Tag Archives: Catskills

Six Years in Radio

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For me, February 22nd, will mark six years of my public radio career on WIOX in Roxbury, Upstate New York. Our “wildly diverse, live and local”, progressive little radio station in the heart of picturesque Catskills is a hive of activity, broadcasting locally on 91.3FM and streaming online on www.wioxradio.org. WIOX is now an NPR affiliate, having partnered with WSKG in Binghamton.

The whole endeavor has been an education and the setting couldn’t be more gorgeous: a converted barn in one of the most picturesque villages in the area. I believe my commute is one of the most documented in the region. A brief history: In late 2011, after spending more than ten years traveling back and forth between the US, Europe, and sometimes the rest of the world, I returned to my house in the Catskills and decided to make a life here. I felt lucky.* Continue reading

In The Hemlocks

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Catskills’ Writer and naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921) called hemlock forests “…dark, sheltered retreats” and there is an earthy stillness in a hemlock forest that’s incomparable with the rest of the rocky Catskills forest. The trees are tall, majestic statesmen, all going in the same direction, unwavering in their straightness, like woodland sentries guarding over life below them. Hemlock forest floors are a thick, bouncy carpet made of billions of hemlock needles which seems to absorb all the sound, and the bark is a rich brown that soaks up the light. On bright, cloudless, sun-filled days, beams of sunlight break through the hemlock canopy like flashlights pointing from above into the tranquil haven. The smell is intoxicating.

“Their history is of a heroic cast,” wrote Burroughs of the hemlocks. “Ravished and torn by the tanner in his thirst for bark, preyed upon by the lumberman, assaulted and beaten back by the settler, still their spirit has never been broken, their energies never paralyzed.”

Here in the Catskills, again the hemlocks are under attack due to the long march of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, a pest that has been ravaging our local population of hemlocks since the 1980s. Signs that your hemlocks are under attack are pretty obvious. If you observe a thick, white foam on the underside of the hemlock leaves, you should send an email to: DSNIDER@CATSKILLCENTER.ORG who works with CRISP, the Catskills Regional Invasive Species Prevention project run by the Catskill Center that is now using biological methods to counter the pests. Continue reading

The Pines in Mount Tremper

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Turns out this local gem is situated just a walk up the road from the crossroads of Wittenberg and Route 212 in Mount Tremper. If you have loved ones coming in on the Pine Hill Trailways bus from New York City, the bus driver will allow them to alight at this crossroads and walk a few minutes up Route 212 to The Pines. Once there, they can drink a lot and have their host drive them back to their digs for the weekend. How convenient is that? Continue reading

Monday’s Radio Show: Burlesque & The Outdoors

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Two separate subjects will be discussed on Monday’s radio show; two that don’t go together at all, except in much warmer weather: burlesque and the outdoors, namely hunting and fishing.

Last year, Brett Rollins, aka Neil O’Fortune, put on a burlesque show at Union Grove Distillery in Arkville that was extremely well-received and very popular with a large crowd. Brett says that he’s had so much warm and positive feedback on the event that he’s putting on another one on in February.

Burlesque has a 100-odd-year history dating back to the musical halls of Victorian England and is mostly irreverent slapstick with music and comedy skits. It came to America around that time, but it’s popularity waned in the mid-twentieth century. It’s most recent revival, called neo-burlesque, has been popular in New York City since about 2001 and, having reported on it for national publications, I’ve witnessed it being remarkably popular with the ladies. It’s a favorite with large groups of women for bachelorette nights and girls’ nights. The art raises the matter of body image for women. Women have been fed the importance of being skinny by the media for so long that we all think that there’s something wrong with our bodies, but in actual fact, we should celebrate our natural form. Fashion magazines are for fashion and not a guide in how a woman’s body should look and its time we stopped torturing ourselves. Diseases like anorexia and bulimia have never been more prevalent. Burlesque acts feature women of all shapes and sizes in fantastically elaborate costumes – a celebration of the female form. Listen in on WIOX on Monday to hear me discuss this with Brett, and Fifi Dupree joining us on the phone, from 9am to 9.30am.

In the second half of the show, from 9.30am to 10am, we’ll be discussing outdoor pursuits fishing and hunting with Ryan Fifield of Fifield Outfitters. How to get the correct permits, NYS rules and regulations and the services that Fifield Outfitters offer.

 

Fire Cider Making

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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

Cornell Mountain Gets Further Away

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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?

Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 01/24/18

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.

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Exploring Kaaterskill Falls: Winter Edition

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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

Catskills Events: January

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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.

Monday’s Radio Show: January 22nd, 2018

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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.

Local Maple Syrup CSA

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

Daily Catskills: 01/13/18

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.

