Roger Chambers

Roger Chambers

Roger Chambers is a regsitered nurse, working in geriatric nursing for over 30 years. Since 1997 he has tended a large organic garden at his urban home. He has traveled widely in the US and Canada, Europe and Latin America.

He has had several articles in hobby publications on shortwave radio, and several poems in local arts journals and newspapers. An avid fan of birds and the Adirondack Mountains, at present he is largely focused on natural seasonal changes, holidays, and associated local fairs and festivals.

Roger resides in the beautiful Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York.

October Almanac

While the tenth month of the year, October retains its name of Latin origin as the eighth month when March began the New Year. Daylight hours decrease during the month, with occasional hints of winter cold to come.  

October is a magical month wedged between the frenzy of the beginning of the school year and the holiday season of Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Year’s. Football season is in full swing at area high schools and universities. Ice hockey season begins, with the first home game of the Utica Comets on October 21. The performing arts season has begun, with films, concerts and theatrical productions at the Stanley Theater, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Kirkland Arts Center and area high schools and colleges.   

For those with a garden, it is time for fall clean up and planting bulbs for garlic and next year’s spring flowers. It is the time give the car and snowblower a tune-up, caulk windows and doors, and get the snow shovel handy in preparation for the coming winter.

October weekends are a perfect time for a day trip with the entire family to many nearby rural areas for apple and pumpkin festivals and Halloween activities. For Those seeking peace and solitude may prefer a woodland hike, camping, or fishing trip. Salmon fishing in Pulaski is popular, and hunters make preparation for deer season.  

While many parks and regional tourist attractions close after Labor Day, a few remain open through Columbus Day weekend. This is usually the last chance for a day trip with relatively mild weather and roads free of ice and snow that sometimes make such excursions problematical during the winter.

In the northeastern woodlands and and rural areas of the Mohawk Valley, “leaf peeping” trips are popular. Predominantly green landscapes of summer change to pastel colors of orange, red and yellow as deciduous trees prepare for winter. Against a cobalt blue sky on a sunny October day, these scenic views are truly enchanting. 

This annual seasonal transition of mid autumn lasts for several weeks before the leaves completely fall, leaving the gray and brown landscapes of November. Colors generally peak in late September to early October in the southern Adirondacks, mid-October in the Mohawk Valley, and late October in the Chenango, Schoharie and Sesquehanna Valleys of Otsego, Madison, and Chenango Counties.

Excursions might include one of several regional farms or rural orchards for harvest festivals. Many such events focus on apples, pumpkins, and other fall harvest crops, and some include hay rides, corn mazes and Halloween activities.

Halloween, this year on a Saturday, is one of the most popular cultural holidays of the year. Costume parties, trick or treating for children, haunted house exhibits at various locations, and hay rides or corn mazes in rural areas are all popular. This year, Halloween coincides with the shifting back to Eastern Standard Time which begins at 2 A.M. on November 1. With that change, afternoons are noticeably shorter with sunset at 4:52 P.M. and dreary November begins.     

Holidays and Proclamation Days in October

October 3      Oneida County History Day (first Saturday of October)  

October 5      Child Health Day

October 6      German-American Day 

October 9      Leif Erikson Day

October 11    General Pulaski Memorial Day       

October 12    Columbus Day (2nd Monday)

October 15    White Cane Safety Day; Poetry Day

October 16    National Boss’s Day

October 17    Sweetest Day (3rd Saturday)

October 18    Alaska Day

October 27    Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday 

October 30    Nevada Day

October 31    Halloween


Weekly Observances in October

~1st Week~

Mental Illness Awareness Week

~2nd Week~

International Letter Writing Week

~3rd Week~

National Business Women's Week

~4th Week~

National Magic Week

Discovering Regional and Ethnic History and Heritage

October is a unique month in the Utica area with many activities focusing on various ethnic groups that have played an important role in our history. The first Saturday of the month has been Oneida County History Day for several years, often with special events at the Oneida County Historical Society.

October 6 is German American Day. Mid September to mid October is Hispanic Heritage Month. October is Polish-American Heritage Month, with General Casimir Pulaski Day on October 11. In recent years, special ceremonies at the Pulaski Monument on the Memorial Parkway in Utica have been held in late September. 

Columbus Day is the second Monday of the month, this year on its original date of October 12. This was an important holiday celebrating Italian-American heritage long before it became a national holiday. There continue to be observances at the Columbus Monument on the Memorial Parkway in Utica. This is the last long holiday weekend of the year before the cold of winter sets in.

