A high of 39F, humid and overcast. A gloomy start to the month.
Fire cider is a traditional, ancient folk remedy and winter tonic in which curative roots, herbs and spices are steeped in apple cider vinegar. The basic ingredients of fire cider are garlic, horseradish root, jalapeños, habaneros, ginger and onion. Chop these ingredients finely, put them in a mason jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. To this mix you can add extras like grapefruit, rosemary, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper or really anything that takes your fancy, usually a root or herbs because they steep better than powders. Continue reading
A high of 21F, overcast with a bitter, driving wind and icy snow. Frigid.
Our early attempts at beekeeping failed when our bees died over one of the Catskills’ harshest winters four years ago and we never got back on that horse again. Past Catskills winters have been brutal with night-time lows as low as 15F recorded on our thermometer, but that was nothing compared to the temperatures we have just been though this winter: -19F over this past Christmas and the New Year. Not sure how any creatures except the penguin survives these kinds of temperatures, but year after year, we find bumble bees pollinating our crops. They must survive in the wild somehow. Continue reading
32F at 9am and clear with hazy cloud on the horizon. A high of 42F by the afternoon.
A high of 48F, humid, overcast and grey with thin strips of aquamarine on the horizon.
A high of 52F, snow and ice lingering on the high peaks.
How quickly the phrase “failure is not an option” turns into “let’s find the nearest pub” when faced with an extended trip down an icy rock face. Pictured above is part of the trail down Slide Mountain on the way to Cornell. Yes, that’s the trail up the middle of the picture, completely filled in with ice. If you had been there you would have found me clinging to some of this rock face, stuck and hyperventilating, even wearing crampons, wondering aloud, why, why, why, am I here again? Have I learned nothing? You would have observed my dog looking at me quizzically, wondering, why doesn’t she just trot down like I just did?
A bitter high of 20F, face-deadening cold, but bright, almost cloudless sunshine for most of the day.
Briefly back to the earth tones and flax colored landscape. Bitterly cold with an icy wind chasing grainy snow that swirls around on the ground and fills the air, glittering in the sun. An afternoon high of 28F.
The gloriously gorgeous Kaaterskill Falls, being one of the true wonders of the Catskills, is one of our most popular hiking spots for tourists: lush in the summer and, in winter, haunting the eye with its striking beauty. Because of its popularity, it’s noticeably the most well maintained area, with manmade steps, bridges, a viewing platform, rope handles and much more signage. Most of the signage this season is warning signage because Kaaterskill Falls is also the most dangerous place in the Catskills, statistically speaking. Deaths and injuries occur here every year, mostly because people hike to the top of the waterfall and slip over the edge. To prevent more accidents, a sturdy old-school, farm style fence has been installed at the top of the falls, in addition to plenty of warning signs saying: “danger!” Continue reading
36F at 9am with the mountains shrouded in heavy fog, turning the landscape to black-and-white until the afternoon. Mist lingering on the peaks. Glistening birch trees. Balmy and humid with a high of 41F.
There are some first class events happening in the last few weeks of January, namely a Full Moon Ski/Snow Shoe, a fly fishing meeting at The Pines, an open house at the Catskills Interpretive Center and a farmer’s market. See you there.
Thursday January 25th – 6pm to 10pm – Anglers’ Night at The Pines
From 6pm to 10pm, join a “casual gathering of anglers and friends” at The Pines in Mount Tremper. 5327 Route 212, Mount Tremper, NY 12457.
Saturday January 27th – 11am to 3pm – Winter Open House at the Catskill Interpretive Center
Come out to the Catskill Interpretive Center to learn more about the great opportunities to get outside in the Catskills this winter. Meet outdoor adventure experts and browse information tables from local recreation organizations, enjoy indoor & outdoor activities for all ages from animal tracking to snow sculpture, and much more! Admission to this event is free. RSVPs are appreciated. Call 845-688-3369 or click here. 5096 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY 12457.
