Traditionally, as the Adirondack region advances deep into the depths of winter, the days will grow longer, the mercury drops deeper, the ice grows thicker and the snow is piled higher. However, in recent years, it appears winter can no longer sustain such winter traditions.
Outside my windows, green grass remains evident in the yard and there is no evidence of the towering snowbanks that usually line the local highways. In the distance, the free-flowing waters of Ray Brook race through the stark, leafless alder beds like a writhing black snake slithering off into the distance.
In previous winters, I remember wincing on many a winter's morn as I exited the back door into the hanging frost. The snow would squeak like Styrofoam underfoot, and as supercooled air spiked into my lungs each breath would bring a cough. Pixie dust would suspend in the frozen air at the break of day, glowing like gold in the warming rays of the morning's sun.
This photo of the Olympic Ski Jump Complex in Lake Placid taken last Saturday (before Monday’s rain and thaw) shows how thin the snow levels have been in the region.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
There was always one particular peak far off in the distance that beckoned me on, even on the frostiest of morns. Although I've grown older, weaker of heart and shorter of sight, that same damn hill continues to call my name.
If only there was snow to cover the ground and record my tracks, I would depart in the dark to reach the peak before the bark of a morning sun. I'd ski the fields, cross the brooks and wend my way through the hardwoods to enjoy a summit and relax.
But I hasten not to set off into the morning's glow, as there appears to be far more grass and precious little of winter's snow. The season's bite is no longer so severe, and it's bark is more a whimper with every passing year. With the current snowpack, it's difficult to track even a mouse, and with so little cover there's clearly no reason to venture too far beyond my house.
As I gaze out the window waiting for the winter to start, it's become quite apparent that the season has finally lost its once brutal heart. No longer can it be considered the most enduring season of all, especially when it is barely colder than a blustery day in fall.
Creaky and freaky week in the Adirondacks
Our old house creaked as a spell of wild weather patterns punished the area with a series of dramatic swings over much of the past week. After the winds topped out in the 60 mph range, the heavy rains turned to snow, which created uncomfortable conditions for man, bird and beast.
The thermometer performed like a Pogo Stick, as temperatures sunk to double-digits below and rebounded into the 40s. The complete cycle spanned a change of nearly 50 degrees in less than a full day's time.
In the historic hamlet of Ray Brook, history was made as Adirondack Park Agency commissioners voted 10-1 to allow the Park's largest development ever to progress.
Listening closely to the west wind several days after the ruling, I could still hear the party going on in Tupper. Like a battered heavyweight, citizens of the Tip Top town stood together and rallied a notorious community spirit around the project. They were not to be denied.
But despite numerous efforts, including a last-minute lawsuit from the environmental community, the proud crowd of citizens stood their ground. Fortunately, the APA stood right beside them. At the time it may have appeared that the town was down for the count, but they proved again that they should never be counted out.
If the proposed development of the Adirondack Club and Resort achieves even half the success of The Wild Center, Tupper Lake may again become the Crossroads of the Adirondacks, and Big Tupper will serve as the new 'wild center' of the community.
Despite the expected din of detractors, the APA's recent decision may be a sign of a long sought and well-thought-out change in policy. The old gold standard of causing "no adverse impact" was properly applied despite the rumblings, grumbling and recriminations of a few disgruntled protesters.
Lani Ulrich, the new Chairwomen of the APA's Board of Commissioners, proved to be an able taskmaster, as she kept both APA staff and commissioners from getting bogged down in the hubris of the hearings.
Despite an occasional strong hand, and a few gentle admonishments, Ms. Ulrich single-handedly painted a fresh, kinder and more compassionate face on the agency and its staff. The only "damn" mentioned at APA headquarters on that fateful Friday afternoon was used to note a "damn" good decision.
Banff film festival returns to LPCA
It's that time of year again when armchair adventurers advance to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts in order to take in some of the wildest scenery, the bravest adventurers and the best cinematography known to man.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival is scheduled to return to the LPCA on Sunday. Beginning at 7 p.m., the doors will open and the show will begin. For more information, call the box office at 523-2512.
Appealing to the younger crowd
The Adirondacks have spawned a fair share of photographers over the years, and the region has attracted many more. From the early era of Seneca Ray Stoddard to the likes of current-day artists such as Battaglia, Farb, Kurtz, Houck and Heilman, the abundant beauty of the region's natural resources provide endless opportunities for the pursuit of photography.
In an ongoing effort to attract area youth to the pleasures and treasures of Adirondack life from behind the lens, the Lake Placid Institute for Arts and Humanities is inviting all high school students in the Adirondack region to participate in a visual interpretation of their surroundings in the Institute's program, "24 Hours - A Photographic Interpretation of Life in the Adirondacks."
All photos submitted must be taken within the Adirondack Park - between April 14, 2011 and April 15, 2012 - and represent one hour of a day in the Adirondack Park. Each photo must be accompanied by a brief description of when, where and why the artist chose to photograph that particular scene or subject.
Entries will be accepted starting March 1, and must be postmarked or submitted online no later than April 15. Entries must include the photographer's name, age, grade, the hour the photo was taken, date taken, location of the photo, type of camera used and the name of the supervising teacher.
Photos must be able to be replicated in 11x14 formats. Entries should be sent to LPI24Hours@gmail.com.