Monthly Archives: October 2014

Daily Catskills: 10/31/14

An enigmatic dawn for Halloween: Jack Frost paid an overnight visit, glazing every blade, leaf and branch with a icy mantle of ghostly grey that receded quickly in the rising sun. Bright, clear skies and warm in the sun at 40F at 9am with only wispy, trailing clouds and the usual thick mountain mist dissipating into the valleys. Update: 50F in the valleys by 1.30pm. A bright, crisp autumnal day with high, thin layer of cloud cover.

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm

Daily Catskills: 10/30/14

Very fast-moving and multifarious cloud cover rolled through like aerial tides pulling hues of wispy white, dark blue, metallic grey and then, a few minutes of clarity burned through by the rising sun. A morning light show. A chilly 51F at 8.30am. Cloud cover for most of the afternoon with some rain mid-afternoon.

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© J.N. Urbanski 8.35am

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Daily Catskills: 10/29/14

Overnight rain continued into the morning with a warm, humid 52F by 8.30 and rising very quickly to 58F at 9.30am with rolling clouds. Mountains shrouded in mist and cloud. One of the those days where you have to switch on a lamp or two at 10am as the rain beats down. Rain had subsided by 2.30pm with the temperature back down to the 48F as the mist rolled off the mountains.

© J.N. Urbanski 9.15am

© J.N. Urbanski 9.15am

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Daily Catskills: 10/28/14

The thermometer reached 50F by 8.40am: a warm and pleasant morning with hues of pink and orange coming over the mountains with the rising sun. High temperatures predicted for this afternoon. Update: it was t-shirt warm at 70F by 2.30pm with hazy cloudy sunshine. As the sun set, it pulled ribbons of bright pink across the sky and it was still 62F at 7.30pm. The day ended as it had begun, with a minor light show.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.32am

© J.N. Urbanski 8.32am

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© J.N. Urbanski 2pm

First Person Dispatch: Food

5023haysmMy first experience in a New York restaurant went exactly like this:

Me: ‘What’s in season?”
Waitress: “This is America: Everything’s in season.” (Italics hers.)

Duly silenced by this exchange, I flipped through the gigantic menu, struggling to make up my mind as the waitress stalked away proudly. One thing that stood out was the salmon. It was really cheap and back in England at the time smoked salmon was a luxury that I used to roll up in napkins and stuff in my pockets at corporate events. It was difficult not to be impressed by the range of choices and the prices, and in retrospect, I wonder today: what exactly is a luxury in times where “Sunday Best” is a quaint anachronism?

I’ve also recently given more thought to the thorough dressing down my American friend had given to a British sandwich on her first visit to London in the mid-nineties. Taking stock of what now seems like meagre offerings in Britain’s Marks & Spencer Food Hall, my friend exclaimed loudly: “call that a sandwich?!”

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Daily Catskills: 10/26/14

Torrential rain and fierce thunder storms which lit up the mountains during the night had waned to a light drizzle by morning which saw 42F at 10am and a biting wind. 44F at 1.30pm with hardly any wind but continual rain and overcast by 1.30pm. Only the stubborn, red and yellow hangers-on nestled in the vast brush don’t realize it’s winter now. A layer of mist had settled over the mountains at 4.30pm.

© J.N. Urbanski 12.46pm

© J.N. Urbanski 12.46pm

Saturday Shopping: Wood

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Plastic has gradually displaced wood over the last forty years in all products ranging from toys to furniture, to siding for houses and everything in between. Plastic is disposable though and most of it ends its life floating in the South Pacific. In the Catskills, wood is carved and carved upon, built with, juiced, chopped, stacked and burned. We have associations and organizations that manage and conserve our forests. You’ll possess a finely crafted wood product for life and pass it down like art in your family as a treasured heirloom. Supporting local carpenters and craftsmen keeps that craft alive and keeps one more piece of plastic out of the ocean. It doesn’t take much to buy a carving board from local New York State wood like maple (pictured above from Knap Knoll) or wooden toys for children that will last many lifetimes. If you’re looking for a larger handmade heirloom for your family, visit Gary Mead’s Fruitful Furnishings in the Catskills for some of the finest craftsmanship in the Catskill Park region. And, as a side note, to protect our forests from invasive species, like Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorn Beetle, please do not transport firewood.

Daily Catskills: 10/24/14

The weather is going through its BBC Period Drama phase: mist stealing through the morning gloom; the gusty air spritzing your face with freezing rain; humidity turning your climate-controlled hair into corkscrew ringlets. 42F at 9am, rising to 50F mid-afternoon with a significant brightening. The rain abated for most of the day.

