Monthly Archives: November 2015

Daily Catskills: 11/30/15

25F at 8.30am and bitter, with the landscape coated in a layer of grey frost evaporating in the sun. Clear skies save for a distant cloud of fog hugging a far off mountain. 34F by noon.

© J.N. Urbanski 10am

© J.N. Urbanski 10am

Daily Catskills: 11/23/15

35F at 8.30am, brilliant sunshine with scant cloud like cotton wool balls. A light, frigid breeze. A thinly spread, easily broken sheet of ice on the pond where the beaver has been beavering.

© J.N. Urbanski 9.20am

© J.N. Urbanski 9.20am

 

On Hunting

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Today is the first day of hunting season for shotgun users and I’ve been hearing gunfire echo over the mountains for the last month in preparation. The past few weeks of hunting season have been strictly for bow users only. Over the next month or so, there’ll be a plethora of camouflaged, gun-toting neighbors creeping around in the woods that abut my property, and sitting in makeshift deer stands. My husband saw a crossbow wielding neighbor stealthily striding out of the woods last week and felt like I had dodged an arrow.

As a new country lass, the first experience I had with a hunter was when I was hiking. Rounding a corner, our group chanced upon a man; perfectly still, holding what looked like an AK-47, looking like a stocky, camo-version of Bruce Willis in Die Hard. The gun made him look at least eight feet tall. He stared. We stopped. He silently crept towards us and then passed us without so much as an excuse me. We kept calm and carried on.

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A Mink Sighting

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

A mink has moved into my neighbor’s yard and my dog, desperate as always to make new friends, was a little overly zealous in his introduction. My dog almost made friends with a bold, friendly deer once, and for a few minutes they chased each other around, but I ruined it by getting in too close for a picture. That’s country life. We left the mink in peace and haven’t seen him since.

A Beaver Sighting

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

A beaver has moved into the hood, specifically the woods at the end of my road, and now I realize why the term “eager beaver” came into existence because he’s highly prolific. In his new habitat, a roadside pond, he has downed nearly ten trees in the short space of a week and was spotted yesterday, clearly from the road, swimming around on his back, surveying his work. One of the trees he felled looks to be about a foot in diameter. The town excavators who were clearing out all the gulleys in the area last week may not have noticed his handy work, but it looks like the over-achieving beaver is building the Empire State Building of dams and this could be a problem for the small stream that drains through the pond. He swims late in the day when the sun has warmed the pond, so I’ll be back around 4pm to see if I can catch him.

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The Catskills Pinhole Camera Project

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Back in August, during the Fleischmanns Art Fair, I was given a pinhole camera by Wanda at The Painter’s Gallery in Fleischmanns. Like so many other exciting projects I intend to start, it went on the back burner, but the results have been published in their website and that has given me the impetus to use the camera. It’s new home will be on a tree in the forest for the next two weeks.

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The Classic Hot Toddy

HT_can_8797

It’s hot toddy season for whiskey drinkers, but if you use the freshest, most healthful ingredients, eat the honey separately. Raw, natural honey from a pesticide-free apiary is precious amber nectar and you shouldn’t ruin it in hot water. I felt sniffles and a sore throat coming last week, so I got hold of some of New York’s finest raw honeycomb and its propolis. I took a large teaspoon and savored it well, making sure it touched every part of my throat before swallowing. I sweetened my hot toddy with maple syrup and I’m glad to say this combination worked.

Classic Hot Toddy for Two
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces of single malt scotch
8 ounces of warm water
2 teaspoons of maple syrup

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Art Now at Willow Drey Farm

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

William Duke and Madonna Badger, owners of the gorgeous Willow Drey Farm in Andes, New York, are keen to make use of their beautiful barn between weddings and events. The idea is to create a space for artists to gather, collaborate, cogitate, create and exhibit in an inspirational environment. From 1pm to 4pm tomorrow, Saturday November 14th, for their first group show Wide Open Art Exhibit, the public is invited to come and view watercolors, oils, wooden sculptures and tiny scenes of glass forest sprites inside acorns (pictured below by Michael Pereira. The above chandelier was made in one night by William Duke and artist Peter Mayer (who painted the colorful, smiling Avatar below) and they’re calling it “post-apocalyptic modernism”. There’ll be watercolorist on site painting small works outside if it’s not too cold (your humble writer). Join us.

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Downstate Dispatch: Daily NYC 11/12/15

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

My Daily Catskills Canon camera has been with me through thick and thin: sun, rain, snow, blizzards, storms and horizontal hail that sprays you in the eyeballs like a Santa’s Visine. Co-incidentally, a few days before I was due to come down to New York City this week, the camera stopping working. So I took it to the storied Nippon Photo Clinic in Manhattan and just by virtue of it crossing Nippon’s venerated threshold, it miraculously became fixed. I was hoping to show the technician how it didn’t work, but it snapped away perfectly. I asked him if this was typical, but he shrugged his shoulders with a chuckle. Sod’s law, I thought as I checked the camera in for a clean and wondered how many famous photographers had paid the infamous Nippon Clinic a visit to have their equipment restored.

