Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Shawn MacKenzie, author of The Dragon-Keeper’s Handbook.
From Acadian shores to the Green Mountains, Northern New England is one of the most Dragon-rich regions in the lower forty-eight. Craggy outcroppings, forests full of game, and waters full of fish add up to idyllic habitats. The relative dearth of people provides a comfort zone that allows our fierce, fearsome friends to relax, keeping tabloid Dragon/human encounters to a minimum.
This is my habitat, too. As the sap rises and springâ€™s blush licks the Long Trail, I begin counting the days to Dragon Watching time. Of course, for the observant cryptoherpetologist, Dragon-sign can be found anytime: crisp paw prints in fresh powder or sinuous tail swaths cut through piles of rainbow leaves. But, for amateur or seasoned pro, high summer in the Green Mountains is a true dracophileâ€™s delight.
May to mid-August, between springâ€™s stay-at-home hatching and the unpredictable passions of autumn mating, weyrs thrum with activity: old Dragons teach, young Dragons learn, and the skies are alive with enchanting aerialists of every shape and hue. It is also the time when Dragons without familial responsibilities go visiting. Indeed, the northern stretch of the Appalachian Trail is a veritable flight corridor for those calling on friends and not-so-distant relatives from Mts. Katahden to Glastenbury. Even the odd Berkshire Beardie or Adirondack Red has been known to soar by. This past June, I spied a pair of juvenile Aziscohos Split-tails dancing over Little Pond, near Woodford. The sight stole my breath!
So, if this yearâ€™s vacation did not live up to expectations and austere times have you pinching pennies, consider a 2012 adventure in the New England woods with the wildest of the wild. And, for those of you new to Dragon Watching, always remember and never forget:
- Distance is your friend. Though Dragons are not naturally aggressive, in summer there are dragonlets around. Big as Irish wolfhounds, these bundles of scaly joy come fully equipped with teeth, claws, and protective parents.
- Take a camera (preferably one with a zoom lens) and plenty of memory cards (fortunately the days of being weighed down by rolls of 35mm film are past). Today top-notch digital gear can turn the rankest amateur into the Diane Arbus of Dragon photography.
- Stick to trails and designated lodgings. A highlight of any Dragonâ€™s first summer is learning the group stalk-and-pounce, and you donâ€™t want to find yourself the target of brood triangulation if you can help it. In the mid-20th century there were five mysterious disappearances in the vicinity of Glastenbury, Vermont. No bodies were found and it has been suggested they ran afoul of some over-eager youngsters who mistook them for large rabbits.
- Pack in/Pack out. You are in the Dragonsâ€™ home and should treat it accordingly. You wouldnâ€™t want them littering up your parlor, would you?
For answers to all other questions, pick up a copy of my book, The Dragon Keeperâ€™s Handbook.
Then go have fun. It will be an experience youâ€™ll never forget.
Our thanks to Shawn for her guest post! For more from Shawn MacKenzie, read her article “On Wings Everywhere Ascending: The Relevance of Dragons in the Modern World.”