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April 24, 2014
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Columns

An agricultural vision

By CINDY GIEGER

As a teenager I dreamed of the perfect place to live. After traveling this vast country, I discovered why four generations of my ancestors chose Sullivan County. My great-grandfather, proprietor of Liberty’s Shady Grove boarding house, welcomed guests to his farm for “fresh air and clean water.” I am now part of that rich farming heritage as owner of Gieger Dairy Farm—NY State Solar Dairy of Distinction and a co-founder of Sullivan County Farm Network, which works to increase farm activities and connect those who grow food with those who eat it.  Read more

2010 year in review

JANUARY: St. Martin for New Years with Emily and friends. Stranded at the airport on the way home. Vow never to fly US Airways again. Head to Sundance with “Catfish.” Film is a hit. A film making fantasy fulfilled.

FEBRUARY: Travel to Berlin for the Berlinale with “Beautiful Darling.” Pictures by the Wall. Find my family’s old bank. “Catfish” sells to Relativity with Universal set to release in September.  Read more

Baby it's cold outside

Man, is it ever! Hard to believe that I’m still making the adjustment from “temporary snowbird” to the casual (?) pace of my own version of “life in the fast lane” but there you have it. I hit the ground running having made the transition... and a little cold snap surely can’t stand in my way.  Read more

Goshawk involved in aerial mishap

During the second week of December, a Pennsylvania Game Commission Conservation Officer had recovered a large raptor in a field near Milford, PA. This bird was sitting on the ground and unable to fly. The officer turned the bird over the Delaware Valley Raptor Center (DVRC), where it was evaluated by Bill Streeter, co-director of the center.  Read more

Snow Days

The amaryllis bulb from Christmas is beginning to bloom, bringing a little brightness and green to my windowsill, but outside the snow is coming down fast. John and Sam are out shoveling and we are in the middle of a predicted three-day storm that has extended the three-day weekend from school that my kids already had to four days—and counting.  Read more

The power of the preferred narrative

The ink had barely dried, so to speak, on last month’s column before events offered a textbook example illustrating the power of the “preferred narratives” about which I had written. On Saturday, January 8, just a couple of days after I had submitted the column for publication, a young man walked into a crowd at a shopping center in Tucson and opened fire—shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in the head, wounding many others, and killing six.  Read more

'If music be the food of love..."

Rock on! Hard to know for sure, but I would like to think that Shakespeare would approve of me reinterpreting his (“Twelfth Night”) sentiment, considering the circumstances.

Once again, I am overwhelmed by community outreach here in the Catskills. Now in its third year, “The Great Sullivan County Food Raiser” has grown exponentially. Spearheaded by Stacy Cohen, proprietor of the Dancing Cat Saloon (845/583-3141) in Bethel, NY, last week’s food raiser was (“Measure for Measure”) a smashing success.  Read more

Valuing nature’s services: priceless

By Susan Beecher

I recently read an interesting report titled “Valuing New Jersey’s Natural Capital: An Assessment of the Economic Value of the State’s Natural Resources.” The concept behind the study is that various naturally occurring systems provide economic value over an extended period, and the benefits include both goods (commodities such as timber or mineral deposits) and services (ecological functions such as flood protection, soil erosion control and wastewater treatment). As it turns out, New Jersey’s natural assets are worth big bucks.  Read more

Winterfest: have an ice day

February 17 - Just before the white stuff begins to thaw, with Valentine’s Day nipping at my nose, I seek refuge from the blustery winds by celebrating a few of the things that make my blood run cold—snow, ice and love everlasting...

Admittedly a bit depressed over the severe temperatures and missing the elusive sting of Cupid’s arrow, I was determined, over the weekend, to overcome my ennui and search the countryside for respite from the bitter winds. What better way, then, to spend time outdoors, bundled up and feeling sorry for myself!  Read more

Mystery dinner

“Can I get you something to drink?” A mop of dark hair in his face, white towel tucked into his waistline.

“I’ll have a Jameson on the rocks,” the girl says.

“Two,” the guy says.

The waiter nods and leaves. The room is full of couples, hints of red on most of their clothing. Bottles of wine. Two glasses. Valentines Day.  Read more

A rose by any other name

I’m pretty sure that it’s not just the dry weather that has me scratching my head. As I dug out the truck and headed off to the Alliance Gallery ( ArtsAllianceSite.org ) in Narrowsburg, NY, I was struck by how quickly another year has elapsed. Once again, love is in the air—but not for me. “Be Mine Also,” a group show celebrating love, kicked off a three-week exhibit, curated by Mary Greene and Rocky Pinciotti, with poetry, “found art” and enough romance to easily last me another 12 months.  Read more

By the light of the silvery moon

I love astronomy, and Moonlight Drive is just around the corner from the house, but a blurb I read in The River Reporter calendar had me curious enough to venture a little farther from home to observe the heavens with other like-minded folks.

The Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC), located in Dingmans Ferry, PA, offered me (and a few unsuspecting friends) the opportunity to join forces with a group of nature lovers on what was described as a “short hike to a scenic overlook to watch the full moon rise.”  Read more

Sundance

I don’t realize how nervous I am until after the screening at the packed, 1300-seat, Eccles Theater in Park City, UT when the anxiety fades. And it isn’t until the last frame of the film hard cuts to black and the credits roll that I know for sure it’s gone off without a hitch.

The film plays well, with laughs and gasps in all the right places. I’m at the Sundance Film Festival with a movie I edited called “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and I breathe a massive sigh of relief.  Read more

Camp Emily

The faces are tan and smiling. A beautiful beach stretches out behind them. The moon is reflected in the waves that crash against the shore. The young faces are lit by the blue green light of a pool. They are smiling, laughing. It’s New Years Day, 2011, just after midnight.

The moment is frozen in time. A group portrait.

To go from working all the time to being on vacation is a strange thing. It’s a shift that is so drastic it shakes my core and makes me feel like a completely different person. My work self and my vacation self are two sides that never meet.  Read more

Reading, writing and a rhythm stick

I was stunned this week to hear one of my pals exclaim that there was “nothing to do around here.” I know that most of us have grown weary of winter, and the weather tends to keep us inside—but nothing to do? Hardly.

I scanned my schedule and made several suggestions, but while she had to admit that there were events of interest on my list, when push came to shove, she simply did not want to go out. “Fine,” I replied, “but I’m hitting the road.”  Read more

Mystery Role

“You have to come over.”

“What’s going on?”

“I’m at my wit’s end.”

“Oh Murray, it’s snowing outside.”

“Tom, it’s an emergency.”

Tom stepped out into the snow. He pulled at his hat and scarf. What had Murray gotten himself into? He was curious and usually when folks came to see him for advice that wasn’t the case. Still, he tried to help them all just the same.  Read more

Is it a crow? Is it a raven?

Those of us who live in the Upper Delaware River valley are familiar with the flocks of large black birds that caw noisily from the forest, alight in ones and twos and (in lean times) peck the earth under the bird feeders. But most of us would have a difficult time discerning whether what we are looking at is a flock of crows or ravens.  Read more

Environmental education, then and now

By Jamie Roche-Knecht
From the time I was very young, I remember my dad taking me out in the wilderness to teach me about the environment. We went fishing, hiking, camping and exploring as often as we could. He taught my older brother and me about trees, wildlife, water and respecting nature. That’s probably why we both went on to become natural resource professionals in our careers.  Read more

A cat on a leash

This morning on 61st and Madison I saw a man walking his cat. The cat had a harness wrapped tightly around its midsection, which was connected to the man’s hand by a very thin leash. The cat was huddled as far into the crevice between the sidewalk and the street that it could squeeze, completely freaked out by passing people and cars.

The man stood still, surprisingly patient. He did not pull or push the cat, almost as if it was Day 1 of a longer training plan. His end goal being that the cat would someday be able to walk down the street unafraid. The idea made me chuckle.  Read more

The story of Purim—who knew?

We all know it’s just around the corner—but I’m still looking for signs of spring at every turn. There are so many celebrations and traditions connected to the change of seasons... some familiar and others that conjured up memories skewed by time, with a twist.  Read more

Backyard birding

The rewards of backyard bird feeding are many. While I frequently see chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, juncos, goldfinches and nuthatches just outside my kitchen door, a new visitor showed up sporadically this winter to take advantage of the black oil sunflower seeds offered there.  Read more

Preferred narratives

Happy New Year! A recent “Morning Edition” segment discussed how newspapers in England are more openly political than ours. In that story, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen opined that we should know more about the biases and beliefs of reporters, rather than rely on their supposed objectivity (which Rosen referred to as “The View from Nowhere”). I think Rosen has a strong point. So, although I’m a columnist rather than a journalist, let me start this year by sharing some of the experiences that have led me to my present positions.  Read more

Rumblings

Has the earth shifted under your feet yet?

No, I’m not talking about Christchurch, New Zealand, which was recently hit by its second major earthquake in less than six months. I’m not talking about Arkansas, where a recent increase in seismic activity has been linked to the “fracking” process for extracting natural gas. And while I am speaking metaphorically, I’m also not referring to the political changes that are still reverberating across many Arab countries as I write, “earth-shattering” though those changes certainly are.  Read more

‘...Next!’

Thirty-five years after graduating with a BFA in Acting, I was going to my first commercial audition in NYC. This was the real deal, arranged for me by an agent who was taking a chance on an actress who had not taken a chance in 35 years.

Ann Berlin has been “in the business” at least as long as I have been “out” of it. When she agreed to represent me, I was full of giddy anticipation of the opportunities ahead. I wasn’t angling for a lead on Broadway so much as hoping for a role as a bag lady on “Law & Order” or in a commercial selling long-term care insurance.  Read more

When food is the best medicine

Our six-year old Schnauzer Aengus has taught us a thing or two about love since we brought him home from a pet store in Port Jervis at eight weeks old. We named him Aengus, Dog of Love, knowing immediately that love was what he was all about, for us. His name was a play on words: Aengus is the Celtic god of love for whom Yeats wrote “The Song of Wandering Aengus.”  Read more

Francis

There is an African saying from the Fang tribe: “When an old person dies we say a library has burnt down.”

So it could be said for my uncle, Francis Dirig, who died just before Christmas, at the age of 86.

His obituary reads simply: “He was a logger and farmer all his life…” But within this spare line lies a whole world of life and work and knowledge that tells of a vanishing time and place.  Read more

‘The Word Police’

I have acquired a new nickname. The other night at dinner my family bestowed upon me the new moniker of “The Word Police.” As in “What are you anyway—the word police?” (I picture tickets, sirens and flashing lights.) All for pointing out the juvenile overuse of the word “gross.” For despairing of children’s voices in an over-zealous shout of the phrase “boo-yah.”  Read more

A killer fly

I was pleasantly surprised to discover on Wednesday, December 29 that I have inadvertently tied a most miraculous fly for catching sand bass.

On the 28th, my fishing partner Mark Froelich phoned, suggesting we try for sand bass at the Elm Fork of the Trinity below the Ray Roberts Dam. His friend Jerry, a local fishing guide, had told him the sand bass were running in the Elm Fork. Sand bass is Texas talk describing a white bass.  Read more

The fishing dog

Years ago I used to fish a beautiful little trout stream, the West Branch of the Croton, where it flows between West Branch Reservoir and Croton Falls Reservoir. Being self employed, I was able to steal away at times for a long lunch hour and do a little fishing. I would park my car up at the property of the Putnam County Fish & Game Association. From there it was a short walk down a steep ridge to the brook and some of my favorite pools. The club caretaker owned two dogs. One was a large brown mutt, the other a spaniel type breed.  Read more

Sad news

Several friends contacted me in February to say that Richard Talleur had passed away. Next, the newsletter of the Pike-Wayne chapter of Trout Unlimited arrived with the news that Fredrick Eck had died. Mr. Eck had operated fly fishing shops in the Honesdale, Scranton and Starlight areas. His then wife, Patti, had been an excellent ambassador of good will at his stores. She had an uncanny knack of remembering the names of even those who were only sometimes customers. Rick also gave freely of his time to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum.  Read more

Keeping secrets

How well do you keep a secret? When your best friend tells you something in confidence, do you tell your husband and no-one else? Do you tell a small circle of friends and hope they’ll keep it in the circle? In my experience, keeping a secret that doesn’t involve our personal safety is rare and difficult.  Read more

That was the week that was...

