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.


  1. The landscape is beautiful and very similar to ours (not far away) in PA. Most of the land around us is posted, too, and I often wish we could explore more freely. By us it belongs to private hunting clubs, and this time of year (i.e., hunting season) I wouldn't dare trespass. Even on public land I'll wear my orange vest for the next few months.

  2. I have to go re-fill my ice bag and lay down again.....

    this leaves me....breathless....

  3. Dear Marie
    I love your blog. Since I found it I check everyday to see what new garden you have planted or planned; I read your wonderful recipes and occasionally catch a glimpse of your cat and your own rooftop garden. What a pleasure. I lived in New York many years ago and I remember that time fondly.I love your photographs of your trip to Woodstock. You certainly know your way around a camera.
    I look forward to your next post.

  4. What a lovely post with such beautiful pictures. I can almost smell the painfully fresh and autumn scented air, with its hint of leaf decay.

    A lot of Ontario wilderness this time of year is riddled with hunters and you are advised to stay out of a lot of conservation areas, etc. unless you're wearing some sort of give away bright yellow jacket. At least we have the Bruce Trail but all hiking this time of year makes me nervous. It would just take one trigger-happy nitwit to end my hiking - and all other - days. Sigh.

  5. Sometimes it seems there is too much beauty in the world and that my heart won't be able to stand it all.

  6. Gorgeous gorgeous scenery! the leaves are changing here, but it's just not the same...don't have the same hickories, sweet gums, sugar maples, etc. I got the impression when i lived up there that the signs were mostly to keep people from hunting on other people's land. My neighbors seemed to think that there weren't so many signs before so many people from "away" moved in and decided that hunting wasn't a good thing plus didn't want good ol' boys with guns roaming through their woods.

  7. It's a gorgeous time to be in the countryside, no doubt. I have the same issue with all the posted private property though. It IS anti-social, compared to city life. Some days I'm driving or hiking around and the most beautiful things I see are on someone's property and I don't dare stop because I'm convinced someone will call the police or come out and yell at me (because both of these things have actually happened). Frustrating.

  8. Your recent photo postings have done my heart much good, Marie. Thanking you from the bottom of it ...



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