Tag Archives: Upstate New York

Protecting our Water in the Catskills

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

Water is ubiquitous in the Catskills, flowing along side us everywhere we go: rivers, streams, and creeks provide nature’s musical summer backdrop as we drive the roads and hike the mountains. Country homeowners – outside village municipal water supplies – are delivered this precious resource via wells and springs. Residents and business owners of the Catskills are tasked with protecting the water and sending it down to New York City as cleanly as possible.

Things you may not know about the Catskills when you move here: constant work is needed to protect our groundwater. The Catskills Watershed Corporation hosts conferences, events, and organizations like the Water Discovery Center in which you can educate yourself and help to protect the water.

Coming on June 7th is Groundwater in the Catskills: Challenges and Solutions, a one-day conference presented by the Catskill Water Discovery Center with the Margaretville Rotary Club, and Rotary District 7170 from 10 am to 3 pm in the auditorium of the Catskill Watershed Corporation, 669 Hwy 38, Arkville, NY 12406. Tickets are $10 including lunch, and are available at: Eventbrite directly or access Eventbrite through the Water Discovery Center’s website.

According to the CWDC: “Globally, groundwater is an essential drinking water source that is at risk in many places. Locally, residents in the Catskills, including those in the NYC watershed, encounter variable drinking water conditions via private wells or municipal systems, seemingly illogical given that the NYC’s surface water reservoir system provides exceptional drinking water to nine million people.”

The conference will explore the problems Catskills municipalities, and residents, farms and other users of groundwater, encounter – problems such as arsenic, sulfur, iron, lead, copper, chlorides, coliform/E Coli, nitrates and gasses including methane, and carbon dioxide. Speakers will examine where contaminants come from and how they can be addressed.

Featured speakers include representatives from the State’s Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2), led by NYSDEC and NYS DOH in collaboration with other state agencies.

Residents living within the NYC watershed, may benefit from measures put in place for protection of the surface water. A representative from NYC DEP will speak to those protections.

The afternoon panel session will include the morning’s speakers plus municipal leaders from Andes and Middletown and representatives from the Catskill Watershed Corporation, Watershed Agricultural Council, and the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District.

A New Upstate Dispatch: Studio, Gallery & A Memoir

Welcome to Upstate Dispatch 2024! I want to thank you, the reader and subscriber, for waiting. 2023 brought many changes, but the one constant was my attendance at a life drawing group in Andes and Margaretville. Artists gather weekly to sketch a live, nude model and the practice really helps artists hone their craft. The Andes group shut down for the winter, so Gary Mayer is hosting a Margaretville group out of the ArtUp Gallery in Binnekill Square, Margaretville every Wednesday from 4pm – 7pm. When we don’t have a model, we sketch each other, fully clothed. We’re not all throwing off our clothes in there!

In December 2023, Upstate Dispatch moved to a new HQ, an art studio and gallery, upstairs at the Commons Building on 785 Main Street, Margaretville, NY. Most Saturdays, I am there at my desk (above) painting or writing. Visitors are welcome on Saturdays from 1pm – 4pm. (Yes, the floor is slightly sloped in areas, which makes for an unsatisfyingly unsymmetrical picture).

In the studio, I will be hosting a group show of the best sketches of our winter figure drawing group. Participating artists are me (Jenny Neal), Gary Mayer, Steve Burnett, Sophia Teixido, Alex Wilson and more. The reception will take place February 24th, 2024 from 4pm – 6pm. Save the date! The work will be offered for sale at affordable prices. I would like to see more affordable art in the Catskills. I will be selling my 5-minute, 10-minute and 20-minute watercolors for less than $50. You’ll find a sketch wall of pencil and charcoal drawings for $10 and $20 each. Most work will be unframed.

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

In 2023, I started writing the book, Upstate Dispatch, a memoir of my life and experiences as a writer in the Catskills, which is being serialized on Substack, a medium for writers where they can get paid for their work. This is paid content, $5 per month, with NO advertising. If you’ve been enjoying Upstate Dispatch ad-free for years, please consider supporting me there. I’m about halfway through, depending on how long the book will be. It’s arranged chronologically in chapters with the first chapter being the oldest (first) post. The actual book will be published this year, fingers crossed.

