Tag Archives: Catskill Mountains

Daily Catskills: 08/23/17

After heavy overnight rain, a high of 76F with an armada of clouds sailing through the blue. The wild, post-rain proliferation of mushrooms continues in the cool shade of a hemlock forest.

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The Catskill 35: Summer on Slide

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Most of the trail to Slide, almost to the top from the Slide Parking Area, is like rubble, as if an ancient giant smashed the top with Thor’s hammer and a plethora of rocks tumbled down the side and piled up in the dirt below. You might appreciate the step aerobics-type exercise on the way up, but the descent can be precarious. Hiking poles are a great help on this type of trail. The hiker needs to be as nimble as a mountain goat in order to make good time, or take some extra time to make frequent stops on the way down to sit and ruminate amidst the ancient geography. The Catskills were once – millions of years ago – on the seabed in the Bahamas. You can find marine fossils, pebbles and small pieces of harder stone embedded in the rock. This is a good hike for dogs, because there are plenty of small, running streams to provide refreshment. There are some stone steps built into the rubble at various points to ease passage.

Slide is easier to navigate on foot in the winter when it’s covered in a thick layer of ice or snow and you can glide over the top in spikes or snowshoes, but the summer reveals its fascinating character. This is no ordinary hike and Slide Mountain Wilderness was a favorite of local legend, essayist and naturalist John Burroughs, a protégé of Walt Whitman. There is a plaque dedicated to Burroughs at the summit, on a rock under which the author frequently slept. He wrote: “Here the works of man dwindle, in the heart of the southern Catskills”. Be careful not to miss the plaque if you’re finishing your hike at the summit of Slide Mountain.  Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 08/18/17

Surprise! More heavy rain. A high of 80F, with oppressive humidity, a heavy blanket of cloud and mist swirling over the mountains like the ghost of summers past. Steamy.

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Weekend Links: Food & Drink Edition

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Come to a party at Ella’s Mercantile in Halcottsville on Saturday August 12th beginning at 4pm.

Booze your way to good health with Laura Silverman’s recipe for a thyme cocktail for Well and Good Magazine: “if you feel the inkling of a late-summer cold coming on, it’s the perfect reason to get out your cocktail shaker”. If you need a reason, that is.

I’ve said it before, Pakatakan Farmer’s Market is full of scrumptious food and beverages like sausage pie, vodka, kimchee, restorative herbs and fresh royal jelly in addition to your farmer’s market staples like meat, vegetables, dairy, baked goods, mushrooms, and more booze. Nearby, just up the road, you will find Outsider’s Cafe for breakfast too.

Peace, love and food trucks in Bethel.

A blueberry pie eating contest in Woodstock next Wednesday.

Daily Catskills: 08/11/17

79F, dark, humid and smothered with rippled, blue milk glass clouds. If today’s weather were a movie, it would be a moody film noir: sultry and begging for a wet ending. Update: it got its wet ending: a thorough rain shower mid-evening.

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The Farmer’s Market

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This week is National Farmer’s Market week. The invaluable, local farmer’s market that is sorely missed all winter is more than just a Saturday errand, it’s a living legend, a place where all the hard work, sweat and tears of production finally gets its showcase. Shopping at farmer’s markets greatly stimulates the local economy, creating jobs and increasing access to fresh, healthful food.  Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 08/07/17

An unexpectedly chilly morning and a rainy afternoon. A 64F high. Migliorelli’s farm stand also sells perfect rainy day Italian desserts like chocolate pudding and crème brûlée for days like this.

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Daily Catskills: 08/05/17

74F by the afternoon, billowing clouds revealing occasional sunshine. Refreshing breeze in the trees punctuated by the annoying buzz of a neighbor’s drone in the distance. Garlic curing in a shady spot.

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The Catskills Tasting Train

I grew up by a London railway line and spent my formative years being shaped by watching people go places. I would wave at the trains chugging past and wish that I could jump aboard. In retrospect, I now see that those poor people were going to and from work and would have loved to have traded places with me, sitting in a backyard reading books. It’s no surprise that I now love trains, traveling and, gasp, I’ll admit here that I even love airports.

