Paradox Lake of Memory
By: Kate Johns Walton
About the Book
A memoir about a fascinating lake in the Adirondack Mountains and how its complex geological origins and eclectic social history impacted a family’s life, Paradox Lake of Memory is also about how gender shapes history.
Delving into Paradox Lake’s billion-year-old origins, its pre-colonial history, and raising up its Mohawk back story, within is a tale of great privilege, great loss, and serendipitous discovery.
Celebrate the women who made significant contributions to its historical development, especially a place known as Camp Nawita, a marvelous sanctuary for Jewish girls built in 1925 that morphed into a family compound still thriving today.
About the Author
Kate Johns Walton received her BA from Goddard College in Vermont and a master’s degree in Education from George Washington University in D.C. Walton worked at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard and has traveled extensively in Africa. Her later career exemplified community engagement while serving in leadership capacities at three human service agencies over the course of her career.
Born and raised in New Haven Connecticut, Kate Walton is the daughter of a Yale geologist whose research at the time focused on the Paradox Lake Quadrangle in upstate New York. She has two adult children and five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to further exploring her family’s American experience, which started here in 1628.
Kate Walton has made a unique contribution to the literature of and about the Adirondacks.
For example, Anne La Bastille, author of Woodswoman, has given us a personal narrative of her
long winter’s time in the Adirondack woods. Others, like Bill McKibben, have kept the region in
the deep background of his many well-known writings on Nature—Homecomings, for example.
Still others, like William O’Hern has published a good many field guides to the region—for
example, Adirondack Adventures.
But no one was done what Walton has in Paradox Lake of Memory where she tells
stories and more about her family summer home, the former historic Camp Nawita, on a lake
not far from Ticonderoga. In each of its 56 very short chapters she tells of her family dynamics
(not always happy), of the geologists who studied the area, of the native Iroquois who first
settled the place, of the famous Revolutionary War at Ticonderoga, of economic development
(not so good) in the region, of Yale and her home in New Haven and its ties to the region, and
more. One of many striking examples is Adirondack Orogeny (the science of the earth’s crust)
which is followed by Women’s Progress and Family Reunification, on the personal oppressions
she felt and her coming to terms with them. Through juxtaposed differences like these, she
alerts the reader to a larger dynamic in which life itself is lived.
Anyone who cares about the Adirondacks, or, for that matter, life and living in an
historically salient natural place should read this wonderful book.
--Charles Lemert, University Professor Emeritus, Wesleyan University