Fall in the Adirondacks often feels to have begun long before its calendar arrival. But this year, summer weather carried well into September, and the cooling days and nights last week coincided well with the Wednesday equinox and the official turning of the season.
While foliage may lack some of the late-September color of years past, a reddening of the hardwoods is now taking place. With a strong apple crop, we’ve seen our white-tailed neighbors putting on their winter weight, while the loons and passing geese have started to sing their final songs.
The first weekend of autumn ended with earth’s celestial companion doing its best impression of a maple leaf as an orange-tinted blood moon rose above the horizon and soon after underwent a total lunar eclipse.
Here are some of the sights from the first five days of fall on and around Osgood Pond.
Resting on a bed of floating pine needles, this mink frog takes in some late fall sun. Thanks to Brian McAllister for the identification help!
While there’s still plenty of green in the woods, color has begun to descend on the Park.
Riding the thermals, this bald eagle never descended low enough for a close-up photo, but it was the first we’d seen in some time over Osgood Pond.
A gaggle of geese take a break from their migration south on nearby Jones Pond.
Looking out over Osgood Pond on the first day of autumn.
Eclipse of the blood moon, shot right from a yurt deck.
A bicycle mailbox marks the driveway of Tracy and Nick Santagate. The Santagates are Paul Smith’s alumni and well-known in the community.
For many Paul Smith’s students, visiting the Santagates is like being a kid in a candy shop. Pumpkins twist across the lawn. A lean-to surrounded by Adirondack chairs sets against the edge of the woods. Vibrant tomatoes hang from their vines.
Interested in homesteading, sustainable living, boat making, gardening, herbal medicine, compost heated shower systems, and/or basket making? This is the place to visit. And to me, it’s a source of inspiration.
The first time I toured the Santagate’s estate, I was a student at Paul Smith’s. Tracy greeted my renewable energy class with a plate of chocolate chip cookies on a snowy March day. During our visit, she told a story about going to the bank to get a loan. She and Nick were just beginning to build their home and they didn’t have much credit. So, she brought a plate of chocolate chip cookies and handed them to the banker. The message was simple: Pleases, thank you’s and small gestures of kindness go a long way.
The Santagate homestead.
The tour takes the students toward an outdoor shower heated by decaying woodchips.
The woodchip pile functions as water heater for an outdoor shower.
And heat the water it does.
Early on in the process.
Tracy’s husband, Nick, joined the class early on to offer help of his own.
Bethany carefully weaves away.
Taking advantage of the shade on a warm September afternoon.
Kade poses through basket material.
Erik, right, takes some pointers as his pack basket comes to life.
Basket students pause as Tracy demonstrates an early step.
Andrew works away on his basket.
Tracy at work on a basket.
The final stages of basket making.
A finished pack basket.
Valerie explores the area after completing her pack basket.
Three Osgood Pond Semester students show off their new packs.
With two Osgood Pond Semester students in the 90 Miler, there seemed hardly a better way to spend a Saturday than alongside the Raquette River with food and drinks on hand.
After a stop at the Farmers’ Market in Saranac Lake for our own snacks, student volunteer Hanna Cromie joined the Osgood instructors and set off for Stony Creek, a waterside lean-to site a short hike off of Coreys Road. We arrived to an expected find — a big stash of snacks, water and Gatorade for paddlers — and another we didn’t anticipate in an uncharacteristically low Raquette River.
Spectators and pit crews gathered on the beach.
What is often water was instead a large swath of beach, and the steady influx of pit crews and spectators took advantage, dotting the shore with color. After setting up, the waiting game began. Perhaps due to the water level, all of our guesses as to when the first paddlers would come around the bend were well off the mark. After a few false alarms, including a dozen leisure paddlers and a rogue C-4, the first canoes began trickling in, greeted by shouts and a cowbell.
Osgood Pond Semester student Hanna Cromie awaits the first wave of paddlers with snacks at hand.
One of several Paul Smith’s teams to complete the 90 mile race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.
Then the work began. Though many of the paddlers were more focused on the day’s final seven-mile stretch, dozens cruised by the shore, some taking hand-offs and others testing Hanna’s bottle-tossing ability.
One paddler aboard a war canoe shouted a request for Reese’s. He seemed to be joking — though we actually did.
Colorful drinks at the ready.
The day had the usual variety. There were the stoic faces, the only sounds coming from paddles in the water and the occasional “hut!” While there were plenty of weary racers, there was also a fair share of smiles and laughing — especially from the seven Paul Smith’s women in the Voyageur class.
Seven Smitties navigate their war canoe along the shallow Raquette River.
One of the cheeriest group of paddlers heading downstream on the Raquette.
Kade Hill and Hyla Howe, the two Osgood Pond Semester representatives to take on the three-day epic, came into sight soon after. After an exchange of cheers and waves, the two were soon around the next bend. All in all, a busy start to the semester that saw a balance of yurt life, school work and training culminated in a 19 hour, 47 minute finish time for the duo.
And if that weren’t enough, just hours after crossing the Lake Flower finish line, the two were right back at Osgood Pond for Sunday class.
Complete Adirondack Canoe Classic 90 Miler results can be found at http://www.macscanoe.com/
Books go here. Clothes go here. Dishes go here. No, here. Ok, that looks a bit better. Make bed. Close tent (bug shelter). Sleep…
Wake up. Grab stove. Light fire. Boil water. Yawn.
I’ve finally started to settle into the yurt, permission was granted to move in and now it’s time to live in one spot. An integral part of my morning routine for the past three years has been making my coffee in the morning, once that begins I know I’m in a good place. The first few weeks of the semester were a little hectic for us yurters, but now all has fallen into place. Dom has his morning coffee.
All is still and quiet on the shores of Osgood Pond while I scoop grinds into the bottom of my French press. My roommates aren’t awake yet and the little kitchen area we built near the lakefront, in a tranquil stand of pines, is all mine. I pour my kettle into the press as steam curls up in plumes and the grounds bloom atop the hot liquid. Breathe in deep again. The bitter smells of coffee mix with the evergreen essence in the air and I smile.
This is a fine way to live.
As I look down upon my feet I see pine needles, balsam needles, and sand glued on by pine resin. It has created an all natural sole; no shoes are needed to stalk in the woods. A connection between the Earth and I is made. I can feel the differences in the ground cover types like moss, pine needles, water, grass, and sand.
It is much easier to sneak up on something if the ground cover you are stepping on is moist. The sound of your foot on the ground is silenced. When stalking an animal you want to be silent and move slowly and be careful not to snap too many twigs. When you are walking, walk heel to toe to transfer weight. If you are stalking an animal, don’t be afraid to stop. Try to keep the animal unaware of your presence.
Stalking can be useful in the game of capture the flag. The ability to sneak behind enemy lines unnoticed is a difficult task to accomplish. The object, of course, to steal the enemy’s flag and not have yours stolen. There are many different strategies that can be taken. For example, leaving a few people to guard the flag and having others run for the flag. We played this game, campus versus yurts, and the yurt team was in the woods while the campus team would run out in the open directly to the flag.
Practicing her nighttime stalking, Valerie was able to snap a quick picture of this pair of deer.
Walking back from campus Wednesday night I was fortunate enough to stalk two young deer. I could hear them walking in the woods and decided to check out what animal it was. After about ten minutes of quietly sneaking around trees, I spotted these two. Unfortunately, they didn’t hang out long. I was able to snap a quick picture.