We have an aging rail network here in the Catskills that groups have tried to save and its future is uncertain. Lengths of the track were damaged by Hurricane Irene and there are proposals in the works to turn the rails into walking trails. Personally, I think we should maintain the network and get funding to turn it into a set of museums, but I’m obviously biased even though I clearly love hiking. The Rip Van Winkle Flyer, run by the DURR, whose home is in Arkville, has opened for the season judging by its website. On the weekends, the Rip Van Winkle Flyer takes tourists through the mountain from Arkville to Roxbury and back.

Now, the DURR is teaming up with local food producers and The MARK Project in Arkville to run the Tasting Train next Thursday, August 10th from 5pm to 7.30pm. Tickets are priced from $25 to $40. They call it the “Local-Motive”, on which you can try all manner of delicious local fare from producers, cheese makers, artisan bakers, craft beverage distillers, breweries and more. It couldn’t really get any better than sitting on a train and stuffing your face for a good cause. The train departs at 5pm and returns to Arkville by 7.30pm.

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Daily Catskills: 7/28/17

Morning sun! Misty clouds wafting over head with a warm, gentle breeze and birdsong. Summer’s back for a while, with today’s high almost 80F.

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Catskills Weekend: July 28th & 29th

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EVENTS in the Catskills tonight and this weekend:

Tonight, Friday 28th, there will be music at Wayside Cider in Andes.

Saturday July 29th at 1pm, join trustees at the annual meeting of Woodchuck Lodge, John Burroughs last home built by his brother on the Burroughs’ ancestral home. The board of Woodchuck Lodge works to preserve this historic site and runs its popular Wild Saturday program on the first weekend of every month. Location: 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474. Free tours are also offered on the first weekend of every month from 11am to 3pm.

The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and the Woodstock Land Conservancy are teaming up for a “Bio Blitz” at the Thorn Preserve in which participants can “volunteer to do a bit of citizen science” until 10pm tonight July 28th. The project continues tomorrow July 29th from 9.30am to 5.30pm at 55 John Joy Road, Woodstock, NY. Meet scientists and expert naturalists to study the wildlife, plants and biodiversity at the Catskill Center’s Thorn Preserve, a beautiful 60-acre locale containing a stream, pond, wetlands, forest and open meadow. A great opportunity to get involved. Continue reading

On Mushroom Hunting

After yesterday’s torrential rain, our forest floor erupted with mushrooms, of all shape, size, name and color, like twinkling jewels amidst the undergrowth and quite an extraordinary sight to behold.

Beautiful, ethereal Ghostpipe (or Indian Pipe, pictured above) has proliferated like never before seen in our forest. To see a venerable plant that is ordinarily quite rare, this seems magical. Not technically a mushroom, it’s rather a plant that doesn’t photosynthesize, devoid of chlorophyll and taking its nutrients from a delicate balance of conditions: decaying deciduous leaf matter, conifer trees and an underground fungus network, in perfect measure. It’s pretty much impossible to cultivate because it’s so sensitive and venerated because it’s an analgesic, for physical and emotional pain, that is over harvested. To be presented with such a plant in abundance feels like a gift, so I’ll be harvesting a small amount this year to make a tincture. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 07/24/17

A high of 62F after a misty morning. Gloomy, chilly afternoon with rain showers except for a brief, sunny interlude at lunchtime.

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Bovina Fashion Week

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Country life is a great leveler. There are American icons in our midst who are asked to sit on boards with people who forget their names and there are enigmatic art directors who hold fashion shows with clothing made entirely from recycled garbage on their 100-acre farm. Who knows what the sheep thought, but a good time was had by the humans in attendance and an essential statement was made about the environment.

Yes, the model pictured above is blurry, but the organizer, Steve Burnett, aka The Bovina Farmer, had a glittering career in New York City before he realized his dreams, so he got everyone drunk on Manhattans. In fact, refreshments for the audience were two whole watermelons and a copper bowl of Manhattans served to us by the illustrious Sir Julian of Richards, he of Tickler fame. The audience was ushered into the event through a dense thicket of balsam fir by the dulcet tones of the bagpipes played by a piper clad in full blue tartan. Once the bagpipes had retreated, musical accompaniment for the show was provided by a world class drummer beating some expert modeling marching orders on metal garbage pails.

