What's Your Nature?

Become a Nature Up North explorer to share your encounters with wild things and wild places in New York's North Country. Post your wildlife sightings, landscape shots, photos from your outings, and even your organization's events!

Just Our Nature Posts

Got Biogas?

A diagram of a landfill designed for the collection of methane gas.
By Paul J. Hetzler on
Blog: Just Our Nature
Even if its precise definition isn’t at the tip of your tongue, most everyone gets the drift of what’s meant by the term ‘biogas.’ There is biology involved, and the result is gas. One example might be the funk in the air on the bus carrying the sauerkraut-eating team home after a weekend competition. Another type of biogas is cow belches, and the rotten-egg stink-bubbles that swarm to the…
Small-scale methane digester at a community garden in the UK.

My Start, My Growth, and My Return to the North Country

Nature Up North Project Manager Dan French stands under the Yellowstone National Park Roosevelt Arch.
By Dan French on
Blog: Just Our Nature
As the new Project Manager for Nature Up North, I’m excited by the many possibilities in front of me. In my first few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to visit students in Norwood as they learn about the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees. I’ve worked with the encounters on our website as we built our 2024 calendar (for sale now!). I’ve met our many St. Lawrence University interns…
Dan sits at the peak of Whiteface Mountain with two friends in whiteout conditions.

Think Snow – Gardens and Forests Need It

Snow covers the boardwalk on the Kip Trail.
By Paul J. Hetzler on
Blog: Just Our Nature
In her poem “It Sifts from Leaden Sieves,” Emily Dickinson lauds the sublime beauty of snow – gossamer flakes that garnish a forest, wispy grains that infiltrate nooks and crannies, and wind-sculpted rings of snow around fence posts. Given that the poet lived in a time before cars and stayed in her bedroom for 20 years, she never had to shovel snow, trudge through it, or drive in it. One is less…

Groundhog Day, Again?

A groundhog sits on a rock with grass in the background.
By Paul J. Hetzler on
Blog: Just Our Nature
Again? I watched the 1993 film Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray at least a dozen times. Or maybe it just felt that way. Just as February 2 was on a nonstop loop in the film, this year’s iteration of Groundhog Day is likely to feel roughly the same as all the previous ones. I think it’s a good metaphor for this time of year, as we stumble out each morning in the semi-dark to defrost the car,…
A groundhog peeks out of its den in the shadow of a tree.

Food Webs and Tapestries - Connecting the Dots

A ruby throated hummingbird sipping nectar from a cherry queen zinnia.
By Paul J. Hetzler on
Blog: Just Our Nature
Back in primary school in the ‘70s, we learned about nature’s “food chain.” In this linear model, which I assume was devised by surveyors who normally lay out rail lines and utility corridors, a tiny creature, let’s say a minnow, gets eaten by a bigger fish, and so on until the biggest fish of all eventually dies and its rotting carcass is maybe nibbled on by vengeful small fish. After a while,…
A bee is busy pollinating a yellow flower.

Time For Torpor!

A black bear sits on a grassy hillside.
By Liz Anderson on
Blog: Just Our Nature
It’s well known that bears go into hibernation for the winter, eating lots of food during the fall, sleeping in their dens through the winter, then reemerging hungry in the spring. However, the process is actually not that simple. Bears don’t even actually hibernate! Instead, they enter a state called torpor.  Torpor is a general term for a state of inactivity during which animals enter a deeper…
A woodchuck sits in an open field.

Give the Gift of Being Green this Holiday Season

Two birds meet at a birdfeeder.
By McKenna Allardi on
Blog: Just Our Nature
The holiday season is a time to give thanks, rejoice with the company of family, and share gifts with friends. While we create memories to last a lifetime with loved ones, we also create waste that can last just as long in landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American households increase the total waste they produce in a year from 4 million tons to 5 million…
A squirrel sits at a feeder.

Super Modeling

Looking out over the Oswegatchie
By Paul J. Hetzler on
Blog: Just Our Nature
Weather modeling has become quite a big deal in recent decades, with meteorologists falling all over themselves to report what the latest models say. It sounds like a fun job, and I’m trying to find out how to apply to become a weather modeler. If it involves appearing in a swimsuit, though, forget it. I love it when a radio announcer chirps “clear and sunny” during a storm because they read the…
A wet stroll along the Kip Trail

Nature Up North 2024 Calendars for Sale!

A photo of Whiteface Mountain with Nature Up North's Logo in the upper left corner and "2024" in the bottom right corner.
By The Nature Up North Team on
Blog: Just Our Nature
Proceeds from calendar sales benefit Nature Up North's community outreach initiatives. Each year, Nature Up North reaches hundreds of local residents through guided hikes, paddles, workshops, and K-12 programs. Thanks for your support!                   We hope you’ll support our programs and locally-owned businesses by buying a Nature Up North calendar this year. Proceeds from calendar sales…

Tree Sign Language: Early Fall Color Spells Trouble

red, orange, and yellow leaves on a brown bridge going through a green wooded trail
By Paul J. Hetzler on
Blog: Just Our Nature
Each fall deciduous trees, ice-cream stands, and marinas close for the same reason: as daylight dwindles and cold creeps in, they become less profitable. When income dips down to equal the cost of doing business, a wise proprietor will turn off the lights and lock the doors until spring. Some enterprising holdouts stay solvent longer than others who are in the same business. Perhaps they have…