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Nature book reveals Adirondacks month by month

November 9, 2011
By JERRY MCGOVERN , Adirondack Center for Writing

A poet wrote that this is the season "where autumn wept when summer died." But Tom Kalinwoski, in his "Adirondack Nature Notes: An Adirondack Almanac Sequel," writes that November is when the cluster fly is "active on sunny and unseasonably warm days before winter sets in." He explains how and why cluster flies find their way into our Adirondack homes.

In this November chapter, Kalonowski also writes about quaking aspen (or poplar) trees, the red and the gray fox, the eastern coyote - sometimes mistakenly called a "coydog," the importance of fat for the winter, the difference between hibernation and deep sleep, the wild turkey and the spruce grouse. For each of these topics, the former biology and ecology teacher at Saranac Lake High School, writes carefully and knowledgeably. He explains what's happening in the Adirondacks - among the animals, the insects, and the plants.

These explanations are organized according to the way we live our lives - by the calendar. For example, in January he tells us about the moose in winter; in February he describes the battle carpenter ants wage against the cold and the pileated woodpecker; and in March we learn that it is "Bluebird Box Time." By focusing on the "when" of our Adirondacks, the author allows the reader to prepare for each month's happenings in our natural environment.

Article Photos

"Nature Notes" is a companion to Kalinowski's 1999 "Adirondack Almanac," and was an Adirondack Center for Writing Award winner in the spring of 2011. As she had in the previous volume, Sheri Amsel again provides fine, understated illustrations to the gentle and insightful writing.

Many of us already have library shelves groaning under the weight of Adirondack volumes - trail guides, history, photographs, almanacs. But "Nature Notes" is a welcome addition, not only for its content but for its organization. Read it now and you will be ready for what happens to cedar tree in December and what the pine marten will be up to.


Jerry McGovern, who wrote an education column for the Press-Republican for many years, teaches in the Communications Department at SUNY Plattsburgh.


This review reflects the individual view of the reviewer, not the views of the Adirondack Center for Writing or the Enterprise.



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