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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Silo Songs - Hancock Shaker Village

Silo Songs (video)

A historic wooden silo in Pittsfield, Mass., is the site of a new, immersive sound installation. Silo Songs, a collaboration between Hancock Shaker Village and Brad Wells, Williams’ Lyell B. Clay Artist in Residence, is inspired by hymnals and song sheets from the college’s Shaker Collection and the library at Hancock Shaker Village. “To be invited into a project where I get to play with sounds is a gift,” says Wells, who is the artistic director of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

New Skete Monasteries

New Skete
Several days ago, we visited the beautiful New Skete Monastery 4 miles east of Cambridge, New York. This Eastern Orthodox Monastery was founded in 1966. 

The churches, gardens, bell tower, and hiking trail are open for self-guided tours, Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday. The grounds are closed during community retreat times (mid-August through mid-September, and our mid-winter retreat, in February).  Self-guided tour brochures are available at the bell tower. Click here for more information.

We toured the beautiful grounds and churches and then hiked the red trail (there are a number of trails detailed on a map available in front of the monastery).
The monks of New Skete hold retreats and also breed and train german shepard dogs. The nuns of New Skete also hold retreats and they make cheesecakes in their factory.

Following our tour of the New Skete Monastery and hike, we drove the two miles east to the Nun's gift shop and purchased one of the scrumptious cheese cakes.

Church of Holy Wisdom
The larger church, designed and built by the monks working with a local builder.

Temple of the Transfiguration of Christ
Designed and built by the monks in 1969. The design is inspired by the distinctive wooden churches in Eastern Europe. The floor is from local slate.

The Bell Tower was built in 1980 and holds seventeen bells. In designing the tower, the Monks were inspired by the wooden bell towers of the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe. The peals announcing major services are composed of rapid rhythmic patterns played by hand. The three large bells were made by the Meneely Bell Foundry in Troy.

Monastic Cemetery

We hiked the Red Trail, where we passed this cool stone wall.

My buddy Bob and I ponder a fork in the trail.

A Jack-in-the-Pulpit spotted on the Red Trail.

There can be beauty in dead trees.

Looking up at the monastery and churches from the cemetery.

We then drove 2 miles west to the Nun's monastery, and I purchased one of their scrumptious cheesecakes at the self-service area of the Gift Shop.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Clarksburg State Park

We took the Pond Loop Trail at 368-acre Clarksburg State Park yesterday. Approximately 25 miles from Grafton, this park is located several miles north of North Adams at the Vermont/Massachusetts border.

This is the Park Office at the entrance. You register here for overnight camping stays. We were not charged to park our car and hike around the lake. Parking fees kick in at a later date, I suggest phoning beforehand if it is a concern.

Mausert's Pond (49 acres)

The trail is flat and mostly easy on the feet. We took the 3-mile Pond Loop Trail. There is a total of 9.5 miles of trails. Click here to access the trail map. 

Woodpecker paradise.

There are the occasional points where measures must be taken to avoid goosh-bombs.

Creek on Pond Loop Trail 

There are 45 well-spaced and wooded campsites located near the pond.

A campsite just above the pond.

Restrooms and showers are available.

From US Route 2 (Mohawk Trail) and Route 8 North Adams MA
  • Take Route 8 North/Beaver Street
  • At mile 3.1, turn left on Middle Road.
  • At mile 3.3, turn right into Clarksburg State Park

Friday, February 23, 2018

New York State Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Initiative

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid
This past weekend, I attended a workshop on the hemlock woolly adelgid sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension in partnership with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The workshop held at the Warrensburg DEC facility, covered "the importance of hemlock trees in northeastern forests, the threat presented by hemlock woolly adelgid, and what you can do to identify and manage infestations." Charlotte Malmborg from the New York State Hemlock Initiative based at Cornell University gave a very informative presentation.

