I love artichokes. Growing artichokes, eating artichokes, enjoying the magnificent bloom (like a purple sea anemone) when I fail to harvest artichokes in time,… I hold artichokes in extremely high regard. But I must admit that I’ve never, ever conceived of artichokes as sexy.
She starts in familiar if cleverly conveyed territory.
The first time I saw it, I thought what an ugly specimen. It looked like Grandma’s bathing cap, grown green and small after all these years. (Source: “The Artichoke” by Nin Andrews, The Paris Review)
But then she chronicles a veritable love (lust?) affair with the spiny vegetable.
I sliced it open and tasted the pale flesh. And gradually she offered herself up leaf by leaf… and she was irresistible… dipped in lemony butter, scraped carefully with teeth and sucked, the pale cream of flesh, the tender flower, her skirt held up like a cup, each sip bringing me closer to the moon, the vegetable pearl of her insides where the heart fans out fibrous hairs and waits a last mouthful on her green world. (Source: “The Artichoke” by Nin Andrews, The Paris Review)
Wow! It’s fair to say that my perception of artichokes has evolved. Dramatically. And though we’re only halfway through November, my mind is already dreaming of planting more Imperial Start Artichokes next spring…
[FYI, I excerpted some of the more salacious poetry from Nin Andrews’ poem, “The Artichoke”, but I’d strongly, strongly encourage you to read the whole poem. It’s short. And it’s thoroughly enjoyable. An artichoke will never be the same for you!]
I share with you a bald eagle omen, courtesy of my mother.
Bald eagle by your boat house. Saw this elegant creature as I went to massage and he was still there when I returned. May be a sign of something good? ~ Melissa Davis
Rosslyn’s boathouse is often frequented by bald eagles, hawks, and other raptors, but I’m choosing to embrace my mother’s most recent sighting as an important symbol.
When an eagle appears, you are on notice to be courageous and stretch your limits. Do not accept the status quo, but rather reach higher and become more than you believe you are capable of. Look at things from a new, higher perspective. Be patient with the present; know that the future holds possibilities that you may not yet be able to see. You are about to take flight. (Source: pure-spirit.com)
I’m digging deep, summoning courage, and shifting my perspective!
From eagle we learn that life looks different from an aerial perspective. We need to take a new view on the challenges in our lives. If we don’t readily find solutions it may be because our vision is too limited to see the solutions that are so glaringly obvious. ~ Ina Woolcott (Source: Shamanic Journey)
It’s time for a fresh vantage point — personally, professionally, politically — so I’m grateful for this bald eagle omen. I’m reminded that my vision may indeed have become too limited, too myopic. Time to shift and amplify the view. Time to prepare for flight!
It’s always a nice pick-me-up when a friend (or a complete stranger) shoots me a snapshot (or a painting, etc.) of Rosslyn’s boathouse. Tom Duca’s sunny snapshot this morning is no exception. Thanks, Tom!
Another… Autumn day, blue skies, geese bobbing on the lake beside your boat house. ~ Tom Duca
I chuckled when he responded to my request for permission to repost his photo with an apology that the photo is off kilter. Off kilter? Hardly. I chuckled because the boathouse that we inherited when we took ownership of Rosslyn a little over a decade ago was indeed off kilter. I mean, really off kilter. Ready to tumble @$$ over teakettle into Lake Champlain. What a relief that today this quirky little house on a pier is less likely to succumb to the wily ways of weather and time and gravity.
An autumn aura is descending upon the Adirondack Coast. Autumn colors, autumn lighting, autumn sounds (think southward-flying Canada Geese), autumn textures (think crisp leaves eddying and frosted grass underfoot), autumn smells, and autumn flavors…
Thanks, Doug, for snapping that photo above. And for swapping out summer’s lime green sweet potato vines with golden (poetic license?) corn stalks. We’re autumnified! My bride is thrilled.
Here’s a glimpse of the intermediate phase a couple of weeks ago. The pumpkins, freshly harvest from our vegetable garden, complement those practically fluorescent sweet potato vines.