Tuesday, January 30th 6pm to 8pm – Blue Moon Snow Frolic at the CIC
On the grounds of the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center in Mt. Tremper, Jonathan Mogelever will lead a moonlit cross country ski excursion on the 1.5 miles of trails. Jeff Senterman will snowshoe with those that prefer a wider base. A bonfire will burn for digit-warming, there will be telescopes available for moon-gazing and the supermoon will light the trails. The Catskill Interpretive Center will be open for hot chocolate and snacks. Cross country skiers from beginners to advanced are welcome to this 45 minute ski and/or snowshoe. Bring your own equipment and please dress warmly.
A high of 44F with bright sunshine through hazy cloud. Ice slowly melts.
On Monday’s radio show on WIOX, we’ll be exploring both history and the natural world: the local tradition of ice harvesting and fly fishing.
On the first half of the show, I’ll be talking to Lisa Wisely of Blue Spark Creative Services, together with Kajsa (pronounced Keesa) Harley of Hanford Mills Museum where the annual ice harvest will take place. Before refrigerators, we had ice houses, which were separate structures from a main house, sometimes built into a hill and in the shade, in which we kept ice in chunks. Lakes were a good source of ice and this ice was harvested and distributed every year.
Every spring, I invite a few local, famous fly fisherman on to the show to talk about this meditative art about which the only thing I can’t get behind is catch-and-release. I prefer not to torture the poor creatures. If I’m going fishing, I’ll be eating whatever I catch. My guest on Monday, in the second half of the show, will be Todd Spire of Esopus Creel.
It’s syrup time. Taps went into trees a little earlier this year. Tree Juice is now offering a CSA.
There are many maple syrup producers in the Catskills and some of them welcome visitors. It’s worth paying more for local sugar and seeing how it’s made. Some of the modern equipment is more complicated that customers realize. Farmers and producers use miles of tubing to collect the sap. Syrup is produced by condensing the sap and 50-60 gallons of maple sap yield one gallon of syrup. It’s completely organic. Continue reading
15F at 9am with a snow flurry glittering in the sun. 21F by mid-afternoon and partially cloudy with a bitter wind.
A high of 19F, bright and cloudless with new snow on the peaks.
Bright sun poking through hazy cloud with a high of 20F and a continual flurry of glittering snow. Large puddles of mud with frozen crusts crack underfoot and trees creaking in the cold.
Yesterday, the temperature inexplicably rose up into the sixties for a few hours, followed by rain and a severe flood watch. Since then it has plunged back into the teens after an overnight snow storm, during which I woke up to the sound of cracking trees and thundering wind rattling my drain pipes. Never a dull moment here in the mountains. Continue reading
Overnight, gusty, house-creaking, tree-waving winds continue into morning, with rain melting the last of the snow, and bright despite being overcast. A lush landscape of brunette tones is revealed, and the landscape welcomes a drenching before the ice storm. A balmy 61F. T-shirt weather. Flood warning. The carbon sink (compost piles) gets a thorough soaking.
A high of 52F, gloomy all day with the occasional whip of wind and a chorus of tinkling as the snow drips from high places. An anonymous critter’s regular commute back and forth from a large cave into the hemlock stand melts slowly to reveal a trail of crushed ash leaves.
We have a large rocky outcropping on the edge of the forested part of our property that juts out sharply towards our neighbor’s ten-acre forest (pictured above). This rocky area, about an half an acre in size, is essentially a pile of assorted boulders that look like they’ve been tossed down the hill, but I suspect that this pile is home to various creatures great and small. Years ago, when I was brushing my teeth, casually looking out the bathroom window, I saw a fisher cat sneaking through the back of our woods behind the house towards this rocky outcropping. Continue reading
Cabin fever has you wondering if its possible to survive another six-month winter and why you would put yourself through another one, but there’s a reason we have winter in the Catskills. I like to think that it’s not because the earth suddenly tilts for no purpose whatsoever, as if holding its cold ass to the fire. No, winter’s for learning, seed planning, and drinking a lot of warming winter cocktails like hot toddies and mulled wine. If the earth must kick back, so can we. Continue reading
Local, regional radio hosts and shows are finally getting the attention they deserve from the New York Times in a piece by Kirk Johnson entitled: “As Low-Power Local Radio Rises, Tiny Voices Become a Collective Shout”. I’m proud to be part of this chorus on WIOX Radio on Roxbury, Upstate New York in a show called The Economy Of, in which I tackle different subjects every other week with guests from all over the world. I’m also being considered for a Morning Edition slot from 7pm to 9pm one day a week on this station. The station and its programs are indeed incredibly diverse and informative. Started by a group of locals in a converted barn and now partnered with WSKG, a NPR affiliate, WIOX is the little engine that could, covering everything local in the Catskill Mountains, streaming online and locally on 91.3FM.
