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Just Our Nature - news, updates and insights

A Winter With Everything

By Paul J. Hetzler on January 22, 2016
  “Make me one with everything.” If you had to guess, you’d probably say that was either a request to a short-order cook at a diner, or else a supplication to the Divine. This winter, I think someone whispered that line in Mother Nature’s ear, because even though it is not yet half over, she has already made us a winter with everything. It’s as if she glanced at her weather playlist and hit the…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Moody Weather Tricks Local Species

By Paul J. Hetzler on January 4, 2016
This winter took a long time to wise up. Snow lovers lamented, but I was among those who enjoyed the break from snow shoveling and firewood hauling during our pseudo-September. However, I noticed some less positive effects of the tropical weather. For one thing, the buds on my currant bushes decided it must be spring and began to open. Coltsfoot, dandelions, and Johnny-jump-ups bloomed. Buds on…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Porcupine Trails

By Paul J. Hetzler on December 23, 2015
What fearless animal has an adorable face, plows snow all winter and has a six-million acre park named after it? One of 29 species worldwide, the North American porcupine is the largest New World species, growing to 36 inches long and weighing as much as 35 pounds. That makes it the second-largest North American rodent (behind the beaver), but still only half the size of an African crested…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Late Season Tick PSA

By Paul J. Hetzler on December 11, 2015
In northern New York State, autumn temperatures have been between seven and eight degrees above average, allowing us even more time to procrastinate fall chores. This has been welcome to those who have to work outside, and anyone concerned about their heating bill is loving the warm weather too. Obviously, skiers and other winter enthusiasts aren’t happy, but I think the rest of us should get…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Natural Holiday Decorations

By Paul J. Hetzler on November 30, 2015
Not that long ago the winter holiday season started after Thanksgiving, but it seems like every year it inches closer to the middle of the calendar. Now Santa just barges in the day after Halloween, presumably to take advantage of half-price candy, but still it seems a bit rude. I blame the insidious “holiday creep” (not to be confused with the Grinch) on global warming. Or maybe it’s…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Nature Up North Christmas Tree Guide

By Jacob Malcomb on November 30, 2015
With the holidays upon us, ‘tis the season to revisit the great Christmas tree debate: real vs. artificial? According to the American Christmas Tree Association, 80% of American Christmas tree buyers chose artificial trees in 2013. But did they make the greenest choice? Turns out it’s complicated.  Artificial trees last longer, but most are made from unrecyclable, petroleum-based plastics that do…
Blog category: Farmed and Foraged

Spotted Lanternflies: A New Forest Pest

By Paul J. Hetzler on November 17, 2015
Chinese lanterns, bright and cheery, can lend a festive air to an evening out on the patio. As far as I know they are harmless. Chinese spotted lanternflies are also bold and colorful, but they do cause harm, and a lot of it. Spotted lanternflies were unknown in North America until 2014 when they showed up in Pennsylvania on a shipment of stone from China. Who knew the Keystone State was that…
Blog category: Just Our Nature


By Paul J. Hetzler on November 13, 2015
Like the political process, cranberries can leave a sour taste in your mouth. But unlike politics, whose bitter aftertaste cuts through any amount of sweetener, the flavor of cranberries is readily improved with a little sugar. To say a fresh cranberry is sour is like saying Paris is a nice town. In fact it (the berry, not Paris) can have a lower pH value than stomach acid. It’s almost a wonder…
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Multi-Purpose Milkweed

By Paul J. Hetzler on October 27, 2015
After the cloud-like flocks of blackbirds have departed, swarming like giant amoebas toward points south, and the broad chevrons of geese have mostly disappeared over the horizon, another momentous fall event begins. Yes, it’s time for one more native species to take to the air—the great milkweed migration is on. By late summer, milkweed pods are bursting with mature seeds affixed to bundles of…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Pumpkin Patch Pollinators

By Samantha Haab on October 21, 2015
With the colder weather, the changing colors of the soon-to-be-orphaned tree leaves, and the emergence of Halloween decorations throughout the North Country, it is safe to say that fall has officially arrived. As we turn up our thermostats and begrudgingly get out our winter clothes (did we really ever stash them away?), we can look forward to indulging in such autumnal delicacies as pumpkin…
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