The “circle of life” was in full swing this week, as I augmented my schedule minute by minute. Sullivan County lost one of its local treasures on Wednesday, March 16th when Blanche Masters, the irascible, tenacious, one-of-a-kind pit bull (with a heart of gold) owner of Blanche’s Diner on Rt. 17B in Mongaup Valley passed away peacefully at home.  Read more

Caution: Eagles at work

With the first sign of spring comes time for year-round resident birds to repair nests or build new ones in preparation for a new breeding season. For our resident eagles, that work has already begun over the course of the winter, and as of the beginning of March, a few pairs have already started to incubate eggs. Once incubation has started, the adults will share this duty until the eggs hatch about 35 days later. Rearing the young takes another 12 weeks or so until they are ready to fledge.  Read more

By the numbers

Eleven. The frigid number of degrees on the thermometer as I left the house and headed to Monticello, NY to catch “Kiss Me Kate” at the high school on Friday. The book, written by husband-and-wife team Samuel and Bella Spewack, adds sparkle to the (IMHO) incredibly clever score, penned by the incomparable Cole Porter, who created 15 original songs for this homage to Shakespeare.  Read more

The ACPT

The announcers’ voices were steady and excited.

“David’s still got the mistake on one across but he’s making good time with the bottom left corner of the puzzle. Ken’s got one across and he’s got the entire right side of the puzzle.”  Read more

Where does it hurt?

Last month a friend of mine asked me for advice on how to properly dispose of her unused and expired medications and their packaging. She knew that improper disposal poses a threat to humans as well as aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.  Read more

Rest assured

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when, in November, 2010, hydro-fracking Halliburton announced the creation of “CleanStim™ Formulation, a fracture fluid system comprised of materials sourced entirely from the food industry,” calling it “an exciting new innovation in the field.” The announcement came, no doubt, as comforting news to millions of people who rely on the purity of the Upper Delaware River drinking water, and to millions whose water is drawn from the aquifer that mingles underground with the Marcellus Shale.  Read more

Are you sure you want to eat that?

Writing last month’s column, I wasn’t sure what I found more disturbing—that hydrofracking giant Halliburton expected us to believe their new fracking system “made up of ingredients sourced entirely from the food industry” was safe, or that the food on supermarket shelves contained additives that could fracture shale.  Read more

The Good Life

When the earthquake struck Japan, people in Tokyo were trapped because public transportation was disrupted. On the third day after the quake, people were taking the last remaining food from stores. After four days, severe shortages of food and water spread across the country. Then the nuclear reactor exploded.  Read more

Spring along the Delaware

The plant depicted here belongs along the banks of the Delaware River, and in fact, has already emerged and fallen under the scrutiny of my camera lens last week. The other items appearing at top, left, do not, and appeared just upriver from this skunk cabbage.

The river’s borders can seem especially dreary at this time of year, as flooding and receding waters deposit all manner of trash on its banks. Although it might appear that very little is going on along those edges, the deep maroon and chartreuse clusters of skunk cabbage tell a different story.  Read more

The cane

“It’s back… dunt, dunt dah,” my daughter Lily announces as I slowly make my way with the cane. Yes, it’s back, this old, heavy, wooden cane, a hand-me-down from my cousin Elizabeth to my mother and now to me. Misplacing it, hunting for it, the familiar clatter of dropping it, are now, strangely, mine.  Read more

Lucky ducky: wood duck in the woodstove

On the morning of March 23, I received a phone call from my friend and neighbor, John Keator, who told me that he had a duck in his woodstove. I asked, “You have a what in your woodstove?!” John is an avid and competent birder, and it was quickly determined that there was some sort of waterfowl in his woodstove. I grabbed a few items and left for John’s house.  Read more

It’s about time—it’s about space

Being an avid science fiction fan and music lover, I was excited to be one of the first to experience “Spaced Out! The Final Frontier in Album Covers” exhibit, debuting at the Museum at Bethel Woods (bethelwoodscenter.org/museum) this past weekend. Scanning the website, I was intrigued by this unique aspect of artwork created to “reflect the growing interest generated by the space race”  Read more

Nasrudin’s donkey

You may not be familiar with the Mulla Nasrudin, but he’s a fascinating fellow to get to know. Apparently a real person at one time, he now lives on as a character in folklore, appearing under various names and guises from Bulgaria to Afghanistan and beyond. (Look in Wikipedia under “Nasreddin” to learn more.)  Read more

The hills are alive

It wasn’t only the sound of music that I experienced this week, but there was plenty of that along the way. I stopped by the Nugget in Monticello and heard singer/songwriter Tony Penn belt out a tune or two as I belted back a shot (or two) while sampling their new menu, which was delish. Penn was performing solo that night, but he and new singing partner Sara Hulse have formed a partnership, “The Haunted” (facebook.com/hauntedofficial#!/pages), and (IMHO) they are off to a swell start.  Read more

Candy lives on

Every screening of “Beautiful Darling” that I’ve attended since it premiered at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival, I was fairly certain would be the last. I have been (happily) wrong each time.

“Well, I should definitely go, because it might be the last time I see it on the big screen,” I would think. And I would go, and I would usually be surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I started work on it five years ago. It was my first real editing job.  Read more

Another season

By the time you read this article, another Northeast trout season will have begun. Also the cry of “Play ball!” and the “POP” of a fastball entering a catcher’s mitt will have echoed throughout the land. Therefore it is time for another “Clem’s Quiz.”

My fastball has lost a bit of its hop, but I shall try to fool some of you young batters with some off speed junk. So step into the batter’s box while I go into my windup.  Read more

Frogs afloat

Amphibians are appearing throughout the Upper Delaware Region with the return of spring. These wood frogs basked in a vernal pool in Pike County last weekend, emitting their characteristic “quacking” call in hopes of attracting mates.
Another frog sounding off from local lakes, ponds and wetlands right now is the tiny spring peeper, whose “eeping” call sounds much like its name.  Read more

An Earth Day column

Everyone wants me to celebrate Earth Day. My inbox is full of green mail—no trees were harmed in the making—urging me to buy shoes and cosmetics, go to a yoga retreat and help Robert Redford rally the American people. Of all these, I’m most likely to buy shoes, but I’m not deluded that it will help the earth.  Read more

When it rains, it pours

There must be a better way. As I perused my calendar of events this past week, I became a little overwhelmed. I know the weather is improving and that everyone wants to get out and do something, rather than sitting by the fire waiting for the (seemingly) endless winter to draw to a close, but does it all have to happen at once?  Read more

The painted turtles of spring

After what seemed to be an endless winter, signs of spring are appearing in the woods and on the shores of rivers and lakes, and the singers such as the wood thrush and the spring peeper hail spring’s arrival. On the 9th of April, during a kayak trip on Walker Lake in Shohola, PA, I spotted some more signs of milder weather: many painted turtles basking on the shore.  Read more

Body and soul

A series of events recently led me to River Brook Farm, the organic farm closest to my home. In my attempt to conserve gasoline, I had never taken the 17-mile drive, since I don’t generally head up Route 97. But I had an engagement in Milanville, PA one Saturday in February, so I made a short detour to C. Meyer Road on the New York side, after hearing raves about Alice and Neil Fitzgerald, proprietors of the farm, and the certified organic crops they grow.  Read more

Road toads

Amphibians of all varieties make a habit of migrating across the road where I live, prompting my annual pilgrimages to the ribbon of pavement that runs in front of my home. The journeys begin after nightfall on rainy evenings, necessitating the donning of headlamp and reflective clothing for me.

I search for salamanders, frogs and toads, depending on the time of year. When I come upon a creature that has not yet fallen victim to a vehicle, I gently relocate it to safety.  Read more

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up...

I guess it was bound to happen, but given the fact that my crystal ball is once again in the shop, I didn’t see it coming. For something completely different, Mother Nature gave me some trouble last week, so there were fallen trees, insurance agents and piles of aggravation to occupy me and keep me close to home.  Read more

Carrot juice on the rocks

The Easter Bunny’s stump on Cotton Tail Lane was thumping until late in the evening on Easter Sunday. Creatures from every walk of life had come to hang out, eat some candy and pay their respect to Tommy “The Easter Bunny.”

Tommy sat in his favorite chair in the corner and looked around the room. The Young Bunny from across the street was there; she was so cute. He really wanted to talk to her, but didn’t have the energy. His feet ached from all the hopping. As usual, things had gone off without a hitch and it had been a long day of hiding eggs and waiting for children to find them.  Read more

Wild leeks

The leeks are up. Patches of our native wild onion have appeared like vast green islands in the moist leaf mat of local woodlands. They are a sure sign of renewal after our long winter and the fits and starts of our cold, wet spring.

Leeks, also known as ramps, grow wild in the woods from Georgia to Quebec and as far west as Minnesota. In fact, Chicago, IL, is said to have derived its name from the Native American “Shikako” or “skunk place” due to the abundance of wild onions in that area. Leeks are known for their potent, garlic-like flavor and their ephemerally brief growing season.  Read more

Spring cleaning: it’s the little things...

It just so happens that I am one of those who love to clean. I have found that when my environment is cluttered, my mind follows suit. So it was with anticipation, rather than dread, that I finally got down to business this week. The dust and cobwebs in the house were the least of my concerns, but rather the cobwebs in my mind that were on the forefront of the attack.  Read more

Walking on water: pond skating in the summer

The spring emergence of insects is now well under way, benign and pesky alike. One of the more fascinating critters that are now visible is the pond skater, a member if the Gerridae family, which comprise several surface-dwelling insect species.  Read more

A year-round arts economy

By WADE LAWRENCE
In some ways, it might be thought strange that I was asked to write a piece on my vision for the future of this area. I wasn’t born or raised here, didn’t attend school here and didn’t raise a family here. My vision is indelibly colored by what I have seen elsewhere and my dreams for the future of the cultural center for which I work.  Read more

Lay them to rest

It didn’t take long at all, once they got around to it—less than 40 minutes from arrival to departure. No time, apparently, for epic hand-to-hand struggles, breathless pursuits, or final, defiant soliloquies (though these will no doubt be added to the movie and video-game versions). A bit of gunfire, and the job was done. And just a few hours later, a weighted bag containing the shroud-wrapped corpse of Osama bin Laden slid off the deck of the USS Carl Vinson into the waters of the Arabian Sea.  Read more

Sleep No More

Last night I was standing on the corner of Madison and 62nd Street waiting for the light to change, when a cab slowly drove by. It crept out of the shadows as if from a dream.

As it drove by, I saw, propped up on the passenger seat, a mask: an oddly shaped white plastic carnival mask. It surprised me. It was a mask I recognized.  Read more

Linked in and on the run...

The question that hangs in the air is whether there is such a thing as “too much fun?” Judging by the past week, I hesitate to say “yes” but that said, I’m grateful that I must slow down for a brief shining moment and share my exploits, while sitting still.  Read more

Tasty invasives

As the Upper Delaware region moves swiftly into spring, some of the earliest plants to appear are Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard. These invasive plants are bad news as they out-compete native plants for resources such as sunlight, nutrients and space, resulting in the decline or elimination of food sources for some of the region’s birds, rodents and insects.

Native wildflowers that share the same habitat as garlic mustard—such as trilliums, spring beauty, wild ginger and hepatica—are severely threatened by the aggressive growth of this plant.  Read more

At last

Friday, May 6 will be the first day of fishing for the Tangler. My silk line has been dressed with Red Label Mucilin, the ferrules on the bamboo rod checked, various fly boxes have been stowed away in my fishing shirt. My reel has been cleaned and greased. I am set to go. The Graham brothers and I will be heading for the Willowemoc right after lunch. We are all hoping to find the Hendrickson mayfly hatching. This is the insect that usually causes the trout to lose their winter sluggishness and go on the feed voraciously.  Read more

Time travel

As I prepare to set out on a journey of 10,000 miles with my 20-year-old daughter, I am also being swept back in time by a group of people I have not seen in 40 years. As a result, I am dangling in a kind of suspended animation between the past and the future. It may be that we all live this way every day without awareness; but right now I am aware.  Read more

The ‘snow birds’ are back

The arrival of April and May marks the start of nature’s spring concert with spring peepers and American toads singing near wetlands. Not to be outdone by the amphibians, many warblers and other passerines arrive to contribute to this concert. The melodic call of the wood thrush heralds its arrival from wintering grounds in Central America; this singer is shy and hard to spot, but its song is very distinct as it seeks a mate for the upcoming breeding season.  Read more

Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul: not just fiddlin’ around

Clearly, the folks at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts ( www.Bethelwoods.org ) had their thinking caps on when dubbing the “Event Gallery.” My dictionary describes “event” with words like “momentous,” “important” and “exciting.”

