Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saratoga's "Families Belong Together" March

People began to assemble in Saratoga's Congress Park this morning well before the 11:00 AM start time for the "Families Belong Together" march. Saratoga Unites hosted the June 30th event,  partnering with Saratoga Immigration Coalition, Saratoga Peace Alliance and Saratoga Progressive Action.

After some opening remarks, about 1,000 people of all ages began to move north along the sidewalks on the east side of Broadway. The march looped around near City Hall and returned on the west side of the street to Congress Park.

Many passing cars hooted their approval and passers-by gave the thumbs up sign. 

Concern for the welfare of immigrants and their children, both locally and across the country, brought people to the march.
I share those concerns and was proud to be among the marchers today.   

My people were once immigrants, too.



Friday, June 29, 2018

A Hymn Sing in Round Lake

The Village of Round Lake's Methodist origins were on fine display last evening when the Handsome Husband and I attended the annual hymn sing there, at the historic Round Lake Auditorium.

Leading the singing was the talented Cecily Cullinan, whose sweet voice guided us through a selection of traditional hymns, with one more modern hymn added in for good measure.  Cecily, I later learned, teaches Kindermusik classes in the village. I would bet she is awesome at that, for she was certainly patient, cheerful,  and encouraging last night.

There was a pretty good turnout at the auditorium. A choral group from Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, Joyful Hope,  also performed a gospel-style arrangement of "Standing on the Promises" under the direction of Pamela Easter.  Their presence in the audience probably accounted for the good strong harmonizing from the back rows during the sing-alongs.

Bill Hubert played the Ferris-Tracker organ. That organ was built in 1847, coincidentally the same year that the poem "Abide with Me" was written, although it wasn't set to music until 1861. The Round Lake organ is a treasure itself. In 2017, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Upstate New York has a rich history of summer colonies with religious roots. Chautauqua, in western New York,  is probably the most famous of these and is still going strong. It, too, was founded by Methodists but other Protestant denominations participated from the first year onward.  Today, Chautauqua continues to be ecumenical in both spirit and practice and people of all faiths (or no faith) are welcome there. 

But here, closer to home, we enjoy the preserved history of the Village of Round Lake. And although we don't live in the village, we do live nearby and get to enjoy its traditions, like the annual hymn sing. In these divisive times, singing together feels so much better than shouting at each other.

The Village of Round Lake is located just off Northway Exit 11. You can find out more about Round Lake attractions and events in places like here  and here and here.

Peace be with you.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

First Day of Summer along the Zim Smith Trail

Leah's Cakery

Wild Parsnip
  It has been some time since I have posted here. My previous post was on the last day of winter. So how fitting to jump back in to write about the first day of summer.

This past Thursday, restless from too much coffee at a breakfast meeting, I found it hard to settle to the at-home chores that needed doing. The weather was perfect for the summer solstice so I decided to take a much-needed walk.

I drove to nearby Shenantaha Creek Park, left my car there, and headed south along the Zim Smith Trail. On this leg of the trip, I strode at a pretty good pace, not stopping at all, just needing to move.
I made it to the Village of Round Lake, a distance of about 2.6 miles, in about 45 minutes.

Once there, I could see a good deal of activity: tents and tarps of all manner were being set up for this weekend's Round Lake Antiques Festival.   (It runs both Saturday and Sunday. If you've never been, you should check it out. You can find all sorts of  things there, both the quirky and the beautiful.)

Leah's Cakery, now a mainstay of the village, has recently re-opened after a renovation to expand their space there.  Although primarily a (very good) bakery, they do sell a few cafe items and drinks. On Thursday, I treated myself to a curried chicken sandwich and a bottle of water. And, if truth be told, a very good oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Their new space, with additional seating and an accessible bathroom, looks great. The decor is kind of vintage/shabby chic with a good touch of local artwork. Nicely done.

Having been well re-fueled at Leah's, I set off on my return trip at a more leisurely pace. I took time to admire the gardens around the sweet All Saints Episcopal Church.  Along the trail itself, I took more notice of the wildflowers and wildlife you can see as you walk: a small garter snake, a young rabbit, butterflies galore, a lone tom turkey sprinting along the trail ahead of me. I could hear the beautiful song of a wood thrush echoing up from the woods along the creek.

And then my peace was shattered a bit. On this slower walk back, I took time to check out the replacement trail-side bench some of our Malta Sunrise Rotary club members had just installed.  This past winter, a bench we had previously installed there a couple of years ago had been badly damaged, we thought, by accident. Town workers had discovered it, sheared off from its base. They guessed that it may have been struck by a snowmobile.

But how to explain this new damage? Once again, here was the replacement bench, with all four metal legs broken. How? Who would do this? Why? Other benches along the trail seem to be unmolested. What is it about this bench, this spot, that has attracted such animosity?