Finally, this year is the tenth anniversary of Upstate Dispatch. I’m celebrating by joining the AMR Open Studios Art Tour this summer, where for one weekend at the end of July, artists in the Catskills open their studios to visitors. Watch this space for more details.

Thanks for sticking around!

Jenny Neal, February 1st, 2024

Daily Catskills: 10/04/23

Another scorcher: a high of 86F with a virtually cloudless sky, save for the odd scattering of cotton balls in the distance. Fall and Summer collide to make a gorgeous day.

© Jenny Neal 3pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/17/23

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.

© Jenny Neal 1pm- Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/13/23

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.

© Jenny Neal 3.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/07/23

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.

© Jenny Neal 6pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/02/23

Day 3 of haying in the Dry Brook Valley, mostly clear and sunny, a high of 72F, with late afternoon cotton wool cloud and some post-sunset sprinkles. Jewel weed is thriving down by the river.

© Jenny Neal 9.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 04/25/23

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.

© J.N. Urbanski 6pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/24/22

Mostly overcast with a low blanket of mist, and humid with the occasional peep of sun, a sprinkle of rain carried over from last night and a high of 65F. 2022 is having a spectacular, drawn out fall and now we are deep into the earth tones of the giant oaks: copper, gold and brassy brown.

© J.N. Urbanski 10.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/23/22

Overcast with the odd glimmer of sun and still balmy for the season with a high of 61F. The fall colors are now the golden, brassy, maroon and copper tones of the oaks and ironwood, and some of these trees are still green.

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/18/22

A frosty morning with dew steaming out of the valleys, a fresh dome of azure sky, chilly but humid, rising to a high of 55F with giant clouds moving in mid-afternoon. Fall is falling.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.45am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/15/22

A frosty morning, warming up to a high of 65F. Clear and sunny with leaves fluttering like confetti in a light breeze. Coral-colored sugar maples line Andes’ Main Street.

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/13/22

A gloomy, chilly morning warming up to a humid, rainy day with a high of 62F. Falling leaves tossed around by gusty winds. Torrential rain into the evening.

© J.N. Urbanski 3.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/10/22

An overcast morning giving way to an afternoon of big, dramatic clouds, the barest sprinkle of misty rain and a high of 59F. Two farm dogs declared cancer-free and loving the view from their mountain.

© J.N. Urbanski 4.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/05/22

A rainy morning walk through misty mountains. Another overcast day, with thick foggy cloud and a high of 61F. The sun making a brief appearance mid to late afternoon, brightening the gorgeous fall colors. A lovely half-moon rise though streaky cloud.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/03/22

Cloud stretched taut over the sun like thick gauze, chilly with a high of 52F. Chronic overcast conditions are dulling these fall colors that are best experienced up close: oak on the right, maple on the left. The oak will be the last man standing.

© J.N. Urbanski 4.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/28/22

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.

© J.N. Urbanski 6pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/22/22 Autumnal Equinox

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.

© J.N. Urbanski 9am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/20/22

A bright, crisp morning, but overcast. A high of 67F, and pockets of sunshine despite stormy cloud cover and afternoon sprinkles. A slight yellowing of the foliage and a few splashes of red.

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm – Usage prohibited without consent

The Farm Stand

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

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.

Happy Birthday Upstate Dispatch!

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

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.

To commemorate, I will be a guest on the radio tonight of Steve Burnett in his show The Evening Tickler at 6pm. Listen in on WIOX here.

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 Bill Birns got us about 13,000 new views and Rob Handel is one of the most accomplished young chefs in the region.

An interview with Steve and Kristie Burnett.

Catskills drinking!

Thanks so much for reading.

Daily Catskills: 06/01/19

Bright and sunny despite thick rippling cloud like crumpled blue-gray cotton. A high of 85F with a shy sprinkle of rain mid-afternoon. An overwhelming smell of green wafts through the forest. Historical Catskills takes a moment in the preparation for summer visitors.

© J.N. Urbanski Noon – Usage prohibited without consent
© J.N. Urbanski Noon – Usage prohibited without consent