A foggy start to the day and a high of 90F and humid with cloud sailing through a hazy sky like apparitions.
A high of 81F, overcast and humid with brief interludes of sunshine. Fields of wild thyme feed the honeybees.
A high of 78F, humid and sweaty with continuous rain showers.
It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) in the Catskills. We have many voracious pests like the Emerald Ash Borer from Asia that is decimating the ash tree population of the Catskills. Ash trees are expected to be mostly extinct in the region in a few years’ time. Hemlock trees are also under threat from Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. The biggest way that invasive insects are transported is via wood like firewood. Never bring firewood to the Catskills from elsewhere for camping or cookouts. Always buy it here.
This week there are 17 events in the Catskills to highlight the growing problem from invasive species and help landowners and residents identify them.
Click on the Catskill Center’s link here to find out full details of all this week’s events that begin tomorrow, July 10th at 10am with a Mile A Minute Pull in Narrowsburg. This fast-growing vine threatens other native foliage by shading it out.
A 72F high and mostly overcast with high winds scattering clumps of trees over fields, paths and roads. Down on the forest floor one type of large, gilled mushroom wildly proliferates.
Another overcast and humid day with a high of 69F.
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.
Another scorcher: 85F with blazing sunshine.
A high of 70F with huge, scene-stealing clouds and intermittent rain showers. Humid with early evening fog descending into the valleys and rising off the Esopus. Shoots a-shooting. Buds a-budding and the maple leaves unravel first. The forest comes alive and the soft earth ejects a few ancient objects.
A high of 85F, overcast, humid with morning sun and then frequent, refreshing afternoon rain showers being the only thing that stop the flies from dive-bombing our eyeballs. Hazy like mother nature accidentally dropped a bag of flour somewhere on the horizon.
77F by the afternoon, with mostly clear skies. Birds chirping. Blooms and leaves continue to bud like they weren’t covered in snow yesterday. Most of the snow melted by dusk, even on the ski slopes.
44F at 10am and gloomy with mist rising off the Catskills and a light drizzle. There’s a burn ban in effect until May 15th, so the sky is keeping us well-watered and the sun decided help by completely disappearing. Wild leeks love the weather.
Spring so far has been like a Bronte novel. First, we had snow right up until April 20th, and now we have continual rain on our face and gloom like we’re in England getting our hair salted and ruffled by sea winds. Any minute now, we might expect Heathcliff to run over the fields yelling for Cathy, but wet is good. We like to keep our many “kills” flowing, but it’s still chilly out there and expected to worsen: on Monday we will welcome more snow. To put it mildly, we’re not breaking out the salads. Locally, menus are changing with the season, but there are still good, hearty options in some places. The best Catskills comfort food has to be the Zephyr for its rib-sticking chicken pot pie, pictured above (and its decent prices, especially its good value prix fixe). So much of restaurant food is salty and loaded with butter, but the Zephyr’s isn’t. It uses tarragon in its pot pie and corn to add sweetness. It’s unfailingly delicious every time: a steadfast fixture on the Catskills food scene.
The Zephyr also does a good cream of broccoli soup loaded with smoked cheese and the most perfect chunky zucchini fritters (pictured below) with three kinds of sauce. One could live on these alone. Continue reading
A high of 60F, hot in the sun with clear, blue skies and a cool breeze.
Sun! 48F by noon with a high of 55F and brilliant sunshine fading to a hazy horizon. One lonely cloud takes a wrong turn. Spring waits in the wings, cooling its heels, like the introverted understudy, while the farmer prepares for the best.
An inch or two of overnight snow and 35F by morning. Overcast with glowing, gunmetal clouds composed entirely of the sheer grey exasperation of waiting for spring. Snow, made exclusively from the frosty tears of our disappointment, resumes at lunchtime, but melts like our hopeful summer dreams into the soggy turf, dull and colorless like our mood, by the afternoon. Snow joke.
There’s been a lot of very precious writing emerging in the last few years here in the Catskills where we are riding a tsunami of elite influencers, food writers and stylists. One such darling is Tamara Adler, Hudson Valley writer, who detailed every minute of a few days in her splendid life for Grub Street back in February. Click on the link and read about how she takes her tea in a mason jar and “cooks her eggs over smoldering coals” in a “hand-forged egg spoon” by popping them into her wood stove, poaching them, just so. She calls gouda, a Dutch cheese, “culturally transgressive”. Oh my. Does she mean “culturally”, as in fermented (in rennet) or culturally as in hip? And by “transgressive”, does she mean that gouda is an asshole?