Grammy-winning fiddler Eileen Ivers and her band, Immigrant Soul, who performed to a sold-out crowd at the venue this past Saturday, were (IMHO) above and beyond any musical “event” that I have ever personally attended.  Read more

Here kitty kitty

I love birds. They are the only wild creatures who present themselves so readily to us, singing us awake in the morning, building their nests on outcroppings of our own nests, inviting us to imagine a life that defies the gravity that keeps us rooted. They are signals of the wildness we are part of. And they are oh so beautiful.  Read more

Hang it up

I still remember a diving catch I made in a baseball game of my youth. It was perhaps my finest defensive play. It was the summer of 1998, I was 15 and I was playing second base for the Tusten Chiefs. It was down on the baseball field in Narrowsburg.

It was kind of an out-of-body experience. The crack of the bat and a jump and the glorious feeling of the ball landing in my glove. I don’t remember thinking much about it, just doing it. In my mind, the crowd went wild. But I’m not sure about that particular detail.  Read more

Oh joy! Oh rapture!

Since I own a television, there was no escaping the imminent possibility of what some folks claimed might happen on May 21, 2011. According to the onslaught of information, we were in for quite a ride. Words like “judgment,” “evil” and “sin” kept popping up; therefore I was a bit hesitant to dismiss it out of hand, and made my plans accordingly.  Read more

Bat plan released

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently unveiled a national management plan to address the threat posed by white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has killed more than a million hibernating bats in eastern North America since it was discovered in a cave near Albany, NY in 2006.

The deadly disease has since spread to 18 states, including Pennsylvania, and four Canadian provinces. It is believed to be caused by the previously unidentified fungus, Geomyces destructans.  Read more

Those sweet grass rods

In June 2004, I began the fishing column that I write for The River Reporter with this sentence: “I’m in love again, head over heels in love again.” Readers were momentarily startled by this seemingly public confession of being unfaithful. As they read further they found my new love was seven and one half feet tall and weighed only four ounces. I had gone back to casting an old, long-unused, five-strip bamboo fly rod made by that maverick among rod makers, Nat Uslan. The sweet feeling of casting that rod made me wonder why on earth I had forsaken bamboo for graphite these many years.  Read more

Cake of the Week

“Cake of the Week” has survived another year in Mr. O.’s classroom at Sullivan West.

Kids have been bringing in historically themed cakes for extra credit since before the merger, when my husband, John, aka “Mr. O.,” was teaching social studies at Narrowsburg. (Sullivan West School District, as we now know it, is the result of the 1999 merger of the three districts of Narrowsburg, Jeffersonville/Youngsville and Delaware Valley.)  Read more

Old hippies never die…

They go Phishing. Well, this old hippie did anyway. Sort of. With so much talk about the band “Phish” (that I had never heard of) coming to town, I debated with myself over how to write about it. I knew little about the group itself ( www.phish.com ), but from what I gathered, this was to be no ordinary concert at the Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center ( www.bethelwoodscenter.org ). It was to be more of an “event,” since the group (and their faithful followers) would be in Sullivan County for three days.  Read more

Critters in the rain

During the middle of last month, a cut-off low-pressure system drifted over our area and became stagnant. This resulted in over a week of intermittent rain, clouds, low ceiling and visibilities, and the general absence of that bright thing in the sky we call “the sun.” As we either worked in the rain or waited for the drier periods to arrive, most plants throve. River levels rose several feet and lakes and reservoirs got topped off.  Read more

An agricultural haven: Part 1

By SONJA HEDLUND

Consumer demand for local food is strong and growing steadily. It is evident here in Sullivan County as well as in New York City. The opportunity to meet this demand brings the possibility of development in a county seeking to create a sustainable local economy.  Read more

Maddy

When Maddy walks down the street, she makes very funny noises. Well, I should clarify. When Maddy does just about anything, she makes very funny noises. But especially when she walks down the street or when she’s “spending time” with the gorilla (more on that later).

Maddy makes a sound that is somewhere between a frog and my grandfather. She breathes with a wheeze/cough/sneeze/growl. I must admit, it’s a little off-putting at first. Some people think that it’s a sound of aggression or distress. But it’s really neither. It’s just Maddy.  Read more

Something old, something new

I find myself looking backward this week, so the last event I covered is still fresh in my mind, but not necessarily fresh. Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” is currently playing at the Rivoli Theatre in S. Fallsburg, NY (www.scdw.net) and having been written in 1939, certainly falls under “something old.”  Read more

Porcupines on the prowl

Lately, I have been lucky to encounter three different porcupines during walks in the Ten Mile River area. The passive and slow-moving woodland inhabitant is a treat to see, as its inability to flee quickly or to harm the respectful observer allow for close study of its unique characteristics.  Read more

Frustration

We are in early June, and Barb and I can count on one hand the number of times we have fished. Long periods of rain, often with real downpours, have kept the rivers running high and dirty. In May, when we had a brief period without rain, my best fishing partner suggested we try the lower Beaverkill at the Trout Brook access. She felt the river might be warmer there, possibly bringing on a good hatch of flies. Off we went. We did find a large number of caddis flies in the air indicating there had already been a strong hatch.  Read more

Wanderlusting

There has always been a wanderlust in me, seeking escape from the known to the unknown. A train whistle in the night excites my senses. I yearn for the freedom of an open road. So it was not a hard sell, this road trip from New York to California with my daughter promising to share the wheel, her newly minted driver’s license in hand. The moment the idea loosened from her lips, I seized it, imagining nights around a campfire and days exploring small towns and grand vistas.  Read more

‘Don’t rain on my parade!’

Those memorable lyrics, written by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne- for the Broadway classic “Funny Girl,” ran through my head during the past week as I made my way through the thunderstorms soaking the region – as always, in search of adventure.  Read more

A moon moth stops in for coffee

I stopped in the Windy Dog Restaurant in Shohola one morning in late May when Mo, the cook there, showed me a huge moth that he spotted resting on one of the window screens. This moth had large eyespots on each wing, and each of the lime-green wings was lined with a maroon-red border. On each hind wing was a long tail. Mo had spotted a luna moth.  Read more

Pain management? Don’t make me laugh.

Last week, after participating in Prayers for World Peace at the Kadampa Meditation Center ( www.kadampanewyork.org ), I was approached by one of the nuns for a favor. Knowing that I drive a pickup, she asked if I could spare some time and help the Temple out with a dump-run, since they had a lot of refuse to dispose of responsibly.  Read more

Summertime, when the livin’ was easy

The summer blockbuster that just came out in movie theaters about the kids and the aliens doesn’t make much sense. I went to a matinee last Sunday. It was playing every hour, the way those big movies do. I left feeling a little let down and overall disappointed.

It just wasn’t... believable.

Don’t you find that the “Summer blockbuster that just came out in theaters” can’t quite live up to it’s own hype? You’ve seen the posters everywhere; you’ve caught those vague TV spots. The pull quotes. That buzz. Spoilers.  Read more

A walk around the block

What marvels may be seen, out there amidst the green? Each of these images (also see photos at top left) was photographed within walking distance of The River Reporter’s office on Erie Avenue in Narrowsburg, NY, proof that one need not venture far to find something fascinating in the natural world. Take a stroll today—and don’t forget your camera!

The television star

Six weeks ago, I received an unusual request from our friend Misako Ishimura. Misako is a member of the Japanese Women’s Fly Fishing Organization. She wanted me to participate in the making of a fly fishing film that would be sponsored by the Shimano Tackle Company of Japan, the tentative title being “Fly Fishing in the Catskill Mountains of America.” The show is to be shown on Japanese television. Misako, or “Misa” as she prefers to be called, is such a wonderful, bubbly little lady it was impossible to refuse her plea.  Read more

Waking up

On the night of May 26, my husband called me downstairs. He had been checking the radar weather map, and when the wind and lightning started, he knew I would be safer on the first floor of our house. "This is going to be a bad one," he said. Neither of us acknowledged that the horrific images of Joplin, Missouri were forefront in our minds.

Fear gripped me as we huddled against the storm, the likes of which I had never before experienced. You know what I'm talking about. You were there too.  Read more

Old pastures

The multi-flora roses are in bloom. Their sweet, spicy fragrance meets you along the old paths. These great bushes of white roses, entwined with grape, humming with bees, are long ago escaped and gone wild. They encroach the roadsides and are taking over the old pastures.

My cousins and I played baseball in these now overgrown fields. The grass was cropped then by the Herefords my uncle pastured there. Buttercup and bull thistle—whatever a cow wouldn’t eat—grew tall.  Read more

Get me to the church on time

I think about writing all of the time—and especially this column. As I plot out the details of the coming week, the column begins to take on life in its own ever-changing, capricious way, almost becoming alive in my anthropomorphic mind as I wend my way through this entertaining, never ending tour of the Delaware River Valley. Sometimes I stop to snap a pic of a baby skunk by the side of the road, and this act alone gives birth to a paragraph or two. Other days, it’s the weather.  Read more

A bear of a problem

Spring is the time of year when much baby wildlife can be seen as they forage for food with their parents, making for easy viewing just in time for the summer tourist season. Unfortunately, some of this activity causes undesirable results. Foraging black bears leave their calling cards in the form of knocked-over trash cans and garbage scattered about. A bear recently made entry into a vacant residence via an open window in the Shohola, PA area, resulting in significant damage.  Read more

An agricultural haven: Part 2

By SONJA HEDLUND

As summarized in part 1 of this article, a number of interesting and innovative agricultural developments are already taking place in Sullivan County. The next question is, what kind of steps can we take now to systematically encourage, support and plan for this type of development. The goal is to expand all types of farming. The strategy is to create a vibrant results-oriented coalition of new and existing farm producers, agricultural businesses and public servants who work in agriculture and economic development.

Consider these actions:  Read more

I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’

Words to live by—and yet, I gave it a pretty good shot during the last week, bitchin’ up a storm. The endless rain worked my nerves, in conjunction with the still-aching rib, and I allowed the weather to make me a bit crazy. The intermittent showers had me a little “scattered” as I rearranged plans constantly and experienced some minor difficulties going with the flow.  Read more

Destination Sullivan County

At first, it’s slow going and it hardly feels like I’m moving at all.

It’s actually calming to lie on the black inner tube as I pass under the bridge and head toward the rapids. I grin at the growing rush of water in the distance and very gradually start to speed up.

It’s too late to do much of anything except keep my feet forward.  Read more

Green herons gather

While one often encounters the majestic great blue heron along the banks of the Delaware River, the smaller and stockier, but quite beautiful, green heron is showing up with greater frequency in the region. Green herons present at this time of year are considered to be breeding residents.  Read more

Lessons of the open road

An astronaut recently returned from space travel with the observation that “everything seems smaller now.” I know what he means. It was precisely my experience returning home from a 9,000 mile road trip across America. “Smaller” as in more achievable, less daunting rather than insignificant. Imagination often has its own agenda. When I imagined this journey, as I did many times over decades, I worried about the long flat stretches of the Great Plains, the heat and desolation of the deserts, the rough inclines of the mountains.  Read more

I’m a little bit country...

And just prior to becoming “a little bit Rock & Roll,” I was a teeny bit Doo Wop as well. This week the Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts (www.bethelwoodscenter.org) became my second home as I returned to the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival—repeatedly!  Read more

Difficult times

In baseball when a batter fails to hit well over a period of time, it is said the batter is in a hitting slump. As a fly fisher I have been in a season-long fish-catching slump. While those that I usually fish with have not exactly been wearing out the trout, my results have been very disappointing. Of course, my time on the streams has been greatly curtailed. Heavy and frequent rains have turned the rivers into raging chocolate-colored rapids. On those days when I have been able to go fishing, I return home without even a tale of the big one that eluded me.  Read more

The day of the dragonfly

Pass near any lake, pond, or stream shore and it is not hard to spot dragonfly or damselfly activity. They are both members of the Odonata family, characterized by their dual set of large wings and their voracious appetite for mosquitoes and other flying insects. Different species of odonates emerge at different times of the summer, so there is always variety to be seen. For some people, dragonfly watching rivals bird watching.  Read more

Are the grateful dead? Nothing could be “furthur” from the truth

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my sick and twisted mind, everything makes sense. To me. Sadly, the rest of the world is often clueless when it comes to my thought processes, but the kind folks at TRR allow my eccentricities to flourish, and this week I whirled a bit.  Read more

A summer mystery: Part I: The setup

Eddie had washed the windows and polished the door handle. He had futzed with the flowers and dusted his desk. It was getting to be time to head down to the basement, and he was sort of dreading it. The low hum of the AC kept the lobby cool. The basement would be sweltering.

The Met game was just starting and he decided to give it a few innings. If he got lucky, maybe the heat would let up.

