We Zipped out of the city.
At my feet a flask of espresso and hot milk, the way we like it.
In my hand the ritual Catskills donut. The only time I ever eat a donut: One jelly donut en route. Vince's is Boston cream.
We found the leaves, on the climb called Devil's Kitchen. We had not been here since 2009.
It was very cold. A few degrees above freezing. I was shivering when I got back into the car.
There were icicles.
And wraparound beauty.
Even the poison ivy was gorgeous, below:
I did not grow up with woods, and they remain magical.
Two hours from New York City, the wilds.
Then it began to snow.
We Zipped on, heading for our favourite spot in the narrow Peekamoose valley.
...stopping often for leaves.
...and crabapples. So many Posted signs. Private. Beware of Dog. Stapled to trees or fence posts on the road. Why does the countryside sound so paranoid?
...and garlic mustard, Too close to the road to collect but I did munch surreptitiously on a leaf to try and quell the non-stop sneezing and sniffing fit that had besieged me since Brooklyn. I can't say if the garlic mustard was the reason, but the fit stopped, after two solid hours of nose blowing. Naturally, now the Frenchman is sick - we shared the coffee cup - but I am fine.
The valley has steep sides striped with water.
And then we crunched down the familiar path. We were last here in January. We found this place in 2009, with my mom.
Mushrooms! They turned out to be Armillaria (often called honey mushrooms), and probably A. gallica.
All Armillaria are edible, but it took a lot of reading, and asking, and spore printing before I had a bite, 36 hours later (delicious).
The water in the stream was low but rushing nicely.
And our spot was as deserted as ever. It has never disappointed us.
We broke out the picnic - hen of the woods soup (left over from my forage walk in Prospect Park), and bacon and Brooklyn arugula sandwiches.
Vince eats picnics standing up. It might be a Canadian thing.
On the way back we saw lots of barberries - these pretty but invasive shrubs have devastated parts of the Catskills woods, shoving out more reticent natives.
And then it was back home.
Re-entry on a Sunday is always a lengthy process, when you are New York-bound.
Over the Hudson-spanning Tapanzee Bridge towards Tarrytown, to avoid the potential nightmare of the George Washington Bridge from Jersey.
And back home again, in thick traffic.
Hugging the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the BQE, trying to remember that we had just been in a place of nothing but trees and pristine water and leaves falling across the open road.