Getting crisp, but still warm in the sun, despite giant clouds and a high around 60F.
Overcast with a blanket of rippling cloud that allows occasional sunburst and a high in the low sixties. Gloomy in the woods mid-afternoon.
A little warmer with a high of 58F and a mixed lot of multifarious cloud cover.
A jumble of weather: giant, scene-stealing clouds, scattered showers and some sunny spells with a high of 60F.
All day rain and the ubiquitous foggy mist. Humid with a high of 66F. The dullness is muting the fall colors.
Overcast and gloomy today, and humid with a high of 78F. Dinner at the Print House.
A fall scorcher: a high of 82F with clear skies and another serene sunset.
Warm and sunny, with wispy bits of cloud like someone didn’t clean up the sky properly and a high of 70F. Overnight lows dipping into the thirties. Frost warning.
An overcast and gloomy morning clearing up mid-afternoon to late evening and a clear blue sunset. Chilly with some sprinkles and a high of 64F. Lows in the fifties.
A chill in the air, and warm in the sun but mostly overcast with a flat swathes of menacing cloud. Late afternoon rain and a high of 67F.
Warm and sunny, mostly clear with a high of 71F.
Gloomy and rainy, with intermittent showers leaving a trail of thick mist in their wake. A high of 71F and humid. The goldenrod is enjoying this late summer.
Muggy, still and overcast with low cloud and a high of 77F. Late afternoon drizzle gave way to some patches of blue. A barely discernible reddening of the landscape. The greens aren’t giving up yet.
Yes, I’m still here! I know some of you can’t believe it. It is, however, the 9th birthday of Upstate Dispatch and this is the 2,355th post. Yes, I persist. The Daily Catskills section began again this year on September 1st for the fall season, but it’s just too much work to maintain it year-round. (BTW, there are a few splotches of red in the foliage here and there, and in small pockets, mostly shady areas, we have piles of fallen leaves, but because of the heat, it still feels like summer. Try telling that to the tomatoes, though.)
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I have mostly been focusing on art, and writing. I’m working on a memoir, not because I’m special, but because there’s a story here that I need to tell. Part of this story was published in Farmerish and it was well-received. You can read it here.
I will be publishing an introduction, some excerpts, and companion pieces to this memoir on Substack: a “new economic engine for culture”, which is a paid newsletter that gives writers a chance to earn a living. For those of you who are interested in paying a very small subscription for my content. Here’s a chance to find out more about who I am. I hope to see you there!
Finally, I often go out for lunch, breakfast or dinner in the Catskills and hear about how Upstate Dispatch has helped local businesses. I really appreciate the feedback and thank everyone for their support.
Jenny Neal 9/9/23
A steamy day. Hot and humid, with plump, fluffy cloud and a high of 89F. Mid-afternoon thunder and rain that took a pause for sunset and then continued with epic house-rattling thunder and lightning after dark. Some epic weather.
Heavy and humid, mostly sunny with a high of 90F, but cool in the shade. Sweaty.
Warm and sunny with a high of 82F. Day 4 of haying: bringing the bales down off the mountain and “tedding” the second cutting.
The very first post on Upstate Dispatch on September 9th, 2014, which you can find here, was a post on my first watercolor completed under the tutelage of Alix Travis. After ten years, this watercolor is up for sale at the Andes Academy of Art on 506 Main Street, Andes, NY 13731.
The opening of the show is on July 15th, 2023 from 2pm to 6pm and curated by Peter Mayer.
Hope to see you there!
It’s been a while since I wrote with any regularity here, and I need to get back to my roots as a writer, so I started a new project: documenting the history and workings of this 93-year-old working farm to which I moved exactly two years ago: Lazy Crazy Acres Farm and its resident farmer Jake Fairbairn who makes hay and maple syrup on 100 acres. It’s a collaboration between Lazy Crazy Acres Farm and Upstate Dispatch. The farm is in need of some serious TLC. The house needs renovating and the farm equipment needs constant repair. Will we be able to fix up the house in time for the farm’s centenary? Who knows? But we have started by fixing the back porch, which was falling down.
You can follow along on the Instagram.
Farming is a hugely risky endeavor. The weather is boss and this has been an extraordinary year in that this is the first year that Jake has not been able to make hay in June. In May 2023 we had a month of drought conditions: browned grass and hay growth that was only about 60% of last year’s mass. In June we have had near-constant rain. At time of writing, July 4th, Jake is fixing the steering wheel on one of the farm’s 50-year-old tractors, because it is still raining.