A Few Regional Festivals and Events for October

October 3      Pumpkin Patch Mud Run, Esperance (Schoharie County)

October 4      Traditional Sauerbraten Dinner, Utica Maennerchor, Marcy

October Weekends Corn Maze & Harvest Festivals at Critz Farms, Cazenovia

October 10-11          Cider Fest, Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard, Fly Creek

October 23-24          Norwich Pumpkin Festival, Norwich


 In the Night Skies

October this year has visible planets shifting to the early morning pre-dawn sky, with Saturn the only planet visible in the evening, low in the southwestern sky.

On October 1, there is a conjunction in a vertical line, from top to bottom, of Venus, Leo’s bright star Regulus, Mars, and Jupiter. The waning crescent Moon passes close to these planets, first Venus on the 8th with Regulus to the Moon’s left, Mars on the 9th, and Jupiter on the 10th, and finally Mercury on the 11th, very low on the eastern horizon just before dawn. Venus and Jupiter appear in a close conjunction on the 25th.

The Draconid Meteor Shower, originating in the northwest from constellation Draco has remnants of Comet Giocobini-Zinner. This is best seen in the late evening on October 9 with up to six meteors per hour.

The Orionid Meteor Shower of October 21-22.  Up to fifteen meteors per hour may appear in the southern pre-dawn sky, remnants of Halley’s Comet. Looking to the south, the winter constellation Orion is also visible at this time.

October 1      Sunrise 6:59 am                    Sunset 6:41 pm 

October 31    Sunrise 6:35 pm                   Sunset  5:54 pm

Put the clocks back an hour at 2 A.M. on November 1, and times of rising / setting of the Sun, Moon, and Planets move to an hour earlier.


Rising and Setting Times of Visible Planets on October 31

Moon                          9:50 P.M.                               11:50 A.M.

Mercury                      6:36 A.M.

Venus                         3:34 A.M.                             

Mars                           3:39 A.M.

Jupiter                                    3:10 A.M.     

Saturn                                                                         7:18 P.M.                                                                              

Moon Phases for October

Last Quarter                           October 4      Sets 1:59 P.M.

New Moon                            October 12    Rises 6:42 A.M.   Sets 6:45 P.M.

First Quarter                           October 20    Rises 1:56 P.M.

Full Hunter’s Moon                October 27    Rises 6:28 P.M.  Sets 7:25 A.M.

October Astrological Signs  Libra  9/23 - 10/22     Scorpio 10/23-11/22

Roger Chambers’ book, A Sense of Place: An Almanac of Festivals in the Mohawk Valley is being published this fall by Friesen Press. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Mohawk Valley Almanac for April 2015

April brings welcoming warmth and increasing hours of evening daylight. The sub-zero temperatures are past and the snow is mostly gone, despite an occasional April Fool’s joke that usually lasts only two or three days. From the Latin aprilis meaning to open up, the early greenery of crocuses and tufts of grasses are harbingers of the transition of the landscape from drab browns and grays to the various shades of green that dominate the scene for the next several months.

The day time high temperature averages 57°F with a low of 34°F, though afternoons in the 60s to low 70s are not unusual. The extreme temperature range is from 8°F to 90°F. Precipitation averages 3.58 inches, most of it as rain showers, though occasionally two to five inches of snow may fall. The day light hours increase, with sunset about 8:00 P.M. by the end of the month.

To the close observer, April is a month of surprises. Various woodland and garden flowers sprout up before the leaves on the trees begin their green growth. Crocuses and snow drops are among the first garden flowers to bloom in late March, but will likely not appear until April this year due to the heavy snows and severe cold of this past winter. Fragrant hyacinths, and yellow or white daffodils soon follow, usually blooming by mid month. Tulips follow, blooming in late April and into May.

If one is lucky enough for a mud season walk in the woods, fiddle heads may be found, especially in the North Country. This edible fern tastes like asparagus, with the shape of the handle of violin, thus its name. Saxifrage, violets, and other pink, white, and lavender wildflowers bloom on the forest floor at this time of year. And while it might be muddy, the temperatures are often pleasant, and the insects are few.

