A Wedding in Redwood to Defy Tradition

PHOTO PROVIDED BY NICOLE CALDWELL
Better Farm’s art barn, located in Redwood, NY, is captured during a starry summer evening.

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It’s a Pirate’s Life For Me!

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY LIVING
Alex Mosher throws “pirate treasure” into the crowd during the pirate invasion for Bill Johnston’s Pirate Days in Alexandria Bay.

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Gardening Benefits Plentiful Despite Challenges

With the coming of summer, lots of North Country folks’ minds turn to gardening. Well, actually, many of those minds turned to gardening as early as January, when the seed catalogs started arriving in the mail and the planning began, on sheets of paper spread across kitchen tables on cold, dark evenings. Hard-core gardeners, it’s said, even began dreaming the moment they finished putting last year’s garden to bed for the winter, pulled the last carrot or dug the last potato through frost-crusted earth and wondered why this crop or that hadn’t come in. “We’ll try again next year….”

    For most of us, gardening may be about the independence of raising our own trustworthy food, the satisfaction of coaxing something edible from the Earth, the pleasure of getting our hands dirty, our latent desire to do something good for a beleaguered planet, or our determination to make the most of the north country’s all-too-short summers: “The growing season is only a few weeks long, and I am GOING to enjoy it, even if it exhausts me!” But for everybody, what’s even more important is that gardening is a super source of family stories.

    For us, these revolve around the expansion and contraction of our gardens as we’ve passed through life’s stages. Growing up in the north country, I got it into my head that everybody had a big garden. A great-aunt, for example, maintained a massive layout, full of flowers and vegetables and plum trees, on hundreds of square feet of river bottom, which she tended religiously into her 90s. A proper lady, she wore pants only when gardening; upon completing her weeding, clipping, hoeing and harvesting for the day, she would repair immediately to her room and emerge in a dress. I naturally assumed that when I grew up I would become a gardener too.

    That proved easier said than done, because for the first few years after college I lived in urban environments, surrounded by asphalt, and then in a boarding school where I taught. We did manage a small (I mean about six-foot by six-foot) plot there, but the grounds superintendent wasn’t thrilled that we wanted to dig up a tiny square of his campus.

    When we moved to the Canton area and bought an old farmhouse with an acre of land, though, it was time for the gardens to take off. We had some fine ones for a few years, and even succeeded in being nearly self-sufficient in veggies one winter. One year we cajoled corn stalks up to a few inches greater than my almost-six-foot height, and we even harvested a couple of palatable (if you define the term liberally) cantaloupes, which our neighbors said couldn’t be raised in the north country – too short a season. Those neighbors were from Birdsfoot Farm, one of the few communal organic operations that survived the idealism of the Back to the Earth fad of the 1970s (and continues to thrive to this day), so we were pretty smug about that. Or maybe just lucky.

    We survived late frosts; one we christened the Great Anniversary Freeze, because it fell on our wedding anniversary, June 29, and devastated not only our garden but also dozens throughout the region. We also endured a cow invasion: one spring day we looked out the window and spotted a dozen Holsteins trampling around in what after a rainy spell was abnormally spongy soil. They’d escaped from another neighbor’s farm, and were having a delightful time trashing our newly-planted spread. A quick call brought the farmer running, issuing heartfelt apologies even before he was within hearing range, and the cows were soon rounded up and headed home, though not before leaving deep holes all over our poor garden; I had not appreciated until then how much a dairy cow weighs, and thus how far into saturated soil it can sink its legs. They also left some fertilizer, though, for which we thanked the chagrined farmer.

    Which reminds me of the prolific rhubarb we cut each spring. We couldn’t imagine how it could get so big and delicious with no work on our part. Then a previous owner of the place told us it had until not many years earlier been a working farm, and the rhubarb had sprouted happily in the former manure pile. Ah, the wonders of nature.

    But the main thing we survived was zucchini. Why we kept planting so darn much of it I could never imagine, except that we knew it would grow no matter what, so there was that smug satisfaction thing again. The problem was that we always went away on vacation in August, and it never had the courtesy to stop growing while we were gone. We’d come home to zucchinis the size of Goodyear blimps. The vines would lose all sense of propriety, insinuating themselves among the bean stalks, climbing the pepper plants for a better view, hauling themselves up the tomato cages and cutting off the tomatoes’ sunlight with fronds as big as truck tires. We prayed for a hard frost.

