Overcast with a chill in the air, for a high of 66F and a plunge into the 50s on the peaks by dusk. The first day of autumn.
Tag Archives: Upstate NY
Daily Catskills: 09/21/18
A sturdy autumn breeze steals the day, shaking acorns out of the trees. Overcast with sombre clouds passing slowly in a low, solemn procession and chilly for a high of 66F. The landscape continues its barely discernible yellowing.
Daily Catskills: 09/18/18
Overnight rain spills into morning and continues for most of the day. Bright sunshine with scudding clouds late afternoon and a high of 74F. Autumn squash grows out of the compost.
Retrolinks Sunday: The Best of Upstate Dispatch
Upstate Dispatch recently celebrated its fourth birthday and I took a bit of a break to ponder on why and how it started in the first place. As a writer, I’ve always lived in deserted areas of cities with cheap rents: Shoreditch when it was a post-industrial wasteland on the other side of Liverpool Street train station – a two-pub pocket of London that was deserted at weekends where I learnt to play pool; Williamsburg when there were still cars burning on the streets of Kent Avenue: Bed-Stuy, when there was an actual car burning outside our studio one time and where a musician came every Sunday with a set of speakers and an electric guitar to play where nobody heard him; leafy Fort Greene when the rents were laughably low and one local dive bar in a basement that teemed with characters fit for novels, bursting with life. As I moved on from one city to another, and one area to the next, in the above order, the expanding population followed hard on my heels. Shoreditch is now a tourist mecca akin to Piccadilly Circus or Times Square.
The Catskills, where I now live, is also a sparsely populated area where there are so many characters fit for novels and brimming with life in a completely different way: rural, and wild-forested natural history. Farmers, artists, historians, writers, homesteaders, cooks, teachers and more, nestle in the valleys of the Catskills and perch on mountaintops. Our forested ridge is fast filling up with young people seeking a more calming environment, good food and company. In the time since we bought our house, an astonishing eleven years ago, our dog has had the run of a 40-acre ridge-top and we only had two friendly full-time neighbors, a retired couple. All that is changing – our dead-end road is filling up with young, curious people and for the first time last night, as I read by an open window, I heard music coming from another distant house that mingled with owls, evening chirping and the waning laughter of crows.
New York City is charging out of its concrete jungle, sending out its long, withered, under-nourished tendrils towards us – the only vegetation that it can muster – gasping for life and some nurturing soil. This slow march from the city to the country is viewed with consternation by some, but if you’ve had children, you can’t really complain about the fast-swelling population.
Upstate Dispatch was started as a Catskills diary, a daily documentation of life in the Catskills and latterly my experiences as a writer in the past four years in local print and on my radio show on the eclectic WIOX Radio.
There is a so much to read on this site. Here are some more links to the best of Upstate Dispatch:
Our hiking page has been the most popular. Find our efforts to climb the Catskills 35 and document some of the best views in the Catskills over the years.
Every day, for the first 18 months of the website, I published one picture a day from around the area in the Daily Catskills section. Click here to scroll back through the years in this category.
More on my personal history in First Person Dispatch.
Conversations with other Catskills residents in Catskills Conversations.
Our adventures with our small farm and a steep learning curve in the world of foraging.
Now, back to documenting this year’s slow fall. The mountains look like those heads of broccoli that you leave in the fridge too long: slightly yellowing, “on the turn” as they say in England.
Thanks for reading.
J.N. Urbanski 9/11/18
Daily Catskills: 09/09/18
Gloomy, overcast with a high of 58F. Chilly. One sunflower bravely soldiers on.
Daily Catskills: 09/06/18
80F by noon and breezeless, but cooler in the forest. A humid 84F high broken by heavy clouds, mid-afternoon showers, lightning and a long thunderstorm that dumps a mass of evening mist that rolls in and out of the valleys at dusk like a tide. Then a power cut at 8.30pm for absolutely no reason at all.
Daily Catskills: 09/05/18
85F by mid-morning and 90F by mid-afternoon with huge, billowing clouds that had all but disappeared by the afternoon. Roasting hot in the sun and humid. Another scorcher.
Daily Catskills: 09/01/18
Humid and overcast with a high of 75F and gentle breeze. Muggy. September begins under thick, pillowy cloud.
On The Finger Lakes Trail: Little Pond & Touch-Me-Not
The Finger Lakes Trail wends through the Catskills, beginning at the western edge of the Slide Mountain Wilderness and continuing on to Downsville and way beyond, stretching for about 500 miles.
A few miles’ worth of the Catskills’ portion of the FL trail goes past Big Pond, and Little Pond (pictured above). The trail to Little Pond begins across the road from Big Pond’s small beach – and it’s even smaller parking lot – and forms a loop around Little Pond that’s made up of two trails: The Little Pond Trail and Touch-me-not Trail. Continue reading
Daily Catskills: 08/18/18
Dark and gloomy for most of the day with a high of 75F and very humid. Intermittent rain showers flooding roads and filling reservoirs over their brim. Soggy.
Daily Catskills: 08/17/18
A rainy, soggy morning with a brief interlude of warming sun around midday with brief periods of sunshine, returning to torrential rain and thunderstorms late afternoon. A high of 80F.
