul 09 2020

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Judy’s Hummingbirds

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With the pandemic raging, Judy and I have been spending a lot of time in our backyard lately. Oh sure, I’ve been getting into the woods some. Earlier this week I hiked into the Breadloaf Wilderness to find a camping spot that I intend to use in a week or so, and I’ve done a little trout fishing to boot. But with hummingbirds visiting on a regular basis, our backyard seems like the place to be.

For years Judy and I have tried to attract hummingbirds, but only this year have we succeeded. Judy brought home a couple large hanging plants with red, tubular flowers. We hung them from wrought iron shepherd’s hooks not far from our patio, along with a couple feeders. We displayed all this early in the season, and Judy has been diligent about keeping the sugar water in the feeders fresh since then. Lo and behold, the hummingbirds came! First they came once or twice a day, then all day long.

Living a few miles outside of town, with our home backed up against some woods, we’ve had plenty of other visitors as well. Barred owls hoot in the evening and have flown across our yard a couple times. A flock of turkeys passes through daily, taking whatever grubs they can extract from our grass. Woodpeckers and various songbirds visited our feeders in early spring. Deer, skunks, raccoons, garter snakes, dragonflies, toads, field mice – we have plenty of visitors. But the hummingbirds are something else.

What is it about these little creatures that make them so attractive? Is it the sheer beauty of their iridescent feathers, the way they hover in mid-air, or the sheer speed in which they come and go? Whatever it is, hummingbirds captivate us – not just Judy and me but a good number of people. Go to any hardware store and you’ll find a wide variety of hummingbird feeders there.

I have every intention of getting in the woods again very soon, midsummer heat or no. But I won’t expect to see as many creatures up close and personal as I do in my backyard. The hummingbirds now feed while Judy and I are sitting on the patio only a few feet away. And that feels pretty special.

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