© J.N. Urbanski 2.42pm

© J.N. Urbanski 2.42pm

© J.N. Urbanski 2.45pm

© J.N. Urbanski 2.45pm

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© Michael Urbanski – Dusk

 

 

Daily Catskills: 10/23/14

Windswept drizzle all morning, with temps starting out at 42F and hovering with the low-lying clouds in the mid-40’s.  The rain is still welcome, as our waterfalls are flowing with force again, and the fields are still boasting patches of green. Update: the rain continued well into the evening and overnight with warnings of a Nor’easter coming this way.

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

Daily Catskills: 10/19/14

We had a surprising flurry of light, icy snow this morning just after 9.30am with a steady temperature of just under 40F all day. Then the sun came out at 9.58am. More flurries of snow mid-afternoon and intermittant cloud, sun, freezing rain, flurries and gusts: a Catskills winter sampler.

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© J.N. Urbanski 10/19/14 9.58pm

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© J.N. Urbanski 10/19/14 12.57pm

© J.N. Urbanski 10/19/14 1.41pm Alfie the Media Lab is not scared of the freezing temperatures.

© J.N. Urbanski 10/19/14 1.41pm Alfie the Media Lab is not scared of the freezing temperatures.

© J.N. Urbanski 10/19/14 2.07pm

© J.N. Urbanski 10/19/14 2.07pm

 

Side Note: Rhapsody in Hue

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

There’s something very simple, quiet and comforting about being in a group of artists. Eating your bagged lunch in comfy chairs, the morning’s art distributed on the floor for a gentle critique. Sharing a highly windy mountain top for a few hours of Plein Air, during which your easel violently flies at you intermittantly, bringing splashes of paint with it while your painting hat flaps into your face. There’s always a ten minute walk to the nearest toilet with new friends while imparting a brief life story or creeping self-consciously into a stranger’s house to use the facilities. There’s a rhapsody in hue where nothing is explained, but all is understood.

Art Show: Alix Travis

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Alix Hallman Travis “The Village, July” Oil on Canvas 36″ x 48″

Alix Travis presents “Catskill Mountain Life, a celebration of community”, a series of paintings depicting the landscape and life in our small towns and hamlets. Ten paintings of the series will be on exhibition from October 24th to November 17th at the Longyear Gallery, upstairs in the Commons, Margaretville, New York. The opening reception will be on Saturday, October 25th from 3pm to 6pm.

 

Saturday Shopping: Lotions and Potions

The pharmaceutical industry is a trillion-dollar industry in which “simple lab work done during a few days in the hospital can cost more than a car” and patients are reportedly paying $37.50 for a tylenol according to recent investigative journalism like the Time piece by Steven Brill. Consumer expenditure on holistic and natural remedies pales in comparison. Moreover, the toiletries you find on typical supermarket shelves are loaded with preservatives and chemicals like phthalates, parabens and other hormone-mimics that disrupt the endocrine system. There’s much in the natural world that will clean and nourish us more safely and, in coming months, Upstate Dispatch will run a preparatory series on foraging and incorporating natural remedies into our cosmetics and diet. It’s possible to wash your hair and body with products that are entirely free of harmful chemicals purchased here in the Catskills. Today’s potions were Red Clover balm made by Moody’s Mountain Medica of Margaretville, found in The Roxbury General Store and soaps and balms by Green Spiral Herbs containing only natural and organic oils.

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Daily Catskills: 10/16/14

The mountains received a cleansing, much needed rain last night, and we woke to 60F.  The temp today only rose 4 degrees to 64F, and there were scattered downpours though out the morning hours.  The leaves are still clinging tenaciously to some of the trees, brightening up the cloud-filled day.

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

Daily Catskills: 10/15/14

Today’s early morning temp of 63F rose to 73F by mid-day, feeling as though summer may be changing her mind, not ready to leave us behind, despite the falling leaves and half-bare trees that are still peppering our landscape with color.  The clouds today were consistent, even letting go of a few raindrops.

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

Side Note: Autumnal bliss and more tea…

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Upstate Dispatch is waking up with the brilliant Berry Breakfast this overcast, surprisingly warm and humid morning (61F at 7.30am), in order to join the Halcottvsille Plein Air Group on top of a mountain in Roxbury for a watercolor session. Then it’s back to oils for the winter. We can’t get enough of this surperbly, delicately crafted tea.

Daily Catskills: 10/13/14

A chilly 50F at 8.30am with a thick blanket of ominous cloud lying low overhead. It’s been a bumper month for the oak trees as a carpet of acorns crunch underfoot on the forest floor and at field’s edge. By afternoon, Bellayre Mountain was capped with a layer of fog that crept gradually into the valleys with the temperature rising to 55F.