Have you noticed that distinctive shift in the North Country atmosphere? It happens every year as the vestiges of summer yield to the advance of winter. There’s a palpable change in the ambience, the mood, the character of the very same facade and yard and early evening that only weeks ago flaunted summery bravado. The tone has shifted. Harvest season. Halloween…
There comes a time each autumn when summer has faded and winter is whispering over the waves. Or when work, travel, something eclipses the languid stretch of fall boating and watersports. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, and as inevitable and bittersweet as fall foliage, waterfront winterization is an annual ritual that braces us practically and emotionally for the North Country’s frosty November through February.
The photo above chronicles the slow process of dragging the boat lift ashore. We use an electric winch and plenty of manpower. The aluminum dock is next. Rolling it in is the easy part. Lifting it up the stone terracing to higher ground is our version of crossfit.
Special thanks to Doug Decker, Erick Decker, Matt Smith, Alex Shepard, and Jeff Bigelow for making today’s waterfront winterization the smoothest and most efficient to date.
Boats on the Hard
Usually in October, we haul Errant, our 31′ sailboat and Racy Rosslyn, our ski boat. This year we had to advance our haul dates to accommodate a busy fall schedule. In the photo above Racy Rosslyn is being towed away for winterization and storage.
I have an original oil painting done by Sid couchey in the mid to late 1950’s. It is off old stump bridge in whallons bay. Sid gifted the painting to my grandfather when my grandfather was the lay minister at the church innessex NY. I would love more information and / or to sell it to someone from the area who would appreciate it fully. I reside in Burlington , Vt. (Source: Heidi Labate, July 29, 2016)
I was thrilled to receive the following snapshots from Ms. LaBate who blogs about food and cooking (and offers a “freezer meal” service) at BeetsCookingVT.com.
Oil painting of Old Stump Bridge in Whallons Bay by Sid Couchey (Source: Heidi Labate)
Oil painting of Old Stump Bridge in Whallons Bay by Sid Couchey (Source: Heidi Labate)
Oil painting of Old Stump Bridge in Whallons Bay by Sid Couchey (Source: Heidi Labate)
Unfortunately I don’t have any light to shed on the painting, although my respect for Sid Couchey is no secret. It has been suggested that Sid Couchey not only created the Old Stump Bridge painting above, but he may also have helped his grandfather build it (Essex on Lake Champlain). I hope to learn more about this.
My knowledge of Old Stump Bridge is similarly skinny. The following image is from a vintage “souvenir mailer” in my growing personal collection of Essex artifacts.
“The wonderful old stump bridge just south of Essex at Whallons Bay added rustic charm to the area around 1920. The elaborate cedar-root bridge would today be associated with the fashionable Adirondack style.” (Google Books)
Thanks, Heidi LaBate, for the photographs of Sid Couchey’s painting of Old Stump Bridge. I’ll update this page if/when I learn anything else.
Many thanks to David Brayden for discovering and sharing a 1949 Adirondack Guide that showcased Essex, NY alongside a vintage Sherwood Inn advertisement (above), the only Essex ad included in the book.
It turns out that David Brayden is not only a talented doodler. He turns out to be as skilled an Essex artifact hunter as his son, Scott Brayden (Scott Brayden Digs Essex History), who recently made his second exploration of Rosslyn’s subterranean treasures. (More on what he disinterred soon!)
[During Downtown Essex Day 2013 we presented passers-by with a doodle challenge.] “What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Essex, New York?” David Brayden… quickly sketched out this simple building and labeled it “Dock House.” The Old Dock Restaurant is a prominent Essex building that is one of the most recognizable to passengers coming in on the Essex-Charlotte ferry with it’s red exterior, so it’s no surprise to see that as a response! (Source: essexonlakechamplain.com)
Taproom, Beach, Lawn Sports & More
On July 28, 2016 I received an email from David explaining that he’d come across the vintage Sherwood Inn advertisement (above), and he believed that it was Rosslyn.
Indeed it was. He was 100% correct.
I’ve touched on Rosslyn’s lodging/dining past previously (see Sherwood Inn Remembered and Sherwood Inn Landing on Lake Champlain), but details continue to emerge. Like the initials and last name of the proprietor and manager, C. W. Sherwood and F. S. Sherwood. I’d love to learn more about the Sherwoods. So far, the trail is faint…
Before taking a look at the rest of the Adirondack Guide lent to me by David Brayden, I’ll recap the information from the advert.
