55F at 8am, sunny, wet from overnight rain, rising to 70F by mid-afternoon with a flotilla of chubby clouds.
Widely available from Amazon and other places, these tick tubes (pictured above) are stuffed with cotton wool that is laced with the insecticide Permethrin. Hide them around the yard at no less than 10 yard intervals and the cotton inside the tube will be stolen by mice who will use it to build their nests. It’s been reported widely that white-footed mice are the main vectors for Lyme Disease and these mice typically live very close to, or in, the home in addition to on the edge of forests. Put as many as these tubes out around your home as you can, once in Spring and once in the Summer. The permethrin will kill the ticks but not the mice. They appear to work, but it’s not clear from our experiment whether they are being taken by chipmunks or mice.
Over the winter, it was crystal clear that either mice or chipmunks were sleeping or nesting in our wood piles. Each log was covered in mouse (or chipmunk) droppings.
You can also make your own tick tubes, by saving the toilet or paper towel tube and stuffing it with your own permethrin-laced cotton balls. However, permethrin is notoriously toxic, so I haven’t been brave enough to try that yet. If you are getting bitten while gardening, you can spray your gardening boots with Permethrin as small nymph ticks are rampant this year and they are so small they can hitch a ride on your shoes into your house.
After a wet, gloomy morning, 67F by mid-afternoon and mostly sunny. Huge, thundering clouds quickly rolling through stealing the scene, cracking lightning and later issuing some torrential, late afternoon rain. Moody.
72F by mid-afternoon, bright and sunny. Mysterious mist is our regular morning visitor.
If you’re a urbanite, you might have found yourself many times under the bright, hot lights of a NYC clothing store listening to the excruciatingly loud, banging electronic music and found yourself getting more and more agitated while trying to shop. I was happy to leave that part of city life behind and gave up shopping in stores long before I left the city.
I was reminded of this last week, when I found Just Shop Boutique, in Arkville, a discount clothing store with labels to love: Clare V, Laveer, Thakoon, rompers, suits, and much more for low prices, all in a calm, country setting. I had planned to order some shirts online, but saw the red, tartan shirt in the Just Shop window and was lured in. I spent hours ferreting around in there with my mother-in-law, grabbing stuff and then putting it back. Then grabbing stuff and then putting it back. I was very restrained, but wanted to buy all of it. To get an idea of how excited I was, know that I bought a wool, stars-and-stripes poncho for my English sister-in-law ($28). I also bought a traditional, Turkish bath towel, that you can use for camping or a scarf (versatile), for $45. This is an item that I’ll own for life. (The red shirt didn’t fit.)
Plus, just across the road, there are both booze and sandwiches. A few seconds up the road, there’s the flea market, at which my family members religiously stop on their way home from my house to find cute stuff like a crystal serving bowls for a reasonable price. Suddenly, Arkville is a place where you can drink martinis and find a Thakoon striped shirt, overlaid with lace tank top. Score! While I was browsing a week or two ago, in came a woman shopping for a dress to wear to a local wedding because her dress was slit to the waist and kept blowing over her head. Right on, sister.
So, if you’re looking for a whistle-stop tour, a city girls’ weekend outing, or you’re a local with guests to entertain, here’s my plan for your 48 hours in Arkville. A tiny village with a great deal to see.
Arkville Bread Breakfast (or “Jack’s Place”), is located in a blue and red converted train caboose. You can’t miss it and it does the best fish and chips. Although that dish appears rarely, they still stock all the English condiments and a wide selection of beverages. Jack’s does hearty, comfort sandwiches, like the brisket sandwich, which is delicious. They have plenty of vegetarian options. Laurie makes her own hummus and the veggie-hummus wrap is delicious. I also love their bean burger wrap.
Up the hill towards NYC is Oakley’s Bar & Grill, a local favorite for pizza, wings and burgers. Try the white pie, with spinach. There’s also Maine Black Bear Seafood Restaurant ((845-586-4004), a rustic fish restaurant on the Dry Brook River at the intersection of Route 28 and Dry Brook Road. The owner drives up the east coast every week for fresh fish. Well, he used to last time I checked. Call him. Continue reading
It’s garlic scape season! A scape is the bud of the spring garlic bloom that has yet to flower. We cut off these very long buds in order to encourage the plant to focus on growing the actual garlic bulb that grows in the ground. In the picture at the bottom of the page, you’ll see the garlic growing in the ground and there’s a long leaf with a light colored bud on it that has curled over and is pointing left. This is the scape before it’s cut off. Continue reading
On Saturday June 24th at 1.30pm the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper, Bill Birns will be speaking at the 2nd Annual Book Fair.
