The Autumn Video

November 24, 2022

As promised, here is the slideshow of fall foliage from the Adirondacks. My thanksgiving gift to you. Share widely and be sure to credit.

Batting a Thousand

October 22, 2022

The playoffs are happening, and the World Series is around the corner, but the bats I’m writing about, celebrated this coming international Bat Week, October 24th through the 31st, are the fluttery Halloween kind.

We have at least nine species of bats in the Adirondacks, making field identification difficult or impossible during nighttime encounters. The only thing to go on is size (and sometimes numbers). I was speeding down the Blue Ridge Road before dawn this week when a huge bat flew across my windshield. Well, comparatively huge, since the most common bat I encounter is the Little Brown Bat.

With echolocation and flight agility, there is little danger of a healthy bat becoming roadkill. I’ve found they are very curious creatures, so this encounter may not have been entirely coincidental. They zero in on anything that piques their interest.

The encounter made me curious about White Nose Syndrome, the fungus that has devastated North American colonizing bats. It’s still around, though you don’t hear as much about it. Biologists are hopeful a vaccine can be developed, but right now the only solution is disinfecting the mine shafts where colonies hibernate. That sounds like a losing battle to me in the long run, since some bats will inevitably reintroduce the fungus.

I see a lot of bats, especially in the spring when they emerge from hibernation and hunt during daylight hours. It’s not because the disease hasn’t spread here yet. The Adirondacks were one of the first places where White Nose Syndrome was documented, probably having much to do with the number of biologists studying wildlife here. The American bat population, overall, has declined 90%. I think what will happen is that some bats will develop resistance to the disease and populations will then recover overall, although we will likely lose some species entirely.

In my book Invoking Animal Magic, I have an entire chapter on bats. From the book:

The term “blind as a bat” is not strictly correct, since bats do have limited vision, but obviously they are not dependent on sight to navigate a dim cave. Blindness is associated with internal vision, and it was once believed that bats used psychic powers to fly at night. Even knowing they use echolocation to get a sense of their surroundings does not make their perception less mysterious. What would it feel like to map the environment with your ears?

The bat I encountered could have been a Big Brown Bat, since this is late October and these bats are late hibernators. Photo: Ann Froschauer/USFWS
I might also have seen a Hoary Bat, since I was driving through a conifer forest and the Hoary has an atypical flight pattern. I thought for a split second this bat was a bird. Photo: Dan Clark/USFWS

Continuing Apace

October 15, 2022

My days are filled with preparations for cold (really cold) weather. I have plastic over most of the windows on the porch and will finish today, hopefully with time left for a bike ride.

A friend of mine said, Well you’re only working part time. Why is it taking so long for you to get settled? I think it has to do with moving to a smaller space, figuring out what I need to hang onto, what goes in storage, what is given away. I had to take what was available, not what was convenient, since I was being asked to move. It makes a difference.

I met a birder on the trail yesterday. (Yeah, I’m still going hiking occasionally; not that busy.) She told me there’s a lot of birding activities in the Adirondacks, and I may be participating once I get a breather. Just so I don’t have to check off lists and sit in clumps of bushes with binoculars.

The autumn foliage video is still in the works. I think my Aries process-centered approach to creative projects has taken over. But the leaves are mostly down, so it’s almost time to put the camera away.

Out and About

October 7, 2022

I’ve been hiking around the Adirondacks, and taking detours on my way to work, getting a spectacular set of photos together for a spread. Still not there yet: a few more shots I want to get.

I was saddened this week by the death of Loretta Lynn. I enjoyed her memoirs as much as her music, and like most people I found her life story intriguing before and after Nashville.

My language teacher, Karen Mosko, died in September, and everyone who knew her has been broken up over that. No one can fill this woman’s moccasin’s. Yet we struggle along without her and continue to learn.

Stay Tuned

October 2, 2022

This fall foliage spread is coming. I haven’t had time to put it together, and the leaves are peaking late anyway. But I’ve been to some fantastic places. It will be good.

The Weather Holds

September 10, 2022

Lovely full moon last night, a beautiful orange rising over the hills.

Here are pics of the Adirondack Canoe Classic on Saturday. It’s a 90 mile kayak-canoe-guideboat race over three days, starting in Old Forge and ending in Saranac Lake. This is from the start of the second day, in Long Lake.

Early morning, before the race.

Here they come, in the distance.

Closer now.

Under the bridge.

Classic Adirondack guideboat.

On to Tupper Lake. That’s the Seward range in the background.

Getting There

August 26, 2022

It’s amazing how putting books on the shelf makes you feel settled.

A corner of my kitchen.

There’s about a zillion outlets in my new place.

Samhain is settling in nicely.

Still no phone service.

I’ve moved 31 times in my life. This is only the third time I’ve lived on a hill. The other two times I was living in San Francisco.

I’ve never felt such a strong urge to make a break from the past. I think it’s about not wanting to stay wallowed in feelings of victimhood, after the way I was treated in Keene Valley.

What I love most about the country is seeing the stars. Take a look outside tonight on this Virgo New Moon, if you can.

This is a NASA photo from the Space Station

The Owl’s Heads I have known

August 19, 2022

The other night a huge owl flew across my windshield.

I didn’t know what it was at first, just a streak of brown, like a darting deer, swooping a few feet above the ground. A flying deer?

I usually don’t drive at night because I’m worried about deer. Most longtime Adirondack residents share this concern, and it’s one of the reasons you don’t see many cars on the road after sundown. Although my last motorized encounter with a deer was in the middle of a hot humid day, so go figure.

Anyway, the owl got me thinking about the many Owl’s Heads I have known. There’s Owl’s Head Keene, a short popular hike with views of the High Peaks. It looks like something out of Middle Earth from below.

The Owl’s Head in Elizabethtown is referred to as Owl Head Lookout. It’s in the Giant Wilderness Area, a large tract of state land that it’s best not to get lost in.

In Hamilton County there’s an Owl’s Head with a fire tower. Considered one of the “easier” peaks, it’s still not easy, and I climbed it one afternoon with people who were fit and people who were suffering.

Photo: Marc Wanner

The goddess Ishtar was worshipped at one time as an owl goddess. (Her sister Inanna probably started out as some sort of water bird, now extinct.) To me, the sign of the owl is a scintillating reminder of the presence of the Goddess.