Monthly Archives: March 2015

Transplant Tales: Laura Silverman

© Mark Hanauer Courtesy of Laura Silverman

© Mark Hanauer Courtesy of Laura Silverman

Laura Silverman was a guest on my radio show on WIOX almost exactly two years ago and is a fellow writer of Edible Hudson Valley. Laura has a popular local food blog called Glutton For Life and is Editor of Delaware Valley 8 a new bi-annual newspaper based in the Catskills to be published on Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.

There’s been a rash of articles in the media about the Catskills turning hipster. What do you think about that?

I think that cities in general are becoming much more challenging places to live especially for creative people. I think more people are moving out of the cities and more people are dreaming about moving out of cities.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

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Daily Catskills: 03/30/15

32F, overcast and lightly snowing at 8.30am. As far as Spring is concerned it appears to be one step forward and two steps back. The windowsill sage continues to bolt regardless. Update: moderate winds for most of the day with a smattering of hail. The clouds parted at about 5pm.

© J.N. Urbanski 4pm Bolted sage

© J.N. Urbanski 4pm Bolted sage

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm

Daily Catskills: 03/29/15

34F at 10.30am with bright sunshine casting vivid, long shadows of the forest in the snow; clear skies stretching down to a hazy horizon. Signs of Spring: your dog finds all the balls he lost in the snow and my obsession with my dead birch tree continues…

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

Daily Catskills: 03/28/15

20F at 8am with barest of snowfall. Did we blink and miss Summer? Update: light snowfall continued throughout the morning and was much heavier by the afternoon. Really, more snow? Yes, really. 30F by 1pm.

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm Local, fresh eggs for sale at River Run, from Lazy Crazy Acres $4 in the cooler

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Daily Catskills: 03/27/15

32F at 9am, a light icy rain and the remnants of last night’s fog lazing over the mountains. The snow banks have dissipated and a grungy landscape is emerging. 36F at 1.30pm and no rain.

image

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm There’s a swimming hole in there if you look hard enough

Transplant Tales: Esther De Jong

© Esther De Jong

© Esther De Jong Self-portrait

“I don’t ever think any more in terms of weekdays and weekends… I don’t ever feel the need to book a vacation any more because to me it’s all here.”

Esther De Jong, model, real estate agent and fine artist lives full-time in the Catskills after relocating from her native Holland via a life and career based in New York City.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Since 2006.

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Trout Season: April 1st

Photo supplied by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum

Photo supplied by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum

Next week, you’ll catch anglers meditatively throwing their first casts of the season into local streams in quiet celebration of their beloved skill. “Trout season”, aka fishing season officially begins in the Catskills on April 1st, but the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum in Livingston Manor, NY, has its “season opener” on Saturday April 11th. From their web page:

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Catskills Conversations: Margaret D. Helthaler

Margaret

© Chris Helthaler

Margaret D. Helthaler is a graphic designer and fine art photographer living in the Catskills. She is taking the Daily Catskills images for Upstate Dispatch for the next three days.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

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Sunday Punk and More Tea

To continue the British punk theme for the remainder of the weekend and into Monday. The DIY ethos of the punk movement merged with my British obsession with tea, (made from Organic Traveler’s Tea) ready for The Economy of Punk on WIOX FM Radio tomorrow morning at 9am. Making my own cold tea while choosing content for the show.

© J.N. Urbanski 2pm Organic Travelers Tea

© J.N. Urbanski 2pm Organic Travelers Tea

Daily Catskills: 03/21/15

Second day of spring = glorious winter wonderland. Mud season in abatement after yesterday’s low temperatures. 36F at 10am with morning sun occasionally peeking through the rolling grey cloud cover. An inch of yesterday’s powder remained on the branches. 40F at 1pm: overcast, with only brightness from the snow.

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm Firepit buried under snow.

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm Firepit buried under snow.

Daily Catskills: 03/20/15

28F by 10am with snow beginning shortly thereafter. A dismally grey, overcast Spring Equinox. Update: heavy snow into the afternoon with an inch of powder laying on roads and tree branches.