There is seriously never a dull moment here in these beautifully eccentric Catskill Mountains.

Catskills Weekend: July 22nd

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Saturday July 22nd

Phoenicia

You may just be able to register in time for Taste the World, at 1.30pm on Saturday – if it’s not sold out – at the Phoenicia Library. Sample a medley of traditional foods that The Recipe Hunters learned to make in the homes of locals from around the world. Hear about the stories of people behind these recipes. ADVANCED REGISTRATION required, please call the library 688-7811. 48 Main Street, Phoenicia, NY 12464.

Hobart

Hosted by Transition Catskills, Hobart Methodist Church is holding a Repair Cafe from 10am to 2pm. Take your broken household items, like lamps, vacuum cleaners, small appliances and clothing to be fixed. Hobart Methodist Church, 186 Maple Avenue, Hobart, NY 13788

Bovina

Gardens of Bovina Tour, hosted by Bovina Historical Society will take place from 10am to 4pm. 124 Bob Hall Road, Bovina Center, NY 13740. This is a rare chance to get an insider’s glimpse of one of the hippest areas in the Catskills. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch.

Arkville

If you are interested in becoming a member of the non-profit Catskill Center, they are holding a members-only event entitled The Hudson River School and the Ice Age with speakers and geologists Johanna and Robert Titus. The Catskills Mountains were once at the bottom of the sea where the Bahamas are now. Found out how they got here, Saturday 22nd, 7pm to 9pm. 43355 State Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406. Membership is $35 for individuals and $50 for families.

Andes

Wayside Cider are hosting a Wallabout Fire Roasted Beef Dinner at 6pm Wayside Cider, 55 Redden Lane, Andes, NY 13731. $60 cash at the door.

Monday 24th July

Pine Hill

The Zephyr in Pine Hill is hosting a trivia game night. from 7pm to 10pm. 302 Main Street, Pine Hill, NY 12465. $5 margaritas and some delicious local eats.

Everyday Philosophy

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I walked down a mountain today to the Gilding Bee at The Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns, run by Laura Sue King.

If you don’t understand the arts, like contemporary art for example, or you can’t see a use for it, The Gilding Bee couldn’t be of more help to guide you and it runs for another week. The object of this project, funded by a grant administered by the Roxbury Arts Group, was to gild small, familiar items (that fit in the palm of your hand) to be included in an exhibition on July 30th in the gallery.

Coating every day objects in gold leaf elevates the ordinary but necessary into something exceptional, reaffirming the value of every day items, and why not? The whole project highlights the importance of art, friendship, community, and other things that seem trivial, or taken for granted, as we rush from place to place. It’s a small, symbolic way to celebrate the good in a world of bad. I bought dice, a bottle, pieces of old Prague pavement that had come loose, and a lipstick.

Lipstick: The lipstick effect is an economic theory holding that during difficult economic times women spend more money on goods like lipstick because it’s a cheap way of making yourself feel good. According to The Economist: “Believers in the lipstick theory trace the phenomenon back to the Depression, when cosmetic sales increased by 25%, despite the convulsing economy”. Something you might think is irrelevant, like lipstick, has had its own economic theory for almost 100 years.

Pieces of Prague Pavement: we went on vacation to Europe seven years ago and, as we wandered the streets of Prague, inebriated on Czech lager, we took a real, concrete souvenir: part of the city. Adding some gold to these two innocuous, square cobblestones took me back in time. I remembered the stews, the borscht, the bridge, and the stunning beauty of Prague. We’re told that material things are burdensome and we shouldn’t get attached to them, but as you get older, even small objects retain memories for you that the brain has long forgotten.

The gold dice represent people who think they got rich simply by working hard and being smart, when success takes a lot of luck, like being born into a wealthy family.

The Gilding Bee runs for another week: next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1pm to 5pm at The Painters Gallery, Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430. Suggested donation of $5.