Contrived observations aside, country life seems startlingly easy in the Adler household. She issues statement like, “I fire up the wood stove”. If you have a wood stove, you’ll know why this is understatement of the year. If she has ever dropped a 15 lb log on her foot, she doesn’t let on, but more important – who can afford to let their wood stove burn down to a smolder in the darkest depths of winter? If I had put an egg into my raging wood stove in February, it would have exploded. The spoon would have melted.
Now the New York Times has weighed in because there has rightly been a backlash against the egg spoon now that Alice Waters sells them – also hand forged – for a whopping $250 per spoon. I’m an enormous fan of Alice Waters and her work, but a $250 egg spoon is a luxury and after all her hard work promoting a sustainable food system, she probably deserves it. But I also certainly don’t agree that the backlash is sexist. It’s economical. I think it’s pretty extraordinary that the writer is linking the backlash to the MeToo movement.
I need to weigh in myself because I really don’t want readers to think that country life in the Catskills is easy. It’s not. Ask my husband who’s had a learning curve so steep, he could probably build us a new house from scratch. Here he is, replacing our siding last year, nonchalantly getting on with it without complaining:
Further, we are still in the tail end – I hope! – of a six month winter and are running low on wood. We have run out of kindling, which is crucial to starting a fire quickly. There was plenty of it loose on the ground by the woodshed a few days ago, wet from the recent rain, but I forgot to sweep it up and dry it last night and now it’s covered in snow and completely useless. Today it took me exactly an hour to get the fire going. Now I have to go outside with the axe and make my own kindling for tomorrow because I feel like spring will never get here. It’s April 18th.
Yes, these mountains make you gasp in awe at their beauty every day of the year, but we do have our bad days. Cabin fever is a serious business if you work from home in winter. Maybe the fact that people are trying to cheer themselves up with old spoons is revealing in itself. Anyhow, in case it looks easy, here’s a more realistic rendering of a winter day in the life of a country lass and you can insert your own f-words before every noun. Continue reading
35F, but humid at 8am and lightly but steadily snowing over mountains shrouded in fog. A monochrome morning transforms to color by lunchtime because the snow’s too delicate to survive the soggy grass and muddy roads. A high of 39F and snow all day.
On Monday’s radio show (April 16th) at 9am on WIOX, my guest will be Leslie T. Sharpe, editor and educator, author of The Quarry Fox and other Critters of the Wild Catskills.
Leslie gave a remarkable speech at the Catskill Center on Saturday entitled “John Burroughs and H.D. Thoreau: The Roots of American Nature Writing” that transported the audience back in time with a teen-aged Washington Irving he sailed up the Hudson; described Thomas Cole as he painted the Catskills; showed us how John Burroughs forthrightly traipsed through dense hemlock forests.
Leslie, a member of PEN America, began her writing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and has been an editorial consultant, specializing in literary nonfiction (especially memoir, creative nonfiction, biography and cultural criticism), literary fiction (novels and short stories) and poetry. She has been Adjunct Associate Professor of Writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she taught in the undergraduate and graduate (MFA) writing programs for twenty years. Join us as we talk about her life as a naturalist, why she wrote her memoir and what’s so special about the quarry fox.
The last remnants of snow linger in the shadows on the lower peaks, but the honey bees are out and busy. Bright sunshine, a high of 70F with a cooling breeze. The warmest day of spring so far.
The Shavertown Trail that runs over the summit of Perch Lake Mountain in Andes is a moderate hike suitable for all ages that offers its rewards early on: stunning views from Snake Lake about a mile up from the trailhead. This hike is perfect for a large family party or house full of visitors of assorted ages. The first mile is the most strenuous, after which less fitter members of the group can loiter at the lake and picnic – if spring ever visits us again – while admiring the views over the Pepacton Reservoir. Those who need more of a workout can can go further. After the lake, the trail is a solid, long hike for 1.5 miles through a dense hemlock forest to a loop which turns you around to hike back to where you started. The entire trail is 5.3 miles long and the elevation gain is only 700ft.
This guided hike – led by volunteers of the Catskill Mountain Club – was supposed to be a spring hike, but winter is hanging on like the overbearing party guest who has outstayed his welcome. Yes, he’s handsome and charismatic, but cold, and exhausting. Plus, the house is a mess. Continue reading
A high of 33F and mostly gloomy and overcast with brief bursts of sunshine. Fast moving clouds brush over the peaks to dump a few inches of snow then swiftly move on.