© J.N. Urbanski 5.12pm View from the Office

© J.N. Urbanski 5.12pm View from the Office

© J.N. Urbanski 3.45pm

© J.N. Urbanski 3.45pm

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Daily Catskills: 03/20/15 Spring Equinox

© J.N. Urbanski Sprouting seedlings planted on 15th March

© J.N. Urbanski Sprouting seedlings planted on 15th March

It feels like spring has been put on ice, but don’t put the cork back in the champagne yet. Today, March 20th is the vernal equinox, with two additional bonus features of a solar eclipse and a perigee moon, in which the sun looks about 15% bigger than it usually does: dubbed a “Supermoon”.

For the 24 hours of the equinox, the durations of the day and night are equal because the sun shines directly at the equator. The suns rays are perpendicular to the earth. When you live in the mountains, you notice the position of the sun more keenly and during winter months it rises and sets much lower than its summer east/west positions. Days will now start to get longer until the longest day of the year, which will be the June Solstice.

So the days may be long, but nothing has sprung except the indoor seedlings planted last Sunday 15th March and sprouting in the spare bedroom. If you don’t have a heated greenhouse outside, you can “start” your seeds inside, but don’t use potting soil: use peat. These cauliflowers are five days old.

Historical Art of the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski The Hubbell Tractor visible from Route 30 near Halcottsville 3/14/15

© J.N. Urbanski The Hubbell Tractor visible from Route 30 near Halcottsville 3/14/15

Poignant relics of Catskills’ history like this antique tractor are to be found all over the Catskills, as much part of the landscape as the forest. Over the next few weeks, as spring begins, we’ll be photographing these enigmatic idols as they sit silently conveying their story like stoic immortal pioneers. May they always be around to remind us of the work involved in settling these mountains. Along Route 28 and other routes, you will find pieces of farm equipment and other machinery arranged into statues. We’ll be documenting those too.

Transplant Tales: Erik P Johanson

© Nicole Vente

© Nicole Vente – Erik at his office in the Catskill Center

Erik P Johanson has lived in the Catskills for little more than a year, but has already developed a business plan for the redevelopment of the Maxbilt Theatre in Fleischmanns, which has resulted in the building being put on State and National Register of Historic Places in 2014: a formidable achievement in such a short time. He now works full-time for the Catskill Center in Arkville. After having lived in New York City for ten years, Erik and his boyfriend tried the Berkshires, New Mexico and looked to purchase property in Los Angeles before buying a house in the Catskills and moving here full-time.

What first brought you to the Catskills?

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Hug A Hemlock

© J.N. Urbanski Hubbell Hemlock 3/14/15

© J.N. Urbanski Hubbell Hemlock 3/14/15

There’s nothing more majestic than a towering hemlock, a evergreen conifer that seems to be loosely draped in its elegantly weeping branches that dangle delicately towards the earth. It can live to 800 years or more and grow to statuesque heights of more than 70 feet. Last year’s call for illustrations of the Hemlock for an exhibition ignited interest among artists of the Catskills and once I started looking for hemlock, I found them everywhere. I even found a short sapling on my property and it will outlive me by many many hundreds of years, if it’s not attacked by the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, an invasive species native to Asia. The Catskills Center has a new programme for the pest that’s thought to have arrived in New York in the eighties.