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Mid-Winter Planting: Hickory Nuts

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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

Daily Catskills: 01/12/18

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.

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Daily Catskills: 01/11/18

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.

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Bear Cub Birthing Season

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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

Hot Toddies, Seeds and Bee Bibles

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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 Radio: WIOX

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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!

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How To Quickly Build A Roaring Fire in a Cold Wood Stove

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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

Happy New Year from Upstate Dispatch

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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

Daily Catskills: 11/30/17

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.

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Catskills’ Local Holiday Gift Guide

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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

Monday’s Radio Show: Local Government

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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

Daily Catskills: 11/16/17

A high of 46F, windy with a mix of sun and clouds. Late night snow swirls on the peaks, sprinkling the thatched landscape with a temporary dusting of icing sugar.

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The Anatomy of a Bird Box

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A base layer of dirt, then grass, then a thick wedge of insulation and finally, twigs topped off with a small, vacated wasp’s nest and a large insect exoskeleton, probably a caterpillar/butterfly. A once crowded bird box now getting repaired and cleaned out for new tenants.

Monday’s Radio Show: Local Government & Conservation

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After this week’s election victories, Monday’s radio show will feature two prominent guests: Jeff Senterman and Julia Reischel. From 9am to 9.30am, we will hear from Jeff who is Executive Director of the Catskill Center. Many people ask me what the Catskill Center does and now here is your chance to find out if you didn’t know. From 9.30am to 10am, we’ll hear from Julia Reischel, a former local journalist and co-founder of the now-retired Watershed Post, who is now going into politics.

You can stream the show online on WIOX on Monday November 13that 9am. Let’s hope it’s warmer than today’s 22F.

Daily Catskills: 11/02/17

A little warmer at 60F by noon and overcast with scattered rain showers. Always hike in light colored clothing, so you can easily spot ticks crawling up your leg, clinging to the fibers of your trousers like tiny, inexorable acrobats.

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Upstate Dispatch Retrolinks

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As a friend pointed out, there’s a lot of content on Upstate Dispatch and, moreover, a great deal of content that doesn’t much get read, or hasn’t been read by regular readers.

So, as winter approaches and I scout around for ideas for winter content, I offer some links to past work that are first person articles that are desperately in need of a follow up.

Deer hunting season approaches: a link to a 2015 post I wrote about hunting.

Here’s the first post I wrote about our dog, Alfie and a post on the cost of food.

A guide to safe and considerate hiking in Upstate New York, that needs to be updated for winter. In fact, scroll through the entire hiking section of the site.

My first Catskills 3500 ascent: Balsam Mountain two years ago.

Eat Your Weeds, instead of throwing pesticide on them that ruins the water table.

Scroll through last year’s November. The gift guide still holds.

And finally, writing of gifts, here’s our donate page. UD takes thousands of hours a year to write and does not do paid or sponsored content or advertising.

Daily Catskills: 10/30/17

Last night’s rain storm turns dangerous with blustery winds downing trees, causing power failures and fast-moving rivers, ending abruptly by afternoon. A high of 50F and late afternoon sunshine. Update: snow reported on the peaks.

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John Burroughs Needs Our Help!

His woodshed is falling down…

The cost to rebuild Mr. Burroughs’ woodshed is $2000. John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge thanks the O’Connor Foundation for a $1000 grant. Please help us match it.

Find the Woodchuck Lodge donation page here or contribute by mail to Woodchuck Lodge, Box 492, Roxbury, NY 12474

Help Mr. Burroughs rebuild. It’s the neighborly thing to do.

Winter Reading List

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The cold snap has me scrambling for a pile of books. The winter reading list has been hastily assembled from the wish list after a visit to the library.

Agatha Christie, a good teacher for the writer of scripts or dialogue-focused narrative; Pullman, to get lost in someone else’s magical universe; Eddie Izzard, for English humor; Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes astrophysics easy and engaging; Tim Marshall makes geopolitics fun; Salman Rushdie, just because I’ve had this first edition for ten years and never read it; Ta-Nehisi Coates, because he explains it so well in such beautifully written non-fiction; John Burroughs, because that’s required reading for a board member at John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge; Mark Twain, because a dip into Roughing It is as refreshing as a cool drink of local ale.

In the world of physics, you are immortal because the light (photons?) that bounced off you while you were alive will still be hurtling through the universe after you’re gone. I imagine it being a three-dimensional traveling x-ray, but I’m hoping DeGrasse Tyson will let me know. You think about these things when you’re so close to nature and you don’t think she’s watching. Walking the dog on a clear night on top of a ridge is like wading through stars.

Find more local reading at The Purple Mountain Press on Main Street in Fleischmanns. Buy local. Support your local library.