Summer in the Catskills is coming to a close. The bees swarmed a couple of times – more on those later – and the farm is growing over with thistles and blackberry bushes. Goldenrod has taken hold like the rays of some sort of eternal sunrise; hazelnuts and apples are being harvested; garlic has finished curing; horseradish root is being turned into sauce. Have you ever peeled the outer coating of a hazelnut? I’ll be here for days, but it’s worth it for what looks to be about 20 pounds of hazelnuts, possibly more.Continue reading
It’s the very little things we take for granted: enjoying nature before industry marches all over it, and looking up at the full, strawberry moon by an evening fire.
Back in April, Leslie T. Sharpe delivered a lecture at the Catskills Center in which she invoked a boat journey up the Hudson, two hundred years ago, when Manhattan and beyond was lush rain forest. In the boat was a young Washington Irving and Henry Hudson, marveling at the stunning beauty of the area. Now, of course, Manhattan is a gleaming, flinty mass of boxes jutting out of the sky like an gigantic block graph recording its own wealth. Turning to the future, how long will the Catskills – this craggy chunk of lush forest – be here?
The Catskills State Park, about 700,000 acres – its multitude of tributaries and it’s ecosystem – produces and protects by edict all of New York City’s drinking water. Gas pipelines snake through the state, on the flat lands either side of the Catskills that have been protected from the ravages of the oil industry by their elevation and their status as water bearer: the ancient Aquarius in a modern Industrial Age. There’s a second protective directorate in place for our region, which is Article 14 of the New York State Constitution which declares a part of the Catskills “forever wild”.
Up until 1822, wolves elk, panther and moose roamed the Catskills. By 1850, unregulated fishing and hunting had depleted fish and game stocks to new lows. The Catskills had been mostly deforested by the logging industry, and the tanning industry that only abandoned the Catskills after it had taken the bark of every hemlock standing. One hundred years ago, the Catskill Mountains were bare and deer were so rare, a preserve was created for them.
All that has changed and the Catskills were as they were before the civil war, only now there’s no industry, only tourism, plus a few new invasive species shipped in from around the world.
Today, this full moon day and into the weekend, get outside. By appreciating the wonders of nature more often, we develop a bond with it, and are more likely to try and protect it.
According to the Almanac, the moons were named after the agricultural practices in place at that time: “This Full Moon got its name from the Algonquin tribes who knew it as a signal to gather the ripening fruit of wild strawberries. It has also been known as the Honey Moon, Mead Moon, and the Full Rose Moon in Europe”. Find out more and watch the Almanac’s video on the subject here.
Check out our weekend events in the natural world on June 30th.
In the midst of cabin fever the winter before last I was out in the freezing, driving rain with the dog and decided to make a trail out of an old logging road on our property. We’d been using this trail through the forest, the dog and I, for some time and, unexpectedly – because it was about -10F at the time – the urge to start a trail came over me. To this day, I’ve no idea what prompted this move, but back then I just didn’t want to go back inside. I traipsed around in the forest for a couple of hours collecting large stones with which to line the trail until I was soaking wet and my woolen gloves had numbed my hands. Over the past year, we’ve added to it by lining the trail with a branches that look like they might one day thicken like a hedgerow. Continue reading
2018 is allegedly “Year of the Woman” and many women I know have been spurred to run for office. Go ladies, and thanks for your dedication. Joyce St. George will be the guest on my radio show on Monday April 30th at 9am. (You’ll find the show streaming online by clicking here and scrolling down to the grey bar above the address and clicking on it.) We’ll be talking about as much as we can: about being a woman in politics, her career in law enforcement, and her run for state senate.
Aside from being a fellow colleague on the radio with her show “Conflict Revolution”, a show that brings different people and perspectives together to discuss differences and find common ground, Joyce is a powerhouse with an intimidating resume. She began her career in the 1970s, when she became the first female investigator to serve in the New York State Attorney General’s Special Prosecutor’s Office on Anti-Corruption. Following the dramatic testimony of Frank Serpico, Joyce and her colleagues rooted out corruption within the criminal justice system in NYC, investigating police officers, judges and district attorneys. That was only the beginning of her career and I’m wondering why nobody’s made a movie about Joyce herself.
Joyce is approachable, affable and engaging with a big heart. With her husband Frank Canavan, she works with the Margaretville Food Pantry that serves 500 local families. Joyce was hired by FEMA to provide crisis services in Delaware County following the floods from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and served on the Flood Mitigation Council for the area.
Tune in to WIOX on Monday April 30th at 9am.
All candidates running for office are welcome on the show. Please email your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: an earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Joyce was running for State Assembly.
