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August 27, 2014
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Shine on, harvest moon

Race organizer Jack Costello blows the whistle on my “innocent blunder” and declares a winner in the duck races down in Callicoon Creek.


I am by no means the only guy with an opinion. In fact, I’ve been told that “everyone has one.” Go figure. Of course, if we all felt the same way about any of a myriad of subjects, life would be just plain dull. Pausing to breathe once in a while, I sometimes hear snippets of conversation that apparently take place all around me, while I am not talking. Or the center of attention. Hmm.

Since I never talk with my mouth full, I am often invited to dine with friends, which gives them a chance to opine while I chew on whatever subject is in the air. This week’s controversy: “What is your favorite season, and why?” As my pals presented their impassioned defenses for each of the four seasons, I contemplated my own favorite—which seems to vacillate, depending on the weather.

Living in the Catskills year-round gives those of us who do an opportunity to discover the virtues of each season on its own merits, since we are so keenly aware of the bounties that living with nature provides. Summer is great, but I am rarely on vacation, and a dip in the lake is part of my daily routine (cue the miniature violins).

Winter, though highly touted as “the most wonderful time of the year” has its ups and downs, but no one here in the Upper Delaware Valley can argue that it is often picture-postcard-downright-gorgeous when the snow falls, blanketing the bucolic country scenes all around with it’s sparkling, frosty layers.

Spring is a major contender for me, with Mother Nature’s promise of renewed growth, as the last ice melts, revealing the glorious awakening about to take place from deep within the soil. April showers also serve to remind us that the winter doldrums (stunning vistas be damned) will, as always, retreat for a while and give us a break that by then, most of us are ready for.

I left my personal favorite for last. Autumn. Fall. The precursor to all things Ho Ho Ho. Life in the mountains is always vibrant, but the celebrations surrounding a Harvest Moon truly make me feel alive. With a snap in the air, the jackets snake their way out of closets and the calendar of hometown festivals swells to a peak, in keeping with the foliage. Scribbling as fast as I can, I put them all on the board, knowing full well that I can’t (hmm) be everywhere, but must pick and choose.

At Jeff Fest this past weekend, the streets of Jeffersonville, NY were brimming with excitement, in anticipation of the first annual tractor parade (man, how I love a tractor parade!), which helped build excitement over the traditional yearly duck race. Hmm. I had heard of it, but clearly not attended, since I was ribbed throughout the day when word got out that I was expecting to see ducks. Race. Who knew?

“Really, Jonathan, how did you think that was possible?” asked race organizer Jack Costello, as he instructed his army of volunteers out for the day, preparing to corral the (small, multihued, plastic, toy) ducks that were about to make their way down Callicoon Creek. “Hey, I did my homework!” I sputtered. “I read about ducks and free popcorn and figured that ducks ate popcorn.” Hmm. Even as I protested I could see (IMHO) the folly in my thought process, since 1,500 ducks is a sizable group (flock? gaggle? swarm?), but Jack still felt it necessary to add insult to injury by reminding me that “Um, ducks can fly, ya know.” Nice.

I tried to squelch the story, but it ain’t easy in a place “where everybody knows your name,” so I took my pictures and held my (red-faced) head high, having the time of my (nothin’ wrong with simple) life at Jeff Fest.

Now that it’s here, I get out my “Fall Fun” notes (okay, I’m a geek) and peruse. Another visit to www.gardening.about.com reminds me of the supplies needed to “preserve” fall leaves and that the Port Jervis “Fall Foliage Festival” is coming up (September 25) before fave-rave “Pumpkin Fest” in Barryville, NY (October 8). Farm-to-fork dinner season is amping up in Callicoon’s Cafe Divine and the Agrarian Acts Farm Festival at the NACL in Highland Lake is (yay) upon us (August 25).

Naturally, there is no shortage of art openings, benefits, concerts and shows to see and even I have to check TRR’s “where and when” section to keep it all straight. My mind is already swirling with (hmm) Halloween costume decisions that must be made before I can even step foot outside the house, listening to the rustle of the leaves beneath my feet. The parties and costume parades are legendary in our neck of the woods and I have no intention of letting my (I’ve won a few contests, ya know) guard down for a second. Shine on!