At least six inches of overnight snow, soft and powdery, not like Monday’s snow which disappeared pretty quickly. A high of 34F with clouds that ripple and shimmer in the sunlight. A beautiful day despite the shoveling.
Get hooked on fishing this weekend: Trout Tales starts this afternoon (April 7th, 2018) for an entrance fee of $10, take a wander around historic Spillian (pictured below in better weather) and listen to an afternoon of lectures dotted around the property that culminates in happy hour drinks, dinner and an evening of stories. Most interesting will be the Women in Fly Fishing, as the practice does seem to be dominated by men, like most of history. Hear stories from the ladies of the fly fishing world, including one record holder, Heidi Nute. For the foodies: learn to cook trout on a campfire.
Tomorrow Sunday April 8th, join The Catskill Mountain Club to hike the Shavertown Trail in Andes, the summit of which affords sweeping views of the Pepacton Reservoir. It snowed last night, here in the Catskills, depositing about six inches, so dress for the cold. Bring plenty of water. Pre-register here by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spillian, 50 Fleischmanns Heights Road, Fleischmanns, NY 12430.
A high of 42F with a gloomy overcast morning turn into a far brighter afternoon with sun and plump clouds
A high of 51F and brilliantly sunny with snow lingering on the peaks.
Art is meditation, says William Duke who runs a Life Drawing class at Streamside Yoga in Andes every Thursday night with a live nude model from 4 to 7pm. Charge is $10 to pay the model and there is usually some serious regular talent at this event, like Sandy Finkenberg, Peter Mayer and William Duke, Steve Burnett or Gary Mayer. Continue reading
A high of 49F, humid, overcast with light drizzle. A spring thaw sends plumes of thick, fast-moving mist into the mountains. The Catskills becomes a steam bath. Stunning views from mountain tops. Large herds of deer graze under cover of early evening fog.
Leslie T. Sharpe, naturalist and author of “The Quarry Fox and Other Wild Critters of the Catskills” will be the guest speaker at the 5th Annual Burroughs Catskill Mountain Community Day Lecture at The Catskills Center in Arkville on April 14th at 1pm.
Her subject will be “John Burroughs and H.D. Thoreau: The Roots of American Nature Writing”.
This event has been arranged by the board of John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge Inc, the nonprofit organization that is custodian of writer John Burroughs’ home in Roxbury.
Woodchuck Lodge was built by John’s brother in 1862, 15 years after John was born, on the east end of the Burroughs family farm. The Burroughs’ homestead where both boys grew up, later sold, is a mile away up the road and was built when John was 13 years of age. Woodchuck Lodge was John’s retreat in retirement and he is buried nearby.
After Leslie’s speech, attendees will also commemorate his birthday. Birthday cake and light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.
Saturday, April 14th 2018 1pm at the Erpf Center, 43355 Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406. (Directions in link.)
Sponsored by John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge, 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474.
Here’s a picture of me working hard at the radio station while I take a break from Upstate Dispatch this week. My guest on the radio next week, March 19th at 9am, will be Linda Leaming, author of Married To Bhutan and A Field Guide to Happiness. You can stream the show online here: WIOX Radio. In both books, Linda writes about her life in Bhutan, a tiny buddhist country in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, and what we can learn from Bhutan’s trail blazing accomplishments in areas like the importance of the arts, conservation and the well-being of its citizens. The government has a metric called Gross National Happiness that it measures often, instead of Gross National Product. Bhutan has decreed that a very large portion of their country will remain forested. There is no styrofoam and very few plastic bags in Bhutan. In Married to Bhutan, Linda writes that the Bhutanese “have foregone opportunities to make money off their considerable natural resources – lumber, water, minerals, plants and animals in favour of their quality of life. That alone makes it a world apart”. A Field Guide to Happiness is her second book on Bhutan and gives us tips on how to be happy.
These subjects were on my mind while was in New York City last week and between appointments decided to pick up Linda’s book on happiness instead of just ordering it online. I went to Rizzoli Bookshop, Strand Bookstore, Bookoff and Barnes and Noble. I was told that Linda’s books are not stocked in any Barnes & Noble in NYC, (but they should be – and he will put in a request to order them). Then, because I just decided to be on a mission – I was in NYC after all – I called Greenlight Books, Bluestocking books, Community Books, BookBook and Unnameable Books in Brooklyn but not one stocked A Field Guide to Happiness. It occurred to me that the book did not exist in New York City because if happiness was actually attained there, the earth would violently tip off its axis due to the sudden unloading of the weighty burden of abject disgruntlement in that part of the world. If everybody in NYC became satisfied with their life or just simply decided not to be in a huge hurry, or if everyone smiled at the same time, the city would crumble into dust and wash out into the ocean out of purposelessness. On occasion I smile at people in NYC and they look at me with a confused “do I know you?!” expression. So I caved and ordered the book online. It came from a happy place far away. Continue reading
A high of 40F with continual flurries of snow and overcast with a shimmering cloud.