Sherwood Inn Essex on Lake Champlain New York
Fronting Directly on Beautiful Lake Champlain the Inn — A Fine Example of Authentic Colonial — Commands Sweeping Views of Lake and Mountains.
Private Beach And Boat Dock
C. W. Sherwood, Prop. F. S. Sherwood, Mgr.
1949 Adirondack Guide: Essex
While the vintage Sherwood Inn advertisement initially grabbed my attention, the entire book was interesting. The full title is Adirondack Guide: Vacationland In Picture, Story and History, and it is a comprehensive town-by-town tourist guide to the Adirondacks. A prior edition was published between 1945 and 1947, and then revised in 1949 resulting in the edition that David loaned to me.
Here’s the write-up for Essex, NY.
The charming little village of Essex is located directly on the shores of Lake Champlain. Essex is rich in historical lore and was the route of explorers and missionaries as far back as 1609. During the Revolutionary war 1776-1784 it was the scene of many an exciting battle in the region of naval engagements and the War of 1812.
On Route 22 (the scenic lakeshores route and one of the main highways from New York to Montreal) it is served by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. Among the innumerable summer sports the principal ones are swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, all in Lake Champlain. The chief sport in winter is fishing through the ice for delicious Lake Champlain ice-fish.
The natural beauty of it setting is unexcelled, situated as it as it is on beautiful Lake Champlain in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Mts. Marcy (highest in New York) Whiteface and Hurricane form an impressive backdrop and across the Lake are the Green Mountains of Vermont with Mts. Mansfield, Camel’s Hump and Lincoln predominating the panorama. Essex is indeed deserving of the description which so many people have given it as “One of the Most Beautiful Spots on Lake Champlain.” (Source: Page 171, Adirondack Guide: Vacationland In Picture, Story and History, edited by Arthur S. Knight, 1945-1947, Revised 1949, published and printed by Adirondack Resorts Press, Inc. Lake George, New York)
1949 Adirondack Guide: Gallery
It’s challenging to narrow down the many local-ish vignettes, but present context leads me to include the write-up for Willsboro, NY in the gallery below. I’ve also included a full page advertisement for Camp-of-the-Pines that appears on the page preceding the Willsboro description. I’ve never before heard mention of Camp-of-the-Pines, but I instantly recognized the property from my frequent Willsboro Point bike rides.
Cover of 1949 Adirondack Guide that feature Essex and Willsboro, and that includes a Sherwood Inn advertisement. (Source: Adirondack Guide via David Brayden)
Title page of 1949 Adirondack Guide that feature Essex and Willsboro, and that includes a Sherwood Inn advertisement. (Source: Adirondack Guide via David Brayden)
Feature on Essex, NY in 1949 Adirondack Guide. (Source: Adirondack Guide via David Brayden)
Camp-of-the-Pines advertisement from 1949 Adirondack Guide. (Source: Adirondack Guide via David Brayden)
Feature on Willsboro, NY in 1949 Adirondack Guide. (Source: Adirondack Guide via David Brayden)
If you’re lucky enough to find a copy of this long out-of-print treasure, take a moment to leaf through its nostalgic pages. It offers an enchanting time capsule of the Adirondacks half a century ago.
This wonderful old house a short drive from Rosslyn was my home during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a wreck when my parents purchased it and a handsome home when they sold it. Today it is the home of Matt Foley, owner/operator of River Rat Glass & Electric.
That room with the balconies was my bedroom for a few years…
Growing up at — and helping renovate — Homeport has become a familiar and well worn touchstone for my rehabilitation of Rosslyn. I can’t help experiencing a twinge of nostalgia when I come across artifacts that invite me to ponder back in time. The old postcard below appears to be the same image that was included in the booklet, In the Beginning… Wadhams 1820-1970, that I excerpted in a previous post (Hickory Hill and Homeport), but this is version is far more clear.