There’s so much content in Upstate Dispatch, literally thousands of posts and hundreds of photographs over three years of writing. The temptation for writers is to keep chugging along at a pace, churning out better work, but sometimes it’s a good idea to pause and reflect on the past, take a break, regroup, do some reading. Here are some links to past work in the Catskills Conversations series that we have just resurrected with a podcast featuring Mike Cioffi of the Phoenicia Diner.
Other past, popular Catskills Conversations:
Jeanette Bronée, wellness coach and author of Path for Life and Eat to Feel Full has been on my radio show a couple of times talking about mindfulness and new year’s resolutions.
Laura Silverman of Glutton for Life just last year started The Outside Institute.
A really lovely interview with Jeff Vincent, of Catskill Mountain Wild, a licensed guide company based in the Catskills.
Talented chef, Rob Handel, former chef of Heather Ridge Farm and now based at Fin Restaurant talks about his life in food.
Bill Birns, local write and historian.
Farmers Kristi and Steve Burnett based in Bovina.
It’s been an interesting week, in terms of weather. We’ve had high temperatures that have dried laundry in hours, rain, freezing low temperatures, snow and then more soaking rain. It’s still a bit squidgy out there today as the snow melts. Upstate Dispatch has been transformed into an editing suite most of the week, with the highly addictive ProTools, preparing a podcast series.
Here are some of the week’s links and happenings, locally and internationally.
Fly fishing clinic at Westkill Brewery Sunday February 25th. Beer and fishing? The two go together like cheese and biscuits.
Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint 101 Class at Hudson Valley Vintage in Rhinebeck, NY. Milk Paint has been around for over a thousand years and contains only five 100% natural ingredients. Leave the class with a painted project.
Yoga in the Catskills: near Phoenicia, NY.
Progress made in sustainable agriculture in Holland from National Geographic. “How The Netherlands Feeds The World”. And hydroponic greens grown by AeroFarms in Newark.
The Greenhorns and their farmer’s almanac.
“A man is worked upon by what he works on. He may carve out his circumstances, but his circumstances will carve him out as well.” Frederick Douglas
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.
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
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, 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!
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
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
In early December, two Meet & Greet events with local, Democratic politicians will take place. Jeff Beals and Brian Flynn are both running in the next election for the NY’s 19th District.
On Saturday December 9th from 3-5pm, Brian Flynn will be hosted by Carla Weinpahl and Dan Weaver at their home in Fleischmanns. I will also be interviewing Brian on WIOX on Monday 27th November at 9am.
This is a great opportunity for everyone to find out what these two candidate’s positions are on everything from jobs to national security. Brian Flynn lost a brother in the terrorist attack on a Pan Am flight in 1988 over Lockerbie and campaigned in Washington for better security on airlines. He’s been campaigning for Medicare for All for a decade and will focus on bringing good jobs back to the 19th District.
On Sunday December 10th from 3-5pm, William Duke will be hosting Jeff Beals at Willow Drey Farm in Andes.
The New Farmer’s Almanac from the Greenhorns: a compendium of articles, hand-drawn illustrations, poetry and essays on what is happening now in agrarian innovation throughout the country. The Greenhorns are now seeking submissions for the next edition.
Upstate farmers and food producers in Seneca Lake fight to keep their water clean, from Saveur Magazine.
A guide to wild bees.
The Northeast might be overwhelmed with snowy owls, according to Aududon Magazine. There are a lot of mice here for them to eat.
Trout Tales at Spillian, offering “a grand collection of workshops, expos, guided fishing adventures, feasts, art, and much more for you to discover the the mighty trout and its streams and forests in the Catskills”.
Librarians delivering books on horseback.
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.
There are also three propositions, or “Proposals”, on the reverse side of the ballot that are easy to miss. It’s also difficult to find information on these proposals, even if you don’t have three jobs. Flip over the ballot and vote on these proposals which are, in brief, the following:
1. New York State should have a Constitutional Convention. This is proposed because in the NYS Constitution its required that every twenty years we should have a Constitutional Convention, so there is a public vote required.
2. A public official found guilty of a felony should be stripped of their pension (if that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties).
3. Constitutional Amendment that would create a modest land bank for Catskill (and Adirondack) community health and safety projects involving roads crossing the Forest Preserve. Basically, this will allow local communities to use forest land to re-build their infrastructure, like for example, a bridge that washed away, if they can prove that the land on which the bridge was on, is not viable. Right now it takes years to get permission to re-build a bridge if the land underneath it has been washed away by flooding and the proposed land is in the forest preserve because the forest preserve is protected. The proposal proposes to make it easier for communities to rebuild with one simple amendment.
The Catskill Center supports this amendment. Read their blog post about it.