If you missed it, this morning my show was on farming. My guest was Dana DiPrima, aka Farm Girl, who writes the blog The Pitchfork about keeping a small farm on her property in Sullivan County. I’ve been farmer’s advocate since I began my show almost seven years ago. Time flies!
Bitterly cold with a high of 6F on our ridge and sunny, with some snow. Beautiful in the valley of hemlocks. Cold toes after a half hour of snowshoeing.
0F (-17C) at 2pm with a wind chill of -19F (-28C). Face-cracking, eyeball-freezing, toe-numbing, finger-deadening cold for all except the black lab who is in his element.
Quickly making a roaring fire is a fine art and in these plummeting temperatures the art form becomes a necessity when you’re starting a fire in an extremely cold cabin.
Materials pictured above from left to right: paper, tinder, kindling and thin, light logs of “starter” wood.
The real secret for great tinder is a certain type of egg box made with compressed paper or cardboard that is a strong enough structure to support the pyre while it’s burning, but light enough to burn easily. Paper alone is too light and burns down quickly. Once it has burned down, the embers can dampen your fire. Egg boxes burn slowly and cleanly. You can also use paper towel tubes, but the issue here is that you need to have saved them in advance. Continue reading
We enter the New Year 2018 with formidably low temperatures. Christmas was bitterly cold and New Year’s Eve’s overnight low is predicted to be -8F. I cannot remember it ever being much lower than zero in previous winters. It feels like a thorough cleansing, as if Mother Nature wants to properly destroy everything before she resuscitates the landscape next Spring. Previous milder Winters have been blamed for the prevalence in ticks, for example. This year – this past Fall – we had a record number of ticks on our ridge and extremely low winter temperatures do their part to kill the eggs and larvae hibernating in the soil. Continue reading
A high of 33F and cloudy with freezing rain. Mountains shrouded in mist. Tea with a friend.
Today, December 21st, is Winter Solstice, officially the first day of winter. The northern hemisphere of the earth is pointed the farthest away from the sun and, tonight begins its slow return towards it until the June Solstice of 2018. The ancient tradition of Yuletide, one of the oldest winter celebrations in Europe began this morning and will end on January 1st, 2018. Last year, 2016, Hanukah, a festival of lights, coincided almost exactly with Yuletide, from December 20th to January 1st. Yuletide was a fire festival celebrated by the Northern Europeans. Pre-Zoroastrian Persians and ancient Romans celebrated something similar before the common era. The most enduring British tradition from Yuletide is the Yule Log, a small firestarter from a larger bonfire that was shared with many households by landowners in England. Evergreen trees were fashioned into wreaths and other decorations for the interior of the house for their refreshing smell. The Brits still make cakes fashioned into Yule logs and, of course, we still bring in pine trees, decorate them with lights, but now we call it Christmas. Happy Solstice!
I’ve written about Bearpen Mountain before after climbing it in March 2016. As I wrote then, it’s aptly named, being bearish not bullish, a long, gentle incline around a mountain following a snow mobile trail. Bare trees allow stunning, almost panoramic views, glimpses of the surrounding countryside, so it’s easy to keep your bearings. When the mountain’s covered in a few feet of snow, you can follow the tracks of previous hikers up or down a handy short cut that’s a dashed black line on the map and helpfully signed “Danger”, but this part of the trail is scantily marked, so I’ve never had the courage to bother with it before. It was a blessing on the way down on Sunday because all the hikers before us had decided to take the short cut so we had broken trail most of the long way up and – as usual – I had forgotten something, snow shoes, that would have made the going far easier. Continue reading
A high of 28F and overcast with a glassy, grey sky. Thick snow on the peaks.
A high of 26F with continual, light snow.
