Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A day in the Catskills

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 views.

...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 flowers.

...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.



  1. Ahhhh...deeeep breath. Thank you, from a pre-monsoon dry, windy tropica.
    And, about that's an anti-ant thing, here. If the buggers have 2m to climb, chances are you'll get your mouthful first.(Tough on the midgets though - we eat faster!)

  2. and flowers --
    I love the purple flowers this time of year. The one pictured here is blooming now among the hedges at my Rabbit Town house, about 1,000 miles south of the Catskills..

  3. beautiful, beautiful ... merci !! xoxo s + gang

  4. I feel as if I was along for the ride ... only 2 hours away, I am blown away. Beautiful xx

  5. I never thought about it because it's so pervasive, but yes, the country is paranoid of trespassing. Signs are always every where!

    Glad you got to have a mountain picnic!

  6. I have never for one day regretted my move from NYC to the Catskill Mountains, more than 10 years ago. I feel so very blessed to live in a place of such peace and beauty.

  7. Thanks for sharing your day! I am lucky enough to live in an area where nature butts up against the highways, so we get to see hillsides and greenery turning brilliant every day. Your photos of the Catskills are wonderful - I can hear the water rushing and leaves rustling. But the eye catcher for me is the wicked cool water tower!

  8. Lovely photos. I think asters are some of my favorite wild flowers simply because of their timing. The purple against a backdrop of orange, red and yellow is striking. Glad your spot remains tranquil!


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