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Twelve Years a Slave” | Essex Column

The Champlain Valley Film Society presents “Twelve Years a Slave” this Saturday evening at the Whallonsburg Grange. There will be a dinner and talk about Solomon Northup, the free man who was abducted and sold into slavery. The speaker is Rachel Seligman of Skidmore College and the dinner will be catered by the Flying Pancakes. The dinner and talk start at 6 p.m. and costs $15, followed by the film. The film starts at 7:30 p.m. and is $5 for those who don’t attend the dinner.

On Tuesday, March 18, the Grange will host Hallie Bond who will give a talk on boats and boating in the Adirondacks. Ms. Bond, formerly with the Adirondack Museum, has written a number of books on this subject and many others. Her talk begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free of charge.

The ice on Lake Champlain is attracting a large number of skaters. One local gentleman is rumored to have skated from Plattsburgh to Essex, and skaters can be seen from the ferry out in the middle of the lake. Ginny and I took a stroll on the ice at Begg’s Point but found getting around the pressure ridges requires skill and daring we both seem to lack. Pressure ridges are ice walls made of shards and pieces of ice that are thrust upward when large sheets of ice crush into one another.

With all the clean white snow and strong sunshine, it’s important to protect your eyes with sunglasses. Early Arctic explorers made goggles of wood with thin slits to see through, while I prefer the stodgy but handy sunglasses that you wear over regular glasses. The reflecting ability of a surface is called its albedo and is usually expressed as a percentage. An albedo of zero would reflect no light, while an albedo of 100 percent is a perfect reflection, not generally found in nature. Fresh snow has an albedo somewhere around 90 percent, while charcoal’s is 4 percent. It’s also time to dig out your sunblock and start using that regularly.

Looking ahead, mark your calendars for April 5, when there will be an all you can eat pancake breakfast at the 1812 Homestead on Willsboro Mountain. The pancakes will be dished up with maple syrup made right there, and serving starts at 8 a.m.

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