As the soil thaws and dries out from the winter, it is time to be thinking of the garden. April is ideal for planting most root crops such as carrots, beets, onions, and maybe potatoes. Greens are also good to go for early planting, including wide varieties of spinach, lettuce, chards, Pak Choi, and perhaps broccoli or Brussels sprouts. If you have flowers in your garden, the early sunny and warm days of April will be full of color, with yellow and white daffodils, and the fragrance and color of white, lavender, or red hyacinths. While working in the garden you might observe the first bees of the season attracted to some of these spring flowers.

April Holidays and Observances

April 1 April Fools' Day

April 2 Pascua Florida Day – Florida

April 3 Good Friday

April 4 First Day of Passover

April 5 Easter Sunday

April 7 National D.A.R.E. Day

April 12 Halifax Day - North Carolina

April 13 Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday

April 14 Pan American Day

April 16 Jose De Diego’s Birthday - Puerto Rico

April 20 Patriots’ Day - Maine, Massachusetts - 3rd Monday

April 21 San Jacinto Day (Texas)

April 22 Earth Day April 22 Administrative Professionals Day - Formerly Secretary’s Day (Wednesday of last week of April)

April 24 National Arbor Day (Last Friday, but variable by State)

April 27 Confederate Memorial Day - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi - (4th Monday)

April is Cancer Control Month

~1st Week~ Cherry Blossom Festival

~2nd Week~ National Guitar Week

~3rd Week~ Astronomy Week

~4th Week~ National Parks Week April Almanac

Clean-ups Celebrate Spring

With the warmer weather, many look beyond their garden or yard into the greater community. Earth Day, Arbor Day, and May Day all celebrate the new growth of spring, often with spring clean-ups at parks and commercial districts and roadways throughout the region. Over the years these have included clean-ups at the Utica Marsh, Proctor Park, and many other places. Most of these activities are well publicized in local newspapers and on television.

Earth Day in particular leads to greater interest in educational seminars and public meetings on green issues of regional agriculture, Rust to Green efforts on more recycling of building materials and other green issues. Many schools and colleges and other organizations sponser such events surrounding Earth Day on April. Spring Break Most schools take a week off in April, which may or may not coincide with Easter week. Museums, libraries, and other organizations often sponsor special acctivities for children during this week.

With better spring weather, bicycles become much more common on the streets, and golfers get their first shot at the many golf courses in the area. Those training for the Boilermaker and other road races hit the roads running.

Letter Writing and Stamp Collecting

Related to a recent column on letter writing is the hobby of stamp collecting. Long before current Black History Month, it was on April 7, 1940 that Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be featured on a U.S. postage stamp. There have been many U.S. stamps with African-Americans since then, including Louis Armstrong, Frederick Douglas, and Harriet Tubman. Stamp collecting is still a hobby that entertains many people with depictions of history, animals, transportation, space exploration, and many other topics on these small pieces of paper that still decorate at least some home-delivered mail.

In the Night Skies April’s full moon is the Full Pink Moon, named after the wild ground phlox, an early pink flower. Other names include the Fish Moon, named after spawning shad in coastal areas, Sprouting Grass Moon, and Egg Moon.

There is a total lunar eclipse on April 4th, the beginning early morning just before the Moon sets at 6:34 A.M. Mars is close to the sun and generally hidden from view. Mercury is visible this month as an early evening star, seen in the west beginning April 23 and passing just to the left of the Seven Sisters star cluster on April 30. Venus is visible near this star cluster as well, earlier in the month from the 10th to 13th. Jupiter is high in the southern sky at nightfall, while Saturn is not seen until about 11:00 P.M. throughout the month.

Sun Rises  6:17 A.M.                 Sets  7:43 P.M.                                                   Moon                           4:24 A.M.                         4:11 P.M.                                             Mercury                       6:35 A.M.                          8:16 P.M                                                   Venus                          8:01 A.M.                        11:14 P.M.                                                Mars                            7:00 A.M.                          9:03 P.M.                                                  Jupiter                         1:14 P.M.                           3:44 A.M.                                            Saturn                        10:46 P.M.                          8:27 A.M.

Full Moon           April 4                                                                                                       Last Quarter       April 11                                                                                                     New Moon          April 18                                                                                                    First Quarter      April 25

Tagged under

Unpredictable and Chaotic March

For weather, March is the most unpredictable month of the year, with the widest range of temperature. Some years, the temperature never falls below 0°F.  That would be welcome this year after a record cold February. Most years, March is the last chance to ski, snowhoe, or snowmobile. Some ski resorts have discount prices as the season comes to a close with warmer weather and melting snow.