“Sorry about the cardboard,” Santiago, the daytime doorman, had said while he was leaving. And Eddie had said it was fine, even though it had annoyed him a little bit.  Read more

Slow down, you move too fast

Years ago, my husband concocted the notion of instituting a weekly, day-long moratorium on driving. He called it a “No-Car Day.” We would do all our chores and errands on weekdays, after work. Then, on either Saturday or Sunday, we religiously refrained from driving, taking a kind of automotive Sabbath we honored and kept holy.  Read more

Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve

Well worth the scenic drive through the northwest reaches of rural Wayne County is a 357-acre Nature Conservancy Property known as the Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve. This unique property boasts fields, woodlands, two wetlands, barrens, riparian forest, vernal pools, rock outcroppings, a stream and a glacial pond surrounded by a floating bog.  Read more

Daylily days

Daylily days

Once you start to notice them, daylilies are everywhere. They grow thick on roadside banks and in fields. See a few here or there around a mailbox, lining a front porch or around an old gravestone. Their lush, tawny-orange flowers bloom and wither in one day.

So we have arrived at this moment. The sign at the Long Eddy Firehouse on Route 97 says: “Enjoy the summer—it’s short.” It reminds me that I should try to make the most of these daylily days of summer.  Read more

The next generation

The fourth State of New York Trout Unlimited (TU) Fish Camp was held from July 17 through July 22. Fourteen teenagers, 11 boys and three girls, were in attendance. At each of these camps a number of TU men and women have been privileged to instruct these youngsters on the arts and mysteries of fishing with a fly rod. It should be noted that this camp would not exist without the time and energy expended by Kurt Nelson of the Al Hazzard Chapter of TU. He seems always able to surmount the countless problems that are involved in an operation of this size.  Read more

The singing tree

It was a warm morning in early July when I took a walk to one of the beaches in Walker Lake in Shohola, PA. As I passed a small maple tree on the top of the footpath, I heard what sounded like a small bird calling continuously, except I couldn’t see the bird. A second look at the tree revealed a cavity about 15 feet high, and it was then I realized that I was listening to a begging call of a woodpecker from inside the tree.  Read more

What am I, chopped liver?

As much as I delight in sharing my life with Dharma (the wonder dog), as of late I’m beginning to wonder—is it me, or the dog? It was only a month or two ago, that Dharma received an invitation to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony of a new gift shoppe in Jeffersonville, NY (you know who you are.) Since the dog is unable to use a keyboard, I responded for her and asked if I could tag along.  Read more

Artists around us

By ROCKY PINCIOTTI

I believe that inquisitiveness, creativity and the need to communicate are basic human qualities. They are qualities that separate us from all other forms of life on earth. These are also qualities that truly define the role of an artist in the development of mankind. If you look at history, art is the pivotal marker that defines the centuries of mankind.  Read more

A summer mystery—Part 2: the victim

It was a little after one in the morning, and detective Brown stood holding a fresh iced coffee in the basement of an apartment building. He stared down at a white chalk outline where a dead body had been found a few hours earlier. “Sprawled” was the only way he could think to describe the position.

“ID?” Brown asked.

“Mr. Peter Johnson of 5C. Worked as a stockbroker. Married, two kids, wife is home, kids are not,” his partner read out of his notebook. Brown focused on a spot of blood on a pipe above the body.  Read more

Crowd pleasers

As much as I love doling out my opinion on the various events happening throughout the Hudson Valley, there are times (believe it or not) that I look to the audience for inspiration. This past week offered a perfect opportunity to keep my mouth shut (yes, it’s possible) and tune in to conversations heard ‘round every corner. I managed to get my two cents in from time to time, but felt it prudent to hear what others had to say.  Read more

Snow goose on the loose

For the past several weeks, a lone snow goose has joined a local flock of Canada geese in the Town of Tusten, NY. While the flock initially resisted the presence of the intruder, the mostly white goose persisted and has successfully been integrated into the flock.
According to the property owner, the snow goose has not yet attempted to fly. “It is funny to see it join the pre-flight practice stampede with the adult geese flapping their wings at a pitch run towards the pond, and there in the middle are all the gosling geese and one adult snow goose running for all they are worth,” she said.  Read more

Summer food

The joys of weeding have eluded me this summer. I’ve been tending the algae growing in my pool instead. I treated it with chemicals, vacuumed, brushed, said daily novenas to the Virgin. Did you know there are different algaes? Green, of course, but also mustard and black. It was some small consolation when the pool clerk said “everybody’s growin’ it this summer.” It must have been a July thing. When August came, it went.  Read more

Quote, unquote, Part 2

First, let’s check our quiz answers from last month, shall we?

Here’s the actual quote from President George H. W. Bush, from his State of the Union Address for 1992: “The opponents of this measure [cutting the capital gains tax] and those who’ve authored various so-called soak-the-rich bills that are floating around this chamber should be reminded of something: When they aim at the big guy, they usually hit the little guy. And maybe it’s time that stopped.”  Read more

Come back, little diva

Oh my gosh, what a week! As I made plans to visit friends and family in the Finger Lakes, I checked my schedule and realized that I had better make hay while the sun shines, since if there is one thing that the summer knows, it’s that time is fleeting and before we know it, we’ll see the wintry snows.  Read more

Going forward to the past

Last month I promised that in this month’s column I would write on update on my No Car Week experience.

I began my driving moratorium in the middle of July’s alarming, record-breaking heat wave, a perfect time to stay put in our tree-sheltered house, which is at least 10 degrees cooler than life on the road. Between cool showers, running cold water over my wrists and lying under the ceiling fan, I write, read and try to muster energy to make iced tea.  Read more

Woodstock, legends and all that jazz

I’ve often heard it said that “age is just a number” but have no clue who coined the phrase. Undoubtedly, it was some octogenarian—loath to admit that time was passing more quickly than had been anticipated. This past week, my event calendar was filled with time travel and I found myself doing the math a little too often.  Read more

A summer mystery - Part 3: The investigation

Detective Brown stood in the dimly lit squad room. It had been three days since he had received the call about the body in the basement of the apartment building and the investigation was now in full swing. Brown or his partner had spoken to literally everyone who was in the building that day. All 32 people.

They had painstakingly searched the Johnson apartment, the stairwell, the basement, and the empty, recently purchased, shared apartment between the Johnsons and their neighbor Tom.  Read more

Summerfest and the Hardy Brothers Cup

Saturday, August 6 found the Tangler and friends wandering through the various stands of vendors exhibiting their wares at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center’s Summerfest weekend. Wow, bargains galore. I picked up a number of Mustad hooks at a price of $6 a hundred. They were the old-style Mustad hooks but at that price, a steal of a deal. There were excellent prices on fly-tying materials and hardcover books that are often hard to find. Dennis Menscer, the bamboo rod builder from Hancock, NY, delivered my new eight-foot, five-weight rod.  Read more

Pollination: an important summer job

The warm days of midsummer bring forth many colorful blooms from ornamental plants and wildflowers alike. The brilliant colors of these flowers serve to attract many different species of critters; they feed or utilize the nectar present at the base of the petals. When animals harvest this nectar, they accidentally perform another important function: pollination.  Read more

River talk: choose life

Talk throughout the river corridor lately has been focused on a series of preventable drownings in the Upper Delaware River—three within an eight-day period — and five since the season began. Had the victims been wearing lifejackets, they might be alive today.  Read more

Fawns and farm animals

There was a tent at the Wayne County Fair off on a side alley where kids could pet and feed little deer fawns for three dollars. You could purchase a photo of your child with the fawns for $10 or pay extra to go in to take a photo with your own camera. It was a popular tent. Mostly the clientele was toddlers with their mothers. Babies petting babies.  Read more

I am a camera…

It’s yet another expression that floats in and out of my consciousness from time to time. I find myself saying it more and more as I wander the countryside snapping away. Years ago, while working for a different newspaper, I consistently got the same note at staff meetings: “decent copy, lousy pictures.” Outraged, I defended myself by insisting that I am not a photographer, but a writer who is forced to take pictures along the way.  Read more

March of the amphibians

The middle of summer is usually the dry time of year where watering is required to keep lawns and gardens in good condition. This August, however, we have had ample rain; enough to keep things somewhat moist. Rivers and streams are running a bit higher than normal too; it’s been nice to paddle the river without having to “ooch” over the shallower rapids and bars.  Read more

An astonished deer

On August 8, after the meeting of the “Bamboo Gang,” I fished at one of my favorite spots on the East Branch of the Delaware. As I walked past where a small tributary runs under Route 30, I was surprised to hear the sounds of running water.  Read more

Hope for home

When I was younger, I could not wait to get away from Honesdale, PA. Now that I have come and gone a few times, I’m torn about staying around here. I love this region, the land, the trees, the people. It’s my favorite place. As a recent college grad, you might think Northeast Pennsylvania holds little promise for me. I’d have said the same five years ago. But I’ve been employed around here for a few months, thanks to two local non-profits, Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support (SEEDS) and Transition Honesdale.  Read more

A Summer Mystery Part 4: The conclusion

Detective Brown wanted them all there by 3:30 p.m. sharp. Some had grumbled that they would have to get out of work early. But they all said they would be there.

Brown arrived last but had sent his partner ahead to secure some evidence and keep the peace. He suspected that tensions could be running high.  Read more

Good night, Irene!

All it takes is one minor disaster to remind me of how dependent I have become on technology. Even though the hurricane could have been much worse, we still took a hit here in the mountains and I couldn’t help but think of Gilligan, his island... and how the song might have gone, were it today: “No phones, no lights, no Internet... ”  Read more

Contests for outdoor enthusiasts

We receive lots of positive feedback from readers about the photography that appears in the “River Talk” columns. Many of our fans are themselves photographers and very devoted to nature and outdoor recreation. Two upcoming photo contests may interest those who enjoy photographing their experiences in the natural world.

For those who like rambling with their favorite canine companion, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF) announces its second annual statewide “Dogs in the Outdoors Photo Contest.”  Read more

The ‘Freedom’ Towers

“Now things will have to change,” was my first cogent thought after witnessing the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. It didn’t take long for me to make the connection between these horrific acts and the desperation engendered in the world by a corporate system run amok. Before the TV anchors had figured out that the two planes weren’t a fluke, I knew that much. But what a fool I was.  Read more

‘Big Wind from Winnetka’

While August 26th was a beautiful blue sky day the forecast for the following days were six to eight inches of rain with winds up to 75 miles an hour. If Barbara and I were to go fishing, it was Friday or forget about it for at least a week. We headed for the Willowemoc late that afternoon. Upon reaching the stream, we found a pleasant surprise. Instead of a very low flow, the creek was running at mid-May levels with a temperature of 66 degrees.  Read more

Dot-dot-dot...

The use of three dots at the end of a sentence has a name: ellipsis. The word’s origin has been traced to the Greek language and is a series of marks that “usually indicate an intentional omission of a word or sentence, or whole section from the original text being quoted,” (www.wikipedia.org).

An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, or, at the end of a sentence; a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). “When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing.”  Read more

Irene brings wild weather

As I write this column, I hear the hum of portable generators outside the window. I have power, but neighbors down the road are out and have been since Irene swept through the area on August 28. Tropical-storm-force winds blew down trees and caused widespread power outages throughout the area, and heavy rains caused flooding and washouts on roads. Several instances of residential flooding were reported, and many farm fields were flooded.  Read more

That’s absurd

I am writing this a few days after Irene left town. Nearly twice the size of a typical hurricane on August 26, she joins nine others weather disasters so far this year that have each caused one billion dollars in damages and 589 deaths. The New York Times called Irene “one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation’s history.”  Read more

The greatest love of all

At the risk of sounding cliché, “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” These sage words (written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed) reverberated all week as I made my way through the Catskills, observing young people and sensing “all the beauty they possess inside.”  Read more

‘Singing’ for their supper

The first few months of life present many challenges for wild creatures, not the least of which is receiving adequate sustenance to survive. Baby birds are particularly fetching as they gape with beaks open wide in anticipation of a meal. Where that meal comes from depends on circumstances.  Read more

Shine on, harvest moon

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.  Read more

Milkweed microhabitat

Anyone who has walked in a field or a roadside has probably at one time or another picked a leaf of a milkweed plant and observed its milky sap start to flow from the plant; hence its name. Like all plants, the milkweed contains a myriad of chemical compounds that are used by the plant in various ways.  Read more

An apology

On the 9th, 10th and 11th of September, Barb and I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the annual Bamboo Rod Makers Gathering at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center. Rod makers from 24 states plus Japan and Canada came to the gathering. A total of 134 men and women were in attendance. Seminars ranged from a talk on “George Halstead and his rods and ferrules,” by Jed Dempsey and John Feldenzer, to Tim Abbott on bamboo fly rod tapers and how to develop them, to the advantages and disadvantages of various glues used in the making of bamboo rods by a panel of Jed Dempsey, Tim Abbott and John Zimny.  Read more

New rooms

This summer we rearranged our house from top to bottom so that our daughter, Lily, could have her own bedroom. It involved a lot of sorting and throwing out—along with many trips to the Salvation Army and the town dump. My old poem notebooks, the napkin rings and the snow cone maker, all those little Batman toys and even some stuffed animals got the heave-ho. We had the vintage speakers from the record player appraised and gave away a lot of old photographs.  Read more

Super spiders

As autumn approaches and temperatures begin to drop, it is increasingly common to see spiders in our homes, where they occasionally seek refuge at this time of year. One of the largest, and therefore potentially alarming, is the fishing spider.