Go to the Delaware County website to read all three propositions in full.
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.
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.
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.
Readers have asked for an update on my experience with tick tubes, so here it is. In June, I wrote a post about how we installed “tick tubes” around our house, in the woodshed, and flower beds. Pictured above, the tubes are filled with permethrin-laced cotton wool, which mice and chipmunks take and use to make their nests. White footed mice and other small rodents living on the edge of forests are believed to be the main vector for ticks, according to most sources. The permethrin on the cotton wool kills the ticks on the rodents.
Summer is coming to a close, and we have not seen a tick anywhere, on us or the dog, since we put out the tubes. Less than half of our land is forest, but we do live on the edge of it, making our house a hotbed for tick action. Continue reading
One minute your making nut butter out of hazelnuts and saving seeds; the next minute you’re replacing the siding on the house. Country living is the great educator.
On Saturday August 12th at 4pm, Ella’s Mercantile is having a summer party in Halcottsville, a favorite haunt of mine. It’s an exquisitely picturesque haven on a large boating lake, through which the historic railroad (DURR) runs. It’s postcard perfect. I’ve taken watercolor classes there; participated in a plein air painting group (with or without attendant goats); interviewed the reverends of the church for a local publication; exhibited my prints in The Grange and tasted tea with a friend. You can stay at Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm and kayak on Lake Wawaka. There’s even a fledgling Shakespeare Company in the works. The whole village is arguably one of the Catskills most beautiful places. Continue reading
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
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.
Saturday March 25th, Trout Tales: All Things Fly Fishing at Spillian in Fleischmanns.
Saturday March 25th, The Tanning Industry and How It’s Changed at the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper.
Saturday March 25th, Designing with Native Plants at the Phoenicia Library.
Saturday March 25th, Childrens’ Art Workshop at MURAL on Main, 631 Main Street in Hobart, NY. Students aged 6-12 will learn about using color in art and then create their own cray-pas on canvas painting. All necessary materials and instruction will be provided and creativity will be encouraged. The cost for this workshop is $5 and sign up is available through the workshop page on the MURAL website or by calling the gallery at (607) 538-3002.
If you’re a landowner and wish to lease your land to farmers, here’s a workshop running on April 1st in Delaware County and April 8th in Otsego County, that might be useful from CADE, the Center for Agricultural Development & Enterpreneurship.
Buses converted into mobile grocery stores for low income neighborhoods: a great idea for the Catskills.
Thirteen things I learnt as a market farmer, from Women Who Farm.
Old books converted into art and sculpture.
Sign up for Main Street Bootcamp, on April 3rd and 4th, a two-day conference filled with workshops, panel discussion and “side cafes” focussed on how to generate local solutions for the issues facing our business community and Main Streets. Run by the MARK Project and sponsored by O’Connor Foundation, Catskill Watershed Corporation, NY State Department of State and NYS Homes and Community Renewal, American Express, and WIOX Radio, attendees will look “for local solutions to local problems”. Join in and have your say in the beautiful setting of Andes, 110 Main Street, Andes, NY 13731. $40 fee includes food.
Weekend camping resets the body clock, says the BBC.
Saturday February 25th: A group reading of Macbeth with beer at Reynolds & Reynolds in Woodstock.
Cosmik Ice Cream, maker of freeze-dried ice cream that will never melt, visits Woodchuck Lodge. In these temperatures, nothing is melting up here, but for us trustees of Woodchuck Lodge, this is lovely publicity.
Governor Cuomo pledges $8 million in state funds for Belleayre Ski Resort.
Woodstock Farm Festival looking for vendors.
The Catskills’ own Lisbeth Firmin’s talk “Painting and Prints” on March 17th at William & Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education in North Carolina.
Catskill Center is accepting applications for the Platte Clove Artist in Residence Program.
Leave it to the inestimable Park Rangers to impress us with their louche cool and a rogue Twitter account – and those fantastic outfits. Get all the other hilarious rogue Twitter accounts here at CNN from NASA and other regional Park Service employees.
Tonight, a Scottish Weekend begins at the historical Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz.
Catskill Park Coalition Information Session at the Catskill Center tomorrow, Saturday January 28th.
Next Friday, February 3rd, The Annual Winter Hoot at the Ashokan Center.
For writers, a Museum of Linguistics is arriving in Washinton DC called “Planet Word”.
Upstate Dispatch Retro Links
A local cocktail, Vly Creek Vodka Lemonade with local maple syrup and vodka.
My description of the most breathtakingly beautiful climb on the Catskills 35, Balsam Mountain. My first peak on my mission to hike the Catskills 35, Panther Mountain. By the way, don’t steal signs! Hikers rely on them.
