Tag Archives: Country Life

Catskills Diary: This Writer’s Life

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

There’s been a lot of very precious writing emerging in the last few years here in the Catskills where we are riding a tsunami of elite influencers, food writers and stylists. One such darling is Tamara Adler, Hudson Valley writer, who detailed every minute of a few days in her splendid life for Grub Street back in February. Click on the link and read about how she takes her tea in a mason jar and “cooks her eggs over smoldering coals” in a “hand-forged egg spoon” by popping them into her wood stove, poaching them, just so. She calls gouda, a Dutch cheese, “culturally transgressive”. Oh my. Does she mean “culturally”, as in fermented (in rennet) or culturally as in hip? And by “transgressive”, does she mean that gouda is an asshole?

Contrived observations aside, country life seems startlingly easy in the Adler household. She issues statement like, “I fire up the wood stove”. If you have a wood stove, you’ll know why this is understatement of the year. If she has ever dropped a 15 lb log on her foot, she doesn’t let on.

Now the New York Times has weighed in because there has rightly been a backlash against the egg spoon now that Alice Waters sells them – also hand forged – for a whopping $250 per spoon. I’m an enormous fan of Alice Waters and her work, but a $250 egg spoon is a luxury and after all her hard work promoting a sustainable food system, she probably deserves it. But I also certainly don’t agree that the backlash is sexist. It’s economical. I think it’s pretty extraordinary that the writer is linking the backlash to the MeToo movement.

I need to weigh in myself because I really don’t want readers to think that country life in the Catskills is easy. It’s not. Ask my husband who’s had a learning curve so steep, he could probably build us a new house from scratch. Here he is, replacing our siding last year, nonchalantly getting on with it without complaining:

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Further, we are still in the tail end – I hope! – of a six month winter and are running low on wood. We have run out of kindling, which is crucial to starting a fire quickly. There was plenty of it loose on the ground by the woodshed a few days ago, wet from the recent rain, but I forgot to sweep it up and dry it last night and now it’s covered in snow and completely useless. Today it took me exactly an hour to get the fire going. Now I have to go outside with the axe and make my own kindling for tomorrow because I feel like spring will never get here. It’s April 18th.

Yes, these mountains make you gasp in awe at their beauty every day of the year, but we do have our bad days. Cabin fever is a serious business if you work from home in winter. Maybe the fact that people are trying to cheer themselves up with old spoons is revealing in itself. Anyhow, in case it looks easy, here’s a more realistic rendering of a winter day in the life of a country lass and you can insert your own f-words before every noun. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 03/31/17

34F by mid-afternoon with hale settling like snow on the dust-colored landscape. After a week of thawing, in which a few feet of snow disappeared, the buds are now back in their icy prison. Gusty winds.

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm

Weekend Links: 01/14/17

© J.N. Urbanski

A Call For Entry at the Center for Photography in Woodstock: CPW’s WOODSTOCK AIR is a residency program for US-based artists and critics/scholars/curators of color, working in photography. Deadline is Monday January 16th.

A Writer’s Evening at the Stamford Library, 117 Main Street, Stamford, NY on Monday January 16th at 7pm. Sign up to present your latest work.

Governor Cuomo announced plans to develop a hiking trail across New York State by 2020. The plan include “filling in” gaps between already existing trails in NYS. This amazing trail, once laid, will be the longest in the nation and connect Lake Erie in Buffalo to the Capital Region and New York City to Canada (connecting with the Capital Region).

If you’re interested in hiking the Catskills 35, join the Catskills 3500 Club. Sign up for scheduled hikes. Next week Saturday January 21st, there is a schedule bushwhack (no marked or maintained trail) to North Dome and Sherrill Mountains. Peaks that have no trail are easiest to navigate in winter when there is no foliage blocking your view.

Buy or sell your produce through Lucky Dog Farm Hub.

The first of two workshops on Lambing and Kidding at Heather Ridge Farm, 989 Broome Center Road, Preston Hollow, NY on Saturday January 21st at 11am.

Young at Art at the Roxbury Arts Group: an art exhibit for children. Opening reception at 11am on Saturday January 21st.

The Phoenicia Library hosts Invasive Plants and How To Deal With Them next week Saturday January 21st at 10.30am – a must if your land is being taken over by invasive species.

A Beginning Farmers and Ranchers training program in Oneonta, NY beginning next month.

 

On Hunting

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Today is the first day of hunting season for shotgun users and I’ve been hearing gunfire echo over the mountains for the last month in preparation. The past few weeks of hunting season have been strictly for bow users only. Over the next month or so, there’ll be a plethora of camouflaged, gun-toting neighbors creeping around in the woods that abut my property, and sitting in makeshift deer stands. My husband saw a crossbow wielding neighbor stealthily striding out of the woods last week and felt like I had dodged an arrow.

As a new country lass, the first experience I had with a hunter was when I was hiking. Rounding a corner, our group chanced upon a man; perfectly still, holding what looked like an AK-47, looking like a stocky, camo-version of Bruce Willis in Die Hard. The gun made him look at least eight feet tall. He stared. We stopped. He silently crept towards us and then passed us without so much as an excuse me. We kept calm and carried on.

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Catskills Conversations: Jeanine Pascarella

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

How long have you lived in the Catksills?

I moved upstate with my family in 1979 when I was nine years old and my parents were partners with my mother’s parents – my grandparents – at the Emery Brook House, that’s now the Evergreen. They ran it as a German Cuisine bed and breakfast.

Were you born here?

I was born in Huntington, Long Island.

So what made your family move to the Catskills?

Well, my grandparents had found the area. They had a boarding house in Rockaway and the area was being developed so they had to sell, or were bought out. I don’t really remember the story of how they left Rockaway, but they were looking for a German community and that’s how they wound up in Fleischmanns. There was a nice German community here and they were looking for a similar situation to what they had left: a boarding house. So when they contacted a real estate person in the area, the real estate person told them about the St Regis, which is huge and much bigger than anything they had envisaged managing, so they then found the Emery Brook and that’s where they settled.

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Catskills Conversations: John Hoeko

© J.N. Urbanski 4/2/15

© J.N. Urbanski 4/2/15

John Hoeko, a lifelong fly fisherman, owns Fur, Feathers and Steel in Fleischmanns. He’s writing a book about his life and times and his work with the Catskills waterways.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

My whole life, except for one day. I was born in Jamaica, Queens. My grandfather was Chief of Radiology in a hospital in Queens. He thought that the local hospital here in Margaretville, the old one, was too provincial. So he insisted I be born in New York City.

So you’ve lived here in Fleischmanns ever since?

Yes, my parents originally lived off Ellsworth Avenue, while they were building our house.

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Transplant Tales: Erik P Johanson

© Nicole Vente

© Nicole Vente – Erik at his office in the Catskill Center

Erik P Johanson has lived in the Catskills for little more than a year, but has already developed a business plan for the redevelopment of the Maxbilt Theatre in Fleischmanns, which has resulted in the building being put on State and National Register of Historic Places in 2014: a formidable achievement in such a short time. He now works full-time for the Catskill Center in Arkville. After having lived in New York City for ten years, Erik and his boyfriend tried the Berkshires, New Mexico and looked to purchase property in Los Angeles before buying a house in the Catskills and moving here full-time.

What first brought you to the Catskills?

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