Dolomedes is a genus of spiders of the family Pisauridae. There are over a hundred species of Dolomedes throughout the world, with nine species in North America. Also known as raft spiders, dock spiders or wharf spiders, most are semi-aquatic.  Read more

Facing the floods

By Mari-Beth DeLucia

As I write this column, many of us in the Delaware River region are experiencing a situation that everyone prefers did not exist. We are in the middle of the second major flood event in two weeks, the first from Irene and now the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. At times like this, it is understandable how we may not be thinking about the positive benefits rivers bring to our local economy.  Read more

The poster saga

I first came across the poster for Andy Warhol’s film “Woman in Revolt” while doing research for a documentary, “Beautiful Darling,” that I was editing about one of its stars, Candy Darling. The poster is red and black and features Candy with her fist thrown toward the camera. I always thought it was a great poster.

“Beautiful Darling” was the first film that I edited and so as a present to myself after I finished work on it I purchased the poster on eBay. List price, the poster was $700. I got one in very good condition for $350. Not bad, eh?  Read more

L’Shanah Tovah — Happy New Year!

As summer gives way to fall, I pause and reflect. Although I do not spend much time in temple these days, the Jewish traditions I grew up with still resonate. Rosh Hashanah is “One of two High Holidays in the Jewish religion, the other being Yom Kippur, which occurs 10 days after Rosh Hashanah begins (this year, Thursday, September 29). During the High Holidays, Jews cleanse their soul and get the chance to start fresh with an unburdened conscience and the intention of doing better in the coming year,” (www.howstuff works.com).  Read more

Super spiders

As autumn approaches and temperatures begin to drop, it is increasingly common to see spiders in our homes, where they occasionally seek refuge at this time of year. One of the largest, and therefore potentially alarming, is the fishing spider.

Dolomedes is a genus of spiders of the family Pisauridae. There are over a hundred species of Dolomedes throughout the world, with nine species in North America. Also known as raft spiders, dock spiders or wharf spiders, most are semi-aquatic.  Read more

Going local

The feeling had been creeping up on me for some time, but it wasn’t until we sat down to brunch recently at a favorite local bistro in our Manhattan neighborhood that I could identify it. I was a tourist in my own home town. The hostess did not recognize us. She sat us at a table for two in the netherlands of the middle dining room.  Read more

Something old, something new

It should come as no surprise that I have a great love of the theatre. Although a big fan of the classics, I also find that experiencing new work can be as stimulating as revisiting the tried and true, and this week turned out to be a wonderful example of both.  Read more

Hawk migration 2011: a broad-winged bonanza

When we think of migration, we usually think of ducks, or the many geese we hear overhead during the fall, but many species of hawks migrate as well. In this region, the migration becomes very evident around mid September with large numbers of broad-winged hawks.  Read more

DIY clean

A friend sent me an article regarding laundry detergents that claim to be “green” and “natural,” even though these particular products are anything but good for the environment.  Read more

You say you wanna revolution

“Well you know, we all want to change the world...”

—Lennon/McCartney

Google the word “revolution.” Your first result might be the Wikipedia entry, which provides a useful place to begin exploring this wide-ranging concept. The entry opens with a definition: “A fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.”  Read more

Death takes a holiday

It’s odd sometimes, how we mark the passage of time. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays—even mourning the death of a loved one can remind us of the swift passage of the days, months and years. With almost a year under my belt since my mother passed away, I often question when it’s going to feel normal to not have her around.  Read more

The rainiest season

Within a few days, Barb and I will be packing up to return to Texas. Our time in the Northeast has flown by. It is now time for us to be, as Willy Nelson sings, “on the road again.” For the two of us, this has been a most disappointing fishing season. It was often disrupted by a number of trips downstate for various doctor tests and appointments. Further difficulties were encountered due to frequent high and dirty water in the local streams. There was just too much water running downhill.  Read more

Miraculous monarchs

First-grade students at George Ross Mackenzie Elementary School in Glen Spey, NY recently experienced the miraculous life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Teachers Kelly Robertson and Shari VanHage collected eight caterpillars to kick off the hands-on learning experience.  Read more

Cubed vs perfect; 27 vs 28

Tonight is the Martha Marcy May Marlene premiere as part of the New York Film Festival. Beginning its journey in Livingston Manor and Roscoe, it’s since been to Sundance, Cannes and Toronto. I haven’t seen it since Sundance and never projected on film so I’m excited.

Right now I’m in my editing room on 64th and Madison and I’m wearing a tie, which always makes me feel a little taller and sit up a little straighter. Two good things.  Read more

Say ‘cheese’

Last week I made mozzarella cheese. It put a new spin on the old nursery rhyme. Now I know what “curds and whey” really are.  Read more

The hunt for red October

It took a while, but I have finally figured it out. It’s not my popularity that draws so many visitors to the front door, but rather the Upper Delaware valley, and the allure of country life, that keeps my phone ringing year ‘round with visitors, looking to soak up some local color.  Read more

Nature’s vision: the ‘eyes’ have it

If we see a bird or some other creature, and it is close enough, there is something that usually catches our eye early in our observation: the eyes. In nature, there are many adaptations of vision. Earthworms have simple eyes (ocelli) that are able to detect light and dark, while eagles and hawks have single lens eyes with visual acuity five times greater than a human. (An eagle has five times the density of vision cells at the central focus area of the retina than humans do.)  Read more

Can public schools still be all things to all people?

By By Doug Reiser and Robert M. Dufour

Our founding fathers conceived a public education system that would teach reading and writing and some arithmetic. The goal was to provide people with the basic skills to be good citizens so they could actively participate in our electoral process. Most villages and towns did not have schools; those that did had one-room school houses. The school calendar was (and still is) dictated by the planting and harvesting schedule of agrarian America. Students attended school when they could, and often did not get more than a sixth- or eighth-grade education.  Read more

There’s no place like home

Where on earth can one weekend encompass an art show featuring collages and lighting design, followed by an intimate evening of original music, topped off by a Brazilian adventure at a world class entertainment venue? Welcome to the Catskills!  Read more

Dressing up

I was Spider Man when I was growing up. My costume was made by my mother, who took a red and blue sweatshirt, cut them up and stitched them together. A few years later, I was Batman, the costume stretchy and elaborate, with a cape, cowl and belt. I was the Rocketeer, with a helmet made out of a Friday the 13th hockey mask, a bit of cardboard and an empty milk jug. I was Sherlock Holmes with an over-sized magnifying glass and two cheap hats stitched on top of each other and spray painted brown.  Read more

Anyone home?

To most of us, a rotting stump is—well—a rotting stump. But for many other life forms, ranging from micro-organisms to insects to birds (and the occasional amphibian), rotting wood can be a valuable resource for food and shelter. While exercising caution, make it a point to inspect such potential treasure-troves when you encounter them. Click the thumbnail photos at upper left to see who calls this stump "home."

Turning 21

Our last child has come of age. With our guidance, and without it, she learned to walk and to read, to cook and sew and ride a bike and drive a car. Singing seemed to be divinely granted. There were piano lessons and Girl Scouts and summer camp and basketball league. She was an easy learner and an eager one. She spurned my attempts to guide her sartorial style, developing her own at 18 months when she insisted on dressing herself—many times a day.  Read more

All dressed up with nowhere to go

I have a few childhood memories of flurries on Halloween, which did not deter us from going door to door. So when the weather report suggested snow over the weekend, I wasn’t overly concerned. Planning to attend parties all over the county, I had prepared several wildly different costumes, in an attempt to avoid derision over repetition.  Read more

Spooky birds

There is likely not a bird more maligned than a vulture. In the movies, especially westerns, they are typically portrayed circling over hapless people stranded in the desert. To look at them invokes comments such as, “What an ugly bird!” Indeed, they are not likely to win any beauty contests in the bird world. In nature however, adaptations usually have a purpose, even the vulture’s seemingly unsightly head.  Read more

Not a moment too soon

As of the day of this writing, I have officially joined the ranks of the carless.  Read more

We have the power

A few weeks ago on WJFF’s broadcast of “Alternative Radio,” I heard Paul Cienfuegos, a community organizer for over 30 years, deliver a speech he titled “We the People.”  Read more

My Uncle Rob

My Uncle Rob died of a heart attack last Wednesday night. My phone buzzed early the next morning. It woke me up but I missed it. When I rolled over to check it, I saw an e-mail subject: “condolences.” The phone call had been from my mother.

In the five seconds it took for me to call her back, I braced for bad news. Her voice was crackled when she told me. “Rob died.”

What?

He wasn’t sick. He was 49 and had a heart attack. He didn’t seem unhealthy. It was a total shock to everyone. A hard punch in the gut. Suddenly nothing was important.  Read more

Lucy in the sky (with diamonds!)

As I prepare to write this column each week, I struggle with a title, hoping that I might be clever, while telegraphing information regarding what I’ve seen here in the Catskills. Not wishing to be trite (or corny) is often an exercise in futility, since I’ve been both many times. Usually I have a concept in mind but more often than not, it vanishes as I traipse around the countryside in search of adventure.  Read more

A cormorant comes calling

This double-crested cormorant was a recent and unusual visitor to Greeley Lake in Pike County, PA, where it lingered for approximately one week in a swampy area of the lake. Normally found in colonies and traveling in flocks, this bird appeared to be alone.

Double-crested cormorants are black, sturdily built birds with long hooked bills, long necks and an orange throat pouch. Their voice is a deep guttural grunt, although they are typically silent in flight. This bird primarily eats fish, which it hunts by swimming and diving to depths of up to 25 feet for between 30 to 70 seconds.  Read more

November kayak ride

The weather turned warm again, so after school recently Becky, Sam and I went for a kayak ride across Nevin’s pond. For Sam and I, it might be the last ride until next spring. My dear friend Becky typically takes her last ride the day after Thanksgiving when she pulls the kayaks out of the water and brings them home for winter storage. It is not your usual “Black Friday” tradition but a tradition nonetheless.  Read more

Back to back to Bethel: Let the good times roll

Considering that the brakes on my truck failed this past week, I was unsure that I would be rolling anywhere, much less to Louisiana or the prairie states—but a well-placed call to one of my (not so secret) crushes delivered a mechanic to my front door, tool belt (and brake pads) at the ready. Hearing the rising panic in my voice, he soothed my jangled nerves and got to work, making it possible for me to get on the road... in search of good times. (Thank you JW!)  Read more

A mystery goose from the north

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were paddling on Walker Lake in Shohola, PA when we spotted a migrant flock of Canada geese on the far shore. About a dozen or so geese were foraging and resting; they seemed like the typical small flock that stops over during this time of year during their migration south. One individual, however, caught my eye; even from afar, it seemed to have more white plumage than a normal Canada goose.   Read more

A fossil-fuel economy: observations from our past

The issue of drilling for natural gas in the Upper Delaware region is changing life drastically, physically in terms of economy, land, water and air, and relationally in the way people treat each other. Comments in editorials, Delaware River Basin Commission hearings and the like indicate that this industry is causing us to be a divided community. We all seem to want economic and environmental health and a strong community characterized by respect and kindness. What perspective might we gain by considering another nearby fossil fuel industry from a previous generation?  Read more

The Hickory Farms Escape

Previously, we learned about the origin of the Turkey Bandit. As a young turkey (poult), he escaped a local organic farm after his father was chosen as the “guest of honor” for the farmer’s Thanksgiving table; his father was never seen again. The young Bandit escaped and began his quest to free as many turkeys as he could, one farm at a time.

“I’m in position,” the Turkey Bandit’s radio crackled 10 years later. His partner had the farm under surveillance; he knew where the turkeys were kept and where the Bandit would enter to switch off the alarm.  Read more

DEC on deer management

Anyone traveling in the Upper Delaware region lately has likely noticed the rising number of animals on the move as winter closes in. Unfortunately, one outcome of this increased activity is roadway encounters with vehicles. Balancing the needs of rising human and deer populations in the region is an ongoing challenge.

