Tag Archives: Catskills

Daily Catskills: 10/24/17

An overnight rain storm blows into a humid, misty morning at 65F. Tree waving, leaf blowing and the last of the burnt orange brush covered in thick fog. 72F by mid-afternoon and calm with serene clouds. Autumn tells us it’s time to put the hammock away.

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Tick Update

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There’s a saying that goes something like this: “you see what you want to see” and what I’m seeing lately are ticks. Loads of them. I see ticks on my dog from ten paces and now hike with a comb, and remove them before they have a chance to burrow in.

Some observations: I thought that the first tick I pulled off my dog’s hair was a piece of lint, but after looking at it, I issued a shriek and wiped the bug onto the dog bed. The thing then burrowed into the dog bed and, in hindsight, I should have waited to see how long it would take it to realize the bed was not a body. Alas, I just wanted it gone.

I combed a tick off the dog today and the tick is still on the comb, wondering what happened, ten minutes later.

Here are my latest observations:

1. Ticks are easy to spot if you study them for a while. You’re looking for something no bigger than lint, but the big difference between ticks and lint is that ticks are shiny and hard. Moreover, they are always moving, so they might be the size of, or smaller than, lint, but they writhe, and as they do so, they catch the light like little, tiny pieces of polished onyx. They stand out against even black fur, but perhaps that’s because I’m obsessed with them.

2. Ticks are like velcro: very hard to flick off. Don’t flick them. You risk flicking them on yourself, or having them cling to your finger and climb up your arm without you noticing. Use a comb to drag them off. Or firmly grab them and wipe them off onto a tree. Trying to coax them onto a stick will not work.

3. Hike in light colored clothing and be vigilant about checking.

4. Always wear a hat, because once ticks get in your hair, they’re almost impossible to spot until they’re burrowed in and blowing up. Avoid having twigs brush against your neck and shoulders. If you do, be wearing a hoodie or something.

5. To check dark clothing, hold the clothing perpendicular to a light source and watch to see if the lint moves and catches the light.

5. Ticks are killed after ten minutes in the dryer on high. I’ve always used drying racks, but if it’s a choice between Lyme Disease and using more energy, I’m using the dryer. After hiking, disrobe outdoors. Throw your hiking clothes in the dryer, including – especially – the undies. Ticks love the groin “area”. Don’t EVER just air-dry your undies after laundering if you’re an avid outdoorsperson. (Why isn’t outdoorsperson a word?) Ticks can survive any washing machine.

6. Ticks loathe essential oils. Use the oil to kill ticks or repel them. A few drops of lavender oil will kill a tick. Here’s my recipe for the repellent.

Here are links to all my other posts about ticks. Tick tubes, essential oils, and more tick tubes. Get to know these little bugs before they get to know you.

Daily Catskills: 10/23/17

Warm, windy and humid with a moody, overcast dusk and a dip in temperatures. The last of fall is brassy, with dull copper tones, dashes of burnt orange and sienna in the half-empty brush. Apples hang in abundance on bare trees like winter ornaments: a forgotten, wild harvest.

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Fall Watch 2017: A Golden Autumn

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This year, the vibrant, yellow fall hues stole the show very early on, at the end of September, and kept their lead throughout the month of October. Golden confetti lay strewn across roads and fields for weeks. The yellows were still in the lead until the reds popped into the mix, but they remain sparse, dull and muted. Some green, on mighty oak trees, still remained as of Monday, when our Daily Catskills coverage unexpectedly withered, shriveling up like our unpicked apples that hang forlornly in the bare trees like forgotten holiday decorations. Some tall oaks on the peaks are still hanging onto their vivid green, but they too are turning golden yellow.

The oranges came out in the last week or two, but they’re dusty and subdued; burnt orange, sienna and burnished copper tones linger amidst the brush.

Temperatures this fall have been about 10 degrees (fahrenheit) higher than last year. We were expecting a glorious, riotous autumn like the spectacular, fiery orange fall we had two years ago, but instead we had kind of warm, extended summer. Summer has stolen our autumn.

Go back in time through Upstate Dispatch’s archives from October 2015 and October 2016 so see just how different it is this year. After all, that’s why we take a picture a day.

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Daily Catskills: 10/09/17

71F by mid-morning, humid, with patches of morning fog and occasional turbulent breeze scattering the leaves. Surly. Update: 77F high with a strong, leaf-churning wind and more rain.

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Daily Catskills: 10/04/17

Clear skies and a 75F high. Warm in the sun, but cool in the shade. Humid and slightly steamy. Fall is slightly late out of the gate.