© J.N. Urbanski 10/13/14 3.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 10/13/14 3.30pm

The Roxbury General: Local Luxury

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If you’re looking for a killer girls’ weekend of luxury shopping, stylish accommodation and the some of the most beautifully-crafted and generous cocktails in the Catskills, go to Roxbury. This weekend would have been the perfect weekend for it: brilliantly sunny, t-shirt warm, a performance by a group of fiddlers and a tasting of the divinely luscious Organic Traveller’s Tea at The Roxbury General Store, where you can also rent bikes.

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The Fine Art of Cultivation: Two Stones Farm

Two Stones' Barn

Two Stones’ Barn

“The goal of farming,” wrote Masanobu Fukuoka, farmer and author of One Straw Revolution, “is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”.

The delicate words of this Japanese maestro echo all over the Catskill Mountains as young people, city-bred and country-born, return to farming in droves. Agricultural courses spring up like new shoots across the Northeastern states to respond to demand. Furthermore, there’s a flurry of articles regularly in the media about diverse people quitting New York City. Young, old, wealthy and those tired of the city’s rising cost of living are all looking to make upstate their home. Homesteading is an art in itself and the Catskills are bustling with creative activity. Small-scale farming, the kind that covers the property’s operating costs, doesn’t have to be an enormous amount of work and new busy upstaters with enough capital can now hire farmers and farmer’s apprentices to run their farms while they continue their existing businesses. City transplants who have made the leap quickly find that there’s an invigorating honesty in land cultivation that is rarely found in city life.

Novice homesteaders looking for an exquisitely picturesque organic farm on which to model their fledgling operation should look no further than Two Stones Farm in Halcott, New York.

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Saturday Shopping: Pillows

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Theodora Anema has been a designer for her entire career after having attended an art academy in Amsterdam, the Rietveld Academy. She bought her house in the Catskills in 2000, quitting her job in 2012. On her website Pillowtique, you can find her home accessories: appliqued pillows and ottomans made with leather, suede and ultrasuede.

When her daughter was born, she wanted to design some fun accessories for her bedroom, “some things to spruce up her room. Around that time those abbreviations were widely in use, like LOL, LMAO, etc. So I started doing that and made a whole series of them”.

There’s something homely and comforting about pillows and blankets in tactile soft suede, especially as we go into winter. Beautifully-made soft furnishings like this also make excellent gifts. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 10/08/14

52F this morning and the overnight cloud cover and rain that stole our glimpse at the eclipse was moving on. The day warmed up to 60F, and proved to be another achingly beautiful day in the Catskills where plenty of fall color still abounds.

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

Daily Catskills: 10/07/14

A walk today finds more leaves crunching underfoot than on the trees, as the southern breeze that came through last night gave us a 64F warm day, up from 50F.  *Early tomorrow, October 8, we will be treated to Harvest Moon, Blood Moon and Total Lunar Eclipse all wrapped in one.  On the east coast, the events of the lunar eclipse will begin around 4:17 am and we can have a glimpse of the process before the scheduled 7:01 moonset.

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

Daily Catskills: 10/04/14

The Catskills disappeared behind a fog that never lifted today, and the temps only rose from 51F to 57F, as a much needed slow but steady rain fell alongside the leaves.  Our streams, rivers and reservoirs are thirsty, so no matter the effects on the foliage, the rain is welcome.

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

Saturday Shopping: Vegan Cheese

copyright J.N. Urbanski

copyright J.N. Urbanski

Wholesome, healthful and utterly delicious organic vegan cheeze from Cheezehound, made with the utmost care here in Fleischmanns, New York. The cheese is a raw, plant-based vegan cheese and most of the cheeses have a nut base including macadamia and cashew. Shelf life varies depending on the cheese: some three to four weeks and others up to four months.

Proprietor Lori Robin is at the Andes, New York Indoor Farmer’s Market Saturdays from 10-3pm and Emmanuel’s Market in Stoneridge, New York – Rte 209. For both one time orders or to join her Cheese Club email: Info@cheezehound.com or call 845 625 9003.

For local orders: in a 30-mile radius, Wednesday and Friday deliveries, plus two cheezes are delivered free of charge.

Upstate Dispatch orders the Qasbah (pictured above) which is not only the tastiest, but also  seems to miraculously allow the Editor to sail through grueling workouts and long work days.

Daily Catskills: 10/02/14

69F during a relaxing ride through the Catskills this afternoon, up from 51F this morning.  Layers of color everywhere, from the bright goldenrod to the multi- colored mountains and the almost purple shadows left by the cotton white clouds resting lazily in an azure sky.

©Mountain Girl Photography and Design

©Mountain Girl Photography and Design