Recently the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted its new five-year Deer Management Plan. The plan was revised based on public comment and is now available on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7211.html.  Read more

A small gesture

It can be surprising how the smallest gesture can have a lasting impact.  Read more

Good things come in small packages

While the old adage is often true, the opposite (the bigger, the better ) carries some weight as well. I spent the weekend balancing the two, while careening through the Catskills appreciating various art forms, regardless of size.  Read more

The Hickory Farms Escape

Previously, we learned about the origin of the Turkey Bandit. As a young turkey (poult), he escaped a local organic farm after his father was chosen as the “guest of honor” for the farmer’s Thanksgiving table; his father was never seen again. The young Bandit escaped and began his quest to free as many turkeys as he could, one farm at a time.

“I’m in position,” the Turkey Bandit’s radio crackled 10 years later. His partner had the farm under surveillance; he knew where the turkeys were kept and where the Bandit would enter to switch off the alarm.  Read more

Coping in the new economy

In this flailing economy, I have been searching for a semi-solid investment—something to see me through my semi-retirement years. I think I found it.

It has easily sourced raw materials, bio-degradable packaging and multiple applications. And so far, it’s legal.  Read more

You've got to have friends

Before I drove to Pittsburgh, PA to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, I thought about all of the songs that have been written on the subject and selected my CDs for the ride with that in mind. Nostalgic to a fault, I prepared myself for the eight-hour drive by choosing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Road Trippin’” to begin my journey, and headed out in the pouring rain—which stayed with me throughout the 400 miles, door to door.  Read more

Dinner diving

Fall always brings some feathered visitors to the region that are not full time residents here. From golden eagles and loons to snow buntings, they all provide a great variety of wildlife viewing during migration season. One species that is commonly seen around starting in October is interesting in that it has to dive for its dinner.  Read more

Tick tips

Without doubt, one of the least appealing residents of the Upper Delaware River region is the tick. These blood-sucking parasites have proliferated along both sides of the river, increasing the risk of exposure to certain infections for humans and for animals.  Read more

Here comes Santa Claus!

Every year at this time, I read statistics regarding how folks from all walks of life fall prey to depression and sadness during the holidays, and I felt as if I was about to join the ranks this week. Being constantly bombarded by the commercialism of the season doesn’t help, since I know in my heart that the celebrations of different faiths really have little to do with money and that millions of people around the globe are rejoicing from a spiritual point of view.  Read more

Coffee Shop

Our Hero comes upon the roadblock with disappointment but not surprise.

“Just keep going through,” he says to his female companion, ”I’ll meet you on the other side.”

And with that, he rolls out of the car in one quick motion, popping up on his feet behind an SUV.  Read more

Hark, our better angels sing

Writing here in 2006, I suggested this possible definition of “civilization:” “...we can be said to be more or less ‘civilized’ as a society, culture, or species to the extent that intentional acts of violence are unnecessary.”

Dr. Steven Pinker, I suspect, would not only agree with that definition, he would say that as a species, we have made significant progress towards its fulfillment. Pinker, a cognitive neuroscientist and Harvard professor, recently published (to near-universal praise, by the way) a book entitled “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined.”  Read more

Let's review

Way back in August 2007, members of the The River Reporter editorial staff asked me to write a sustainability column. I felt woefully unqualified. What did I know about environmental issues? But I plunged in, viewing it as an opportunity.

I have learned a great deal, and gradually made lifestyle changes, none of which have caused hardship or sacrifice. In fact, simplifying my life seems to have enhanced it.  Read more

Scrap Seekers

Scrap metal collection isn’t just the domain of teenagers looking to make an extra buck anymore. In years past, there were always kids asking to haul away your junk for free. It was like the paper route job of rural kids.

But now, as scrap metal prices continue to rise and people are feeling the pinch of a difficult economy, scrap collection is turning into a full-time job. It’s an interesting development in our local economy.  Read more

Happy Holidaze!

I’m often scatterbrained and frequently perplexed—but this week, I found myself even more dazed and confused than usual. The dizzying array of holiday events, parties and fundraisers has me in a tizzy and I momentarily lost my way. Naturally, I’m looking to place blame, rather than own up to a lack of focus, so I’ll chalk it up to attending the Delaware Valley Opera’s (DVO, www.delawarevalleyopera.org) magical and enchanting production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.” After all, those crazy kids are well known for getting into trouble and losing their way in the woods.  Read more

Late fall bugs

After the Halloween snow that coated the roads and trees, it seemed that winter was trying to get a foothold in time for November. November, however, was not ready for winter. The Halloween snow soon melted, and by the end of the month, the weather was very mild. During the weekend after Thanksgiving, temperatures were approaching 60 degrees.  Read more

Trout hunting

As a young boy, I always enjoyed taking exploratory hikes into forested hills and valleys far off the beaten path. My curiosity would urge me to seek whatever mysteries lay in the valley just over the next hill. When I am on a trout stream, the current pushes me along until I discover what lies around the next bend. Sometimes this curiosity leads to difficulties. My aging legs remind me that I am no youngster. Yet my curiosity suggests that the unknown and beautiful lies only a bit further on.  Read more

River love

The Delaware River is many things to many people, in addition to sustaining the abundant variety of flora and fauna that characterizes the Upper Delaware region. Named America’s Most Endangered River in 2010 by the American Rivers Organization and Pennsylvania’s River of the Year for 2011, the Delaware continues to elicit the passionate devotion of thousands who cherish its generous gifts. From sportsmen, recreationists and residents, to artists, writers and visitors, the Delaware has touched the spirits of people of all ages and from all walks of life.  Read more

It takes a village...

I’ve heard that expression bandied about for years, and being unclear as to its origins, did some research. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) never fails me, and I learned several things pertaining to the adage, including the fact that “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” is a book published in 1996 by First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Clinton presents her vision for the children of America. She focuses on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child’s well-being.  Read more

Light the Tree

When I was growing up, my parents and I went out in our yard to cut down our Christmas tree every year. This made sense because I grew up in the middle of the woods. (I have memories of trudging though the snow and it being very, very cold.)

The trees were usually of the Charlie Brown variety; thin but very pretty. We decorated them with ornaments collected over the years and colored lights while we listened to Christmas music. (Usually “The Nutcracker,” but in full disclosure I also really liked the “All-4-One Christmas Special.”)  Read more

May I quote you?

Scanning through the archives of columns I’ve penned in the last year, I failed to find inspiration in a single word I’ve written. Rather than be depressed, I decided to turn to others for pithy comments and have (blind, unfounded) faith that I may say something worth remembering as 2012 unfolds.  Read more

Future forward

Christmas is over. The welcome gifts are already in use—earrings, a museum membership, electric teakettle. A bag of paper awaits recycling. Books are piled high awaiting free time and curious minds. The tree lights still twinkle. There is no snow.  Read more

Birds, stand up and be counted!

Along with the winter holiday season comes a time for birdwatchers to take to the field and survey the species and numbers of birds they see. Any bird gets counted; if it has feathers and not in a cage, it gets tallied. This is the time for the Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Read more

Happy Winter?

Count me among the odd for (at least) two reasons. First, I like winter. I like the cold and the snow and the way the trees sparkle with ice like stars in the night sky. I like the briskness and the brilliance of it.

Second, I like reading books that would send shivers down other people’s spines. Not horror stories, but nonfiction that delineates with excruciating details all the ways in which our planet is doomed. Books so upsetting that I can sometimes read only a few pages of agonizing truths before I have to run for cover in more pleasant pursuits like poetry or a walk in the woods.  Read more

Martha at the Callicoon Theater

The first time I remember going to the Callicoon Theater was to see a print of “A River Runs Through It” that the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) was showing. I was probably 12. Since then, I’ve been back a half a dozen times. I’ve always liked it. I had my mind blown by “Being John Malkovich” and snapped a photo of Richard Castellano adjusting the marquee for “Analyze This.” The idea that a movie I am closely involved in would show there is a dream.  Read more

Planting with wildlife in mind

Two helpful tools from the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) are now available to guide landowners and gardeners in developing “backyard habitats” beneficial to wildlife.  Read more

Games children play

Most of the games children play seem to be “chase” games. Tag, of course, and capture the flag are standards. But then there are all kinds of animal-themed chase games like the self explanatory “bear,” or a game in which one kid pretends to be the shark from “Jaws” attacking “swimmers” on the lawn. “Spy zombie brain hunter” sounds more like a popular video game than the classic playground girl vs. boy runaround that it really is. They are all variations on the same timeless theme of “chase” and “catch.”  Read more

Worlds end

“Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when I lost your love.”
– Sylvia Dee, “End of the World”

Worlds end all the time, you know.  Read more

Frozen waterworks

As the first week of January winds to a close, we are finally getting some typical winter cold weather; overnight temperatures dipped below zero degrees in a few spots in the region. The cold was sufficient to freeze over most of the area lakes and some snow squalls moved through the area, a small contribution to this year’s below average snowfall to date.  Read more

Building trust in government

By CORA EDWARDS*

Given the fractious nature of American politics, why would anyone run for office? It’s a question I’ve asked myself more than once over the last 12 months, and my answer is always the same: I love Sullivan County, I want to work with others who love it too, and I believe we can achieve great things when we decide to work together.  Read more

A gap in trapping regs

As currently regulated in Pennsylvania, trapping presents certain hazards of which outdoor recreationists should be aware.

I discovered this the hard way when our 15-pound Miniature Pinscher, Beetle, stepped on a foot-hold trap set along a public multi-purpose trail in the Delaware State Forest in Pike County, PA.

What started out as a healthy hike on Commonwealth land turned into a harrowing experience that resulted in a $230 veterinary bill, a set of questions and some unsettling answers.  Read more

My trainer owes money all over town (maybe)

I couldn’t say for sure, but I have a hunch that my trainer, Mike, is involved with some shady people. Last week was the second time in the four months I’ve been seeing him that he showed up with a black eye. The first time I asked him what happened, he uncomfortably told me that he didn’t want to talk about it.

“I am an idiot,” was the only explanation he offered.

The second time, I didn’t ask.  Read more

A grateful Cassandra

Some people experience emotion more deeply than others. When our daughter was four, she would often collapse in a fit of discomfort because her socks didn’t “feel right.” I’m happy to report that, as a college senior, she has the sock issue under control. But a slant word of criticism from an older brother can still send her reeling with self-doubt.  Read more

A long day’s journey into paradise

The uppermost wellspring of this river of time burst from the ground in 1948. I had borrowed a book from the Kingsbridge branch of the New York public library system titled “Trout,” by Ray Bergman. To a plug-casting bass fisherman, the hundreds of delicate flies shown in this book, painted by Dr. Edgar Burke, seemed too pretty to possibly catch fish. These flies came in every shade and color imaginable. Also, they had wonderful, magical names, such as the Queen of the Waters, Rio Grande King, Parmachenie Belle, Kingfisher, Light Edson Tiger and the Black Ghost.  Read more

Winter eagles arrive--after a slight delay

One thing that can be counted on in the region is the arrival of hundreds of wintering bald eagles to the Delaware River and other waterways. Typically starting in late December or early January, eagles arrive from Canada as they seek open water to forage for their favorite food: fish.

With the milder than normal winter so far, the eagles have been slow to migrate to the upper Delaware. Many of the northern rivers where eagles forage were still open as of the New Year, so that eliminated the need for them to migrate all the way to the wintering ground of our region for a few weeks.  Read more

Fleeced

I was encouraged when in I read Susan Freinkel’s book, “Plastics: A Toxic Love Story,” that manufacturers of polar fleece garments, such as Patagonia, REI and The North Face, are hungry for recycled PET plastic bottles. They prefer to make fleece from cheaper recycled bottles rather than using more expensive virgin polyester made from our dwindling supply of petroleum. It takes about 25 recycled bottles, otherwise whisked away to a landfill, to make one garment. (If the label doesn’t say the garment is made from recycled fleece, it’s not.)  Read more

Sundance

I arrive in Park City with Sean late on Wednesday evening for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. We accidentally discovered we were on the same flight the day before so we arranged to meet and travel together.

My nerves are buzzing but I have a certain confidence. It’s my third year in a row here and I’m getting to know my way around. This year, travel wise, it’s an easy trip; last year I got caught in Atlanta for six hours because of a snowstorm.  Read more

Rescue 911: No guts, no glory!

First order of business today is to set the record straight.