From their website:

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Soup Sundays at Spillian

As I mentioned last week, there was Jazz at Spillian last night, during an event that I dub Soup at the Spills, which was actually a combination of their regular Soup Sundays and their Voices of the Catskills series. In honour of St Patrick’s Day, the Spill’s Culinary Curator Melissa Zeligman made Colcannon, which was delicious. The weather had taken a squally detour down a cold, muddy road by the afternoon yesterday – it had already started snowing again in the morning – so the Irish stew was the perfect wintery feast. By this morning, the sun had come out again in force as if yesterday’s aberrant hail/snow/rain/mud mix had never happened.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Sugar Shack: Tapping Season

The maples have been tapped and the sap is boiling, old-school style, at the Hubbell Sugar Shack and will be boiling for the next month. This sugar shack runs on a wood-burning furnace and the product, Liquid Gold is sold at Catskill Rentals and Sandford Auto Parts.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

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The Hubbell Cider Press

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Hubbell Cider Press dates back to the 1880s. The mountain railroad allowed farmers of the Catskills access to heavy machinery left over from the civil war. Chopped apples come down the chute, top left and land in the barrel, bottom left. The mush is then pressed flat between racks on the press in the background. Juice is collected in trays beneath the press running down the centre.

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Daily Catskills: 03/14/15

36F at 9am, rising to 40F by noon. Dreary and overcast, the last of the snow dripping from rooves and melting snow making a muddy mess of the roads. Mud season in full swing, the only advantage being that you can wipe your muddy boots off in the snow. Update: lunchtime rain ushered in mountaintop mist that had sunk into valleys by dusk.

© J.N. Urbanski Noon

© J.N. Urbanski Noon

© J.N. Urbanski 1.15pm Hubbell Outhouse

© J.N. Urbanski 1.15pm Hubbell Outhouse

Transplant Tales: Molly J Marquand

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718 Molly Marquand at her office at CRISP in the Catskills Center

“My muse is always nature.” Molly J Marquand, Catskills transplant and fellow native Brit, photographer, writer, naturalist, and wild flower gardener dishes the dirt to Upstate Dispatch in our new series Catskills Conversations.

How long have you lived in the Catskills? About two and a half years, I moved from New York City where my fiancé and I, Martin, lived for three years. I was born in England and moved to the Hudson Valley just before high school. I did go back to England to get my Masters Degree, in Taxonomy and Conservation of Plant Diversity (Botany) a joint programme with Kew Botanical Gardens and The University of Reading. But my undergraduate degree, which was in Ecology, I did at Bates in Maine.

What made you move here? I’d always had my eye on it, because I knew that I always needed space. We had this dream of having a farm and having wide open tracts of land. At the same time, I wanted to be close to my mother who lives in the Hudson Valley. [My fiancé and I] were both attracted to landscapes like the Rockies and Montana and places like that, but knowing that we were never going that far away because Martin’s family live in New York City.

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Stealing All Transmissions: Punk in the Catskills

StealingAllTransmissionsI host a live radio show on WIOX in Roxbury, New York on alternate Monday mornings at 9am and every other week I attempt to quantify a different subject with or without a guest. I’ve interviewed some erudite, intriguing people. One of these characters was Randal Doane, who called into my show on Monday, which was about the state of radio and featured guests Chris Hensley and Joe Piasek. He has written a recent history of FM radio and The Clash called Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of the Clash, published by PM Press.

Radio is a tricky subject because most young people tell me they don’t listen to it anymore unless they’re in a car. Most people I meet get their music from Spotify or Pandora and forgo any talk radio. Of course, now “new media” is now the thing: podcasts and video.

WIOX FM Radio is a little enclave of eccentricity in a world awash with polarised talk-radio and MOR rock and to promote our little slice of country eclecticism we are having a benefit and panel discussion in which Randal Doane will be keynote speaker. So, it’s a punk-addled night that’s being hosted at Spillian, our favourite Catskills Victorian mansion with some of the weirdest, most opinionated characters the mountains have to offer. It’ll be like any other night down the pub on any London high street in the seventies. Just leave the crystal chandeliers alone, alright?  Join us for an evening of “friendship, provocative conversation, music and no small amount of partying…”.

