Monday, May 23, 2016

Adirondack Invasives: Go Native! (Substitute Native Plants for Invasive Plants)

Looking around my own property I find that I have inherited trees, shrubs and plants that are considered moderately invasive in the Adirondack Park. Before I go ripping up my whole yard, I am looking into substituting the plants with native species to New York and the Adirondacks. It will take some weeding, but will be worth it in the long run!

Before you transplant know what is considered invasive!

Adirondack Nature Conservancy (ANC) surveyed roadsides for the following invasive plants:
  • Garlic mustard ( Alliaria petiolata )
  • Russian and autumn olive ( Elaeagnus angustifolia and E. umbellata )
  • Fly and tatarian honeysuckle ( Lonicera morrowii and L. tatarica )
  • Purple loosestrife ( Lythrum salicaria )
  • White sweet-clover ( Melilotus alba)
  • Common reed grass ( Phragmites australis )
  • Japanese knotweed ( Polygonum cuspidatum )
  • Common and smooth buckthorn ( Rhamnus cathartica and R. frangula )
  • Black locust ( Robinia pseudoacacia )
  • Black swallowwort ( Vincetoxicum nigrum )
These may not make the DEC/ANC list, but are still highly invasive:
Yellow Iris, Burning Bush, Japanese Barberry, and Norway Maple 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: Lake Placid Community Theatre Players Presents Disney's The Little Mermaid (musical)

It’s a Magical Time Under the Sea with CPT’s The Little Mermaid

(Saranac Lake) I’m a fan of Disney animated movies: good overcomes evil with a few plot twists, great songs and some underlying adult humor.  Last night I was fortunate to catch the dress rehearsal of The Community Theatre Players’ (CTP) performance of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. CTP has created a magical kingdom that transports the audience from an ocean of familiar characters to Prince Eric’s kingdom through their exquisite voices, imaginative sets, complex costumes and a sea of body puppets. 

The word puppet is too limited a word to use. Sorensen and a team of people have merged costumes with puppets to blend actors into their characters. Similar to the work of Julie Taymor in Disney’s The Lion King, these hand-built puppets add charm to an already enchanting evening. 

Directed by Matt Sorensen with choreography by Terpsie Toon and musical direction by Kimberly Weems, “The Little Mermaid” gathers a cast of local talent ranging from grandchild to grandparent for a breathtaking performance. I left the auditorium selfishly grateful that the people on stage choose to live here.  

For those aficionados of the 1989 Disney animated film, this production won’t disappoint. It will make your heart sing and perhaps help you find your own voice. Don’t expect a complete staged rendition of the movie. There are a few story alterations necessary to bring this musical adaptation to the stage. Don’t worry, Ariel still yearns for a life above the sea. 

After saving Prince Eric from a watery grave, she makes a deal with the evil Ursula, who has been banned to the depth of the ocean. Ariel is willing to trade her voice for legs in her search for love. Ariel also becomes more empowered as she discovers life above the ocean. With that also comes new music and over 30 songs. Though each member of the ensemble smoothly dances their way into our hearts, it’s the charismatic voices of Ariel (Olivia Zeis) and Ursula (Matt Sorensen) that have us riveted to our seats.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Recipe: Violet Foraging Makes Violet Syrup and Lemonade

Picking the violets is a sweet job!
Springtime means violets and lilacs. I love having an edible landscape. Violets are one flower that brings color to my recipes and with the right violet, they even bring a sweet, sweet scent.

In the Adirondack Park where I live, the purple native violets do not give off any scent. Also called blue violets (Viola sororia) these violet flowers and new spring leaves are edible and full of Vitamin C.

The flower of the common blue violet (Viola sororia) has five rounded petals and is unscented while the leaves are heart-shaped. These native plants can be tossed in a spring salad adding bright floral interest.

The more fragrant English wood violets (Viola ordorata) are what is most commonly used for perfumes and essential oils have naturalized in some places.

The purple violets in the Adirondacks are unscented
The small white violets have a sweet scent!

Though there is one native sweet violet (Viola blanda) in the Adirondacks that does produce that familiar violet scent. Since the Viola blanda has such a small flower, for the purpose of making native violet syrup we need 4x the quantity of the smaller petals.

In Rhode Island, the native plants are not so diligently tracked as in the Adirondacks, and each spring I would collect the English wood violets (Viola ordorata) from our yard to make Violet Lemonade. Seafaring captains would bring back many different plant specimens as gifts to their wives waiting back on shore. Since that time wood violets, originally from Europe and Asia, have naturalized in zones 4a-7a.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Easy Short Adirondack Hikes: Sawyer Mountain Indian Lake/Blue Mountain Lake

By Diane Chase

Sawyer Mountain 
Distance = 1.1 mile
Elevation  = 
Elevation  = 2,600'
Vertical Ascent  = 640'

Location: Between Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake (Hamilton County)

Sawyer Mountain’s 1.1-mile climb is popular with a wide age set and we are no different. The parking lot has only one car as ours pulls in but we’ve been told it will soon fill up. My son signs us in at the trailhead register and we start the modest ascent to the summit.

We soon catch up to the owners of the lone vehicle. The first thing we are asked is if the walk is going to be worth it. We have never been here before but our answer is a resounding yes.
The trailhead and for most of the walk we are under a canopy of hardwoods. Mud from a recent rain provides a few obstacles but nothing we can’t handle.

My daughter is rather curious about value added onto a climb. “Is it worth what,” she questions in a stage whisper, “money?” She is a typical six-year-old in that she realizes some things require loose change and folding money. I can see her wheels spinning as she tries to figure out if there is gold hidden in the rock formations.

We talk about how there are different types of hikers. Some people put their feet on the trail in search of the view from the top while others may like what they find on the way. I let her know that some people are new to a wooded walk so it is our role to encourage them. I ask what kind of hiker she is.
She ponders the question and I am ready for her to bestow some childlike wisdom upon me. Her answer is simple. She likes the rocks when the roots don’t trip her. She really likes the top when she can get there from the bottom.

We pass two larger groups on our descent. We are asked again if it is worth it. I can’t speak for anyone else and don’t want to wax poetic as I play dot-to-dot with the bug bites on my arm. Yes, it is worth it. It was quick and pain-free, two requirements that add up to complaint free. It takes an hour to get to the top, which includes stops for water, squirrel sightings and a muddy turn at shoe tying. For someone new to hiking it may take longer but the view and feeling of accomplishment is value added.

On a crowded day people do not tend to linger at the tree-lined peak so continue a short way to a small rocky clearing for a beautiful view. We spend about 20 minutes together having a snack and identifying the landscape. Blue Mountain has the flat top to the northwest. To me it is worth it.

For an nice introductory hike, a quick run to the top in search of the summit or a stroll to spy treasures along the way, Sawyer Mountain is a great option. Travel 6 ½ miles from the Route 28/30 junction in Blue Mountain Lake on route to Indian Lake, parking is on the west side of the road.

all content and photos are © Diane Chase, author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks (Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities) available for purchase online or bookstores/museums. Diane is currently working on the second guidebook and app in the four book series of Adirondack Family Activities.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bunny Cares at the Plattsburgh Champlain Mall

Bunny Cares
Bunny Cares is an opportunity for children with special needs and their families to enjoy a photo session with the Easter Bunny. Extra care has been taken to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs of children so they can enjoy this wonderful holiday tradition. The program is implemented through a partnership with The Noerr Programs and