That two story porch on the left of the photograph no longer existed when we owned the home, and I alway wondered what may have been on that end of the house. I imagine that the view from that upper deck of the Boquet River flowing below must have been an inviting end-of-day ritual for a few of the homes residents over the year. That room with the balconies was my bedroom for a few years, and I can easily imagine the pleasure of strolling out onto that deck in the morning. In the evening. At night…
Whether you call it climate change, “nature’s sense of humor”, or something else, Lake Champlain’s water level is raising eyebrows. Back in 2011 we experienced the highest lake levels in recorded history. Five years later lake levels are flirting with the lowest record.
The highest recorded level at the gage in Burlington was 103.27 feet above mean sea level on May 6, 2011.The minimum lake level observed in Burlington was 92.61 feet above mean sea level on December 4, 1908. (Source: USGS Lake Gage at ECHO)
As of today (September 14, 2016) Lake Champlain is 94.07 feet above see level. Lake Champlain has dropped just over four feet since this spring’s not-so-high high, and an annual drop of about five feet (from spring to late autumn) is normal.
In other words, we’re unlikely to break the all time record for Lake Champlain’s lowest recorded water level, but it’s not impossible. And yet, record-busting aside, this is by far the lowest lake levels we’ve witnessed since purchasing Rosslyn, and by far our best chance to study the old crib dock extending out into the lake from Rosslyn’s boathouse.
Crib Dock Brainstorms
When we first imagined ourselves living at Rosslyn, we mostly daydreamed about the waterfront. And while the boathouse was the most enticing component of the waterfront, the former docks/piers interested us as well. We’re avid boaters, and we hoped that one or the other of the old crib docks would be recoverable so that we could enjoy convenient access to our boats.
Although neither of us can quite believe it, a decade has already snuck past since we first took ownership of Rosslyn. Ten years of gradual renovation, revitalization, rehabilitation,… And yet, many of the projects on our original punch list continue to be deferred.
For a variety of reasons restoring one of Rosslyn’s historic docks has eluded us so far. But this summer’s incredibly low water level has resuscitated our hopes that one day we’ll be able to transition from the aluminum docks we’ve been using to a refurbished crib dock pier. In recent weeks my imagination has been running wild, scheming up simple, practical solutions to the challenge of repairing a failing/failed crib dock.
I’ll post again with more detailed photographs of the crib dock in front of boathouse since it’s the most recently extant of the historic piers, and I will also find older photographs of the dock to better show what it used to look like. Until then I’d like to share some intriguing excerpts from a story produced by Brian Mann for NCPR back in December 1, 2014, How a North Country family harnessed an Adirondack river. Mann took an insightful look at a dam on the St. Regis River that was rebuilt by Wadhams resident and hydropower guru, Matt Foley, along with his brother-in-law, and nephew.
While the St. Regis crib dam is an altogether different beast than the crib dock in front of our boathouse, both are simple but sound timber and stone structures that post similar reconstruction challenges. I’ll share my current idea anon, but first I offer you several relevant riffs from Mann’s story.
Historic, Hyperlocal Crib Dam Rebuild
This summer , a family that owns hydro-dams in Essex and Franklin counties rebuilt the historic log dam [in St. Regis Falls] using local labor and materials. Using 19th century techniques, the Smiths and the Foleys preserved a dam that generates power and creates an important impoundment on the St. Regis River…
“We went to old books [Emmett Smith said]. We went to books from the turn of the century about how you build wooden timber crib dams.”
The last couple of years it was clear this structure needed to be replaced entirely after decades of floods and ice, partial repairs just weren’t cutting it any more. The family tried to find financing for a concrete dam, but that would have cost three or four times as much and the money just wasn’t there. So they went back to tradition, using native wood and stone…
Building the dam this way meant they could use local materials. But they could also use local guys. Crews from the North Country built the big stone coffer dam to divert the river while the log dam was rebuilt. They milled the big tamarack logs and hauled the rock…
Emmett says building this way was necessity. “Us doing it together and building this log structure in a traditional way is pastoral, but we didn’t do it this way for the poetry of it. It was a question of cost. This is the only way we could do it. This was the cheapest way we could do it. It had to happen now and the price of power is so low that this was the only way it was going to get done.”
There was a time when they did consider letting this dam go. There were so many hurdles, so many risks, and so little certainty of reward. But Matt Foley says rebuilding was important for the family and for the community of St. Regis Falls.