In the hushed, revered halls of the New York Public Library on 42nd and 5th Avenue you’ll find The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, in which sit several collectible works of John Burroughs. The historical, literary treasures of the substantial Berg Collection sit in their own private reading room. Visits must be booked in advance to view any works in this room, in which coats are prohibited and other books are not allowed near whatever you are viewing. I’m imagining being presented with white gloves and whispering, so I don’t accidentally spit on the ancient goods. Visitors must obtain a NYPL Library card which is about as thrilling as it gets for a bookish, foreign writer like myself. I might frame it. Continue reading
20F by midday and still with cloud cover moving on by the afternoon exposing a vivid blue sky.
Artist Lisbeth Firmin will be busy during the holiday season finishing large and small works for sale. Currently in her studio in Margaretville working on two new oils and starting a third, she welcomes studio visits, and takes commissions. “I love painting people’s pets, too” she says. “I just did a commission for a friend in NC, a portrait of him and his dog in his beloved Mustang”.
Her signature style is rich, stout brush strokes that create a lush dreamscape, a ruminative environment where subjects are often caught deep in thought, or on their way somewhere – and often both! – with the ambient lighting, like sparkling daylight or a sunset, beautifully captured.
For small works, Lisbeth does small gouaches (9″ x 12″) for $300 and has the tractor prints available this Christmas, at $50 each. She’s also in Small Works Show in Roxbury through the Holidays, with three small gouache studies @ $150 each (6″ x 6″) and have a nice gouache of a house in Franklin in the MURAL Holiday show in Hobart ($195). Here’s a list of all the latest exhibitions in which Lisbeth is showing.
For the art lovers in your life, consider buying local art for the holidays.
Correction: A previous version of this post mentioned a January 2018 class entitled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain in Hobart NY. The class was actually a summer class that took place this past summer 2017. Apologies!
A morning temperature of 10F with blistering, face-numbing, phone-freezing winds, rising to 17F by mid-afternoon with brief flashes of sun. Bitterly frigid.
I know what you’re thinking. This looks hideous. Who would eat this? But, If you’re an avid mushroom hunter, a devotee of all things mycological, then you’ll miss the vast array of mushrooms that were available in the forest during the warmer seasons. Pictured above is a mushroom grow kit, specifically Lion’s Mane, a delicate, fragrant mushroom with a taste and texture that’s a cross between lobster and truffles. I found only one stash of Lion’s Mane back in August in the forest and it was delicious. I’m trying to recreate this mushroom in my kitchen with a grow kit purchased from Catskill Fungi, but I think the room is a bit too light and warm. Mushrooms are extraordinarily sensitive and I have not been able to encourage this packet to achieve its full potential. In the wild, it looks like this: Continue reading
A high of 35F, and overcast with shimmering cloud and continuous snowfall. A quick Urdhva mukha svanasana. Yoga on the go.
A high of 31F and overcast with brief flashes of sun through the rippling clouds.
Upstaters are busier than ever, especially around the holiday season. Many of us – writers, farmers, makers and artists – work from home and if you do, you might spend hours a day cooking your own meals that detract from your billable hours or projects. Amy’s Take-Away & Catering in Lanesville, ten minutes north of Phoenicia, NY, makes delicious, hearty soups with local ingredients offering vegetarian, vegan and meat options in equal numbers. If you’re having a particularly busy week, you could buy five of Amy’s soups at the weekend and save hours cooking lunch and cleaning up.
Amy’s is open on weekends from 12-6pm or “by chance or appointment”, meaning you can make an appointment, or if you’re in the area and Amy is on the premises, you can call 845-688-9759. The premises is only ten minutes from Hunter Mountain and quite a few Catskills 3500 peaks. If you’re ski-ing and hiking at the weekend, it’s a no-brainer to take Route 214 and pick up soups on the way.
Moreover, owner Amy Jackson is a farmer’s advocate having been a long-time member of NOFA, Chefs’ Collaborative, and Just Food. She is a certified food processor, a Master Gardener and has helped start farmers’ market and RSAs. Plus, she gets her produce directly from local, upstate farmers, driving to the farms herself to pick up what she needs.
On the current menu: corn chowder, cauliflower cashew, broccoli apple, minted pea and spinach, Ukranian borscht, turkish orzo, moroccan turnip and chickpea, “buddhist delight” and many more. Ingredients are sourced from Adams Farm, Bulich Farm, Migliorelli, RSK and Story Farms.