A high of 35F, overcast, still and bright with the sun occasionally glimmering through rippling cloud.
It’s not until you run out of water that you realize how much of it you squander. I thought about this after our power went out this morning, but I really needed to wash my dirty hair. It’s been snowing since the early hours of this morning. Now that we’ve had over two or three feet of wet snow, trees are collapsing under the weight and pulling down power lines all over the Catskills.
We need electricity to run our water pump and hot water tank. So now we have to save the water to flush the toilet or drink, although I did have a liter bottle of fizzy water and just managed to wash my hair with it. I only needed a few ounces to get my hair wet and managed to wash most of the soap out with the rest. This got me thinking about why we need to flush our toilet with clean water and so much of it.
We’ve had whiteouts before but not like this. We once got five feet of snow and couldn’t open our front door, but we’ve never been without power for this length of time. Judging by neighbors on social media, most of the area lost power at about 10.30am on Friday 2nd March. Like most people in the Catskills, we have a small generator that runs on gas (petrol) that will supply our freezer, or charge our electronics for about eight hours. We also have a wood stove for heat, but we’re without water or lights. A friend is melting snow for water in the next village and we’ll be doing that tomorrow morning once our generator has run out of gas. Or we’ll walk down to the gas station and fill up a container if our country store is open. As darkness falls, it’s been quite calming to wind down with the dusk. We’re now in a blackout. We don’t see any lights across the mountains. It’s books by candlelight for some people and scrabble by flashlight for us once I’ve stopped writing. The only other problem we have now is that our pipes might freeze and burst in the basement without the electric heat down there. We’re also worried about our heritage apple tree (pictured above, top left). Without snow weighing it down, it’s a good ten feet taller. It’s also hard to get evergreens like fir and pine to grow well or in clumps because they need so much light. Now they are buckling under the weight, looking like closing umbrellas. We don’t want to lose them.
The snow continues to fall and is not predicted to cease until 1am tomorrow morning. Saturday will be a day of shoveling for everyone and at dawn we’ll go out and try and shake the snow out of the trees.
Update: the generator held out until morning.
A balmy high of 54F, sunny and warm, with soggy ground and deep, rushing rivers.
Overnight rain continues into morning. Heavily overcast with rippling cloud and light snow caps on the tips of mountains. More rain, and a high of 37F.
A high of 34F with crunchy snow underfoot and an afternoon snow storm that dumped several inches of powder. Yesterday laundry day. Today not so much.
A high of 41F and overcast with late afternoon rain giving the mountains a thorough soaking.
For me, February 22nd, will mark six years of my public radio career on WIOX in Roxbury, Upstate New York. Our “wildly diverse, live and local”, progressive little radio station in the heart of picturesque Catskills is a hive of activity, broadcasting locally on 91.3FM and streaming online on www.wioxradio.org. WIOX is now an NPR affiliate, having partnered with WSKG in Binghamton.
The whole endeavor has been an education and the setting couldn’t be more gorgeous: a converted barn in one of the most picturesque villages in the area. I believe my commute is one of the most documented in the region. A brief history: In late 2011, after spending more than ten years traveling back and forth between the US, Europe, and sometimes the rest of the world, I returned to my house in the Catskills and decided to make a life here. I felt lucky.* Continue reading
Catskills’ Writer and naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921) called hemlock forests “…dark, sheltered retreats” and there is an earthy stillness in a hemlock forest that’s incomparable with the rest of the rocky Catskills forest. The trees are tall, majestic statesmen, all going in the same direction, unwavering in their straightness, like woodland sentries guarding over life below them. Hemlock forest floors are a thick, bouncy carpet made of billions of hemlock needles which seems to absorb all the sound, and the bark is a rich brown that soaks up the light. On bright, cloudless, sun-filled days, beams of sunlight break through the hemlock canopy like flashlights pointing from above into the tranquil haven. The smell is intoxicating.
“Their history is of a heroic cast,” wrote Burroughs of the hemlocks. “Ravished and torn by the tanner in his thirst for bark, preyed upon by the lumberman, assaulted and beaten back by the settler, still their spirit has never been broken, their energies never paralyzed.”