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A Day of Remembrance: 11/11/15

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

For Veterans’ Day in the US and Remembrance Day in England: a shelf full of history in the Skene Memorial Library in Fleischmanns, New York. When I’m trudging through the rain in New York City today, I will remember those who trudged much longer and in far worse conditions.

Downstate Dispatch: The Pines in Brooklyn

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Pork shoulder, beef burger sliders, crostini with cranberry ricotta, polenta with roasted Brussels sprouts, kale salad, pheasant soup and a plate of roasted, assorted spuds, all washed down with local cider from Wayside in East Delhi. That was last night’s delicious menu at The Pines’ backyard Catskills Comes To Brooklyn blowout that was packed to the rafters with hungry New Yorkers feasting on local produce and roasting s’mores over the fire. We even got to taste Wayside’s limited edition crab apple cider, which was worth the trip in itself, but not sure if it beats our current favorite, Wayside’s Skinny Dip, which is made with local quince. Owner of the Pines, Carver Farrell hails from upstate and a big supporter of local food. When you’re next in the city, visit The Pines. There are no photographs of the food, because it sadly did not stay on the plate long enough. Plus Wayside’s cider slips down so very easily and smoothly, just like we did after three glasses. You will just have to go and find out for yourself.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

Daily Catskills: 11/08/15

44F by 1pm, cloudy and overcast. Some scattered showers that rolled in with new cloud cover and sunny periods when the cloud cover parted. Mostly sunny by the end of the afternoon.

© J.N. Urbanski 1.40pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.40pm

Catskills Conversations: Raji Nevin

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?
RN: Lived in Woodstock for about four and a half years now.

Where did you move from?
I just moved across the river from Rhinebeck.

Did you grow up in Rhinebeck?
No, I grew up in Oklahoma, smack in the middle of the USA, but I have moved quite a bit. I’ve probably lived in about 28 states.

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Daily Catskills: 11/05/15

59F at 8.30am, still and enigmatically overcast. 69F by 2pm, cloudy and still but for the occasional breeze wafting leaves to the ground.

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm

Farm to Table Events: Downstate & NYC

© J.N. Urbanski 11.30am

© J.N. Urbanski

November 6th to 15th is Cider Week in NYC and there is Farm to Table style gathering at The Pines in Brooklyn, the owner of which is from Delaware County and a keen supporter of farmers and producers here.

They are hosting a Catskills backyard blowout on November 9th from 6pm to 10pm. They will be bringing down Delaware County-grown eats, wild-apple ciders and all manner of special things and special guests to the banks of the Gowanus including Wayside’s special crab apple cider.

They will be firing up seasonal snacks on the grill, roasting s’mores around the fire pit, and pouring cider all night long. Entry cost is $35 all-you-can-eat and cider specials a la carte. If you’re in NYC next week, please go to The Pines and support our local producers.

The Pines
284 Third Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Buy tickets here.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Word of Delaware County-based Wayside Cider is spreading like wildfire and they’ve completely sold out of two varieties, Halfwild and Catskills. They have very limited amounts remaining of the Skinny Dip that included local quince. Wayside has been in business for a year and thus far have pressed about 30,000 gallons. Before the end of the season, they’ll press another 7,000 gallons. This has been a tremendous year for the Catskills wild apple and many supportive neighbors have invited Wilson, and his business partner Irene Hussey, onto their land to pick their heritage apples and they’ve found five or six varieties of apples that are geo-specific to the Catskills. Some of those trees they have marked for grafting and Wilson is putting together a “roster of apples” from what exists here in these mountains.

For Cider Week, co-proprietor of Wayside Alex Wilson will be taking part in a panel discussion at Wassail in Lower East Side entitled So You Want To Start a Cidery. Tickets are going quickly.

Further north in Cold Spring, Glynwood is hosting its third annual Cider Dinner on November 13th from 6.30pm to 10pm. Guest Chef Shawn Hubbell of Soons Orchard & Farm Market joins guests in November during Cider Week NYC for a farm-fresh meal paired with the best craft hard cider the Hudson Valley has to offer.

Glynwood
362 Glynwood Road
Cold Spring, NY 10516

The Catskill 35: Windham High Peak on Halloween

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

There’s a sudden change of scenery on the trail to Windham High Peak after the first mile or so. An imposing, sky scraping spruce forest wherein you feel like you’re about to get picked off like Hansel and Gretel. To make it even spookier, the forest floor under the spruces is barren apart from intricately woven with thick tree roots snaking all over the path. A perfect Halloween scene if ever there was one.

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