    Eventually, we moved into town, and the gardens got smaller and smaller as our backs got older and we realized we could patronize the Farmers Market, featuring growers who actually knew what they were doing, for a little cash and a lot less sweat, mosquito repellent, muscle rub and dirt under our fingernails. We’re now down to a fall-bearing raspberry patch, some rhubarb transplanted from that old manure-pile stock, and sporadic asparagus – perennials that require minimal human effort.

    Meanwhile, gardening has evolved a new ethos as a beneficial aspect of the larger environment, partly in response to concerns about global climate change and natural habitat loss. Trees (carbon captors), bees (pollinators), water conservation practices and native species (as opposed to invasives) are the “in” things today.  We’re all for it; we’ll just let the younger generations do the labor while we rock on the deck until the raspberries are ready to pick, sometime in October.

 

More Than Just A Boat Show: Education for kids of all ages at the Antique Boat Museum

PHOTO PROVIDED BY ANTIQUE BOAT MUSEUM

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Navigating The Rumor and Fable of Thousand Islands Dressing

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Stop Thinking Start Doing

Michelle Graham

Are you someone who thinks about making changes in your life?  Wow, the possibility to change is endless.  What is your 2017 plan for a positive, meaningful year? Is your goal to take college classes, learn how to quilt, get healthy or just become a better, more focused, more driven person. Whatever the dream, the goal, the doing, the planning has to start from within. You have heard the quote or a derivative of it “If you can dream it you can become it.”  Well now is your big chance to be and do all that you can be in 2017. No matter the goal big or small what path will you forge to get there?

                I personally like plans!  I like writing them out, I like keeping lists and then crossing things off my list. Anyone who knows me or who has taken our YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program has heard me say 100 or more times “when you have a plan you have everything.” This holds true not just with getting healthy or making improvements in eating, but with many situations or goals in life. Big LOFTY plans are not necessary; it is the little plans, the attention to small details that make the difference.

                Start at the beginning, be specific and describe your goal accordingly.  If you don’t know where you have been, how can you know where you are going? Think about your goal, perhaps document what you like about it and what brought you to this place of change.  Reflection is the key to progress and making your goal an evolving blueprint is the key. Determine what the goal is, define it and then set some short and long-term goals to coincide with the proposed goal. Now what is your plan to achieve that goal?  Are you going to take some chances to get there and will you go out on a limb to really make it happen? Get uncomfortable and begin to push yourself in a way that perhaps takes you out of your comfort level. This is where true inner growth, awareness and innate change can happen.  Be open to the amazing possibilities that can come and most important be open to changing your behavior.

                Not everything always goes according to our master plan. You will need to be patient, be open to a bump in the road. The bump can lead you to places you never imagined.  Learn from the bump and then adapt and adjust the blueprint.  It is these times, these moments, that can really move the needle in the direction we long to go. 

                Most important, adapt and re-evaluate the route chosen. Don’t get stuck, continue to progress forward and stay focused on the prize, the end result.  Keep those goals challenging, specific, positive and flexible. Continue to challenge yourself through this journey of discovery. Try something new; take a class just for the pure sake of learning. Keep your goal short, to the point and specific. This is how you will get to where you are going. Your blueprint needs to be precise and to the point.  Instead of focusing on making a change in 10 different things focus on just one or two items. Next, we spend far too much time putting ourselves down, living in a world of “could haves” and “would haves.”  Instead radiate positivity, spend some time celebrating all the great amazing changes that you have made so far.  Write them all down and then celebrate, I mean really find joy in your progress and the changes that you have made so far. Being positive and kind to your self is vital; you never know how your attitude can impact someone else. Last, be flexible, be open and learn to be free from the things that hold you back from being where you really want to go. 

                The enjoyment isn’t always in the destination; it is most often the journey itself that brings joy and contentment. What will your 2017 journey look like? Will you decide to get out of your comfort level and check off some things on your bucket list? Don’t wait for an opportunity to seize the beautiful, quiet moments and make your mark and leave your stamp today. 

Island Living: Surviving winters away from shore

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY LIVING
Nicole Caldwell stands in the middle of Butterfield Lake, Redwood, where she built her home on an island, at rear right.

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Make love a wonderful part of all your holiday traditions

l_col_hirschey_1116

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Sackets Harbor played pivotal roles in fighting War of 1812

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES British troops advance on the American troops during a reenactment of the war of 1812 Saturday afternoon in Sackets Harbor.

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
British troops advance on the American troops during a reenactment of the war of 1812 Saturday afternoon in Sackets Harbor.