Daily Catskills: 08/16/18
A dull, foggy, humid start rising to an 87F high by late afternoon with blazing sun. Hordes of post-rain mushrooms stage a revolution on the forest floor.
Interview with Joyce St. George, candidate for NY State Senate District 51
“I remember when you went for a job and there were signs saying WOMEN NOT WANTED or MEN ONLY or BOYS ONLY”.
Reportedly, this year the US has had a record number of female political candidates running for office. Joyce St. George is one of these women. Joyce was a guest on my radio show on April 30th and we talked about some aspects of her career, being a woman in politics, her career in law enforcement, her run for state senate and what she does to unwind (she also practices and teaches karate here in the Catskills).
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.
Daily Catskills: 08/07/18
Humid with a high of 87F with a mix of sun and clouds with afternoon thunder storms clearing up by evening.
Daily Catskills: 08/05/18
After a week of torrential rain, a day of blazing sun. A high of about 90F on the mountain tops.
Daily Catskills: 08/04/18
Rain early morning with a high of 86F with strong sun and billowing, cotton wool clouds. More rain afternoon and evening.
Back on the Burroughs Range: Slide Trail
John Burroughs couldn’t have picked a range of mountains to frequent that’s more demanding for the hiker, but according to the DEC it’s the most popular range in the Catskills Forest Preserve. It’s probably popular because it has the most interesting network of trail hikes, but it’s extremely challenging in parts, the Slide Trail (between the summits of Slide and Cornell) feeling like a craggy, sheer rock-face covered in trees. Continue reading
Daily Catskills: 08/02/18
Humid and muggy, mosquitoes, hazy clouds, afternoon rain showers and a high of 79F. More overnight rain made the ground soggy. It’s a country dog’s life.
Daily Catskills: 07/31/18
A high of 81F, humid with a light breeze and mostly overcast with the sun blazing the odd gap in the rippling cloud.
Daily Catskills: 07/27/18
A high of 81F, overcast and humid with brief interludes of sunshine. Fields of wild thyme feed the honeybees.
Burdock is a biennial, wild invasive species that looks rather like a thistle, but is a cross between rhubarb and celery and repellent to animals because of its bitter outer layer. It’s noteworthy because of it’s initial growth of the instantly recognizable, huge, spade-shaped leaves with frilly edges that have a whitish underside. At first glance, the first year plant looks like rhubarb.
It grows better in rocky, disturbed soil like roadsides, in full sun or partial shade. We have one that’s thriving in the garden, though, in mulched earth and letting it go to seed to see if it can be cultivated because if you only have one plant you can’t really make full use of it. You really need a patch to harvest at different times. Continue reading
Daily Catskills: 07/25/18
A 76F high, overcast, soggy and humid with more rain showers.
Daily Catskills: 07/24/18
A high of 78F, humid and sweaty with continuous rain showers.
Bee Update: Catching a Swarm
On a chance walkabout in the orchard between torrential rain showers this afternoon, we discovered a swarm of bees in the plum tree: an extraordinary sight to behold. Our original bees had come under attack from robber bees three weeks ago and have been having a hard time in the last few weeks, so this swarm could have been our own hive splitting in half and evacuating with a new queen. The original hive is now calm and not being robbed. (We’ll take a look in there tomorrow.)
The swarm on the plum branch seemed like a casual gift, almost accidental – like Mother Nature threw us a bone – to make up for the fact that our original hive was robbed. It was nice to be with bees that were happy. The swarm was docile, as all bees without a home are, as they have nothing to protect. We had to act quickly because more rain was forecast. Continue reading
Daily Catskills: 07/22/18
A high of 78F and soggy with intermittent rain showers and brief periods of sunshine.
Rochester Hollow, Shandaken Wild Forest
Compared to any of the Catskills 3500 hikes, Rochester Hollow is a gentle, family-friendly hike with not much of an elevation gain from the parking lot (about 850ft), and good for dogs in hot weather because it follows a creek for the first couple of miles.
Compared to Giggle Hollow, across the valley to the south west on Belleayre, its name is rather boring, but the trail is far from dull and is the home of a memorial (pictured above) to the late naturalist John Burroughs with a small stone seating area. Though the Rochester Hollow trail is relatively gentle, it’s still a worthy trek, the whole trail being a lasso-shaped loop that’s made up of three intersecting trails blazed red, blue and yellow for a total, round-trip length of 6.5 miles that can be completed by an experienced hiker in about 3 hours. Continue reading
Daily Catskills: 07/21/18
78F and sunny with hazy clouds and a cooling breeze.
A Nature Walk & Cocktails with The Outside Institute at Foxfire Mountain House
Finally, a chance to meet Laura Silverman when she conducted a nature walk at the Foxfire Mountain House on Sunday. Laura has recently opened The Outside Institute and has been a guest on the radio show on WIOX and featured on this website, but we had never met in person – a common dilemma in today’s working practices. The Foxfire property – an inn and wedding venue – abuts the Catskills Forest Preserve and we had a tour of local flora and fauna that included a brace of skittish turkeys, bullrushes, ancient grape vines, mugwort, wild thyme, sumac, a lonesome tinder polypore, milkweed and some poison ivy. Poison ivy is difficult to identify, but essential if you don’t want to be itching or burning your way through summer. Did you know you can eat bullrushes? The walk was followed by cocktails using local ingredients in Foxfire’s gorgeously appointed bar. The Outside Institute has published a field guide to the Hudson and upper Delaware valleys and we’re currently working our way through it.