I’ve promised to share my current thinking (as well as some past/present photos) soon, but for now I’d like to close by highlighting a few points that resonated with me.
a traditional (i.e. “old school”) repair/rebuild would be preferable to a new dock;
even a quasi-traditional hybrid would preferable to replacing historic crib dock with a modern alternative;
local lumber, stone, and labor would be more historic, more aesthetically pleasing, more affordable, more positively impactful to the community, etc.;
pastoral and practical are not mutually exclusive; and
we’ve almost been convinced to give up hope of rehabilitating Rosslyn’s crib dock because there are “so many hurdles, so many risks, and so little certainty of reward”, but we’re not ready to abandon the dream.
I’m still brainstorming, and each time I settle on a possible solution, I’m beset with further challenges. If clever ideas are swimming in your heard, chime in! I’d love to learn from you.
For several years I’ve been absorbing holistic orcharding and gardening wisdom from Michael Phillips. I no longer recall how I came across the pied piper of organic, non-toxic fruit tree propagation, but it’s quite possible that my first introduction was an article in Mother Earth News titled, “Organic Apple Growing: Advice From Michael Phillips“.
If you’re uninitiated, Michael Phillips is the owner (along with his wife, Nancy, and their daughter, Gracie), steward, and chronicler of Lost Nation Orchard in New Hampshire. His book, The Holistic Orchard, is the bible for organic apple growers. Here’s a trailer for the companion DVD, Holistic Orcharding.
Q: How big of a hole do I need to dig for planting a tree? A: The size of the tree hole needs to be large enough to accommodate the roots without bending them. A 3-foot diameter hole generally fits the bill. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)
Q: A friend told me I should buy a mycorrhizal product to boost the growth of my trees. Does such a product have any worth? A: Plants have developed an incredible symbiotic relationship with certain fungi to help get nutrients from the soil, as well as to ward off pathogenic organisms. An apple tree has specific mycorrhizae that interact with its roots in the humus layer in these ways. You can inoculate your soil by finding a healthy wild tree and then bringing a few scoops of the soil beneath its branches back to your ground. Ecosystems adapt to the needs at hand without our necessarily having to buy a packaged product. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)
Q: Some bug is tunneling into a lot of my fruit when it’s just the size of a nickel. What’s up? A: We deal with two “petal-fall pests” in the eastern half of the United States that easily could be your culprits. Plum curculio larvae get their start in a crescent-like scar the female weevil makes to prevent the growing fruitlet from crushing her egg; European apple sawfly larvae first scratch the surface of a pea-sized fruitlet, and then go on to eat the seeds in another three or four fruitlets. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)
Q: What’s up with the new kaolin clay spray? A: Those petal-fall pests identified above can be held effectively in check with a nontoxic white clay covering applied over the entire surface of the tree. The kaolin clay panicles confuse the insect adults and prove incredibly irritating… Application begins as the blossoms start to fall and needs to be thorough. It takes two or three initial sprays to build up a thick enough base to repel these insects. Renew the clay weekly for the next month. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)
Q: Why did my grandparents hang open jugs of vinegar and molasses out in the orchard? A: Such homegrown traps usually target adult fruit moths such as the codling moth. Unfortunately, all sons of bugs end up drowning in this brew, some of which might have been beneficial allies. I prefer to control codlings moths with well-timed sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a biological pesticide stomach-specific to caterpillars. Others have had some success wrapping corrugated cardboard around the trunk of the tree, where the larvae crawl to continue their development. Then at the end of the summer, the cardboard is removed and burned. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)
Q: When do I hang those red sticky ball traps? A: Apple maggot flies (AMF) are the culprits drawn to these effective traps. The new generation emerges from the soil beginning in late June, with females seeking fruit in which to lay eggs throughout July and August. The sticky balls mimic the best apple to be found in the orchard. The female alights on the trap and stays put because of a layer of sticky goo called “Tangletrap” covering the red sphere… Two to four traps per tree generally suffice to keep AMF larvae from ruining a good harvest. I set out traps on early maturing varieties by the first of July, then scrape off the dead flies and renew the sticky material when moving the traps to later-maturing varieties in early August. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)