Apparently, I am not alone in this as I’ve read that the majority of the British populace doesn’t much remember the War of 1812 either. The British history books tend to only mention it briefly, and even then in the context of the Napoleanic Wars instead of a war of its own right.

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Incorporate bright seasonal blooms in holiday decorating

 

As I move through local l_col_hallett_1116stores, preparing for the holiday season I notice displays of paperwhite and amaryllis bulbs. Growing or “forcing” these bulbs are excellent projects for young gardeners, for holiday hostess gifts, and for adding a natural element to your holiday decorating. Pots of flowering bulbs add a touch of cheerful color to a room and make wonderful eye-catching centerpieces for a holiday table whether you have a rustic or glittering theme.

Paperwhites belong to a group of daffodils that are not hardy for Northern New York gardens. But they grow easily in a pot indoors. Their large clusters of pure white flowers arch above green foliage, and their perfume fills a room with fragrance. Paperwhites require no preparation and are absolutely foolproof.

Plant paperwhite bulbs in the soil close together, but not touching and always plant the bulbs with the tip of the bulb growing toward the sky. The bulbs should be planted just below the surface of the soil to leave as much room as possible for rooting. Keep the pots in indirect light and evenly moist but not soggy. For best results, as the paperwhites set buds, move them to a brighter relatively cool location, as if the bulbs were outside in the spring, as buds develop and bloom. I found that paperwhites tend to get very tall and tip over in their pots. I like to plan and use a support for them. I think three to four birch sticks, red twig dogwood, or a coat hanger wire trimmed and wrapped in raffia or holiday ribbon looks nice.

Once they start to gain some height I tie them in with the raffia or garden twine. If you are not looking for a rustic natural look you can always use decorative or holiday ribbon to keep the leaves and blooms looking tidy. Gardeners often dispose of paperwhite bulbs after they finish blooming. With proper storage and care during the winter, however, your paperwhite bulbs will grow and flower again in two or three years. I keep bulbs wet thru winter and cut off spent blooms. I set my potted paperwhite bulbs outside in a shaded part of garden in the summer. Before the first frost, I cut back the green leaves, bring the bulbs in and store them in my basement and repot them about 6 weeks before Christmas time. Sometimes the bulbs will develop “sister” bulbs that can be carefully broken away and repotted as well.

Of all flowering bulbs, amaryllis bulbs are the easiest to bring to bloom. The amaryllis comes in many beautiful varieties including various shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange. The amaryllis (hippeastrum) is a tender bulb that will bloom without special treatment when first purchased. The amaryllis is often thought of as blooming at Christmas, but they can be started at various times to have a continuous display of color. The planting period can range from October to April. The bulb is native to tropical and subtropical regions from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. The larger the bulb the more flowers will be produced and always store un-planted bulbs in a cool place between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

When you are ready to plant place the base of the amaryllis bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. The bulb should be potted up in a light, rich soil, a pro-mix in which you might start seeds, in a pot that is only 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the bulb. The upper half of the bulb should be exposed above soil and the roots should be down and in the soil. Press the soil around the bulb down firmly to set the bulb securely in place after planting. Initially, after planting water thoroughly, allow the soil to become quite dry. Water more frequently after the flower stalk appears, but never water when the soil is already damp or this will cause the bulb to rot. Put the plant in a warm, sunny spot until the flower buds show color, and then move it out of direct sunlight. You can place them on a table or other focal point to truly enjoy the show of color.

After blooming, cut off the flower stalk about 2 inches above the bulb to prevent seed formation. At this point, place it in the brightest possible location where it eventually has full sun for at least five hours daily. When the weather warms move it outside and fertilize it weekly with a household plant food as you would your window boxes and hanging baskets to build up the nutrients needed for blooming the following year. Amaryllis should be brought indoors before the first frost of fall. Traditionally, the bulb is then given a resting period by placing it in a dark location, withholding water and allowing the leaves to dry. The bulb may be forced into bloom again after resting eight weeks. If necessary, repot in a slightly larger container. If the pot is large enough, remove the upper 2 inches of soil and top-dress with fresh potting soil. This completes the cycle, which may be repeated annually for many years of lovely blooms.

Throughout the holiday season, pots of flowering potted bulbs add a touch of cheerful color to a room and give the gardener in all of us the satisfaction of a job well done and a little hope and warmth for the holidays.

BRIAN HALLETT is an art teacher at South Jefferson Central School in Adams. His family owns Halletts’ Florist and Greenhouse in Adams, which has been in business for more than three decades.