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Storms & Sunsets

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I’m told that, while we were away this month, there was continual rain and yesterday evening, after a dash of threatening thunder, we had a spectacular storm before dusk. The sun’s last rays were caught, as if trapped, between an intensely deep, blue-gray storm cloud and more white clouds above. The rays were then dragged across the sky, rippling the white clouds while they followed this angry, gray mass as it sailed over Slide Mountain issuing streaks of lightning as the sun set.

Our ridge was bathed in deep red and the black lab sniffed the air as he chased the storm down the hill, keen to see it move on. Can dogs smell thunder and lightning? If so, he got a big whiff of it last night. A gorgeous, enigmatic evening.

The Gilding Bee in Fleischmanns

Photo courtesy of Laura Sue King

This week at The Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns starting Monday July 17th at 1pm for two weeks, a community goldleafing project begins, hosted by Laura Sue King called The Gilding Bee. No reservations are needed. You can turn up at The Painters on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 5pm for the next two weeks. The project will culminate in an exhibition on July 30th.

Laura will provide the gold leaf and found ceramic, glass and metal objects, but you are welcome to bring your own. Other materials that are gold leaf friendly are plastic, wood and paper. It’s preferable if the object fits in the palm of your hand as the gold is real and we want to make sure there’s enough for all. Participants will be able to take their object home with them.

This is a chance to make everyday items into something exceptional with members of the community: a symbol of the importance of friendship and the significance of art, to put on the mantle piece. It could be a rock, pebble, small pot, or bottle.

The Painters Gallery, 1109 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430. Suggested donation of $5 will be waived for those who cannot pay.

The Gilding Bee is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Grant Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Roxbury Arts Group. Sponsored by the MARK Project.

Finding Home

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I’ve been in England for a family wedding for the last two weeks and although the British countryside is in my blood, and I’m shaped like a missing piece of its jigsaw, it was moving to return to the mountains, to our densely overgrown, untended property. It had a party in our absence.

We arrived yesterday, early evening, to find that the short path from the car to the house was a thick carpet of clover sprinkled with aging chanterelle. Half of the field that was mowed around our small farm is now festooned with yarrow, bee balm, milkweed, thistle, mushrooms, mullein and wild strawberries.

Last night’s weather was its own production deserving of an Oscar, with thick, white mist stubbornly hugging these vast mountains. Rings of fog capped the peaks like fluffy crowns that dissolved into the sunset to reveal a surly, grey armada of larger clouds above.

My new sister-in-law, who I call my bonus sister, said, before I left for England: “you’ll notice how remarkably flat Norfolk is”. Continue reading

Catskills Weekend: July 1st

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Saturday July 1st

Celebrate

9.30 to 4pm in Roxbury, their Summer Festival on Main Street including a Pop-Up Art Sale in the Orphic Gallery, street art, pony rides, wine tastings, fly fishing demonstrations, food, antiques and much more.

Learn

10am at the Catskill Center in Arkville: Stone Pigment Workshop. Catskill mountain artist Laura Leigh Lanchantin will demonstrate her method of grinding Catskill sedimentary rock into oil and watercolor paint. No previous knowledge is required. $12 per person at Catskill Center, 4355 State Route 28, Arkville, New York 12406.

1pm at Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury: Mairead Mulhern will give a talk on Wildlife Near Home. Mairead, an Environmental Educator from Mine Kill and Mac V. Shaul State Parks, will discuss local wildlife found in Upstate New York. Come take a look at various pelts, skulls, and feathers that are from local animals found in your county. This is a family friendly event. All ages welcome. Address: 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474.

Eat

9am to 4pm: Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Pop Up Shop, in the lot at Phoenicia Diner at 5681 Route 28, Phoenicia, NY 12464. July 1st to 4th. Live music by M. Lui and Keenan O’Meara on Saturday night.

Dance

It’s hard to resist a dance party when it comes along. Wayside Cider is having such a shindig on July 1st, 7pm to 11pm, at their brewery in Andes. 55 Redden Lane, Andes, NY 13731. DJ Jess will be spinning.

Tick Tubes

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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.

Daily Catskills: 06/27/17

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.

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Bill Birns at The 2nd Annual Book Fair at the CIC

Image: Mountain Arts Media, courtesy of Bill Birns

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.

Daily Catskills: 06/19/17

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.

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