Saturday, October 24, 2009

Woodstock woods

On Day 2 in the Catskills we stopped about three quarters of an hour west of Woodstock after scouting the roadside for likely picnic places. We'd found many good spots but all of them had big orange signs saying Posted. Keep out. There's a lot of that around here: either for over-eager, land-crushing, livestock-scaring leaf peepers, or hunters, or? Is that normal for The Countryside?After three days of it I find it a bit anti social.

But here was an officially designated piece of state land, well hidden from the road by tall trees and beside a quiet and barely moving, leaf-covered brook.

An aging hippie was running laps nearby. In Woodstock a man actually wished us good morning accompanied by a peace sign. I appreciated it more than I would have thought.

This picnic was rounded up in pieces at Maria's in town: a hunk of parmesan, a sausage of liverwurst (twice in two days is more than I've eaten in two years!), some local ham, two cherry tarts and a baguette from Bread Alone. And some South African chenin blanc in its ice sleeve. This was Honey Crisp day, too. What a lovely apple.

The tarts were delicious, made with sour cherries.

We drove on, all the roads' numbers now scrambled in my head. Passing a lake whose reflection cast the trees back at themselves, we screeched to a halt. Posted. Keep out. No Trespassing. Vince trod a careful path to the water and started shooting without bullets. Soon another car stopped and its occupants gingerly stepped in his footprints to the perfect viewpoint.

I stayed rooted to the spot, however:

This is a witch hazel. Hamamelis. But blooming now? There were three beside each other, all in bloom, and one still with its leaves. Hamamelis virginiana. I was as excited as if I'd seen a leopard in South Africa.

Right at the road bees were tucking into flowers I at first took for chicory, but the sky blue of chicory was farther along on the verge. So what is this? Looks almost like a corn flower.

'Shroom, and maybe the magic kind.

At last I made it down that forbidden, small path and to the lake's edge. It was stunning, and the rare day of sun made the colours blaze.

As we drove away we passed the sign-posted, private entrance to the lake and its environs...Jehovah's Witnesses.

Since we're not going to heaven, it would be nice if they could share a little bit of it with us down here on earth.
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