Bill will be reciting his epic poem Fleischmanns, a Poem (an Historical Imaginative Projection) that was published in three parts here on Upstate Dispatch. (Find Part 1 published here, Part 2: here and Part three: here.) Come and listen to Bill read his richly descriptive, poetic rendering of local history. Bill is a superb orator and listeners will be in for a treat.
Address: Maurice D Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, 5096 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY 12457.
Humid and sticky with periods of torrential rain, thunder and flooding throughout the day and throughout the mountains, caused by dense, milky, blue-hued clouds.
86F by mid-afternoon, hot and very humid with periods of sunshine through a veil of cloud, rain showers and a warm breeze. Sunset in the forest.
After a morning of rain: 77F by mid-afternoon with the sun burning through a veil of cloud.
Julia Reischel is a co-founder of the Watershed Post and resident of Margaretville.
JNU: What brought you to the Catskills?
JR: I came here because of my family. I’m not from here. I like to describe myself as a carpet-bagger [laughs]. Lissa, my wife, grew up here and has about six generations of family in the Margaretville area. When I started dating her in Boston, I knew pretty much immediately that I was going to end up here if I stuck with her, because she has this magnetic pull to this area. All her potential stories ended here. So the Catskills were in my future and when we got married we moved here. We started the Watershed Post, our now defunct news site that we ran for seven years.
Is The Watershed Post still up?
It’s up, but just not being updated. We’ll keep it up as a sort of archive and honestly, it’s Lissa’s call on that because I formally quit a while ago. [Laughs]
Did you have a contract with her? [Laughs]
We actually do have a contract in place.
That’s very sensible!
[Laughs] If we were going to have some sort of acrimonious split, one of us would have to buy out the other. What actually happened was that I decided to give her de facto control over it in exchange for not doing anything for it anymore. So I’m still technically part owner. She ran it by herself for a couple of months and came to the same conclusion that I did, which was that there’s no money in journalism. Continue reading
80F by mid-afternoon, fresh and sunny.
89F by mid-afternoon, overcast, muggy with showers at 4pm. Hot and sweaty. Berry blossoms in abundance.
89F by mid-afternoon, sun blazing with hazy cloud moving in around dusk.
88F by mid-afternoon, hot and sunny with a cool breeze in the shade. Looks a like this will be a good year for apples.
80F by mid-afternoon, warm and sunny.
74F by mid-afternoon, mostly sunny with some cloud and a persistent, cool breeze.
75F by mid-afternoon, warm and humid.
70F by mid-afternoon with a summer breeze and a blue sky naked except for sporadic, plump clouds.
56F by mid-afternoon, overcast, with heavy rain clearing up late afternoon. Still chilly, but perfect for mushrooms and ducks.
70F by mid-afternoon, humid and breezy, clouds ready to burst all day, mist crawling over mountains. Sultry.
54F by mid-afternoon, gloomy, chilly with continual afternoon rain.
66F by mid-afternoon with a cool breeze and rolling, cotton wool clouds.
Years ago, when we were losing our crops to blight and other things, our neighbor Alan White, told us to find out what grows well on our ridge and plant a lot of it, then swap for other produce you might need with neighbors. Rhubarb loves it here, as do potatoes, asparagus, garlic, asparagus and berries. This year, my husband is trying arugula, because I spend money on that stuff and it’s imported from god knows where. That’s not to say that I don’t eat our weeds like sheep sorrel and dandelion, because I do. Our mint has also gone quite rogue and I’m picking new growth in our lawn along with the other weeds.
Since I became a trustee of Woodchuck Lodge, John Burroughs’ last home and site of his final resting place in Roxbury, NY, I’ve become fascinated with his bookshelves. He left behind a vast collection of Atlantic Monthly magazines and (pictured above) a sturdy collection of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Atlantic Monthly is still published to this day and is a progressive periodical devoted to covering “news and analysis on politics, business, culture, technology, national, international and life”, but what was it like back then? Last month, at one of Woodchuck Lodge’s Wild Saturday events, I had just about enough time to flick through most of an Atlantic Monthly magazine from April 1923 and took photographs of what I considered the most interesting bits (below). I cannot help but wonder what John Burroughs himself thought when he read about Mrs A trying desperately to avoid “social suicide”. Continue reading
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’ve been making natural sodas with forsythia and spruce tips. I’ve discovered that spruce tip syrup goes particularly well with whiskey, too, like the forsythia, which made a tasty Catskills Collins. I’m also working on rhubarb juice that makes a first-rate bitter addition to cocktails for people who find bitters too intense or overpowering for their taste. Here are a couple more refreshing cocktails for the summer.
Parts 5, 6, 7 & 8 of Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts
(Imaginative Historical Projection)
By Bill Birns
- Griffin Corners at Armstrong Park
Bit hard for me to make a hero
of him, Matthew Griffin, though
lots of folks do. It’s hard not to
admire his sheer American-ness.
