Unveiling a bounty of backyard berries

These berries were ripe for the picking. (Provided photo — Joe Hackett)

Over the course of recent days, l have spent a lot of time on my knees. I wasn’t scrubbing floors or praying to the patron saint of anglers either.

And yet, my time wasn’t for naught. In fact, it provided a bonanza … of berries.

While berry season has long been a rite of the summer season, l have not spent much time scooping blueberries in recent years. I was much more actively involved in the practice when my children were young and nimble, and they did most of the picking. It was only fair, since they were just the right size back then.

We regularly gathered blueberries in our own backyard, which were always enough for a few pies, as well as plenty of blue fingers and blue lips. It was a pursuit that lasted for many until the Adirondack Scenic railroad began operations. As a result of their efforts to keep the tracks clear, they hired a company that administered (sprayed) a variety of heavy duty industrial defoliants. In the process, they also wiped out the blueberries, and a lot of raspberries too.

As luck will have it, the blueberries, blackberries and raspberries survived and flourished. The bushes have come back, as have the birds and a host of other berries pickers that include squirrel, chipmunk, deer, mice and more.

While recently picking raspberries in my own backyard, l came upon an unexpected berry bandit.

I suppose it is my own fault because I’ve been tossing berries his way for many years. But he had never gone to the source until recently, when he realized he could paw the berries right off the bush. Needless to say, his berry-picking days will have to wait until l have had my fill.

It is interesting to note that while the blueberry crop was rather stinted this year — with smaller and fewer berries — the black berries and raspberries are still prolific. In fact, l gathered a large bowl in less than five minutes.

Warm water fish in a cold river

I recently received a call from an old friend who is an avid trout fisherman. He tends to travel off the beaten path, in an ongoing quest to uncover lost and overlooked brook trout waters.

While he has traveled far and wide, he can usually be found working the wild waters of the Cold River, and its adjacent watershed.

We have crossed paths many times over the years, but we have never shared a camp. Bob prefers his own company

As a result of his experience, l had to believe him when he recently claimed to have caught a smallmouth bass while fishing on the Cold River, near the Big Eddy.

Although Cold River connects with the Raquette River, the Big Eddy pool is quite a distance from the junction. While bass are able to put up with warmer waters, trout do not do so well, due to the lack of dissolved oxygen content. In addition, bass will prey on young trout, while trout rarely feed on bass fry because of opposing breeding periods.

Whether it may have little or no impact or create a change in the fishery is yet to be determined. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out, as Mother Nature has a unique knack for balancing out even the worst  environmental dilemmas man throws at her.

Noah Rondeau, the fabled Hermit of Cold River City, population of one, must be looking down and shaking his head in bewilderment with the changes that have occurred in the lands and waters he once called home.

If bass do manage to move upstream in the Cold River, they will not be able to move any farther than the Duck Hole, which is no longer impounded by any man-made structures. The waterway that feeds the Cold  River is split high in a pass located near the Preston Ponds, with the flows divide going in opposite directions — south to the Hudson and north to the St. Lawrence.


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