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, let it be known that the rumors of my death have been mildly exaggerated. I have, however, recently experienced an N.D.E. (near death experience).  Read more

Kids who care

Readers of this column will not be surprised to learn I’m a big fan of the Lorax, the miniature mustachioed character created by Dr. Seuss and beloved for his impassioned environmental messages as put forth in the book of the same name.  Read more

Easy winter living

I have a terrarium of moss and ferns that we planted in a glass domed cake plate—the type of plate you see upon a diner counter with a carrot cake inside. My terrarium sits in the middle of my kitchen table like a green island of spring. I like to lift the lid off the pedestal and breathe in its moist, pungent woodland smell. It is a world unto itself. We planted it so as to have some green in the winter months, but without the contrast of winter whiteness it doesn’t have quite the same effect.  Read more

Utopia or oblivion

“Ameritopia.”

That’s the title of a new book by conservative radio host and professional blowhard Mark Levin. Levin, in case you’re not familiar with the fellow, is a lawyer and best-selling author, whose on-air delivery can sometimes make notorious curmudgeon Bob Grant sound like Casey Kasem in comparison. He’s become one of the more successful members of that enormous gaggle of commentators and pundits who make scads of money by telling their mostly-quite-comfortable audiences how embattled and imperiled they are, and how our society has become inundated by “liberal media.”  Read more

I love the Catskills!

With Valentine’s Day swiftly approaching, I continue to recuperate at home and ponder. Is it possible, I wonder, to send a Valentine to a place? How would I address it? “Dear Upper Delaware Valley” sounds strange, but is all-encompassing. “To whom it may concern” is a little too formal. If I could, I’d hire a sky writer to spread my message high above in the clouds, for all to see.  Read more

A cure for cabin fever: The Great Backyard Bird Count

About this time during the winter, many people yearn for spring; it’s cold, the holidays have passed, and trout and spring gobbler seasons are many weeks away. Fortunately, there is an event coming up real soon that the whole family can participate in, and in doing so, can also provide scientists and researchers with a real-time snapshot of which birds are where. The event is the 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).  Read more

Spinning straw into gold

By Julie Courtney and Jennie Shanker  Read more

Back at NYU

It’s an odd thing to stand in front of a group of students and not know what to say. It’s a feeling that I have not experienced since I was a student myself and had never experienced from the perspective of a teacher. Until last week.

I always thought that I would like teaching and I knew I wanted to try it someday. The opportunity presented itself last month when the new chair of the film program at NYU contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing six weeks about the post-production process. I accepted. They gave me back my same NYU ID number: zsp200 is back in circulation.  Read more

Help! I need somebody

For something completely different, I have music stuck in my head—and as usual, it pertains to my state of mind. I wish I could claim that it has something to do with being a savant of some sort, but sadly, not so much. This weird syndrome has gone on in my brain for so many years that I’ve stopped questioning why, and just let the endless melodies play on, hoping that inspiration will strike a chord.  Read more

A peek at a peregrine pair

It’s probably fair to say that, were she alive today, scientist and author Rachel Carson would be thrilled to find that a pair of peregrine falcons has again elected to build a nest on a ledge of the state office building in Harrisburg, PA that bears her name. Fledging young peregrines from the Rachel Carson State Office Building is especially fitting given Carson’s role in raising awareness of the terrible impacts of DDT on species such as peregrine falcons through her 1962 book, “Silent Spring.”  Read more

A peek at a peregrine pair

It’s probably fair to say that, were she alive today, scientist and author Rachel Carson would be thrilled to find that a pair of peregrine falcons has again elected to build a nest on a ledge of the state office building in Harrisburg, PA that bears her name. Fledging young peregrines from the Rachel Carson State Office Building is especially fitting given Carson’s role in raising awareness of the terrible impacts of DDT on species such as peregrine falcons through her 1962 book, “Silent Spring.”  Read more

Activities of daily living

My uncle’s home health aide is there to assist him with “ADL”—activities of daily living. It was a term I was blithely ignorant of before my aunt had a stroke earlier this month. He is in his mid-80s with multiple health problems. She is younger and not the one we were worried about. But the toll of caring for an older spouse—or a younger one who is infirm—is dear. She lost 60 pounds in a year and a half, and she never was a candidate for one of those reality shows about obesity.  Read more

What we have here, is a failure to communicate!

The past week has been an exercise in futility, to say the least. Last Thursday, we had a little snow. Didn’t amount to much; in fact I don’t think it was more than three inches. Even though it was just a dusting, the flakes were wet and dense, sticking to the trees and making the walkways slippery-—especially for me, since I’m still having difficulty navigating around the house, relearning how to use my abdominal muscles and overwhelmed with cabin fever.  Read more

The case of the vanishing key

Let us go back in time to August 21, 2010. Due to the generosity of Mr. Gibson McKean, my fishing buddy Dr. Oliver Herz, DVM, and I were to have an opportunity to fish Cliff Lake. Mr. McKean owns the land surrounding the lake and also has the key to unlock the gate guarding the premises. We were to meet Mr. McKean at noon so that he could guide us through the maze of dirt roads that lead to the lake and also unlock the gate for us.  Read more

Critters on the air: keeping track of who’s where

Since the 1950s, researchers have been using telemetry to study the movements of animals in the wild. One limitation back then was that only large animals, such as elk or bear, could be telemetered, because the technology of the day was vacuum tubes and relativity short-lived battery packs. But then came the age of the transistor, then the integrated circuit, and finally, hybrid chips containing millions of transistors. One desktop PC would have filled up an average town meeting hall in 1975 for a system of equivalent capability.  Read more

Hemp

In last month’s column, I wrote about the good news and bad news regarding recycled polar fleece. I also mentioned that cotton acreage covers 2.5 percent of our planet’s cultivated land, yet uses more insecticides than any other single major crop.  Read more

A beaver abode

A five-minute walk from The River Reporter office on Erie Avenue in Narrowsburg, NY leads to a site where a beaver has constructed a lodge from nature’s building supplies gathered along the banks of the Delaware River. Although ice has threatened the structure several times, the mild winter has largely left the water in a fluid state, allowing the mound of saplings, branches and brush to remain intact.  Read more

NYU Part 2

Basically since the first week, the class I am teaching at New York University has very quickly turned into something that I just do. It’s now officially part of my routine.

At first, I got to school a half an hour early and anxiously waited in the room, hands folded and smiling warmly when the students showed up. Last week when I showed up exactly on time, the (mostly) full class was waiting for me. My sunglasses were still perched low on my nose, and I was a bit groggy from the previous (a-bit-later-than-it-should-have-been) night.

Here’s the dialogue.  Read more

‘All About Nora’

Two weeks ago, while in the throes of recuperation, I sent up smoke signals in a column and on Facebook, asking for assistance. While I received many responses, my iffy Internet connection made it nigh-on impossible to follow up with most of them in a timely manner, and my frustration level reached the boiling point when I realized another weekend was going to be a wash for me.  Read more

The Age of Wants

My daughter wants to curl her hair. Like me, she has straight hair without a thought of wave. Without a working electric curling iron, we have resorted to an antique iron held in the gas stove burner. I’m learning again how to use this old fashioned gizmo so that the curls come out fat and springy. She bounces around the house, enjoying this foray into curly-haired beauty.  Read more

Why can’t we all just get along? Well, for starters...

Recently, I visited the Sunday worship service of the Upper Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which meets in Beach Lake, PA. (In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that the minister of that congregation is also the publisher of this newspaper.) I was there to watch two of my favorite human beings, Mort Malkin and Christine San Jose, present a brief discussion they titled, “Can These Dis-United States Ever Find Common Ground?”—or, as I jokingly suggested they subtitle the program, “How Much Longer Can We Keep From Shooting Each Other?”  Read more

Back in the saddle (again)

For something completely different, a song springs to mind as I ponder the last weeks and all that has transpired. With almost two full months under my belt since being released from the hospital, languishing on the couch (which is now in a secret, undisclosed location) no longer seems like a viable option. Now that I have an Internet connection, my world has once again opened its doors and invited me to participate. So I bit the proverbial bullet and ventured forth—with help from others, of course!  Read more

Early fly hatch on the river

After visiting a friend at the hospital in Port Jervis during late February, I saw that it was turning into a fairly decent day outside; the weather was partly cloudy and the temperature was climbing into the high 40s. It was a good afternoon to drive up Route 97 and scout the river. I was mainly looking for eagles and other raptors. The first flying critters I spotted, however, were not birds at all, but a mass of flying insects. I had encountered one of the first fly hatches of the season on the river; the emergence of the black stonefly.  Read more

A commissioner looks to the future

By Jonathan Fritz

As the new Wayne County Commissioner, I have quickly realized what a widely varied and demanding job I signed on for. Well, I’ll happily profess that I love it. I’ve got a great crew around me and fellow commissioners, Brian Smith and Wendell Kay have been truly helpful and accommodating. We’ve realized that the three of us “click.” Each has their own bag of tools that we bring to the job, and collectively we can tackle anything.  Read more

Do you have a vision?

We’d like to hear it.

Every four weeks, The River Reporter prints a “Visioning the Upper Delaware” column, written by one of our readers, addressing their vision for our area. They address challenges, propose solutions, or describe scenarios of what kind of place the Upper Delaware region could be, if it realized its best potential. The length is approximately 500 words.

If you have a vision you would like us to consider for a Visioning column, email us at copyeditor@riverreporter.com and describe it to us in a few sentences.

Cigarettes: two years later

The stack of old hard drives at Henry’s apartment took me back immediately, my own hand-scribbled “ABBY DOC” written sloppily on each of them. In their cases, the hard drives look like old VHS tapes. There was a stack of seven of them, a massive amount of information, though I remember that I only needed to have four of them plugged in at a time. The film was eventually to known as “Catfish.” But for two years, it was “The Abby Doc” around the office.  Read more

Worth a thousand words!

Lately I have been on a personal mission, searching for the meaning of life. An existential crisis of sorts, this road trip in my mind has taken me down a variety of paths, some of which I have visited before—while others are a road less traveled.  Read more

Feather identification

While walking in the forest recently, a friend of mine came upon a small pool of feathers on a fallen log and found herself wondering what bird had become sustenance for another creature. Utilizing a wonderful website and database established by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) through its Forensics Laboratory, we were able to determine that the mottled black and white feathers had most likely belonged to a downy woodpecker.  Read more

A house on B Street

With my aunt in recovery from a recent stroke, and her husband in the hospital, her children were faced with the prospect of completing the impending sale of their summer home on Fire Island.  Read more

Springtime paddling

Milder weather arrived in earnest during the first half of March, and that brought on an urge to launch the kayak and do a little paddling. During a sunny day just before the Ides of March, I set out on Walker Lake in Shohola, PA and found many signs that spring was well on the way.  Read more

Exposed or hidden

In recent weeks, I have been playing the role of fly-tying instructor for those new to the art. Ah yes, I realize some might say that this was akin to the lame leading the blind. So be it. In fact, at both classes, before I even put thread to the hook shank, the words of the lead instructors in charge indicated there was a flaw in my technique. They had told the students to place the hook in the vice with the hook point exposed. Ooops! I could only hope that no one would notice that I had placed my hook in the vice with the hook point concealed.  Read more

Celebrate, celebrate... dance to the music!

Seeking the lyrics on line to the Three Dog Night classic, I was redirected to www.oldielyrics.com. Oldie. If I weren’t so happy to be out and about this past weekend, the reference to my age might have aggravated me. Attempting to abide by doctor’s orders, I resolved to “take it easy” last Saturday, while celebrating in Jeffersonville, NY with thousands of St. Patrick’s Day revelers.  Read more

Bear awareness

I awoke at 2:30 a.m. earlier this week to the sound of garbage cans being dumped onto their sides. This was followed by 20 minutes of rustling and tearing, as a black bear snacked on my neighbor’s garbage. The bruin then strolled down the road and repeated the activity at another neighbor’s driveway. The next morning was garbage day for residents of our rural road. Morning light revealed the remnants of the raid scattered around.  Read more

Beyond befuddlement

Now that spring is upon us and we’re ready to don lightweight fabrics, I researched bamboo as an alternative to environmentally unfriendly cotton. What I discovered reinforced the fact that it’s often really, really befuddling to make sustainable choices.  Read more

Techno Hotel

The thumping bass beats coming from next door rattle the windows of our hotel room in Miami. Though the music isn’t very loud while in the room, you can feel it in the floor.

I’m visiting Emily in South Beach, FL. She’s here producing a fairly big beer commercial. It’s very exciting for her and the director involved. I came down to visit and hang out, but it wasn’t until a day or so before I got here that Emily told me that Ultra, a new music festival, was going on that weekend.