Furthermore, it’s not only good practice for me as a writer, but I also feel the need to publish my own authentic story. To this end, my next post will be a piece of my memoir that was published two years ago in Farmerish.net, which I am publishing for the first time here on Upstate Dispatch.
Thank you for reading!
“Are you coming to the drawing tonight?” Gary Mayer asks me. I’m honored to be part of a Catskills figure drawing group with local artists such as Steve Burnett, Gary, Peter Mayer, and Sandy Finkenberg.
“No,” I say. “I’m going to a potluck dinner”.
“Well, you won’t find potluck in here,” he says as he steps up into his studio. “More like shit out of luck,” he laughs, highlighting a disparity between the lightness of his personality and the intensity of his work. He’s quick to laugh, good company and chatty, but this magnanimity belies the intensity of his imagery. “I have a wild imagination,” he frowns, nodding gravely. “I didn’t sleep a lot as a kid”. We have something in common. “Me, too,” I say. It’s a little exhausting. But I’m keen to keep him laughing because all the profile pictures I see of him make him look flummoxed, for want of a better word.
His general demeanor is nonchalance, however, like his image: hey, look at this shit I did. I don’t get it either. *Shrugs* The ad for his new gallery in Margaretville named Art Up is photo of a handwritten note, for example. I get the sense that his reward comes from expressing himself, while painting, rather than the final work being appreciated.Continue reading
Another sunny day: warm in the sun, cool in the shade with a high of 64F.
Cold, with a high of 48F and a chilly wind. A mostly gloomy day with the sun emerging late afternoon like it had spent all day a work. A beautiful evening.
We’re very proud to announce that the Winter 2022 Issue of Upstate Dispatch was published last year and is available for sale. It’s been a serious challenge to be a novice publisher, but the outpouring of enthusiasm has been hugely encouraging. As a writer, I was convinced that readers still wanted some print materials and I was right to take the leap.
There’s so much distraction on the internet that avid readers are moving away from it. The last month has shown me that readers consider a book or magazine to be a rare treat and a small luxury in trying times. I worked hard for eight years on the website, bringing a wealth of information on the area to thousands of readers, and I was dedicated to making the magazine beautiful. I hope you’ll invest in a copy.
You will soon find the magazine in select independent book stores in New York City, but for now, those outside the Catskills area can order their copy by emailing [email protected]. The price for mailing within New York State is $20, plus $5 postage and packaging.
Please watch this post for changes as we expand our availability.
In the magazine, you’ll find winter recipes, interviews, essays, recommended reading and some of the best images of Catskills winter hiking in one beautiful issue.
Misty and humid with blustery afternoon rain and a high of 71F. Fall is on the wane, but the oaks, beech and ironwood are still hanging on.
Another clear, fall day with a high of 70F.
Chilly and overcast with brief periods of sunshine and afternoon rain. A high of 50F.
Thick cloud cover clearing by late afternoon. Humid but chilly, with a high of 62F. Yellow leaves falling.
More gloom. Overcast, with a slight chill taking the edge off the humidity and a high of 65F. Misty clouds sail through the valley towing their falling rain.
Another overcast day: humid with swirling clouds with misty rain and a high of 65F. Some color still remains in the garden.
Dull and overcast, mostly rainy with brief periods of sunshine, with cloud cover clearing at sunset, a rainbow and a high of 65F.
Gloomy and overcast with brief periods of sunshine, but a mostly rainy afternoon and a high of 63F.
Loud overnight thunderstorms begin in the early hours of the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall. Intermittent rain, some afternoon sun, and a high of 69F. Humid with a chilly breeze.
I developed a curry sauce made from scratch during the pandemic. Curry is part of Ayurvedic diet in which you eat foods that protect your health, so this year I tried to grow some of the ingredients. There are plenty of foods in this diet that don’t grow well in this climate, but we do have some good replacements. For example, spice bush, native to the Catskills and Northeast America, is a good stand-in for spices because you can eat the leaves, twigs and berries. I’ve never found spice bush when foraging here, but I did buy a few seedlings from Barkaboom Native Plants based here in the Catskills.
Some of what I planted at Lazy Crazy Acres farm did not do well, or even grow at all, but what did grow really well were arugula, red bliss potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, and hot peppers. We have shishito, jalapeno, cayenne, anaheim and exactly one dark green poblano. We got at least 30 shishito peppers from one plant alone, although we had to get it under cover because the deer started to eat the plant. I also planted mint and lavender as companion plants. The mint has kept the tomatoes pest-free except for one lonely, recent hornworm. All these are on the farm stand, except the hornworm who was invited to move across the street. Considering that we’re on dead-end road, this little fledgling farm stand is not doing too badly. Visitors to Tree Juice Maple Syrup are the biggest customers, which is where the farm stand is, and some of the garlic will be going into the syrup.
