Sunday, June 28, 2009


High: 68°F
Low: 55°F
Conditions: Persistent rain.
Upstate New York has a lot going for it. There are wineries and pastureland, historical sites aplenty, and plump squirrels just asking to be chased by charismatic young canine naturalists.

But what really distinguishes the area is its geology. Thanks to a combination of deep river valleys and the even deeper effects of glaciation, the region is demarcated by steep trenches and troughs measuring hundreds of feet deep. Some, dammed by residual sediment, have formed the Finger Lakes. Others, still freely flowing, created some of the most stunning waterfalls around.

The most famous, of course, is Niagara Falls. And while Ari's naturalism has usually been more of a life, rather than earth, science, she nevertheless showed a keen interest in diversifying her study there. Even more appealing to her that day, however, was the Falls' termination: Lake Ontario—apparently some of the tastiest drinking water around (and thanks to recent environmental initiatives, surprisingly clean water at that).

The real hidden treat of the region for both of us, though, were the innumerable gorges and glens tucked into hillsides and anchoring many a state park. We did our best to hike as many as our days allowed.

There's a certain timeless energy to the constant flow of water--just enough din to make the less savory parts of everyday life sift away. Throughout the trip, we found ourselves standing motionless, taking in the passing of geological time: the power of water to dig through rock and epoch in a way any husky would surly admire. Gorgeous.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We heart NY, Part I

High: 63° F
Low: 55° F
Conditions: Persistent Showers


Last week the canine naturalist and I took a tour of New York State. Later this week, we'll tell you more about the interesting caninaturalist opportunities we found there. But in the meantime, we want to tell you about some of the wonderful people and organizations we also discovered.

We began our trip at Buffalo's Bidwell-Elmwood Farmer's Market, where we met with many of the wonderful vendors there (including a woman who was spinning malamute hair into wool!). While there, we also gave a reading for market shoppers.

Next, we traveled to "Writers and Books" in Rochester, NY, where Ari had the distinction of being their very first visiting dog.

Finally, we visited the Downtown Writers Center in Syracuse, where we were warmly received by some wonderful people and fellow bloggers, including one of our very favorites, YourFireAnt, who took this photo.

I'm not going to lie: It was a long trip. We drove a lot. And simple things like finding a toilet or a place to eat lunch can be really tricky when you are traveling with a four-footed companion (not to mention one who has a coat that causes her to overheat at the drop of a hat).

Nevertheless, these inconveniences seem a small price to pay, considering how many turly fantastic people we met along the way. Would we do it again? In a New York minute.


Just in case you haven't become completely tired of the Adventures with Ari train, we'll be making another stop this Wednesday on The Blend's "Nature Connection" radio show, which airs at 6:00 p.m. EST. You can learn more and find a link to listen live here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shuffle off to Buffalo

Adventures with Ari is hitting the road for a book tour in New York State.

We'll begin with a reading at the Elmwell-Bidwell Farmers Market in Buffalo, where we'll be hosted by the wonderful independent bookstore, Talking Leaves Books.

Next, we'll be appearing at Syracuse's Downtown Writer's Center on June 16th.

Finally, on June 17th, we will be giving a reading at the Center for Writers and Books in Rochester, NY.

It should be a great time. And, along the way, the canine naturalist and I will be looking for our next great adventure. We'll have a full report when we return. In the meantime, happy exploring, all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tall Tail

High: 55° F
Low: 41° F
Conditions: Persistent drizzle

It was, as usual, Ari who first found the object. Resting as it was on the driveway to the abandoned camp across the street, I almost confused it for a woman’s wig: the cheap kind you might find in a girl’s dress-up trunk, discarded by a great aunt years earlier. Except, of course, that these coarse curls were attached to a very long tail.

What was it? Stretching three feet long, it exceeded the length of any wild appendage we knew of. And with that singularly moppish tassel, it certainly didn’t resemble the hind end of the usual suspects in our neighborhood: not the moose or bears, the bobcats or foxes. Not even the rumored mountain lions thought to be roaming, perhaps half feral, through Central Maine.

Maybe then, it wasn’t so wild after all.

I speculated cow, if for no other reason than—even in this degraded state—it sparked images of pastoral bovinity. Our friend Carissa, a vet, confirmed the identification.

But that still left other questions. Like how did this tail lose track of its body? And how did it migrate the two miles from the nearest dairy farm.

Carissa thinks it was probably Ari’s friend, the coyote, who did the transporting. As for how it lost track of its body, she say that’s anyone’s guess. Maybe a farmer docked tails, thinking it would make for easier milking. Maybe it was all that was left from a dead cow. Maybe something else entirely.

Ari may know more than she’s letting on, but she’s not willing to say a word. Not about species or detachment. And certainly not how it came to settle on a disused gravel drive. Is it a pact held by canines? A smugness caused by the glee of knowingness? A lack of interest in causality? Or do the details, like so much else about canine naturalism, not matter nearly as much as the unexpected result?

Only Ari can say for sure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bangor City Forest

High: 69° F
Low: 43° F
Conditions: Chance of showers

Earlier this year, the Bangor City Forest made the national news after a string of cross country skiers were mugged on the forest trails. Who was the perpetrator? Not marauding highwaymen or punk teenagers. No, this criminal was of the decidedly avian sort:

A great horned owl.

It seems the skiers (and in some cases, their dogs) inadvertantly got to close to the owl's nest. So he responded by clocking them on the head as they went by. The blow was enough to knock down at least one visitor to the forest.

State wildlife officials responded by posting these signs throughout the vicinity--perhaps hoping that, if they couldn't stop the owl from divebombing, they could at least give folks a heads up (as it were).

Earlier this week, the canine naturalist and I visited the forest, hoping we might find evidence of this aggressive flyer. We picked the trail we thought might most appeal to him, and set out to see what we could find.

No owls--assaultive or otherwise--but we did find some lovely spring wildflowers:

And plenty of rodent nesting holes to sniff:

We tried out some great granite benches:

And the forest watering holes:

Best of all, we even found some flora suffering from the same coat condition that Miss Ari is undergoing:

As for the marauding great horned owl, that'll have to wait for another trip. Probably a good thing, since it sounds like we might need to wear hard hats when we finally meet him.