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Daily Catskills: 10/03/17

A clear, frosty morning, rising to a high of 67F. Initial muted dashes of red amidst the yellowing. Fall has yet to show its true colors.

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Saving Seeds: Sunflowers

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Sunflowers are astonishingly beautiful and uplifting, towering over the farm like sentry guards radiating happiness, accumulating and distributing sunshine. They’re also packed with thousands of highly nutritious, edible seeds. Once they start to droop towards the ground, you may have to compete with the birds, chipmunks, and squirrels, who climb up them in search of the seeds and break the stems. When the blooms are resting on the ground, like they’re on some floral time-out, they seeds are fair game. You can either wrap the live heads in paper to stop animals from eating them, or you can cut the heads off completely even before they’re ready to harvest.

The seed is the white pellet underneath the yellow face of the bloom (pictured above). They develop a black strip as the flower dies, eventually turning a dusky, dark grey/black (pictured below). They are even delicious like this without any cooking, and packed full of raw nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin B-6 and high in potassium and magnesium. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 09/28/17

58F by 6.30am, balmy with clear skies and sunrise ushering in dappled cloud. 65F by mid-afternoon.

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Heritage Apple Cake

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If you need something to do with all the heritage apples that are falling all over the Catskills now, here’s a recipe passed on to me by Tamara Ehlin of the Forsyth BnB in Kingston. This recipe is gorgeous because a sugary, chewy crust forms on the top of the cake and gradually softens all the way down to its fruity bottom.This cake is as wild as our apples.

However you add the fruit, it still ends up at the base of the cake. I didn’t put enough apples in the little loaf pictured above because whenever you do this recipe it will feel like you’re putting too much fruit in. The batter barely covers the apples and you have to press the mixture down before you put it in the oven. I made a larger cake by doubling the ingredients and it came out perfectly with all the fruit sunk to the bottom.

This recipe is good for soft and stone fruit too.

Fruit Cake

1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp almond extract
2 eggs
2 cups sliced fruit (a mix of tart and sweet works best, like sour cherries, plums, peaches, blueberries, or peeled apple)

Soften the butter and whip it together with the sugar, vanilla, almond extract. Add the two eggs and beat them in. Mix the whole mixture well. Sift the flour and baking powder and add it into the butter/sugar mix gradually. Mix until you have a batter. The batter will be very stiff. Once you have a smooth batter, stir in the apples and mix well. Add to a greased loaf tin and bake on 350 for about 50 minutes.

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Daily Catskills: 09/19/17

Hot in the sun with hazy sunshine, with a cool breeze ushering the fall and a high of 82F. These last few days of summer end on Thursday. Fall begins on Friday with the Autumnal Equinox.

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Daily Catskills: 09/17/17

A foggy start to the day, rising to 83F and scorching in the sun until the storm clouds sailed through with a mini-storm. Sunburn one minute; a thorough soaking the next. This year’s fall is more like a fade…  a draining of color from vivid green to yellow. The forest floor is carpet of brown and yellow.

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Daily Catskills: 09/16/17

A balmy morning at 65F by 9am. The morning fog rolled away to reveal trees, bushes, forest floor and fields liberally bestrewn with lacy spiders’ webs, as if the forest had been dressed for halloween overnight.

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Hazelnut Harvest

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The hazelnut bushes are thriving in the orchard and we got hundreds more nuts this year than last year. We have about four or five pounds. They grow in beautiful pods that are like frilly fingers on green hands that offer you the fruit. Once picked, the green frills dry into a husk which you have to peel off to reveal the hazelnut.

Like all nuts, hazelnuts are high in fat, but also a good source of magnesium, iron, fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Hazelnuts are the basis of Nutella, a delicious European chocolate spread. While the nuts dry, we’ll decide what to do with them.

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Daily Catskills: 09/14/17

A high of 75F, humid and overcast with scene-stealing, multifarious clouds leading to isolated showers and a balmy evening. Dashes of red appearing on the landscape like hot pepper seasoning. Moody.

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Daily Catskills: 09/12/17

79F by mid-afternoon and sunny with hazy cloud. Cool in the shade. Splashes of red dot the landscape.

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Daily Catskills: 09/11/17

A high of 74F, warm in the hazy sunshine, but chilly in the shade. Wild leeks, the infamous “ramps”, issue their unique seeds, like tiny, opaque spheres of shimmering onyx.

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Catskills Links: Labor Day Edition

Tonight

Burlesque is back in the Catskills. Tonight at Union Grove Distillery beginning at 8.30pm. Buy tickets here, or they are available on the door. Seating is first come, first served. Just Shop Boutique, across the road, is open until 8pm.