My thoughts on being introduced to camping.
A spring day out to plan: a swim in Big Pond, then a visit to buy some local trout.
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.
As winter draws closer and dusk settles at 4.30pm, the tendency is to batten down the hatches, fire up the wood stove and curl up on the sofa with a book. This is also the perfect way to get cabin fever and it’s easy to go days or even weeks without socializing. The Brits handle their cabin fever by frequent attendance down the pub. A gloomy British winter – one that extends all the way from summer’s end to the following summer – would be unbearable without a local pub. Hobart now has one, The Bull & Garland and I think we’ve mentioned here how truly authentic and cozy it is. Hobart is called the Catskills’ “book village” and it’s modeled after another British tradition: Hay on Wye’s annual book festival.
Co-incidentally, Creative Corner Books in Hobart, a stone’s throw from the pub, is hosting a jewelry-making class on December 8th from 7pm to 8.30pm. It really couldn’t get any better: a few pints, a Scotch egg, books, more books and then some hilarious wrangling with a pair of tweezers and some tiny beads – or the other way around. Run by Heather Rolland, the class will teach the basics of earring making. The cost is $15 per pair of earrings inclusive of instruction and materials.
Creative Corner Books, 607 Main Street, Hobart, NY (607) 386-2525
The Bull & Garland, 760 Main St, Hobart, NY 13788 (607) 538-3006
On Friday October 7th from 4pm to 7pm on Main Street in Margaretville, come and enjoy a harvest festival with a range of activities including pumpkin carving with the Catskill Mountain Artisans’ Guild; demonstration on how to press your own cider apples; a costume parade and contest for adults, kids and dogs.
Union Grove Distillery will be offering samples of their vodka. Stick in the Mud will have waffle dogs as well as their super fun Belgian waffles on a stick. There will be chili and cornbread for sale from local chefs. Catskill Candies and Confections will offer samples of their chocolates. The Margaretville Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop will be open late and running a special bag sale.
Plein Air painter Alix Travis will be creating artwork depicting the evening’s activities. Entertainment will be provided by Ben Rounds. Stores will be open late as part of this First Friday event sponsored by the Business Association of Margaretville. Admission is free.
The Catskill Center promises an evening of delicious local cuisine, libations and musical performance by Spirit of Thunderheart, five native American drummers, Donna Coane, Debbie Fichtner, Brenda Martin, JoJo Griffin and Wynona Decker. Spirit of Thunderheart are awardees of the 2014 Native American Music Awards’ Best Traditional, 1st place and the 2015 Best Group of the Year, 2nd place. There will also be music by Skye, which is Celtic cellist Abby Newton, guitarist Lynn Hrdy, and keyboardist Selma Kaplan.
Saturday Cider Pressing: The Hubbell Family Cider Mill on Route 30 in Halcotsville, which has been pressing apples since 1878, opens its doors to the public on October 1st and every Saturday in October. The press will start promptly at **12.30pm***, so please be on time. I will be interviewing Burr Hubbell and Andrew on WIOX Radio on October 3rd at 9am to discuss the history of the Catskills apple and farming in the region. Hubbell Family Farm, 46124 State Highway 30, Margaretville, NY 12455.
***The time for the cider pressing has moved forward to 12.30pm from the originally stated 11am.***
Pony Palooza at Rosemary Farm: A pony party at the horse sanctuary with games, food, music, and ponys. There will be demonstrations with the horses; local vendors with special offerings, pumpkins and corn; horseshoes, coloring and a chance to meet, pet and maybe even hug your favorite RF horse. Tickets are $7.50 in advance, $10 at the door, with limited admission. (Note that the Tack Sale is outside the ticketed area, you may come and shop for free). Rosemary Farm Horse Sanctuary, 1646 Roses Brook Road, South Kortright, NY 13842.
The 13th Annual Lark in the Park run by the Catskill Center, a non-profit devoted to conservation and development in the Catskills, begins on October 1st and runs to October 10th. The event offers hiking, paddling, cycling, fishing, nature walks and lectures as well as cultural and educational events throughout the entire Catskill region.
And, finally, an artist’s reception on October 1st from 1pm to 3pm in Margaretville – see below for details:
This is your brain on nature from National Geographic.
“Rewilding” the English landscape from the BBC.
The Leave It On The Lawn Campaign for soil health from the DEC.
The UK’s first food waste supermarket.
The dark side of “agritainment” by Civil Eats. “Farmers in Sonoma County—real farmers with dirt under their fingernails and aching backs—make an average of $12.21 an hour, or just under $34,000 a year. The average household income in the U.S. for small farmers (the 82 percent of U.S. farming operations that have annual sales of $100,000 or less) is $81,000. Around 85 to 95 percent of that income number comes from off-farm day jobs”.