Stealing All Transmissions:
An Evening of Local Celebrity, Subversive Commentary,
Community Radio and Fancy Cuisine

Saturday March 21, 6:00pm at Spillian
50 Fleischmanns Heights Road, Fleischmanns, NY 12430
A benefit for WIOX Community Radio
$50 donation. Limited seating.
Reservations: 607-326-3900

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First Person Dispatch: Work

© J.N. Urbanski A Tom Otterness sculpture somewhere in Idaho

© J.N. Urbanski A Tom Otterness sculpture somewhere in Idaho

Scrolling through back issues of Brain Pickings this week, I stumbled upon the post entitled “How To Avoid Work” and read it with interest. My eye lingered on one quotation in the article: “Your life is too short and too valuable to fritter away in work”. The artist in me agrees with this sentiment but my other half is too pragmatic not to find it irksome. Frequently paired with this idea is the notion of only “doing what you love” and the pursuit of this idyll. Because Upstate Dispatch is devoted to the city folk who are making the country their home and their business, I decided to ask the question: what is work?

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Daily Catskills: 03/10/15

36F at 9am quickly rising to 40F by 9.30am. Hazy sky being burnt through by the morning sun. Mud season is upon us. Update: a high of 50F in the afternoon, which quickly became overcast and grey for the remainder of the day.

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

© J.N. Urbanski 9am Yesterday’s footprints frozen into the ground

Daily Catskills: 03/08/15

Gusty and 36F at noon and maple syrup tapping has begun in the Catskills region. Bright and sunny despite cloud cover: the landscape appears to be under a giant light box. A strong, squally flurry blew through for an hour or so at 1pm whipping up loose powder into tornados. The clocks went forward an hour last night.

© J.N. Urbanski 1.40pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.40pm

Live at the Spills: Jazz, March 15th

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

A friend in NYC asked me last year “don’t you get bored up there?” There’s this mis-conception that we’re a bit dull up here in the mountains, not edgy enough or uncultured. Not so, my friends, for right on my doorstep, literally a hop, skip and jump is the Spills and Sunday night, March 15th, there’ll be live jazz featuring Eric Rosen, Nina Sheldon and Rich Syracuse. What better way to round off the week than lounging around in the Spillian bar listening to live jazz? Spillian, a place to revel, is a unique location in that it’s a boutique hotel that’s wild at heart and a-fire with desire to make you dream, play and “imagine past what you think is possible”. The only goal of proprietors Leigh Melander and Mark Somerfield is that you revel. Last time I meandered with Melander at the Spills, I started to read aloud from a Charles Bukowski novel and instead of being politely shushed and shuffled into a corner, I was given a piano accompaniment (until a dog started howling). For the second year in a row, Spillian has been hosting Soup Sundays and Soup Salons with Voices From the Catskills co-produced by Chris Hensley, a music industry veteran. The Catskills is the place where artists and producers come to produce the entertainment they love and despite our sleepy reputation most of us are crushing it.

Next Sunday at Spillian:

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Daily Catskills: 03/05/15

A nippy 18F at 9am: quite the plummet from an overnight high of 36F at 11pm last night. The chill, still air has formed a crust of impenetrable ice over the snow. The birch obsession continues, a smear of peeling peach in an otherwise monochrome landscape.

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm

 

Daily Catskills: 03/04/15

Overnight winds threw foot-high drifts of icy snow against the house but hardly anything on the car. 23F at 9am: calm and gloomy. 36F by 1pm with rolling, grey cloud cover, the sun having made a valiant attempt to emerge, but only lasting a few minutes.

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

Daily Catskills: 03/03/15

22F at 9am rising to 26F mid-morning with the sun barely discernible through the haze. An overcast, dull day enlivened only by a Cuban sandwich. Mid-afternoon snowfall with a winter weather advisory in effect forecasting ice and sleet. Update: 18F and heavily snowing by 5.30pm.

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm “Nevermind about the hail hitting your eyeballs. Throw this stick.”

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Daily Catskills: 03/02/15

24F at 9am with hazy cloud covering the sun like thin gauze. Somehow it manages to be bright and enigmatic morning even with the cloud. Overnight snow laid white accents on high branches that sprinkled powder the wind. The creamy peach colour of peeling birch trees stand out against the snow and reflect the sunlight.

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm