If the appearance of sap buckets hanging off the maple trees is any indication, it appears that spring has nearly arrived. Following several days of brilliant sunshine, the warm, snow sucking, winds have laid bare most south facing slopes, although there is still plenty of snow left in the woods to entertain both skiers and snowshoers alike.
But, soon the rivers will run high as the ice departs the ponds and a new season will welcome Adirondack anglers to water's edge. We'll trade our ski poles for fishing poles, our Ski Doos for canoes and the hunt for the season's first brookie will commence.
Although it's not likely the ponds will be free of ice by April 1, the first day of trout season, it looks to be an early ice out if weather patterns hold true.
For anglers seeking a bit of a pre-season adrenaline rush, before shelving the skis and switching to poles, the 2010 Flyfishing Film Tour will be hosted this Saturday, March 13 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the show begins promptly at 7. Get there early, as there will be a raffle and silent auction featuring equipment, lessons and guided trips. Ticket prices for the event are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Call Jones Outfitters in Lake Placid at 523-3468 for tickets
The Adirondack Curriculum Project
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Adirondack Day at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The event was a gathering of students and their teachers hailing from several local school systems ranging from Potsdam to Newcomb, to Indian Lake, Tupper Lake, Lake Placid and beyond.
The purpose of the event was to allow students, spanning the range of grades from elementary to senior high, to share a variety of projects they had completed under the auspices of the Adirondack Curriculum Project Challenges.
The Adirondack Curriculum Project began in 1999 when a group of local educators decided to share lesson plans which were designed to incorporate elements of Adirondack history, culture, recreation and science lessons into the classroom.
It was evident to the initial group of educators that the region was rich in history, science and the arts, so they decided to share methods to incorporate these crucial elements of education into the curriculum through the development of a web-based resource pool. It is available at http://www.adkcurriculumproject.org/.
I was impressed with both the quality and content of the student's efforts. Mostly, I discovered that they could still teach an old dog new tricks.
Although I consider myself an educator, my two favorite classes in school were gym and recess. I actually excelled at recess, and often attempted to practice it at the most inappropriate of times by playing hooky. I couldn't have been too proficient at the guise, since my parents always seemed to know if I failed to arrive at school in a timely manner.
At the Adirondack Day event, the Newcomb students presented a project they had completed while studying the life and works of Jeanne Robert Foster.
I had probably heard about Foster in a high school English class back in the early 1970's, but at the time, there were surely more interesting topics to be learned by watching out the classroom window. If the Adirondack Curriculum Project had been in existence at the time, I certainly would have recognized Foster's name.
But, I know all about her now thanks to a handful of students from Newcomb Central School that provided me with a valuable lesson, and they did it in a most enjoyable manner.
Although Foster began life in the rugged Adirondack countryside, she traveled widely and mixed easily in a variety of social circles. She was an art collector, an author, editor and celebrity of worldwide acclaim, yet she never forgot her roots.
The verses she wrote to describe her Adirondack neighbors of the era are just as likely to describe the character of Johnburg's inhabitants today, as they were when she first penned the following description nearly a century ago.
Foster wrote: "The farmers and lumbermen were a shrewd, kindly, simple people, bound together by a characteristic clannishness that gave you the feeling that they were a race apart from the dwellers in towns.
They had little subtly and they were not progressive. Life moved in a rut, for them; they were content with what they knew and what they had, and resented the intrusion of novelty and change.
"Once a native, always a native" held good. Not by kindness or generosity, or long residence among them, could a city man ingratiate himself into the genuine warmth of their hearts.
Only those whose birthright was a low roofed farmhouse or a log shanty could speak the language of their souls."
As touching as Foster's words were when initially scribed, so were the words spoken by the small collection of young scholars from Newcomb as they recited a poem they had written, in answer to Foster's famous tome ... Where are the Americans?
The students, all juniors, were dressed in lumberman's fashions of the time and stood before an historic photo of a logjam on the Hudson River as they recited the poem which was penned in the style of Foster's verse. Their teacher, Terri Smith, listened to the recital with rapt attention and I'm certain Mrs. Foster would have approved.
The poem follows:
The New Generation
Where are the Americans?
We are here-using the past to build a future.
We are listening to the shanty tales and lumberjack songs of old.
The old life has passed but is not lost.
True our 21st Century lives are complicated,
And logging now uses high tech equipment,
But the lumbermen and women are still our neighbors in the Adirondacks.
Our worthiness, our value, our character built on the granite foundations.
In the shadow of the lush mountains that sustain us,
We will not let our history fade into dust.
Where are the Americans?
We are here-caressing our forests and singing our history.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at email@example.com.