Several years ago when I flew home to my parents in NY state for Christmas I was looking over some of my grandmother's old books. She had passed away the previous year. One of the books jumped out at me, Woodswoman by Anne LaBastille. While I wouldn't consider myself an environmentalist-- even within the loosest definition of the word-- there was something about the book that really spoke to me. It might have been her self-imposed isolation. Or perhaps it was that she was an Adirondack guide just as my great grandfather-- Watson Merrill, his brother Charles, and their father before them-- Darius had all been. And on my mom's side-- my grandparents had lived within the wilderness of the Adirondack Park and my mother and her younger 2 sisters had been born there (not to mention I was born at a hospital located within the boundaries of the park as well). At any rate Ms. LaBastille helped me better understand and appreciate my recent ancestors and their ties to and love of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains.
So I read Woodswoman and a few years later I even got around to reading the sequels (II, III, & IIII. Shouldn't that have been "IV"- I digress). I was sad to learn, shortly after completing the series that Ms. LaBastille had been forced to forfeit her lifestyle with the onset of Alzheimer's. And today when reading the online edition of The Plattsburgh Press-Republican I learned that Ms. LaBastille had succumbed at age 75.
I was a bit annoyed by the write-up as it described a Woodswoman as being a "fictionalized account" of Ms. LaBastille's life @ "Black Bear Lake." The only thing she "fictionalized" was the name of the lake that her camp was on and that was only done to preserve and protect the location of her camp and prevent unwanted visitors and/or interlopers. She valued her privacy and that's something I understand and respect. Ms. LaBastille will be missed and I only hope that her camp has ended up in kind and capable hands that will value and treasure the camp and Ms. LaBastille's contributions to the Adirondack Park with the respect they truly deserve.