a childhood saved

A Naturalist's Notebook

When I was 14-15 years old, I wrote a series of 23 essays as a weekly assignment for my high school English class. I called the series "A Naturalist's Notebook." Naturalist's Notebook Table of Contents

Shatamuc, Part One: November 7, 1973

The Indians called it Shatamuc, the river that runs both ways. White men call it the Hudson River.

It all starts high in the Adirondacks, in a tiny wilderness pond, Lake Tear of the Clouds. The river runs, rambles, hurries, tumbles, roars, gushes, and falls all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

It is a beautiful river and it runs through many beautiful and historic places. Its 315 miles are a mixture of so many different areas, climates, and terrains that it is difficult to believe.

Ocean tides run all the way to the federal dam and lock at Troy, New York. This is the reason why the Kitchawan Indians gave the river the name of Shatamuc, the Mohicans gave it "Muhheakunnuk," which means "great waters constantly in motion."

In this part of my description of the Hudson, I will describe the section of the river that is between the source, Lake Tear, and [the Mohawk River].

High on Mount Marcy, 4,293 feet above sea level, to be exact, "a minute, unpretending tear of the clouds, as it were, a lonely pool, shivering in the breezes of the mountains, and sending its limpid surplus through Feldspar Brook and to the Opalescent River, the well-spring of the Hudson" lies in the cool light of early dawn. One can see the bottom of the tiny pond, it is so clear. This is the highest source of the mighty Hudson.

The wild stream of the upper Hudson soon reaches a lake named Avalanche. The waters from this go to both the Hudson and the St. Lawrence rivers. Then the stream, gradually widening to be a river, pushes its way south. Brooks feed the little river, and it becomes a boiling whitewater.

Here is where most major pollution starts. I will try to skip over pollution. This doesn't mean I'm trying to escape reality; rather, I am trying to present the best side of the Hudson.

Gradually, our river winds through magnificent countryside, and slowly reaches the mouth of its major tributary: the Mohawk River near Cohoes and Troy. So, the river has passed out of the Adirondacks, widening steadily, and has finally reached the Mohawk.

In the next section I will discuss "our area," the Hudson Highlands to the Tappan Zee.

Next: "Shatamuc, Part 2," November 14, 1973