In some ways, Autumn is a better time for Catskills living. The region relies greatly on tourism because it remains under-developed. In order to keep our waterways clean so that New Yorkers can drink the Catskills water unfiltered, industry is heavily regulated. As a consequence of this, friends and neighbors are never more busy than they are in the summer with events and visitors. The wedding industry is booming; hairdressers, chefs, caterers, make-up artists, photographers, hotels and inns are realizing good trade in this speciality event. Autumn is creeping in and although there are still events during this time, there is a general, collective sigh of relief occurring as the business winds down. Country life remains hard work year-round though. We’re not running through sun-drenched hay fields like its a shampoo commercial, but it will be nice to play catch-up with friends and colleagues in these coming months.
The Hubbell Family Cider Mill on Route 30 in Halcotsville, which has been pressing apples since 1878, opens its doors to the public on October 1st and every Saturday in October. All are invited to come and watch apples being pressed. Details will be released closer to the time. I will be interviewing Burr Hubbell and Andrew on WIOX Radio on October 3rd at 9am to discuss the history of the Catskills apple and farming in the region.
Friday September 2nd 9 – 9.30pm: The 3rd Annual Lighting of the Fire Towers
From a high place in the Catskills, witness the 3rd Annual Lighting of the Fire Towers when from 9 – 9.30pm, we are invited to find a place with a view of a fire tower or towers on the horizon and watch their cabin light up the night sky.
Saturday September 3rd, 10am – 3pm: Tour of the Sculpture Garden at the Catskill Interpretive Center
The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center is the gateway to the Catskill Park. Located on a 60 acre site, the Catskill Interpretive Center includes sculpture installations which are chosen by jury and displayed for a year. Come and see the 2016/2017 installation and get a tour by the artists who created the sculptures (not suitable for children under 8 years of age).
Saturday July 30th and Sunday 31st, Catskills artists will open their doors to the public, in a pre-arranged tour, so that you can take a peek behind the scenes in an artist’s studio. 20 artists are taking part in the tour, but four of us are without a studio. We’ll be showing in the Grange Hub in Halcotsville opposite the old Lake Wawaka Hose #1, a few steps downhill from the Holy Innocents’ Church. Artists are en route throughout the countryside between the villages of Arkville, Margaretville and Roxbury.
Interested visitors can plan their tour by going to the website and printing out the map. You can also visit the Facebook page here. Glossy, color pamphlets with all the details are also widely available locally. (See bottom of the post for artists’ work.)
The project is the brainchild of local Catskills artist Alix Travis, who was inspired to start the tour after having done similar tours herself in other communities. Studio tours are a glimpse behind the scenes to explore methods and process, swap notes and absorb the creative atmosphere. What’s special about art is that identical processes can result in wildly differing effects when they’re employed by different artists and that’s fun to watch for everyone. What’s a good process for one artist isn’t necessarily good for other artists, but it’s fun to push the envelope and experiment.
Saturday July 30th, The Oak Hill Preservation Society & Preserved Instincts presents the DOPE JAMS OAK HILL DAY Open Air Party from 4pm to 10pm. Buses will run from Brooklyn to the Catskills. 7892 Rt 81, Main St, Oak Hill, New York 12460: more details here.
Saturday July 30th an artists’ reception at Windham Fine Arts on 5380 Main Street
Windham, NY 12496. The show runs through September 7th.
Saturday July 30th: Manhattan in the Mountains continues with its faculty concert at 8pm. Manhattan in the Mountains on Route 23A, Hunter, NY 12442.
Friday July 29th, Saturday July 30th & Sunday July 31st: Drive-In Movie: Jaws at the Greenville Theatre, 10700 Route 32 Greenville, NY 12083.
The LongYear Gallery has been showing the works of Linda Lariar, Catskills artist, since July 16th. Linda is part of the East Branch of the Delaware Plein Air Group. Her opening will be July 23rd, 3pm to 6pm at LongYear Gallery, First Floor Rear, 785 Main Street, Margaretville NY 12455
Gallery Hours: Sat 10am-5pm.
Spillian, the inn and retreat in Fleischmanns is having a major party on Saturday July 23rd from 4pm to 10pm: a Cajun inspired feast of music and food with entertainment from Dylan Doyle, who will be recording live for his CD, with the entire show broadcast live on local radio. Entry is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children, in advance. Full cajun dinner: $18.00. Vegetarian dinner: $15. Drinks (beer, wine, cocktails): $5. Soft drinks: $1.00.