Saturday 2nd

John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge hosts its penultimate Wild Saturday at 1pm at Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury entitled Face to Face with Raptors, in which Annie Mardiney, federally licensed wildlife “rehabilitator”, shares her deep passion by bringing hawks, owls, and falcons to show visitors.

Family Day at the Catskill Interpretive Center: bird watching, hiking, crafts, rock painting, learning to identify animal footprints and more from the natural world.

Logic and Structure at the Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns, a group show featuring Beth Caspar, Susan Spencer Crowe, Joan Grubin, Robert James, Wanda Kossak, Don Muchow, Margaret Neill, Paula Quinon.

Saturday night sees the annual lighting of the fire towers at 9am. Find out where the best places to view them are. The Catskills Fire Tower system celebrated 100 years of watching for wild fires over the Catskills this summer.

Sunday 3rd

Sunday is Bovina Farm Day, featuring farm animals, a corn maze, the scarecrow contest and vendors selling and sampling locally produced products.

Apple pie contest is between 2-3pm. $6 per car and a full day of family fun!

Next week:

From September 6th to 12th: Watershed Stories from the Catskill Center, . Led by Lisa Jacobson, these workshops were designed to provide a unique holistic, visual and written product based on “Art as an EcoSystem”. To do this, participants recycled beautiful old books into a retelling of water, the New York Watershed and its interconnections with everything else.

September 7th: Catskill Cuisine with Chef Rob Handel at the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper.

And…

A new bus service to bring people to the Catskills.

Foraging: Lion’s Mane

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There are several reasons to get excited about Lion’s Mane. First of all, it’s arrestingly beautiful, and when you spot it in the forest it appears to be luminous, as if a beam of light is shining through the forest canopy directly onto it. Lion’s Mane cascades over a log like a dreamy waterfall, frozen in time, with it’s milky stalactites. It’s also called the pom-pom mushroom for the obvious reason.

Second, it can’t really be mistaken for anything else. Some guides tell you to compare it to the poisonous yellow-tipped coral because when Lion’s Mane gets old the tips turn yellow, but the coral grows upwards. Even as a novice mushroom hunter though, I was pretty certain that what I had found (pictured above) was the real thing and that thought was backed up by two others more experienced than I am. (I have just eaten it, so if it’s not, it was nice knowing you.)

Furthermore, you can cultivate Lion’s Mane and it is widely said to have medicinal benefits, like Shitake and Reishi. Experts say that it improves neurological function and alleviates anxiety.

On top of that, it’s utterly delicious, tasting (raw) like a more meaty, fragrant, cooked lobster, with exactly the same texture.

If you’re looking to eat less seafood, you can buy kits to cultivate this exquisite delicacy and grow it yourself. Once you’ve tasted it, it’ll seem like a no-brainer. This mushroom is about 20% protein.

To prepare it, I sliced off the top part that had a lot of forest debris in it. Then broke off about five clumps of the tendrils and washed them thoroughly. (You never know what animal might have peed on it.) Then I separated the tendrils until I had what looked like about almost a cup of loose lobster meat and sweat it in butter. Then I added three beaten eggs and scrambled the mixture. You can see a piece of raw mushroom top left (below).

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Daily Catskills: 08/27/17

After another overnight low of 45F, a high of 74F and sunny with wispy cloud. Hot in the sun; cool in the shade.

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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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Breakfast in the Catskills

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It’s blackberry season and they are sweeter and juicier this year. Berries in general grow well in the Catskills’ rocky soil and high elevation. A few years ago, a local farmer gave sage advice: grow whatever grows the best on your property and grow a lot of it. Blackberries are in abundance this year in the forests too and in fields we are seeing more huckleberries, a blueberry type fruit. We are also having a good apple season, although the apples on the heritage apple trees are not yet ripe.

Shakespeare At The Round Barn in Halcottsville

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Last Saturday, The Halcotsville Shakespeare Company presented its inaugural performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Round Barn at Pakatakan Market. This Saturday, August 19th, at noon will be its second and final performance. The production is unique in that it is performed amongst the crowds of market goers. The event was organized by Tom Hughes an NYC educator and writer who has worked with kids in the theatre with Epic Theatre Ensemble for many years in the Bronx. This production brings young actors together from both the Catskills and New York City.

The intent “is to make the shoppers part of the performance, turn the farmer’s market into Verona,” says Hughes.

UPDATE: In some places, the event is being billed as beginning at NOON not 12.30pm as previously reported. Get there earlier to guarantee being able to experience the whole performance. Continue reading