The grave of a veteran marked for Memorial Day. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

MEMORIAL DAY IS THE TIME FOR HONORING and remembering those who have passed on and those who have served in our Armed Forces to make our country the wonderful nation it is today. There is so much negativity in the media we sometimes forget how much has been sacrificed for us.

We often take it for granted and we shouldn’t. When we have our holiday weekend to kick off the summer, we need to pause and remember who made this all possible. My father always referred to Memorial Day as Decoration Day. This name for the holiday began after the Civil War when children and later adults across the country placed flowers and “decorations” on the graves of our soldiers to remember their sacrifices. Toward the end of the 1800s people gradually started calling it Memorial Day, and then, especially after WWII, all family members were remembered whether they had served or not. Memorial Day, the last Monday of May, was declared the official name of the federal holiday in 1967. Flags are raised to full staff in the morning and then immediately and solemnly lowered to half staff until noon, then fully raised again for the rest of the day.

My grandmother was born in the 1800s and her family, according to the custom of the time, would treat cemeteries as parks. It was often a place to bring the whole family to remember loved ones, and family picnics might be held there. When we were small she would go with us to several family cemeteries and we were taught proper behavior. We had to be quiet and respectful and not walk on the graves, and we did have some refreshments. Before cars it was probably a necessity to pack a picnic meal on one of these excursions. Travel by horse and carriage would be much slower, and no fast food places available. Read more…

SOFT PAWS: Some shelter services restart as state pause loosens

ALLOW ME TO START by wishing you, your families, and your beloved pets a hedge of protection and health as we begin to slowly regain our bearings from this year’s challenges, and aim toward climbing our way back to some degree of normalcy. Perhaps things will never be quite the same as we once remember, but we retain our faith and hope that these things that are the most important to us will continue to be there for us, through generosity, compassion and, most of all, love.

These characteristics are worn on the sleeves of our staff every day as we work through every sunny day and every storm to fulfill an obligation we took on over 65 years ago, to care not just for animals who need our programs and services, but to a community who needed an organization that would always fill that gap in society. And we’re proud that we can continue our mission and vision to providing at least the basics—and sometimes a whole lot more—for those who so desperately need us. Beyond that, it’s not just a one-sided street. We come to realize that we are symbiotes with our animal world connections. We provide so much for them and they, in turn, provide so much for us. We’re species in partnership to profit more from being together than we can separately.

While we may be practicing social distancing as an organization… our kittens have no idea what the phrase means! CGHS/SPCA Adoption Counselor Katie Prack is holding one of our little rascals who is just too cute not to confine yourself with. Be prepared, with spring and summer on the way, we should have no trouble being able to fulfill your need for some feline fun in your home! Photo contributed

All that being said, we’re working as hard and as fast as we safely can to resume as many services as we are able. And we’re doing pretty well… not “normal” by any means yet. But we have developed new ways to safely perform many of the duties that we’re relied on to deliver and to simultaneously accommodate everyone’s health. We want to share with you the most recent developments in this process. Stay well, be safe… and shower all sorts of love on your critters!

CGHS/SPCA’s lobby will continue to be closed to the public. However, we are resuming the implementation of some programs for the community. Curbside service will ensure that our staff and our consumers/clients remain safe. Below please find an updated program and service list.

• Our Food Bank will continue to be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you are quarantined and need food for your pet, please call (518) 828-6044 ext. 100 or 108, or email

• Surrenders are accepted by appointment only. Call (518) 828-6044 ext. 100, or email at Read more…

GREEN THOUGHTS: Lilacs: Beyond The Standard

WE THIRD GRADERS ALWAYS KNEW when Mrs. Bouton, the substitute, was in school: the smell of lilacs. A woman of great age, large stature and ample bosom, she liberally applied some form of lilac perfume before she faced the munchkins. Perhaps it gave her stamina. This spring, with its abundance of long-lasting lilacs, Mrs. Bouton seems to be hiding in every hedgerow.

The standard common lilacs have their faults, however. They’re large, wanting to grow 12 or more feet high, and working them into a small garden is like fitting an elephant into a Mini. Sometimes they take years to start flowering. Powdery mildew is often a late summer problem. Fortunately, other members of the lilac tribe offer answers.

Chief among my favorites of these alternative bloomers is the ‘Miss Kim’ Manchurian lilac, which opens during the second half of May. ‘Miss Kim’s’ buds are medium lilac purple, with the open flowers a much paler shade. Dozens and dozens of the conical flower clusters hold scores of the small blossoms, ensconcing the shrub in purple. Plant tags sometimes list it as growing only three feet high and wide, while mine is now seven feet high and five across. A key point to remember is that plants don’t read the tags. Powdery mildew is not a problem, and some years a good reddish-purple fall color develops. A new version, ‘Baby Kim,’ is more compact with a darker flower. Read more…

COMMUNITY BRIEFS: Grange, Elks, Memorial Day, Food Bank, farmers’ markets, no Bash Bish, Humane Society, Clermont garden, Boy Scouts

Make Swedish meatballs like these. Photo contributed

That’s some Swedish meatball

COPAKE—Copake Grange #935 presents, “Cooking with Stuart” in a Zoom online event, Thursday, May 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

During this online event, Stuart Peterson will show how to cook Swedish meatballs and a yummy potato dish on the side. Mr. Peterson is the dining room manager at the Roe Jan Brewery and has extensive cooking experience. Get the Zoom link below, and bring your appetite. This online event is free on Zoom. Register to get the link at or email . Donations are gratefully accepted.

Drive-through to drop off food, school supplies

KINDERHOOK—Kinderhook Elks and Our Community Cares, Inc. conducts a drive-through school supply and food drive for community children at the Kinderhook Elks Lodge, 2750 State Route 9H.

Donors can just drive-through, open their trunks and someone will unload it, May 23, 9 a.m. to noon. Read more…

THROUGH THE WOODS: Snapping turtle

NEAR OLD POND IN CHATHAM, right in the middle of a dirt road, was a magnificent common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina serpentina. At first it appeared injured and just lay there sort of sprawled out. Apparently it was just sunning itself and did not want to move. Out came the camera and the curious turtle was very cooperative and posed in several positions. Eventually a car came along and the turtle decided this was not a good place to be. It rose up on its claw covered toes and with surprising speed moved off the road and disappeared into the grassy ditch.

Snapping turtle. Photo by Nancy Jane kern

This brought back memories of my first encounter with a “snapper” during an afternoon of bullhead fishing with maternal grandfather, “Gramp.” He often took me fishing and spent many hours teaching all of us kids the proper ways of doing it. This day was going well and we had lots of fish for supper. All of a sudden the worm-baited hook and the fishing line bobber slowly went down and line was pulled deep and away. The hook was set with a flip of the rod, and the fight was on. This was some strong and huge fish. Normally we were lucky if we got a fish larger than a pound in weight.

Eventually it was pulled up on shore and to our surprise there was a big turtle, not a fish. Previous experience had been with smaller, harmless painted turtles so this one caused no alarm. Walking up to it was a big mistake, as a foot-long neck shot out of the shell and a piece was bitten out of my little black boot. A jump backward saved a worse fate. Read more…