The Painter’s Gallery in Fleischmanns presents the opening reception for Luminance by Beth Caspar, Joan Grubin, Heather Hutchison, and Laura Sue King on Saturday July 23rd. This show brings together four artists experimenting with the perception of color and the play of natural light. The result is work that appears to glow or to be luminous, created with a variety of media but without the use of artificial sources of light. Luminance is up until August 20th.
Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville holds Saturday night Pizza Nights on Saturday July 23rd.
Manhattan in the Mountains the music school in Hunter, begins its Fifth Anniversary concerts in Hunter on Sunday July 24th and continues until August 24th. Manhattan in the Mountains is a program of The Catskill Mountain Foundation and all events take place at the Doctorow Center in Hunter. Established in 2012 as a summer music festival for violin, viola, cello, and piano students ages 13 and up, MinM offers a minimum of two private lessons per week, daily chamber music rehearsals, two chamber coachings per week, and three to five hours of scheduled practice time every day.
Bebert’s Cafe is hosting live music in their cafe garden at the weekends to complement their incredible food and tea on Sunday July 24th.
The East Branch of the Delaware Plein Air Group have their opening reception on Saturday July 2nd at the Commons Building, 785 Main Street in Margaretville, New York. The exhibition will be up until July 31st.
Writers in the Mountains, The Roxbury General and “community friends” have arranged an installation called “Raining Poetry” in Roxbury, New York, tomorrow morning. It’s poetry written on the pavement. It’s invisible though, so you have to throw some water on it to reveal the beauty. Watering cans will be set up so you can wet the sidewalk and watch the poetry appear.
The Painters Gallery on Main Street in Fleischmanns is hosting an opening on Saturday July 2nd from 3.30pm – 6pm called Weather Reports at Sea, an installation with multiple projections by Tona Wilson.
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s 9th Annual July Jamboree takes place on Sunday July 3rd from 11am – 4pm. Award-winning veggie food trucks and booths, live music, vegan-themed tattoos done on-site by the artists from Gristle Tattoo in Brooklyn, kids’ activities including face-painting, a bouncy castle, water slide, and more! Bestselling author Terry Hope Romero will also be presenting around her new cookbook, “Protein Ninja”. Spend the day with family and friends and meet over 300 friendly rescued cows, pigs, goats, turkeys and more while benefiting our rescue, shelter and outreach work for farmed animals.
There will be a free sanctuary shuttle for this event departing hourly from the New Paltz Trailways bus station.
They’re fleeting because once the deer find out they exist, they will eat them all. All the more arresting for being a complete surprise, all the roses bar two featured in this post disappeared suddenly overnight. I had never seen wild roses before in the Catskills but, as a wise neighbour said, that’s probably because the deer got to them first. It was a joy to have them in our road briefly.
Today Friday 10th through Sunday June 12th, the Catskill Center is hosting Taking Flight: Birding in the Catskills.
Saturday June 11th, the Catskills own live radio event, Catskill Cabaradio will be hosted at the Pine Hill Center, in Pine Hill. Hosted by Elly Wininger, the event will be “an evening of music, drama, local lore, and laughs”, exploring the theme of “Food in the Catskills” with some of the region’s most celebrated and unique residents. In addition to growers, purveyors, chefs and food activists, there will be performances by a crop of regional talent including musician Chris Maxwell, poet and storyteller Margot Farrington, and young Maxwell Barnes, saxophonist. The potluck dishes are some of the best cooking in the Catskills.
Voices of Wisdom Gathering at the Blue Deer Center on June 11th and 12th. The gathering will start on Saturday at noon. People will sit by the fire and each of the two elders will speak in turn, offering the wisdom that they see is needed in that moment. The talks and conversations will be followed by a potluck dinner. The Blue Deer Center is
The 5th Annual Living History Cemetery Tour hosted by Middletown Historical Society will be held at Halcott Cemetery in Greene County near Fleischmanns on Saturday, June 18th. Tour goers will visit eight departed residents, portrayed by local actors, who will talk about their lives, loves and losses. Meet a fugitive “calico Indian;” a little girl remembering her Halcott childhood punctuated by tragedy; a farm couple whose long life together was ended by a charging bull; a young World War 1 soldier who fell to the Spanish flu. Tours begin every 20 minutes starting at 4pm. Reserve a tour time by calling 845-586-4736 by June 15th.
Straight Out Of The Ground Farm is hosting a farm dinner on Saturday June 25th for $55 a person. Make a reservation here.
Amy’s Takeaway in Lanesville is open all weekend this weekend from Friday, June 10th through Sunday, June 12th, 2016, 11am to 7pm with a special menu.
On Saturday 4th June from 10am to 3pm, the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskills Interpretive Center hosts a book fair. 5096 Rte 28, Mt Tremper, NY, 12457.