Tagged under

Crows cawing woke me up about thirty minutes after sunrise on this bitterly cold Friday the 13th. At eight o’clock, the temperature was -7°F, with a wind chill of about -20°F. It was the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), an annual event that collects data on bird observations made by thousands of participants across the country and around the world.  

This has been an old-fashioned cold and snowy winter.  Utica has had fifteen days of sub-zero temperatures by mid-February. This is similar to last year, which was the coldest winter inabout twenty years.

The trial of a vaccine for Ebola has been started in Mali, with 40 participants. This is part of a larger study started in the UK in September of a vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline. This program is a combined effort of the British pharmaceutical company, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US National Institute of Health.

In Mali, testing of the vaccine has begun on health care workers. About one in 16 of those who have died in Africa

The Ebola situation took a rather distinctive turn in two major ways during the week of October 21.

On October 23, 2014, Dr. Craig Spencer became the first diagnosed case of Ebola in New York. He had spent time volunteering his services in Guinea with Medicín Sans Frontiéres (MSF).  This led to a search for several contacts he may have made in taxies and subways and places he visited over a two day period when he may have been ill and contagious.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey then publicly announced a mandatory 21 day quarantine of any health care workers returning to the US after

What is the Ebola Virus?

While malaria, tuberculosis, and measles are common, and often fatal diseases in the countries of the current outbreak of Ebola, this hemorrhagic fever has captured public attention.  

Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever caused by a virus, first identified in the Congo River Basin in 1976. Scientists believe that it is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids of blood, vomit, feces, urine, sweat, and tears of those infected. It is much easier to control than other illnesses such as influenza or cholera that are spread by air droplets or contaminated water. However, due to the severity of the illness, with a mortality rate ranging from 50% to 90%, this has captured the public’s attention as a modern plague. Many consider it to be the major disease threats of modern times, rivaled only by the spread of AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s.

September Holidays in 2014

September 1                          Labor Day

September 7                          Grandparents Day

September 9                          Admission Day - California

September 10                        Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day

September 11                        Patriot Day

September 12                        Defenders’ Day – Maryland

September 17                        Constitution / Citizenship Day

September 15 - October 15     Hispanic Heritage Month

September 21                        World Peace Day

September 22                        Autumnal Equinox

September 25                        Rosh Hashanah

September 26                        American Indian Day (4th Friday)


Selected Regional Festivals in September 2014

September 12-13                Utica Arts & Music Festival

September 12-13                Madison County Hop Fest, Oneida

September 13                     Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival, Little Falls

September 20                     9th Annual Cream Cheese Festival, Lowville

September 27-28                102nd Annual Pilgrimage and Feast of Sts. Cosmas & Damian, Utica

September 27-28                Barn Festival of the Arts, Remsen


When March began the New Year in Roman times, September gets its name from the Latin Septem for seven as it was the seventh month of the Roman Calendar when the New Year began in March. The ninth month of the year in today's Gregorian Calendar, September is the first month of fall that officially begins with the Autumnal Equinox of September 22.  

Throughout the month, daylight hours decrease nearly by nearly 90 minutes and sunset by the end of the month is before 7 P.M., a significant change from the long evenings of early summer. With an average of 4.40 inches of rain, September is the month with the largest long-term average of precipitation. Some Septembers are much rainier than others. Occasionally the tail end of a hurricane affects our weather, usually in the form of a tropical depression decreasing in intensity as it moves north. Occasionally these fall storms drop over two inches of rain in our area. Usually one of our most pleasant months, September has generally warm days (average of 71° F) and cool evenings (average 47° F).

The reds, yellows and oranges of changing leaves start to appear, usually peaking in intensity late September in the Adirondacks and the North Country, but later in mid to late October in the Mohawk Valley and southern hills. Frost may also occur in areas north and south of the Mohawk River, but in the Valley the first frost is usually now in early to mid October.

For local gardeners, there may still be late beans, corn, squash, and tomatoes to pick. It is time to clean out detritus from the garden as the last summer vegetables are picked. Late summer flowers usually continue to bloom until the first hard frost. It is also time to prepare beds for planting of garlic and bulb flowers such as tulips and daffodils for next year’s spring flowers. For those without a garden, local produce of vegetables, along with apples, pears, and early pumpkins are readily available at the many local farmers markets.