Here in the Catskills, again the hemlocks are under attack due to the long march of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, a pest that has been ravaging our local population of hemlocks since the 1980s. Signs that your hemlocks are under attack are pretty obvious. If you observe a thick, white foam on the underside of the hemlock leaves, you should send an email to: DSNIDER@CATSKILLCENTER.ORG who works with CRISP, the Catskills Regional Invasive Species Prevention project run by the Catskill Center that is now using biological methods to counter the pests. Continue reading
Turns out this local gem is situated just a walk up the road from the crossroads of Wittenberg and Route 212 in Mount Tremper. If you have loved ones coming in on the Pine Hill Trailways bus from New York City, the bus driver will allow them to alight at this crossroads and walk a few minutes up Route 212 to The Pines. Once there, they can drink a lot and have their host drive them back to their digs for the weekend. How convenient is that? Continue reading
A high of 27F, morning snow flurries petering out by lunchtime. Still bright despite moody cloud cover.
A high of 26F with thick layer of overnight snow balanced perfectly on every branch, nook and cranny. Another flurry of snow mid-morning but clear for the rest of the day.
A high of 32F seems remarkably warm, with the peaks enveloped in thick clouds of swirling snow. High winds.
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.
A high of 24F, with bright sunshine and mostly clear skies.
A high of 39F, humid and overcast. A gloomy start to the month.
32F at 9am and clear with hazy cloud on the horizon. A high of 42F by the afternoon.
A high of 52F, snow and ice lingering on the high peaks.
A bitter high of 20F, face-deadening cold, but bright, almost cloudless sunshine for most of the day.
Briefly back to the earth tones and flax colored landscape. Bitterly cold with an icy wind chasing grainy snow that swirls around on the ground and fills the air, glittering in the sun. An afternoon high of 28F.
The gloriously gorgeous Kaaterskill Falls, being one of the true wonders of the Catskills, is one of our most popular hiking spots for tourists: lush in the summer and, in winter, haunting the eye with its striking beauty. Because of its popularity, it’s noticeably the most well maintained area, with manmade steps, bridges, a viewing platform, rope handles and much more signage. Most of the signage this season is warning signage because Kaaterskill Falls is also the most dangerous place in the Catskills, statistically speaking. Deaths and injuries occur here every year, mostly because people hike to the top of the waterfall and slip over the edge. To prevent more accidents, a sturdy old-school, farm style fence has been installed at the top of the falls, in addition to plenty of warning signs saying: “danger!” Continue reading
There are some first class events happening in the last few weeks of January, namely a Full Moon Ski/Snow Shoe, a fly fishing meeting at The Pines, an open house at the Catskills Interpretive Center and a farmer’s market. See you there.
Thursday January 25th – 6pm to 10pm – Anglers’ Night at The Pines
From 6pm to 10pm, join a “casual gathering of anglers and friends” at The Pines in Mount Tremper. 5327 Route 212, Mount Tremper, NY 12457.
Saturday January 27th – 11am to 3pm – Winter Open House at the Catskill Interpretive Center
Come out to the Catskill Interpretive Center to learn more about the great opportunities to get outside in the Catskills this winter. Meet outdoor adventure experts and browse information tables from local recreation organizations, enjoy indoor & outdoor activities for all ages from animal tracking to snow sculpture, and much more! Admission to this event is free. RSVPs are appreciated. Call 845-688-3369 or click here. 5096 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY 12457.
Tuesday, January 30th 6pm to 8pm – Blue Moon Snow Frolic at the CIC
On the grounds of the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center in Mt. Tremper, Jonathan Mogelever will lead a moonlit cross country ski excursion on the 1.5 miles of trails. Jeff Senterman will snowshoe with those that prefer a wider base. A bonfire will burn for digit-warming, there will be telescopes available for moon-gazing and the supermoon will light the trails. The Catskill Interpretive Center will be open for hot chocolate and snacks. Cross country skiers from beginners to advanced are welcome to this 45 minute ski and/or snowshoe. Bring your own equipment and please dress warmly.
A high of 44F with bright sunshine through hazy cloud. Ice slowly melts.
It’s syrup time. Taps went into trees a little earlier this year. Tree Juice is now offering a CSA.
There are many maple syrup producers in the Catskills and some of them welcome visitors. It’s worth paying more for local sugar and seeing how it’s made. Some of the modern equipment is more complicated that customers realize. Farmers and producers use miles of tubing to collect the sap. Syrup is produced by condensing the sap and 50-60 gallons of maple sap yield one gallon of syrup. It’s completely organic. Continue reading