Inspired by Nature

With Maria College located in the middle of Albany, NY, we are perfectly situated to do some fascinating exploring of the area around us! We already started some of this exploration in my last two blogs about the historical role of Albany’s Schuyler family during the American Revolution. This time, let’s explore the beautiful mountains around the Albany area. In particular, and in the recent news, Mount Greylock, located just east of Albany in the Berkshires area of Massachusetts, is the setting for a recently published story by the well-known Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling!

Ms. Rowling has created the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry which can be found (but not by non-magic Muggles!) on the highest peak of Mount Greylock in Adams, Massachusetts. This is where a young Irish orphan born to two wizarding families ends up after she comes over to America on the Mayflower. Well, I don’t want to give the whole story away! You can read the story yourself on, a website created by Ms. Rowling. Just click here.

As a teacher of writing and literature here at Maria College, I am absolutely captivated by the way in which the lovely mountains around Albany have figured into some of the greatest works of literature. For example, Washington Irving’s 1819 story of “Rip Van Winkle” is set in the Catskill Mountains where Rip falls asleep for twenty years only to awaken and find his world dramatically changed. And James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans is set in large part in the Adirondack Mountains around Lake George during the French and Indian War. The 1992 film version of the novel (which does take a few liberties with the original story!) starring Daniel Day Lewis is well worth watching. Believe it or not, the great white whale Moby Dick, whose story is told in Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, was imagined by Melville while he looked at Mount Greylock from his home called Arrowhead in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

In more modern times, acclaimed writer Russell Banks, who lives part time in Saratoga, sets many of his works in the mountains of northern New York, including one of his most acclaimed novels (turned into a film) entitled The Sweet Hereafter, which he sets near Lake Placid. For some fun murder mysteries set in Lake George in the Adirondacks, check out Anne White’s Lake George Mystery Series. You could start with the first novel in the series–An Affinity for Murder–and read on from there!

I hope you now have some additions for your summer reading list!

Talk to you soon.




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