Daily Catskills: 07/15/18
88F, humid and breezeless, with brilliant sunshine. A sultry day.
John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge Annual Meeting, July 15th
The John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge Annual Meeting will take place on Sunday July 15th, 2018 at 1pm.
The meeting will be open to the public and, after agenda items are discussed and trustees are voted in for another term, there will be a modest, family-friendly hike to the gorgeous new summer house, free gifts for attending (book, refrigerator magnet or CD) and light refreshments. Continue reading
Kimchee Harvest Kitchen, Grand Opening Friday July 13th
East Branch Farms has announced their grand opening of Kimchee Harvest Kitchen on Main Street in Roxbury, on Friday 13th July from 7am, with extended hours to 6pm. This farm-to-table restaurant offers delicious, Asian cuisine using produce grown by farmer and owner Madalyn Warren and cooked by chef Toko Harada.
Kimchee Harvest Kitchen, 53470 State Highway 30, Roxbury, NY 12474.
Daily Catskills: 07/05/18
Scattered dark clouds and passing rain showers. A high of 86F, humid and sticky.
Daily Catskills: 07/04/18
Hot and humid, with multifarious cloud cover and late afternoon thunder. A high of 88F.
Daily Catskills: 07/01/18
A 94F scorcher, humid, sticky. Hottest day of the year so far. Time to spend a few hours in a creek.
Daily Catskills: 06/17/18
An 87F scorcher with hazy cloud and cool in the shade.
Daily Catskills: 06/15/18
A high of 70F with brief periods of sunshine.
Daily Catskills: 06/11/18
An early rising scorcher, with a high of 82F, cooling quickly under cloud cover by afternoon.
Daily Catskills: 06/08/18
Bright despite being overcast with a cool high of 68F.
Catskills Sandwich: Bull & Garland’s Scotch Egg
Behold, the Bull & Garland Scotch Egg. As a native Brit, I have to say, the egg couldn’t be any more authentic than if we were in England, at a pub, enjoying the rain and warm beer. I don’t know how they get the egg to be runny, but it’s a joy to see the hearty, local, orange yolks running over the warm sausage meat. The grainy mustard isn’t even necessary because the dish is delicious all by itself.
Daily Catskills: 06/05/18
A chilly, windy morning with intermittent cold showers, overcast and humid. A high of 61F. And overnight low of 48F. A little hop backward for spring.
Daily Catskills: 06/04/18
A soggy morning at 55F with trees sprinkling overnight rain into the cool breeze. Flashes of sun through the clouds in the afternoon for a high of 64F.
Daily Catskills: 05/29/18
A sunny morning and a scorching day with a high of 87F. Clear night sky to watch a full moon rise.
Daily Catskills: 05/28/18
Humid and soggy with yesterday’s all-day rain. Another foggy morning. A high of 77F with clouds becoming sparse by afternoon.
Daily Catskills: 05/26/18
Another scorcher: 85F with blazing sunshine.
Daily Catskills: 05/25/18
A high of 87F with hazy skies. A scorcher.
Daily Catskills: 05/24/18
A high of 80F with hazy cloud and bright sunshine. Balmy.
Daily Catskills: 05/21/18
A high of 80F and hot with the landscape lush with an extraordinary abundance of blossoms and wild flowers. Summer’s here.
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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
Daily Catskills: 05/12/18
A high of 63F with continual rain with the mountains shrouded in mist and fog.
Daily Catskills: 05/09/18
A high of 82F with a brilliant blue sky filled with plump clouds. Bumble bees buzzing. May flies out in force.
Daily Catskills: 05/08/18
A high of 75F with hazy clouds and hot in the sun. Trout Lilies begin to bloom.
Cultivating Lion’s Mane Mushroom
I first encountered lion’s mane mushroom last August on a hiking trail. It was growing on a dead log and I took half of it home and sautéed it with scrambled eggs. It was delicious, meaty and delicately fragrant with the texture of lobster. The mushroom is a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients and is said to improve neurological function and alleviate anxiety.
After searching high and low for the rest of the summer, I never saw it again. So, I bought a grow kit from Catskills Fungi (pictured below) in December. Continue reading
Daily Catskills: 05/07/18
A high of 70F with scudding clouds and mostly sunny with more yellow blooms arriving to keep the solitary daffodil company.
Daily Catskills: 05/06/18
57F and raining all day. Seeds sprouting. Ramps thriving, but the memory of a long, hard winter is not yet cold. Harvesting wood to season for next year.
Daily Catskills: 05/05/18
64F by 10am, sunny and warm with cotton wool clouds with a high of 75F. Be careful when moving rocks. Snakes doze under warm stones.