Hemlocks, the third most populous tree in New York State, are threatened by the invasive forest pest, the hemlock woolly adelgid. It has left hemlock tree stands, such as those on the Rensselaer Plateau, devastated in the Smokey Mountains and other areas of the country. I looked into the problem several years ago and was disturbed to learn the lack of resources and effective measures to combat this destructive aphid-like insect. That is rapidly changing -- chemical measure and, increasingly , biocontrol insect measures are available. The key is early detection and notifying the proper authorities.

Click here for the New York State Hemlock Initiative website which is chock full on information on this subject.

Click here for a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Identification Guide.

Click here for the New York State Hemlock Initiative Facebook Page.

Fortunately, the Rensselaer Plateau has been spared to date. The current character of the Rensselaer Plateau would be totally destroyed with a hemlock woolly adelgid infestation. So it is incumbent upon us all to learn to identify this culprit and to promptly report any findings to the DEC. They make a a small white fuzz on hemlock branches. It is light and soft, like wool, and collects around the base of the needles. This has been compared to the kind of artificial snow from holiday snow aerosol spray cans. These masses of wax are about half the size of a cotton swab. The insect itself is about the size of a sesame seed, and can be found within the white mass of wax. Overwintering females are black (2 mm long). Newly hatched nymphs -- also known as crawlers -- (less than.5 mm long) are reddish-brown. They attach themselves to the base of needles and suck out the sap of the tree.

For areas that have been hit, chemical measures can be taken. The New York State Hemlock Initiative is focused on researching and breeding biocontrol insects to serve as predators. If you spot hemlock woolly adegids, immediately contact the DEC's forest pest information line at 1-866-640-0652. 

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid - Full Education Documentary

See Also 
Click here for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Hemlock Woolly Adelgid website.

Click here for a map of New York State towns with confirmed Hemlock Woolly Adelgid indentifications.

Click here for the Rensselaer County Cornell Cooperative Extension Hemlock Woolly Adelgid webpage.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

That Reddish Glow in the Sky...

Sustainable Aquafarm Facilty (SAFE) - Berlin, NY 
Driving back from the Williams College hockey game Sunday, we noticed a reddish glow in the night sky off in the distance as we crossed the Petersburgh Pass. We tracked it down to the SAFE (Sustainable Aquafarm Facility) plant in Berlin. The LED (light emitting diodes) greenhouse grow lights focus on a spectrum that promotes optimum growth.
The facility, at the site of the former Seagroatt Roses property, just north of the village of Berlin, produces hydroponic lettuce and, I understand, eventually fish and caviar. The annual production of heads of lettuce at this plant is expected to be in the millions.
The following clip is from the Lemnis Oreon B.V. website page on case studies of their grow lights. Oreon is a Dutch company that manufactures the LED grow lights. I must say, until reading this, I didn't realize Berlin, New York was a "federal state.":
"In the federal state Berlin (New York, USA) a renewed greenhouse (where various types of lettuce is grown) is fully installed with a LED lighting system of Lemnis Oreon. In the last weeks of 2016 the lettuce was planted in the 1,5ha greenhouse. From the 2nd week of 2017 all LED lamps are fully operational, this means 16 hours per day. The cultivation system is provided by Dry Hydroponics, PB Techniek has taken the entire installation on its behalf.
The greenhouse in installed with 150 uMol/m2. With this lighting system, the grower can get in winter almost the same production as in the summer period. In addition, the selected spectrum contributes to a perfect quality of the crop with a beautiful color.

The growers have chosen the Oreon Grow Lights because of the efficient water cooling concept. This water cooling concept ensures that the LEDs remain optimally cooled, which is the best guarantee for trouble-free growing for many years. The high quality standard of the lamp also contributes to this. Additionally, the grower has full control over the thermal energy of the lamps, which ensures a more optimal growing climate with a energy conscious cultivation."

Click here for a February Eastwick Press article Aquafarm in Berlin is now in Production.