That photo-of-the-founder look
on his weathered face as he sat
posing for that end-of-long-life
first-time photograph in
front of his office (or shop)
with the hand-lettered L-A-W-Y-E-R
over his head behind his chair. Maybe
he believed that founder stuff himself.
Armstrong Park must stay out of the public view,
a gentleman’s name need only appear
in print when he is married and when
69F by mid-afternoon, bright and sunny.
58F by mid-afternoon, overcast and gloomy with hovering mist and sporadic rain.
75F by mid-afternoon with rippled, early morning clouds evaporating in the brilliant sunshine.
The Outsider’s Kitchen & Cafe opened last week on Route 30 between Margaretville and Halcottsville at the old station by the railroad tracks opposite the golf course. Chocoholics can go right to the funny cake based on a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe: a delicious blend of crunchy cake topping, with a rich, sticky, gooey filling, all in a pie crust. The more health conscious can get house made orange, coconut, almond granola, with yoghurt parfait, or you can buy it packed dry to go. It’s granola with a citrus zing that’s complemented by the earthy coconut. There are also scones and muffins available too. For lunch: large, thick, square portions of breakfast pizza look like they can cure all sizes of hangover; thick sandwiches on ciabatta, salads and soups are offered along with the usual beverages like coffee and tea. There’s ample parking and a nice view of the golf course. A very welcome addition to the Saturday errands route: take the garbage to the transfer station and stock up on produce at the Pakatakan Farmer’s Market.
It’s spruce tip season: fresh, new tree growth at the tips of the branches of evergreen conifer trees present as vibrant, brilliant green nuggets about the size of a nut, varying between the sizes of a peanut and a pecan. They are instantly recognizable as a completely different color than the rest of the needles on the branch, from a distance looking like a Christmas tree has come down with forest chicken pox. For the past few weeks, they have been encased in a papery brown or fleshy red covering (that ejects clouds of a dense, yellow pollen when shaken), which they are now shedding to reveal the green tips. Continue reading
75F by mid-afternoon, sunny with wispy cloud. Clouds of yellow and green pollen coursing through the air and gathering on cars, barns and houses as if spring can’t stop sneezing. The may flies endure.
Parts 2, 3 and 4 of Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts
(Imaginative Historical Projection)
By Bill Birns
Part 2: Historic Proclamation of 1913
Mr. Julius Fleischmann and Mr. Max Fleischmann,
heirs to Senator Fleischmann, have offered
their good wishes and
the six and a half acre parcel
known as the Fleischmann Mountain Athletic Grounds
to the people of the Village of Griffin Corners,
to be used by the people in perpetuity,
insofar as no admission can be charged
for any event within the park and
that the park be called Fleischmann Park, and
a sum of fifty thousand dollars be on deposit
in the village bank for the endowment of the park.
Mr. Fleischmann and Mr. Fleischmann sincerely acknowledge
the intention of the village to change its name to Fleischmanns. Continue reading
52F by mid-afternoon, overcast, windy. Occasional patches of blue floating in the gloomy sky like empty spaces in a jigsaw puzzle.
54F by mid-afternoon, overcast, steady rain with periods of sunshine. More gloom, mist and steaming, soggy landscape.
48F by noon. Continuous rain, wet, muddy, gloomy and overcast.
The Zephyr’s Chili on the dinner menu stands out for its lightness, uncharacteristic for a chili bowl, achieved by the addition of sweet, juicy chunks of tomato amongst the beans. You won’t go home with a brick in your stomach, but you’ll have enough fuel for a long walk in the country air, the wet, wet, gloomy country air. I took a couple of bites of the cheesy biscuits, wrapped the rest up in a napkin and ate them later. Where’s spring? Yesterday was warmer at 62F and cloudy with some late afternoon sun. Today: more rain. My seasonal affective disorder is only just held at bay by remembering how low the Catskills reservoirs were last year and how much they need replenishing. Spring has been more of a gastronomical tour around the mountains, ducking into restaurants, sitting at the bar and trying some of the Catskills’ best fare. Try also, Traveler’s White Tea with Hibiscus, (which also goes well as a vodka mixer).
The experiment with essential oils used as a tick repellent continues and our success rate appears to be 100% so far. The dog and I have been foraging in the forest three times this week for 1-3 hours at a time and we’ve returned with no ticks. So, pictured above, you can see a air-travel-size bottle full of water into which we’ve put 10 drops of each essential oil: lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree. Shake for a few seconds before applying to your shoes, trousers, cuffs, belt and all over the hat. Sadly, this does not keep away the may flies that continue to dive-bomb our eyeballs. I’m also not doing audacious things like lying down in the brush to take a picture. That’s just begging for a tick in the ears, hair and everywhere, in my humble opinion.