On Saturday 4th, 11am to 1pm: National Trails Day, where Catskill Center and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference will be celebrating the grand opening of the newly constructed Nature Trail at the at the Maurice D Hinchey Catskills Interpretive Center.
On Saturday 4th June at 3pm, at the Erpf Gallery in the Catskills Center in Arkville, Robert and Johanna Titus, along with Art Murphy, will be speaking about the exhibit entitled The Geology of the Devonian: the Heart of the Catskills. After the talk there will be a reception to celebrate 25 years of the “Kaatskill Geologist” in Kaatskill Life Magazine.
Saturday & Sunday 4th & 5th June, Paint Main Street in Roxbury with Catskills artist Lisbeth Firmin. Tickets available at the Roxbury Arts Group.
Saturday Night: Pizza Night at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville.
Sunday 5th June: Washington Square at Opus 40, a sculpture park and museum in an abandoned bluestone quarry in the town of Saugerties, NY, in Ulster County, about 100 miles north of New York City created by Harvey Fite, one of the founders of the Bard College Fine Arts Department. It’s a stunning monument on 70 acres that you can walk around. Admission is free on Sunday morning to anyone bearing an acoustic instrument for the picking circle.
An article from the Wall Street Journal on how to treat tick-infested clothing.
Fleischmanns gains an exotic cafe; read my article in the Watershed Post.
Fleischmanns is having a Memorial Day street fair on Saturday, 10am to 4pm.
If you come to visit, don’t forget to pack up your trash and take it with you. Last year, the Blue Hole, Peekamoose’s swimming hole was strewn with rubbish. Days and weeks later, hikers were still bagging litter on their way home. Jeff Vincent highlights this problem in his piece in this week’s Watershed Post. As a mountain guide, he regularly carries out rubbish on his hikes. This year, the DEC has issued new rules for enjoying the area.
If you have any weekend links you would like to suggest, please email email@example.com.
Spring is here and we’re seeing a start to the greening of our mountains with the help of some much-needed rain that will cool off recent brush fires. Here are some weekend links as we mountaineers ramp up for spring, no pun intended.
Support your local bookstore: Catskill Made’s blog highlights their favorite Catskill local bookstores.
A pop-up library at the Catskill Center, where you can borrow books and give them back to any Delaware County library when they’re due.
Tomorrow, May 4th at 11am, join us at the Roxbury Arts Center for a talk arranged by The MARK Project on the $500,000,000 grant that Governor Cuomo has ear-marked for the Southern Tier of New York State.
Nothing beats getting stared down by a deer. “Whatcha doing?”
A mink has moved into my neighbor’s yard and my dog, desperate as always to make new friends, was a little overly zealous in his introduction. My dog almost made friends with a bold, friendly deer once, and for a few minutes they chased each other around, but I ruined it by getting in too close for a picture. That’s country life. We left the mink in peace and haven’t seen him since.
A beaver has moved into the hood, specifically the woods at the end of my road, and now I realize why the term “eager beaver” came into existence because he’s highly prolific. In his new habitat, a roadside pond, he has downed nearly ten trees in the short space of a week and was spotted yesterday, clearly from the road, swimming around on his back, surveying his work. One of the trees he felled looks to be about a foot in diameter. The town excavators who were clearing out all the gulleys in the area last week may not have noticed his handy work, but it looks like the over-achieving beaver is building the Empire State Building of dams and this could be a problem for the small stream that drains through the pond. He swims late in the day when the sun has warmed the pond, so I’ll be back around 4pm to see if I can catch him.
It’s been another spectacular fall with vivid, fiery reds and yellows transforming to their final phase: brilliantly rusted shades of amber, bronze, tan, copper and gold. Tourism is the Catskills’ most lucrative business and it’s a given that many friends and neighbors fall out of touch over the summer, engaged in the reception and entertainment of visitors from all over the world. For those not in that business, summer was a time to fix up the homestead: new boiler, woodstove, siding and perhaps a window or two. Summer is our busiest time, and quiet moments snatched in between interminable chores and work in the glorious warmth of the lush summer season, are few and far between.
But, winter is coming… Winter is coming and it’s a chance to gather with everyone and entertain each other. It might get so cold that it freezes the balls off a brass statue, but our entertainment is just warming up. Join us for some Catskills culture as we kick off November with a week of art, literary and eclectic musical events.