Whatever does not get sold will get dried or preserved. We grew 300 heads of garlic and the cloves from the biggest bulbs will get planted in October.
The farm stand is open when it’s not raining. We’ve yet to add a roof, but we all have to start somewhere.
Tomorrow will mark the five year anniversary of Upstate Dispatch. I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s been a wild ride. I can honestly say that this city girl has learned so much more about life, work and herself these past few years than could have been imagined.
You may have noticed that there hasn’t been much on the website these past few months and there’s a reason for that. I’m taking my life in an entirely new direction. I’ve no idea where it will lead, but there will be a new website devoted to more of my writing life than just this neck of the woods, and new media-based work in the arts and further afield. But there’s so much content here, you could peruse this site for the next year on the old posts alone. Below find links to the most popular posts of the past five years. Coming up for UD in the future, we’ll be more food-focused with new contributors to write on recipes, farming and the local economy. We’re looking for sponsors to underwrite our fall content and invite pitches to [email protected].
Meanwhile, over the summer, it has been nice to relax into the scenery, just exist in the woods, forage, harvest and meditate, without having to document every leaf, stream and view of it.
Upstate Dispatch Links
We never finished the Catskills 35! I have just six bushwhacks left and will do those over the winter because the summit is easier to find without the leaves on the trees. However, our hiking section is the most popular.
See our Instagram feed here.
An interview with Steve and Kristie Burnett.
Thanks so much for reading.
This is an update of our recipe from a few years ago, because now you can buy almond milk. There’s no need to soak almonds overnight and strain them to get their milk. Cucumbers are in season from July through October and this refreshing, sweet chilled soup is the perfect antidote to our scorching recent Catskills weather.
Three medium sized English cucumbers
Three cups of almond milk, unsweetened
Half cup of water
An apple, peeled, chopped and cored or 10 grapes
Three teaspoons of olive oil
Half teaspoon of salt
Half teaspoon of pepper
Puree the grapes in a blender, sieve them and save the liquid. Peel, chop and puree the cucumbers in a food processor until they are liquid and while the cucumbers are blending add the olive oil, salt and pepper, grape juice and almond milk. You might also like to add a little of the almond or grape pulp to garnish with a splash of olive oil. Chill before serving. Delicious.
This is the sort of recipe that you can amend without too much fuss. If you want a sweeter gazpacho, you just throw all the fruit – an apple and the grapes – in the blender with the cucumber. (If the result is too thick, add more almond milk.) This also makes a perfect pre-workout smoothie where, if you haven’t had a chance to eat all day yet you still want to work out, you can drink this an hour or two before exercising.
A high of almost 60F, with fog rolling through the valleys and dissolving in the afternoon sun.
A balmy spring day: a high of 53F with the snow withdrawing into the shadows like a retreating tide. Rivers warm up and run higher.
A high of 47F with snow slowly receding in the sun and a veil of woolly clouds. Maple syrup season in full flow.
Almost a foot of overnight snow descends, putting an end to exactly a week of thatched, nascent landscape and its rich earth tones. Sticky snow like spray foam clings to trunks, boughs and branches, turning outdoor furniture into ghosts, making ski-runs deep and slow. Mountains shrouded in foggy snow clouds. More snow fall during the day and a high of 38F.
A week of bare landscape reveals woodland activity. Overcast with a high of 40F.
On March 15th last week, we woke to a bare Catskills landscape like it had thrown off its white quilt in the night and saw a high of 65F that day: such a stark difference from last year on the same day in the same place, where it remained at 37F and covered in snow.
Just before noon last week, we decided to check the last surviving bee hive. To our delight, after five years of trying to keep bees and failing, we discovered that our white hive of bees survived the winter. (The Warre hive into which we had installed a swarm last year did not.)
We re-stocked the surviving bee hive with food patties for the bees, just in case we got another cold snap, and put back the lid. Last year, we built a heavy “roof” for our hive and insulated it with old, woolen sweaters and pillows and this seems to have kept them warm. The hive is thriving.
Shards of sunlight search the forest floor beneath the hemlocks. Creeks and rivers are still high, rising to meet the snowy banks. A high of 34F takes the edge off the morning chill.
Hazy cloud burns off in the sun for a high of 49F and a light breeze.
Dull, moody, overcast and a high of 35F. Much of yesterday’s snow melted with the rain before dusk.