I later reported the damage to the sheriff''s department. The deputy responding seemed as perplexed as my husband and I were. There were four-wheeler tracks on an adjoining trail near by. Could someone have run into the bench (again)? Who knows.

What I do know is, our Rotary club will not be replacing this particular bench. And that's too bad. The Zim Smith Trail is a long one, used by folks of all ages. We have heard many positive comments about how people appreciate having the benches there. The photo above, of the bench with the sign on it, is of one that remains and is so far unscathed. I am sorry that there is now one less bench for folks to use.

(Please note: Our damaged bench was located on a section of the trail near Magnolia Way, a cul-de-sac in Avondale, off  Candlewood and Ruhle Road South. If anyone reading this knows how our bench came to be damaged, please contact Deputy Agresta at 518 885-6761. Thank you.)

And while I am on depressing topics, I also noticed one other alarming development along the trail. Not far from the main parking area for Shenantaha Park, I spotted a number of wild parsnip plants growing. These are somewhat dangerous plants, for both man and beast. Why is wild parsnip dangerous? According to the New York State DEC,  "Wild parsnip sap contains chemicals called furanocoumarins which can make skin more vulnerable to ultraviolet light. Brushing against or breaking the plant releases sap that, combined with sunlight, can cause a severe burn within 24 to 48 hours. This reaction, known as phytophotodermatitis, can also cause discoloration of the skin and increased sensitivity to sunlight that may last for years."
Ugh. Watch out for this stuff.
The last photo, above, shows one of the wild parsnips I saw on Thursday. Find more information about wild parsnips here:

But mostly, I had a lovely outing. I am choosing to remember more about the young turkey and the song of the thrush than of the evil parsnip plants and broken benches.

May your weekend be filled with good things. Thanks for stopping by here.


On matters of blog business, I have been unsuccessful in changing the internet address of this blog, as I had hoped to do, to reflect its newer title and focus. Perhaps one day I will figure out how to make that happen. But for now, Round About Malta shall remain linked to Bee Balm Gal here:   Perhaps when I become rich and famous, I shall hire expensive tech help and make a seamless switch.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Last Day of Winter

Please note: Effective with my next post, the web address of this blog will be changing to .  Please come back to visit soon.
     On this final day of winter, the Handsome Husband and I drove over to the Round Lake Preserve in the Town of Malta. Although the sky was beautifully blue, near the water, it was blustery and quite chilly. We could see a large beaver lodge out among the rushes and both saw and heard lots of Canada geese throughout the marsh.
    The HH and I both belong to our local Rotary club, which is proposing to install some additional benches in our town's recreational areas. We were at Round Lake to check out where a bench might be useful there. There seemed to be a good spot for one near the canoe/kayak launch area. Next step: get permission to put it there later this spring.
     We decided to keep heading east and drove through Mechanicville, then crossed the Hudson River/Champlain Canal into Hemstreet Park in the Town of Schaghticoke. There, we parked and walked in to Lock 3, currently closed for the season. The water was quite open so it won't be long before boat traffic returns to the canal.
    We were on a road neither of us had ever been on before, so we turned left to go north and explore along the east side of the Hudson. It was a lovely road but there was one problem: the Hoosic River appeared, with no bridge to get across it there. 
     No matter. We kept going, following the Hoosic through beautiful cropland, along fields still covered with snow and corn stubble. We passed the Knickerbocker Mansion, which neither of us was familiar with. With the help of Google, we now know that it is a local historic site, open on Sundays from May-October, 11:00 AM till 3:00 PM. We will have to go back in warmer weather and check it out.
      Eventually, we came to the Village of Schaghticoke, where we stopped so that I could buy a new bluebird nesting box from a roadside display. The maker, a young woodworker, said he had just put out his first batch, and that he made them every spring. I will have to remember that.
      As we turned to head home, my HH commented that it must be tough for school kids growing up in that village. Learning - and remembering - how to spell "Schaghticoke" in "Rensselaer" County would not be easy, he thought. I have to agree, since I had to look up both names in order to get them right here. 


Friday, February 23, 2018

Knitting in good company in Malta, NY

Many knitters love company and if you are a Malta-area knitter who does, come check out the monthly gathering at the library. The next Knit & Stitch meeting will be on Tues, Feb.  27, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. Have questions? Contact Roberta Ambrosino, Library Staff, Round Lake Malta Branch Library at 518-682-2495. The library is located at 1 Bayberry Drive, Malta, NY 12020. All are welcome!

Another welcoming group of knitters can be found at the Round Lake Methodist Church. They meet every Monday afternoon from 1 to 3. Find the church at  34 George Ave., Round LakeNY 12151. 

Do you know of other knitting groups in our area that welcome newcomers?  Please feel free to leave information in the comments. 

Happy knitting! (or crocheting or quilting or embroidering or whatever kind of handwork it is you love to do.)

Thanks for stopping by Round About Malta.


