The winter last year, 2016, was one of the warmest I have ever seen. There was never enough snow to go cross country
skiing even once. My new snow blower sat idle, waiting for a chance to clear the driveway.
Early January brought some very cold weather, about 13 below zero, which is not unusual.
Skiing on an old logging road, showed
that the deer had been using this as a route through the forest long before us.
Deeper in the woods I visited what's left of
the home of Harvey Layton. Harvey was a true Adirondack hermit. He built this place many years ago and lived there with a wood stove,
kerosene lamps, and a battery powered radio. I saw Harvey often in the 1970's when he would walk out to get his mail. A man of few
words, we might exchange greetings, or perhaps a comment on the weather. That was all.
The photo below on the left shows what
his place looked like a few years after he died in the late 1980's.
Time and some heavy winters have caved in the roof and broken
down the walls. A few more years and it will be just a memory for those of us old enough to recall. For sometime after Harvey died,
I thought I could still smell the pipe he always smoked when I passed his place. Now that is gone too.
The feeder sits right outside the dining room windows, and we like to watch the birds and other animals as they come in searching
for a little food. Here a blue jay and a red squirrel are sharing the seed I put on the ground.
This is a goldfinch about to take a seed. Male goldfinches are brilliantly colored in the summer time, but adopt a more
modest plumage in the winter. Why do you think this is?
Sometimes we have great flocks of goldfinches, maybe 20 or so all eating
at the same time. They are hard to photograph as any movement from me will send the whole flock back into the trees.
birds visit the feeder area, cardinals, mourning doves, juncos, tufted titmice (funny name, as they don't look like mice at all),
I will see if I can snap more pictures of these creatures that, like us, are trying to adapt to global warming.
hope you get outside and see what is going on in your area. I am sure if you look well, you will find interesting things.
we are hoping for a storm that is predicted for tonight to cover us with deep white snow.
What's New in the Woods Our house sits in a clearing on nine acres of woods half way up the first slopes of the Adirondack Mountains.
This is the beginning of the great forests that cover the region. The woods are a mixture of tall pines and hardwoods, like maple,
beech, and oak. The land is home to many birds and animals and millions of plants. On this page, you will come along with me as I
explore these woods and beyond, waiting quietly for those rare magical moments when an animal, or perhaps a new flower, appears.
Now, I as write in late January 2017, the winter has been mixed. It started out well in December with some good storms.
and I are skiers, and so a "good" winter is one with lots of snow storms. Here is how our stream looked where the ski trail crosses
The snow cover was good and held pretty much right through Christmas. We had some good days of cross country skiing as well
as downhill skiing at Gore Mountain, an Adirondack ski area, an hour or so north of us.
For New Year's weekend, we headed further
north to Lake Placid, and again the cross country skiing was quite good.
After that brief period of below zero weather, the warm up began.
Often there will be a "January thaw" where the temperature
rises above freezing for a few days. This is generally welcome, as the banks of snow shrink back from the roadsides. Then winter
returns. However this year, the thaw has lasted almost two weeks, and much of the snow cover at lower elevations, like Saratoga Springs,
our town, has disappeared.
The picture below shows our bird feeder on a thaw day. Mist rises from the cold snow. The red "rain
chain" that serves as a downspout for the eave trough, dribbles water. It is not so cold, but the damp and dark days are chilling
nevertheless. Can you spot the lone chickadee on the feeder?