Yesterday’s attempt to climb Rusk Mountain – our second – was a success, probably because the conditions were ideal. The first few miles of the ascent was a soft, bouncy carpet of fallen leaves, as most of the snow had melted, but we were followed by passing clouds that sprinkled dry, granular snow. As we climbed, we were still able to discern the trail of previous hikers – a dark trail of wet, disturbed leaves that snaked up the mountain. The summit of Rusk is a tangle of aging, gnarled spruces, some darkened by lightning, presiding over its younger generation of fern-like trees. The sign-in canister, painted a vivid, hunting orange, was attached to what looked like a lone cherry tree amidst this mess of pines that looks like a spiky hairdo.
Rusk is a popular hike because it’s short, but very steep – an elevation gain of 1600 ft – so if you’re fit enough you can be up and down in a few hours, so it’s often hiked with its sister mountains, East Rusk, Hunter and Southwest Hunter. When you get to the summit, it’s possible to see down the equally steep north side of the mountain and Jewett below.Continue reading
Brilliant sun until early-afternoon and another high of 32F with fresh snowcaps on several peaks. A rare bright day. Busy on Belleayre.
Overcast with snow on the peaks and a brief flash of lunchtime sun through the shimmering clouds. A high of 31F.
Overcast and frigid. A high of 32F with only the lush, fir-capped peaks harboring pockets of winter wonderland at their summits. Snowmelt rushes through strong, high creeks and rivers.
After a stormy night with house-battering rain, an overcast morning. Gusty and dull with a high of 32F. More evening snow.
Here’s a list of our top ten handiest Catskills small gifts and stocking stuffers suitable for all friends, family and colleagues. Get your friends interested in the outdoors with maps, gift certificates, guides and ski-lift passes. Give the foodies in your life some of our scrumptious locally-made produce. The Catskills is also home to some of the best soap-makers and cosmetic artisans.
New York New Jersey Trail Conference Maps
New York New Jersey Trail Maps are an invaluable resource for both novice and experienced hikers of the Catskills. Click here to order the 2018 edition. These maps show hiking trails in detail, local monuments, lean-tos, views and topography – basically everything you need to plan a hike. You can also buy the maps at the Catskills Interpretive Center on Route 28 in Mount Tremper. $16.95 for a full set of Catskills maps.Continue reading
If you’re having a Catskills Christmas this year, there are a few places in the Catskills where you can source a freshly-grown fir for your house and one of those places is family-owned Robson’s Tree Farm in Bovina Center, NY. They maintain a couple of acres of thick, gorgeous trees – that won’t quickly lose their needles – that have been specially grown for Christmas: a sustainable option for the eco-conscious.
Very friendly, helpful and engaging staff give you a saw and send you into lines of trees to pick your own fir in the thick snow. Only pick the trees with the red price tag on. All the other trees without tags have not finished growing. The tree below was $35 but prices range from $25 to $75 for trees of different sizes. Most trees are 6′ to 8′ and are $30 to $55. Freshly-made wreathes were also available for $23. There is a fire to warm you up after you’ve finished sawing and hauling. Continue reading
Still gloomy with the elusive sun covered by fog on the peaks and a high of 36F. Another week of monochromatic moodiness enlivened only by local, sparkling cider.
Members of the Catskill 3500 Club are leading some excellent winter hikes starting this Saturday November 24th, 2018 through the holidays and the New Year. A Winter Preparedness Class is also being offered on December 1st – that’s if it hasn’t been booked up already. Click here to see the schedule.
This is a good way to accomplish the bushwhacks on the list of the Catskill 3500 in the company of the experienced hikers of the club. It’s magical on the peaks this time of year, but brutally dangerous and safer to hike in groups. In December, volunteers will be leading hikes to the following bushwhacks: Lone, Rocky, Friday, Balsam Cap, Rusk, East Rusk and Kaaterskill High Peak, the last mile of which is a bushwhack. Other hikes include Westkill, The Blackhead Range, Hunter and Slide Mountain among others.
5F at dawn, rising to 19F by 1.30pm. Bone-numbingly cold with an arctic breeze making waves on the steaming Pepacton Reservoir. Ethereal clouds. Update: a plunge into the single digits overnight for a low of -2F or lower on the peaks.
There are discounts still available on ski season passes for 2018-19 at Belleayre Mountain until November 26th. A mid-week pass for Monday to Friday ski-ing, including holidays, is still only $329. Season passes make good holiday gifts. A day pass for Monday to Friday is $60 and a holiday Monday day pass is $72, so you only have to use the pass five or six times to get your money’s worth. Click here and scroll down for more details. See you on the Slopes.