A high of 29F and gloomy with rippled, moody clouds and a bitter chill. Late afternoon flurries cover iced ponds.
A high of 30F and cold with afternoon snow beginning as a light sprinkles at lunchtime and continuing well into the evening. Cars over-shooting their turns, sliding gracefully off roads and into ditches, just before dusk ahead of the snow ploughs. Winter has finally arrived.
A 45F high with a thick layer of morning frost and foggy for most of the day.
A high of 41F, mostly overcast with brief glimpses of sun.
Support a local farmer and cut a local, sustainably grown Christmas tree this year. Tree growing is one of the few ways farmers making a living in an area highly regulated against industry in order to keep New York City water pure for drinking. Continue reading
A balmy 43F by mid-afternoon, bright and humid after frosty morning. The dried husks of summer’s blooms, crowned with snow, wave in the breeze on tall stalks like stakes marking the spot where spring once was.
Saturday December 2nd
Renewable Heating Happy Hour at Union Grove Distillery in Arkville from Transition Catskills from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Geothermal heating is an affordable, environmentally-friendly alternative to heating your home. If you’re curious how it works, there will be presentations at 5.30, 6.30 and 7.30 with Jake Kornack from Dandelion.
Holiday Arts Market at Roxbury Arts Group. 11am to 5pm.
The Polar Express returns to Kingston. Ulster County politicians want to rip up the historic railroad that runs through the Catskills. Come see why we should save the rails. 1pm to 9pm.
Nick Lyons’ A Life Well Fished at the Phoenicia Library. Legendary fisherman, author and publisher Nick Lyons will be at the Phoenicia Library to reminisce about his “Life Well Fished”. Nick is widely known for his popular “Seasonable Angler” column in Fly Fisherman Magazine, which he wrote for decades. In articles for Fly Fisherman and other publications, and in more than a dozen books, he chronicled his fishing adventures all over the world.
Function or Form: Utilitarian Art Show at the Erpf Gallery in the Catskill Center,
Tuesday December 5th
Community Solar at Andes Hotel, Andes, NY. Join Southern Tier Solar Works at Andes Hotel to learn all about Community Solar. Enjoy free hors d’oeuvres, while hearing about how you can save money and steer the clean energy economy. Have all your solar questions answered. 7pm.
Throwback Thursday: three years ago this week, the dog glides across two feet of snow.
A high of 42F, with vivid blue ribbons of sky shining through thick streaks of cloud. A persistent breeze scatters the milkweed. Not much snow this month compared to previous years.
Food, booze and small favors like soaps and scented candles make great gifts without costing a fortune. Plus, they can be easily mailed to friends and family members across the country. The Catskills is filled to the brim with local producers, making it ever easier to shop locally for the holidays. The Catskills also have some of the best local artists selling everything from small works to large pieces in studios across the region. Watch this space for features on local artists selling their wares during the holiday season. We’re also compiling a list of places you can cut your own Christmas tree. It’s never been more important to shop locally. For every dollar you spend locally, the community will benefit to the value of five to seven dollars. Industry in the Catskills is strictly regulated because we have to protect New York City’s drinking water. Spending money on the Catskills’ small producers keeps our regional economy afloat. Shop Upstate for the holidays. Continue reading
Tune in to WIOX on Monday November 27th at 9am to my interview with Brian Flynn, who is running for Congress next year for New York’s 19th District.
Brian is a lifelong progressive and small business owner. He has spent his entire adult life fighting, effectively, for the type of progressive change that makes a real difference in people’s lives. Brian’s activism emerged from a very personal event almost 30 years ago. His big brother, JP, was killed in the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. This experience taught Brian that you can bring about meaningful change in Washington – if you’re organized, tireless and never stop fighting for what’s right. And Brian has been fighting for change ever since. He has marched in the halls of congress and the UN, held big businesses accountable, ensured terrorists are convicted, supported public education and fought for environmental protections. As a union member he’s walked picket lines. He’s worked on factory floors and worked to raise the wages of hundreds of American workers. He knows what it takes to get things done and he knows that we can never stop until it gets done. Brian lives in Hunter in Greene County with his wife and two children. You can find out more about Brian by visiting his website www.brianflynn.us
A 35F high with rippled cloud.