Tag Archives: Catskills

Daily Catskills: 04/07/18

At least six inches of overnight snow, soft and powdery, not like Monday’s snow which disappeared pretty quickly. A high of 34F with clouds that ripple and shimmer in the sunlight. A beautiful day despite the shoveling.

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Catskills Weekend: Trout Tales

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Get hooked on fishing this weekend: Trout Tales starts this afternoon (April 7th, 2018) for an entrance fee of $10, take a wander around historic Spillian (pictured below in better weather) and listen to an afternoon of lectures dotted around the property that culminates in happy hour drinks, dinner and an evening of stories. Most interesting will be the Women in Fly Fishing, as the practice does seem to be dominated by men, like most of history. Hear stories from the ladies of the fly fishing world, including one record holder, Heidi Nute. For the foodies: learn to cook trout on a campfire.

Tomorrow Sunday April 8th, join The Catskill Mountain Club to hike the Shavertown Trail in Andes, the summit of which affords sweeping views of the Pepacton Reservoir. It snowed last night, here in the Catskills, depositing about six inches, so dress for the cold. Bring plenty of water. Pre-register here by emailing aroberti@catskill.net.

Spillian, 50 Fleischmanns Heights Road, Fleischmanns, NY 12430.

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Fly Fishing in the Catskills

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“Indeed, a certain quality of youth is indispensable to the successful angler, a certain unworldliness and readiness to invest yourself in an enterprise that doesn’t pay the current coin. Not only is the angler, like the poet, born and not made, as Walton says, but there is a deal of the poet in him, and he is to be judged no more harshly.” John Burroughs, Speckled Trout

Catskills residents enjoy liberties that they never take for granted: hunting and fishing are permitted here and, for many, these are reliable, cheap and honest ways to feed their family natural food. In the Catskills, fly fishing season begins on April 1st. Fishing permits are available for residents and visitors. A ceremonial casting usually takes place every year at Junction Pool in Roscoe, a body of water formed by the confluence of the Beaverkill and the Willowemoc rivers, where the fish linger a little too long, so the fishing is favorable. Roscoe is known as “Trout Town USA”, the birth place of fly fishing in this country.

The most popular place for Catskills fishing, however, is along the banks of the 65.4-mile Esopus Creek that originates at Winnisook Lake at the base of Slide Mountain, a favorite hiking spot of the local writer and naturalist John Burroughs who died about 100 years ago. Fishermen and women come from far and wide to fish this creek. From Slide, it runs alongside Route 47 to Big Indian, turns in a south-easterly arc and heads south alongside Route 28, until its impounded at the Ashokan Reservoir, so that New York City can have its drinking water, then heads north to the Hudson at Saugerties. There were few anglers spotted on the river today as this year’s gloomy opening morning coincided with the Easter holiday. Continue reading

Life Drawing at Streamside Yoga in Andes

© Sandy Finkenberg

Art is meditation, says William Duke who runs a Life Drawing class at Streamside Yoga in Andes every Thursday night with a live nude model from 4 to 7pm. Charge is $10 to pay the model and there is usually some serious regular talent at this event, like Sandy Finkenberg, Peter Mayer and William Duke, Steve Burnett or Gary Mayer. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 03/29/18

A high of 49F, humid, overcast with light drizzle. A spring thaw sends plumes of thick, fast-moving mist into the mountains. The Catskills becomes a steam bath. Stunning views from mountain tops. Large herds of deer graze under cover of early evening fog.

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Local Eggs

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Local eggs from Two Stones Farm in Halcott Center including one from a copper marans. The yolks were large, fat and bright. Local eggs are really meaty, rich and filling, the perfect substitute for meat if you’re trying to reduce or eliminate your intake.

Twin Town: Thimphu

© Linda Leaming courtesy of her Instagram account – Punakha Dzong in Bhutan

I recently got back in touch with an old guest on my radio show, writer Linda Leaming, an American who moved to Bhutan twenty years ago. Linda and I are beginning a podcast series of interviews that we will conduct between here in the Catskills and her home, Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, because we have found that there are many similarities between our lives. We are both living in stunningly gorgeous, mountainous, rural regions in countries in which we were not born, with different cultures, and in doing so, we’ve learned so much about ourselves, the world and have much to share about this experience. Continue reading

5th Annual Burroughs Catskill Mountain Community Day Lecture

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Leslie T. Sharpe, naturalist and author of “The Quarry Fox and Other Wild Critters of the Catskills” will be the guest speaker at the 5th Annual Burroughs Catskill Mountain Community Day Lecture at The Catskills Center in Arkville on April 14th at 1pm.

Her subject will be “John Burroughs and H.D. Thoreau: The Roots of American Nature Writing”.

This event has been arranged by the board of  John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge Inc, the nonprofit organization that is custodian of writer John Burroughs’ home in Roxbury.

Woodchuck Lodge was built by John’s brother in 1862, 15 years after John was born, on the east end of the Burroughs family farm. The Burroughs’ homestead where both boys grew up, later sold, is a mile away up the road and was built when John was 13 years of age. Woodchuck Lodge was John’s retreat in retirement and he is buried nearby.

