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December 03, 2016
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Now is the winter of my discontent

Third generation baker Denise Canter’s family used to supply all of the resort hotels back in the day.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

I’ve spent the past week searching for the bright side, keeping one eye on the weather and counting down the days till spring. For some reason, this winter has been tougher for me than years past and it’s been an effort to keep digging myself out and plowing ahead. Waking up this morning to burst and frozen pipes was the icing on the cake, so I turned to others for solace, inspiration, comfort and joy. Fighting the blues, I had to dig deep, and was surprised that 17th century poet Anne Bradstreet resonated, since poets are generally not my thing. “If we had no winter,” she wrote, “the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Really, Anne? Wish I had thought of that.

Thankfully, one doesn’t have to look very far in the Catskills, and the greater Upper Delaware Region once again came to the rescue as I traversed the countryside seeking reminders of why I live here, part-time adversity aside. Missing the warmer months, I took note of the fact that the Sullivan County Farmers’ Markets (www.sullivancountyfarmersmarkets.org) had moved indoors a while back and had set up shop (www.delawareyouthcenter.org) on Creamery Road in nearby Callicoon, NY. “Perfect,” I thought, as I packed up the wonder dog and headed out in search of home-grown veggies, a potted plant, and a cup of good cheer.

Thrilled that the roads were dry, I joined the crowd inside and began to peruse and schmooze, admiring the woolens, handbags and spices, while grabbing the opportunity to catch up with pals who peppered the place.

Pastries and breads (www.brandenburgpastry.com) beckoned in addition to confections from Aunt Nenee’s, now in a third generation of bakers serving the community out of Hurleyville, NY. “No we don’t have a website,” Denise Canter told me, while proffering a scrumptious sample, “but most people know who we are. My parents used to sell to all of the hotels, back in the day, and we’re still here. This is our home.”

Eyeing the pasta, I moved on and chatted briefly with Bob Eckert (www.northernfarmhousepasta.com) who explained that he and wife Jen are “new to the business”—with their second anniversary around the corner—but they are just as invested in the community. “These people are our friends,” he said, looking around, “not just customers, and we look forward to seeing them every week, regardless of the season.” Based in Roscoe, NY, the Eckerts use 100% organic flour from the Finger Lakes Region, and rely on local farms to provide them with “fresh, seasonal produce to create exceptional pasta and ravioli that highlights the local flavors these lands have to offer.”

I stuffed my reusable bag with mushrooms from Heller’s Farm in Bainbridge, NY; “Anti-Depressant” tea from Catskill Mountain Herbs of Bethel, NY (www.catskillmountainherbs.com); and an aromatic cedarwood soap from Jim and Tracy Fawley (www.windypondfarm.com) of Lake Como, PA. I spoke with the Fawleys, who enthused about their Nigerian dwarf goats and how the soaps are made. “I’m the milkmaid and he’s the soap-meister,” Tracy laughed. “Our neighbors call her the crazy goat lady,” Jim added, waving me on to the soap-making demonstration taking place in the kitchen. Gudrun Feigl (www.mountpleasantherbary.com) was in her element, describing the history of soap to a small gathering, taking them through the process, step by step, and creating bars of soap scented with lavender and sage right there on the spot. Observer Cynthia Capicchioni had driven from Hortonville, NY to take advantage of the workshop and was “captivated.” I was, too, but decided it was better to support these entrepreneurs, rather than attempt making my own, and I made my way to the Brook House Gallery in Barryville, NY to observe (IMHO) more talented people engaged in creative activities that are better left to others (rather than to of my own devices).

Artists Beau Gostomsky, Hugh Hysell, Tricia Adler, Frank Mullaney and Mark Olivier were on hand (www.brookhousegallery.com) at the reception. They joined resident talents Janet Rutkowski, James Hawley and Laurie Stuart who mingled with the mob of enthusiasts all there for an afternoon of sculpture, paintings, jewelry and more—including the fetching lamps that Adler had brought, made from recycled inner tubes, supported by branches and lit from within. While Dharma sampled the crudités, I snapped pics of the work and forgot about my malaise, discarding the blues in exchange for good times.

My pipes may be frozen, but it’s comforting to know that my heart is not, as I meander the mountains knowing that spring is just around the corner. With a little effort, some mood-altering tea and the warm glow of an inner tube soothing my jangled nerves, I’m prepared for the winter of my discontent to give way to spring, anxious to see what adventures await. Since my pipes are bursting with excitement, I may as well get on board.