Some forthcoming cultural events in the Upstate Dispatch sphere next week are as follows:
The Spillian Scribblers:
It’s National Novel Writing Month in November and Upstate Dispatch is chronicling the life of the writer with guests on WIOX on alternate Mondays in November (2nd, 16th & 30th) at 9am. Furthermore, the Scribblers, a writers’ group that started last month after a myth-writing workshop run by Leigh Melander, will meet on Tuesday, November 3rd at Spillian in Fleischmanns. Convening In the majestic splendor of a historical Catskills landmark by a cozy fire, we read each other’s works aloud and offer comments over cake and booze. Spillian has a cash bar. If you are a writer and wish to join in, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Halloween is a treasured time at the end of summer, a time where we all get together after having been out of touch for so long, after a hectic high season in the tourist industry that sustains the Catskills. Take a ride up Route 28 and join us for these events during the forthcoming week. The Upstate Dispatch Halloween weekend will include the following:
UPDATE: An earlier version of this post included Friday night drinks at the Phoenicia Diner Lounge, but the Lounge has closed for the season. This will make the long wait for Spring even more arduous. It’s a good thing that Mike Cioffi, owner of the Phoenica Diner is working on a new bar after buying property in Woodstock. Meanwhile, we are working on a list of great bars in the vicinity of the Lounge in a new post. Watch this space for a link to the list of places to drink on Friday night. Of course, there is also our beloved Peekamoose as detailed below. Friday night drinks at Peekamoose Tap Room are everyone’s favorite way to decompress after a hard week. The bar and restaurant is further up past Phoenicia by about ten minutes on Route 28 in the town of Big Indian.
It’s been a glorious week for enigmatic pictures and it seems as if today’s the day that the colors are really popping out more vividly at us. On Friday, both a black cat and mouse scurried across my path on my morning jaunt: an ancient sign of luck. The barn on Breezy Hill Road (below) has featured as an icon of Upstate Dispatch. I’ve photographed in all seasons and in all sorts of weather: covered in snow, sunny, foggy, misty and raining. Herein starts Fall Foliage Watch and we will hiking to the top of mountains to capture some of the best of it in the next few months.
Meet the farmers at tomorrow’s Cauliflower Festival in Margaretville.
The wonderful New York New Jersey Trail Conference gives us its Top Ten hikes to view the fall foliage here in the Catskills. Here at Upstate Dispatch we have our own list, coming shortly.
A Saturday afternoon writer’s workshop at Spillian culminating in dinner at the glorious 100-year old, fully restored mansion of the former Fleischmanns’ Yeast and & Gin family. Call 800-811-3351 to reserve your place.
Adult coloring books from The Writers Circle, something to bring with you when you visit the Catskills for some autumnal peace and quiet.
Upstate Dispatch gets a YouTube channel for its shorts on local food, farming, life and work for residents and visitors in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.
I was honoured to have been invited to a friend’s wedding on Andes’ Willow Drey Farm over the weekend and spent a gorgeous late summer day catching up with neighbors in one of the most beautiful settings in the Catskills. (It’s technically still summer until the Autumnal Equinox on September 23rd.) I already have fearsome village envy over Andes and Willow Drey Farm is not helping. It’s a stunning 65 acres of big sky country farmland with rolling hills, a grain silo, barn, lake and old-style wooden fencing throughout. See my Daily Catskill pictures here.
Country life means throwing on the wellies, sprinting out of the house at 8am ahead of the town mower to save a patch of wild mint and chicory before it’s razed by the town’s enormous lateral road leveler. Their incredible new machine has an industrial rake on it and the monster takes out eight-feet-tall thistles like it’s plucking daisies.
Experienced foragers often say that roadside foraging should be avoided because of brake dust and ice-melting salt, but big buckets of mint make a natural air freshener for musty rooms and workshops. Last year, the slugs got the mint, but they didn’t this year. This summer was a banner year for chicory, which is all over the roadsides everywhere. Get it into water immediately otherwise it will quickly wilt and makes good freshly cut flowers in clear vases for guest bedrooms.
Last year, our new neighbours told us they were quoted a price of $40,000 to replace their leaky siding and there was a lengthy pause in the conversation, more than one sigh and some sympathetic nodding. We also need new siding. So we all had a glass of wine or two and tried to forget about it but, last winter, squirrels took up residence in our chimney along with two swarms of bees, leaving too many gaping holes to ignore and soggy wood caused by the resultant leakage. A full chimney is also a fire hazard. So I asked the question: how hard would it be just to rip it off the siding and put on some more? We found out today. Well, my husband found out and I helped. Turns out if you do all of Jillian Michaels’ exercise DVDs, you will be sufficiently forceful with a hammer, but they won’t help you with your fear of heights. My next question, as I helped rip the chimney apart, was: how do the caterpillars get in there, behind the siding? And why do we build houses with particle board covered in paper? I mean, it wasn’t even real wood under there and some of it was rotten and had to be replaced.