Monday, February 19, 2018

A new name for this blog and a Presidents' Day outing on snowshoes.

This blog has a new name: Round About Malta.
Since July of 2009, I have been writing occasional posts here as Bee Balm Gal. I had thought back in the beginning that I would write mostly about gardening, and since bee balm is one of my favorite flowers, I chose to write as Bee Balm Gal.

But even in 2009, I was a tad embarrassed by the too-cutesy name. Now, nearly nine years later, it's time for a re-boot. Beginning today, this blog is changing over to Round About Malta. I am keeping the same (former) Bee Balm Gal web address so that I am still connected to what I have written here before. I hope that won't be too confusing, but we will figure it all out as we go along.

Why this particular new name? Well, I want to focus more on what's going on in our neck of the woods, in Malta, New York, and in Saratoga County. And in case you've never been to our town, may I add that Malta has LOTS of roundabouts. The name just seems to fit.

And now to today's adventure.

On my bucket list for some time has been a plan to venture into the back corners of the 188 acre Ecological Park in Malta. This park, located on Malta Avenue, just west of the Northway near Exit 13, has trails on only a small part of its land.

I thought this mild February day, while there was still snow on the ground, would be a perfect time to do some exploring. So, I persuaded two of my favorite hiking companions, my Handsome Husband and our friend Larry, to accompany me.

What I really wanted to find this day was a beaver pond and heron rookery that I had heard lay at the very back of this parkland. 

The HH and I met up with Larry at the parking lot. Before setting out, we studied a map I had brought of the park's boundaries. Then, we donned snowshoes, and set off. 

Larry, who is an engineer, sussed out a good likely route around the park's wetlands to get us to our destination without wet feet. And before too long, we found the beaver pond.

I was enchanted. The pond, of course, was still frozen. Can you spot the beaver lodge in the photo above?  We didn't wish to disturb any of the critters so we stayed well away from it. (This photo was taken on a zoom setting.) And though we didn't see any beavers, we did spot a handsome otter slipping along the reedy pond edge.

And as for the rumored heron rookery? Yup, it's there. I counted eight old nests that I could see, just in this one area.
I hope one day the town can find a way to build a trail down to this pond and create a viewing area of the rookery. What a treat that would be for local nature lovers and photographers.

But for today, this magical spot was all ours.

After a week of so much sadness and angst in our world, it felt good to be out of doors, moving through the woods, being with people I love, quietly appreciating the beauty around us.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Weaving Excuses

On a day when I should have been at home doing things, I wasn't. We have passels of beloveds coming to town for the Thanksgiving holiday and I should have spent the day baking and vacuuming. But I didn't.

Instead,  I tiptoed out of church early and drove north on Route 9N. I meandered through Greenfield Center, up to Corinth and into the Adirondack Park, and then followed the Hudson River into the village of Lake Luzerne.

It was a bit of a sentimental journey for me. Many years ago, maybe thirty-eight or so, my very first job as a teacher was in Luzerne, teaching in the Hadley-Luzerne elementary school, in a classroom that overlooked the lake. I worked there for six years, before taking some time off to be at home with my own children. And when I returned to work, I moved to a different school district, so it had been some time since I'd been back to Luzerne. I have to say, it was looking lovely today, despite the blustery November weather.

But this day, I was headed to another school there, the Adirondack Folk School.  Our Malta Rotary Club had recently had as a guest speaker Scott Hayden, the director of the Folk School. Scott had brought samples of some of the crafts they teach there and I was intrigued. So, I signed up for a one-afternoon class on weaving. We would weave simple rugs from rags.

The class size was limited to four. Floor looms take up a lot of space and beginners need a lot of help. My fellow students and I fell into a certain demographic: we were all grey-haired ladies of a certain age. Carolyn, our instructor, will probably sleep well tonight. We kept her hopping.

Looms are tricky things and one of ours was not behaving. Fortunately, my loom had only a few idiosyncrasies, and four hours later, with a good deal of help and advice,  I had made a rug.  In fact, we all managed to produce rugs.

It was really a lot of fun. The studio overlooked the beginning of Rockwell Falls on the Hudson, and although it was a blustery day, we were cozy and companionable in our classroom. Other classes were going on at the Folk School that afternoon, too. I saw a basket-making class and heard some tap tap tapping going on in the basement. Not sure what they were making, but it all sounded like Santa's workshop.

I still had a few finishing details to do on my rug when I got home this evening: tying off the fringed edges and tidying up loose ends. But when I laid it out to appraise the final product, Shea, our small dog, gave the rug her full approval. No, it won't win any prizes, but I had fun.

So to my dear family arriving soon to a far less than perfectly tidy house, um, well... can I show you the cool rug I just made?

The Adirondack Folk School is located at  51 Main Street in Lake Luzerne, NY.  Find out more about their classes and programs at their website here: