I report this morning on efforts to save the Santanoni Great Camp on the southern flank of the Adirondack High Peaks.
This is real news, an important story that adds to the sense of how management and preservation of the Park is changing.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit that it’s the sort of guilty-pleasure story that keeps me working (happily) in the North Country.
How many journalists get to chase stories on cross-country skis on a bright midwinter day?
Or poke around in the woods looking for feral hogs? Or cover cool cultural events like the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival?
There are plenty of tough issues that warrant coverage in our region. Casting an eye back over the last year of stories, I found a lot of heavy stuff. Irene, the spring floods, a tough economy, threatened schools and the aftermath of 9/11 on local soldiers.
But it’s also important to tell these other stories, the ones that get at the beauty, the community, and the pure fun of the North Country.
Sometimes, in my work, I think about the opening of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, where Ishmael talks about finding himself “growing grim about the mouth” and suffering “a damp, drizzly November in my soul.”
I think journalists are particularly susceptible to this ailment.
We fall into moods where we bring up the rear of every funeral (ambulance chasing, in modern parlance) and have to resist the temptation to go around “methodically knocking people’s hats off.”
Ishmael’s cure was to set off on a sea voyage…and we know how that ended.
So I’ll stick to the more temperate cure of heading out into the woods on my skis (or hiking boots) looking for stories that remind me of the deeper values and meaning that lie behind the turbulent scrum of North Country life.