After Leslie’s speech, attendees will also commemorate his birthday. Birthday cake and light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

Saturday, April 14th 2018 1pm at the Erpf Center, 43355 Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406. (Directions in link.)

Sponsored by John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge, 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474.

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On the Radio: Linda Leaming, author of A Field Guide To Happiness

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Here’s a picture of me working hard at the radio station while I take a break from Upstate Dispatch this week. My guest on the radio next week, March 19th at 9am, will be Linda Leaming, author of Married To Bhutan and A Field Guide to Happiness. You can stream the show online here: WIOX Radio. In both books, Linda writes about her life in Bhutan, a tiny buddhist country in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, and what we can learn from Bhutan’s trail blazing accomplishments in areas like the importance of the arts, conservation and the well-being of its citizens. The government has a metric called Gross National Happiness that it measures often, instead of Gross National Product. Bhutan has decreed that a very large portion of their country will remain forested. There is no styrofoam and very few plastic bags in Bhutan. In Married to Bhutan, Linda writes that the Bhutanese “have foregone opportunities to make money off their considerable natural resources – lumber, water, minerals, plants and animals in favour of their quality of life. That alone makes it a world apart”. A Field Guide to Happiness is her second book on Bhutan and gives us tips on how to be happy.

These subjects were on my mind while was in New York City last week and between appointments decided to pick up Linda’s book on happiness instead of just ordering it online. I went to Rizzoli Bookshop, Strand Bookstore, Bookoff and Barnes and Noble. I was told that Linda’s books are not stocked in any Barnes & Noble in NYC, (but they should be – and he will put in a request to order them). Then, because I just decided to be on a mission – I was in NYC after all – I called Greenlight Books, Bluestocking books, Community Books, BookBook and Unnameable Books in Brooklyn but not one stocked A Field Guide to Happiness. It occurred to me that the book did not exist in New York City because if happiness was actually attained there, the earth would violently tip off its axis due to the sudden unloading of the weighty burden of abject disgruntlement in that part of the world. If everybody in NYC became satisfied with their life or just simply decided not to be in a huge hurry, or if everyone smiled at the same time, the city would crumble into dust and wash out into the ocean out of purposelessness. On occasion I smile at people in NYC and they look at me with a confused “do I know you?!” expression. So I caved and ordered the book online. It came from a happy place far away. Continue reading

24-hours of Self Reliance

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After about 28 hours, power was restored to our home yesterday, which is nothing compared to what’s happening in other parts of the world. The entire episode was a necessary education in conservation and a return to a much simpler life if only for a day. We lost water (both hot and cold) and electricity, so no lights or gadgets except what we could power with our tiny generator. We had a wood stove for heat, but no shower, or toilet or even hand washing and the dishes piled up in the kitchen, which was so annoying that I spent hours melting snow to clean up. It takes approximately three to four cubic feet of snow to fill a 1.6 gallon toilet cistern that gives you one good flush. It takes another cubic foot of snow or so to do the dishes. This takes hours of slow melting of the snow over the stove in several saucepans. Continue reading

Whiteout!

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It’s not until you run out of water that you realize how much of it you squander. I thought about this after our power went out this morning, but I really needed to wash my dirty hair. It’s been snowing since the early hours of this morning. Now that we’ve had over two or three feet of wet snow, trees are collapsing under the weight and pulling down power lines all over the Catskills.

We need electricity to run our water pump and hot water tank. So now we have to save the water to flush the toilet or drink, although I did have a liter bottle of fizzy water and just managed to wash my hair with it. I only needed a few ounces to get my hair wet and managed to wash most of the soap out with the rest. This got me thinking about why we need to flush our toilet with clean water and so much of it.

We’ve had whiteouts before but not like this. We once got five feet of snow and couldn’t open our front door, but we’ve never been without power for this length of time. Judging by neighbors on social media, most of the area lost power at about 10.30am on Friday 2nd March. Like most people in the Catskills, we have a small generator that runs on gas (petrol) that will supply our freezer, or charge our electronics for about eight hours. We also have a wood stove for heat, but we’re without water or lights. A friend is melting snow for water in the next village and we’ll be doing that tomorrow morning once our generator has run out of gas. Or we’ll walk down to the gas station and fill up a container if our country store is open. As darkness falls, it’s been quite calming to wind down with the dusk. We’re now in a blackout. We don’t see any lights across the mountains. It’s books by candlelight for some people and scrabble by flashlight for us once I’ve stopped writing. The only other problem we have now is that our pipes might freeze and burst in the basement without the electric heat down there. We’re also worried about our heritage apple tree (pictured above, top left). Without snow weighing it down, it’s a good ten feet taller. It’s also hard to get evergreens like fir and pine to grow well or in clumps because they need so much light. Now they are buckling under the weight, looking like closing umbrellas. We don’t want to lose them.

The snow continues to fall and is not predicted to cease until 1am tomorrow morning. Saturday will be a day of shoveling for everyone and at dawn we’ll go out and try and shake the snow out of the trees.

Update: the generator held out until morning.

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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