For the dog, this is a miracle and all we’ve done is spray the top half of his collar with the liquid, not the bottom half because we don’t want him to be engulfed in the fumes, allowing the collar dry in the sun for a few minutes before we put it back on him. He’s an adorable, obedient lab who only cares about running and hugging, so he only objects to whatever stops him from doing these two things. He can handle smells. Your dog may not. For the record, we haven’t put Frontline on our dog since April 10th.
So, because of this experiment’s success, I have not been able to catch a tick and test more essential oils on it, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
62F by mid-afternoon, scattered clouds, but warm in the sun with a cool breeze.
It may not be on the menu for much longer because it’s a winter warmer, but even though the apple blossom is being attended by huge bumble bees and brilliant greens are creeping up the mountains , it’s still colder than a well digger’s belt buckle up on the peaks. Let Phoenicia Diner’s luscious, juicy meatloaf, drenched in tasty mushroom gravy, stick to your ribs one more time. The sun may be out, but there’s still some thawing to do. Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the spring frosts.
54F by mid-afternoon, chilly but warm in the sunshine once the clouds cleared late afternoon.
Foraging is not only an excellent way to supplement your diet, but it reduces your carbon footprint. I hear a lot of people complaining about climate change and foraging is a way to be some part of the solution. Eating whatever’s in your garden is the best way to put your money where your mouth is. Why have that salad sent from California when you have wood sorrel, dandelion greens, ramps, thistle roots, winter cress, burdock, plantain and wild lettuce on your property? Don’t spray your weeds; eat them. Some hardcore carnivores would be surprised to find that these foraged greens have any nutrition at all, but if you spend dark winters watching the deer battle on through a driving blizzard at zero degrees, knowing that they only eat vegetation, you have all the proof you need. Foraging is fun and hiking is the best exercise, gentle enough for everyone. Sorrel is has the taste of spinach with a lemony zing. Spruce tips, which are out now, are a little unusual with a taste reminiscent of citrus.
48F by mid-afternoon, overcast and gloomy.
This is Part One of Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts
(Imaginative Historical Projection)
By Bill Birns
Part One: On the Porch at Fleischmanns
36F at 8.30am with a layer of overnight snow melting in the sun, chilly and overcast with the snow flakes swirling in the wind. 44F by mid-afternoon.
46F by mid-afternoon, humid and overcast with continual misty rain. A good day to forage, harvest, cook and preserve.
60F by mid-afternoon, overcast, dreary and continual rain with occasional sunny breaks in the cloud.
50F by mid-afternoon, gusty winds, overcast, heavy rain leaving mist over the mountains.
A few posts ago, I mentioned that the charcuterie board at Peekamoose was my go-to dish at the restaurant and somebody asked why that was. Well, it could be the tangy mustard, or the juicy, sweet onion topping, or the chicken liver pate on warm, soft chunks of toast that are gently soaked in house-made, herb butter. It’s the pastrami, though, that seals the deal. It’s like New York City pastrami is all grown up now and moved to the country. Thickly sliced into slabs, it’s mouthwatering grass-fed beef that’s tender, pulls easily, yet retains its juiciness and special because it’s not too fatty or greasy.
This weekend, try the charcuterie board, before you see Prelude to a Kiss playing at the STS Playhouse and take out some dessert on the way home.
Did someone yell Cocktail? I have all this forsythia syrup and didn’t preserve it, so I need to use it all up before it goes bad. What better way to put syrup to good use than a twist on a couple of classic whiskey cocktails: a John Collins and a New York Cocktail. The simple syrup is replaced in both cocktails by forsythia syrup, the earthy tones of which are compatible with a good Scotch and the lemon. Find my forsythia syrup recipe here.
This first is similar to a John Collins, but made with Scotch and missing the fruity garnishes. The second is a New York Cocktail without the grenadine.
51F by mid-afternoon, chilly, windy and overcast with a sunny afternoon.
Two years ago, I saw Proof at the STS Playhouse in Phoenicia and it was riveting and engaging. At the time, I called it “remarkable: deeply engrossing, funny with excellent performances from the cast. Proof explores the world of madness and mathematics”. It was a great production, starring Jennifer Paul, Farrell Reynolds, Stephen Powell and Kimberly Kay.
This year the Playhouse is putting on a production of Prelude to a Kiss, by Craig Lucas, directed by Michael Koegel, owner of Mama’s Boy Burgers. You may remember the movie with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan. Opening night is this weekend, May 5th, running until May 21st. Make a perfect night of it and get early dinner and drinks at nearby Peekamoose Restaurant– the play starts at 8pm.
STS Playhouse, 10 Church Street, Phoenicia, NY. Tickets $20 or $18 for seniors and students. Call 845-688-2279, or click here for more information.
58F at 9am, raining, overcast and humid. Last night’s rain gushing down the mountains. Breezy afternoon.