Summer Ends and School Begins

Labor Day marks the last hurrah of summer, and many area parks and tourist attractions close after the holiday weekend, though some remain open on weekends through Columbus Day in October. After Labor Day, the school year begins for elementary and secondary students. Most arts and other organizations begin their programming and meeting schedules for the fall and winter season.

Fall Festivals

There are many outdoor fall festivals in the region in September. These often focus on local agriculture, especially apples, garlic, and in Madison County, hops and beer. These are held on weekends throughout the month and provide a last chance to enjoy the outdoors and usually nice weather before the colder days of late fall and winter arrive.

The 40th annual Falling Leaves Road Race of five kilometers is held the last Sunday of the month, this year September 28. This began before the Boilermaker, and is usually the second largest area road race.

While the last weekend of the month is often cool and rainy, it does not dampen the spirits (too much) of the thousands that attend the annual Remsen Festival of the Arts (FOTA) that is held annually. This is one of the largest regional fall festivals of arts and crafts, music and food, held in this small village in the Adirondack foothills north of Utica.

On the same weekend, thousands of Catholic pilgrims come to Utica for the Festa of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. This annual event attracts people from across New York State, as well as Ontario and Quebec. Sponsored by St. Anthony and St. Agnes Church, this includes a unique outdoor processional in the East Utica neighborhood streets surrounding the church with floats and marching bands. There is much Italian food and music, and several religious services during the two day event. This year is the 102nd annual celebration, making it perhaps the oldest continuously celebrated festival in the area other than for county fairs.

Early fall is a great time of year in the Mohawk Valley. Take the opportunity to attend one or several of these regional outdoor events during the month of September before the cold of later fall and winter arrive.

In the Night Skies

September is usually the month of the Full Harvest Moon, this year occurring rather early on September 8. Between the 15th and 26th, best seen in dark rural areas, the Milky Way seems to slplit the sky from north to south shortly after sunset. With binoculars, if skies are clear, one might see the Green Planet Uranus, close to the Moon in Pisces in the eastern sky on the 10th about an hour after moonrise of 8:13 P.M. Jupiter and the Moon have a conjunction about 5 A.M. in the eastern sky on the 20th. There is also a conjunction of the Moon and Saturn in the western sky about 8 P.M. on September 27. Mars is seen close to the Moon in the constellation Ophiuchus near nightfall in the western sky on the 29th. The autumnal equinox occurs at 10:29 P.M. on September 22, the official beginning of Autumn. The rising and setting times of visible planets are listed below for that date.

Phases of the Moon

First Quarter           September 2

Full Moon                September 8

Last Quarter           September 15

New Moon              September 24

Autumnal Equinox  September 22

Sunrise 6:49 A.M.   Sunset 6:57 P.M.

Moonrise 5:13 A.M. Moonset 6:06 P.M.

Venus Rises 6:02 A.M.

Mars Sets 9:41 P.M.

Jupiter Rises 2:52 A.M.

Saturn Sets 9:07 P.M.


Virgo, belly August 23- September 22

Libra reins September 23- October 22

Tagged under

Holidays and Proclamation Days in October

October 3      Child Health Day

October 4      Yom Kippur – Jewish Day of Atonement 

October 6      German-American Day

October 9      Leif Erikson Day

October 11    General Pulaski Memorial Day

October 13    Columbus Day (2nd Monday)        

October 15    White Cane Safety Day; Poetry Day

October 18    Sweetest Day (3rd Saturday)

October 16    National Boss Day (Bosses Appreciation Day).

October 20    Alaska Day (3rd Monday)

October 24    United Nations Day 

October 27    Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday 

October 31    Halloween

                        Nevada Day

                        Youth Honor Day -  Iowa


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About Us

The Mohawk Valley Almanac provides a wide variety of information on fairs and festivals, wildlife, and the natural world in this historic region of central New York State. Many annual regional fairs and festivals celebrate the seasons, agriculture, historical and religious holidays, the arts, sports, and ethnic heritage of the diverse population. The natural world of birds and other wildlife, weather, astronomy, and gardening in a climate with cold and snowy winters are also featured.

We hope to make the Mohawk Valley Almanac a gateway to this area of Central New York for anyone interested in the natural world and regional festivals of the greater Mohawk Valley. Come back and visit often for new information. Contact us on the link below for further information or to subscribe to our monthly almanac newsletter.

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