“Hope that’s okay,” she had said sweetly.  Read more

Writer’s block

I’d like to say that “it had to happen sometime” but truth be told, my (hopefully) temporary ennui has visited before. “It goes with the territory” one of my colleagues chirped over lunch. “If you’re lucky enough to write for a living, the day will come when words will literally fail you. Ironic, isn’t it?”  Read more

My section of Route 97

Driving up Doyle’s Hill on New York Route 97 my ears start to pop. I’ve heard many people remark on this common experience, which happens as a result of the climb in elevation as they drive out of the town of Hancock along this scenic, old road.  Read more

The Museum at Bethel Woods: ‘A Tale of Two Posters’

There are many early signs of spring that tug at my heart strings: the first robin scrounging for worms in the warming soil, the forsythia blooming with sunshine-yellow buds, even the overturned trash cans that waking bears rummaged through during the night.  Read more

Harbinger of spring

I was on a hike on a trail in Shohola during mid-March when I spotted what appeared to be a butterfly flying in the distance. I waited and watched as it landed nearby. What butterfly flies around in March when it is still cold and several weeks from “greening up” time?

The answer was soon obvious as I got close enough to identify this dark-colored butterfly with a yellow fringe around its wings. I was looking at a mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiope) on a late winter jaunt. One of the nicknames for this species is “Harbinger of Spring.” It did indeed make an early appearance.  Read more

Visions of a madman

By Michael Morris

When I was offered the opportunity to write this article about my visions for the area, my first inclination was to write about the projects I am involved in and the benefits to the community. Then it struck me that my visions depend on the American people returning to the way we were as a nation on December 8, 1941.  Read more

How many nations are we, anyway?

While Bill Clinton was in the White House, you might recall, some members of the conservative gun-enthusiast community took to sporting bumperstickers that defiantly declared “My President is Charlton Heston” (Heston, of course, being the president of the National Rifle Association at the time). During the Bush Regime, I toyed with making a similar bumper sticker myself—though mine would have said “My President is Ralph Nader.” (However, I realized that might have put me in danger of severe reprisal—not so much from gung-ho nationalists as from unforgiving Al Gore supporters.)  Read more

One year later

Tommy “The Easter Bunny” and the young bunny who lived across the street had been together for a whole year. Even before that, Tommy had had a crush on her for as long as she lived across Cottontail Lane.

“One of these days,” he would think to himself as he gazed sheepishly at her from across the room and sipped his carrot juice on the rocks.  Read more

Let my people go!

It would seem that use of the lunar calendar has its advantages. Rather than attempting to fit holidays into the school schedule, or playing fast and loose with historical dates simply to create a three-day weekend, staying true to Biblical reference can be equally convenient. This year, both Easter and Passover occurred at the same time, which had more to do with the phases of the moon than man’s interference.  Read more

Watching a wonder unfold

For the past week, I have fallen under the thrall of a mesmerizing event that is being streamed live via two webcams hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A pair of herons are tending five beautiful blue eggs in a nest built in a dead white oak in the middle of Sapsucker Woods pond outside the Cornell Lab’s Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity in the Ithaca, NY region.  Read more

Quiz time

The time has come when the crack of the bat on ball, the smack of the line drive hitting the shortstop’s glove is echoing throughout the land. A small coterie of millionaires is again playing a game that once belonged to the boys of summer. Therefore, it is time for me to warm up my venerable right arm. I am once again hoping to send you young whippersnappers back to the bench, dragging your bats behind you. Just to falsely build your confidence, the first pitch will be a batting practice fastball, waist high, right down the middle at 85 miles an hour. Step up, batter.  Read more

Beautiful work

“Beautiful work,” says the beautiful woman who shakes my hand with two-handed sincerity at the end of a recent audition. I carry her praise home with me down Eighth Avenue through throngs of middle-aged men in hockey jerseys on their way to the Garden, into the subway where the temperature is always two days behind the street weather, and finally up two flights of stairs into my apartment before realizing her praise was a consolation prize. I would not be getting the part but I did “beautiful work.”  Read more

Music for the eyes, art for the ears

Here in the Upper Delaware Valley, variety is indeed the spice of life. This past week served up a perfect menu, since The River Reporter’s “Where and When” section was riddled with choices. Fascinated (yet horrified) by that woman known only as “Danielle” who spent $50,000 to clone her dog (www.andersoncooper.com), I realized that simply being called a dog from time to time does not qualify me for cloning. Yet. Therefore, schedule in hand, I made my selections and headed out.  Read more

Spring: the start of new life

Spring is the time of year when all aspects of nature seem to come alive; buds and sprouts are appearing on bushes, trees, and out of the ground, and bears make their appearance after wintering in their dens. Birds are heard in the forests and fields chirping and trilling away; many of these calls heard are breeding and territorial defense calls.  Read more

Have you seen a fisher?

HONESDALE, PA — The latest taxidermy mount to be added to an ever-expanding display of animals at the Wayne Conservation District (WCD) is the fisher, a mid-size carnivore characterized by a long darkly-furred body, short legs and a full tail.

Also referred to as tree otter, tree fox and fisher weasel, this mammal sports an appealing triangular face topped with wide rounded ears and oval pupils that produce a green eyeshine at night. Adult males weigh seven to 12 pounds; adult females weigh four to seven pounds.  Read more

And the answers are...

After a telephone conversation with Mr. Wayne Grauer, I do not think I will be called upon to give away any poorly tied flies this year. Wayne is a purveyor of both new and used bamboo fly rods and knows quite a bit regarding fly fishing history. Mr. Grauer complained that the quiz this year was really tough. Some of you may simply need a few extra hours of batting practice.  Read more

On the brink

Recently, my husband and I indulged in a spate of Masterpiece Theater and BBC mini-series (I call them high-class soap operas), spurred on by our earlier delight with “Cranford” and “Downton Abbey.” We’ve since hunkered down for marathon sessions of Dickens’ “Bleak House” and “Little Dorrit,” as well as the 2002 version of “The Forsythe Saga.”  Read more

Can we save the bridge?

A few weeks ago my dad sent me a link to an article about how he had resigned from the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway board. The article said that Glenn Pontier had “resigned over the controversy concerning construction of a new Pond Eddy Bridge.”

I was immediately intrigued and I called him to get the inside scoop. Our conversations all start out the same.

Me: “Hey Dad.”

Him: “Hey Zac.”

Me: “How’s it going?”

Him: (Chuckle) It’s going well.

Me: “What’s going on with the Pond Eddy Bridge?”  Read more

It’s a family affair

While we desperately need the rain, wet weather does tend to impact family fun over the weekend here in the Upper Delaware valley. While the folks at Bethel Woods (www.bethelwoodscenter.org) have it covered—sponsoring indoor, kid-friendly events in the form of their World Stage Series—the moisture can affect the music, even with a roof overhead.  Read more

‘The one that got away’

Every once in a while a story comes along that strikes right at the nerve of the community. It takes on a life of its own. You might guess it’s one of those topics like school merger or gas leasing. Serious issues, yes, but forget those. They will fade away. There is nothing that brings even the most reticent out of the woodwork than the debate over the local existence of the mountain lion.  Read more

Take me to your leader

Like many of us, I have interest in a myriad of subjects. Gardening, nature, astronomy and ancient history top my list, but there is a subset of fascinating topics that creep into my thoughts on a consistent basis. Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and the Bermuda Triangle are but a few of the themes that attract me. Truth be told, I have given a fair amount of attention to one area of interest over the others: UFOs.  Read more

Amphibian drama: prey and predator in a pond

Along the Delaware River, there are many small ponds fed by springs or streams, or left over from floods. Also present are remnants of the D&H Canal, with many sections still holding some water. All these ponds play a role in the diversity of the riparian habitat along the shore of the river. A variety of fauna and flora are present in or near these ponds that would not otherwise be present on the river shore.  Read more

The future of farming?

By Sean Zigmund

Since the dawn of agriculture, feeding ourselves has driven an increase in a myriad of other highly consumptive processes that boil down to a single equation: food = energy. Energy use will only increase as our population does, yet our primary source of energy, fossil fuel, is steadily decreasing. While renewable energy use in the U.S. is on the rise, its use is a fraction of what we use to live. Perhaps a neighborhood farming model is just what we need to move to a more sustainable future.  Read more

Ups and downs

I have been waiting to find out if I was going to get this amazing editing mentorship with Walter Murch for the past five months. I found out that I was nominated in late 2011 for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. There was a very extensive application process that included multiple essays, a video, numerous copies of my work and assorted references.

I’m not sure how many people were nominated but I found out in March that I was one of four finalists. It was an amazing honor and also meant that I would be meeting Mr. Murch himself as he would make the final decision.  Read more

‘Where do I go?’

Good question. While actively in the throes of an existential crisis, I continue to wade through life, searching for an answer that might never reveal itself. Less than thrilled with the results of an Internet search, I pressed on and discovered a disquieting website (www.existentialcrises.com) that simply presented a black page with the words “you are alone.” Lovely. Undaunted, I persevered and wallowed briefly in the not-so-uplifting lyrics penned by James Rado and Gerome Ragni for the “great American tribal love rock musical”—“Hair.”  Read more

Walk the Wallenpaupack Creek

HAWLEY, PA — The Wallenpaupack Creek Trail (WCT) in Hawley highlights the history of the hydroelectric project constructed in the early 1920s and managed by Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL) today. Interpretive panels along the footpath highlight the history of the lake and dam.  Read more

Happiness, then sorrow

As our trip north came to an end, our first stop was Peck’s Market, and then on to the post office at Hankins, NY. There was a surprise waiting for me there. I had thought that my assortment of curves and fastballs had shut down anyone stepping into the batters’ box. However, a fellow named Robert Moase from Sweet Valley, PA, swings a fast bat. He whacked that batting practice fastball into right for a clean single. Hmm, I’d better pitch this fellow carefully.  Read more

At the mercy of others

Sixty is the new 50, they say. We boomers are growing old gracefully. Those of us lucky enough to have escaped the plagues of AIDS, drugs and rock ‘n roll are rocking our post-middle-age. Having spent the three months leading up to my 60th birthday visiting my aunt in a rehabilitation center, I am ready to consider a gym membership, make that colonoscopy appointment and meet with a financial advisor toute de suite. The reality of what can happen to a body in a split second has hit me like a blocked artery.  Read more

The play’s the thing!

What a weekend. With the onset of what promises to be a busy and fun-filled season, the plethora of events seems to be even more action-packed than usual, and making choices is (already) more difficult than ever before. That said, I made my selections, sorry (as usual) that I can’t be everywhere, yet confident that there are enough events here in the Upper Delaware valley to suit even the most discerning. As always, the Where and When section of The River Reporter is informative, and I continue to recommend this resource.  Read more

Crazy as a loon

When spring arrives, a varied assortment of waterfowl transits the region on the way to summer breeding grounds. Some are local breeders but others are on their way north; the spring period gives an opportunity to sight species that we won’t see for the rest of the year.

One of these visitors may not be too noticeable at first. They are usually on larger lakes; from a distance they have the silhouette of a merganser, but they appear larger and darker. If you hear one of these waterfowl call, though, you will probably recognize the unmistakable yodel of a common loon.  Read more

Food, glorious food

Perhaps my regular readers will remember that since Thanksgiving of 2011, I haven’t eaten anything that once had eyes, having been profoundly moved by Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” and the movie “Forks over Knives.” Things are going very well, despite the fact that I fear I’m becoming a burden to my carnivorous friends. “Tell me again what you don’t eat?” asked the hostess of a recent gathering.

I gave her the short answer (see above), but I’ll share the long answer with you, gentle reader, a compendium of what I do eat.  Read more

No jacket required

I’ve never considered myself shallow, much less a clothes horse, but this past weekend, all illusions were shattered. Once again, the events schedule overflowed throughout the region, and with Memorial Day upon us, Dharma (the wonder dog) and I are busier than ever. Now that my “living stuffed animal” has eclipsed any delusion that I might have had regarding personal popularity, I’ve thrown up my hands and given in, as Dharma’s invites flood my mailbox and requests for her appearance at local celebrations ramp up.  Read more

Friday night summer salad

Last Friday, some friends and I got together at Mel’s house and all cooked a meal. Everyone prepared a different dish. My friend Josh came up with the idea as a way for all of us to hang out and also because he wants to learn more about cooking. I was excited to see everyone and a little nervous about the cooking.  Read more

Another invasive comes to the valley

As if the number of invasive plants and insects becoming established in the Upper Delaware River Valley weren’t already ample enough, a new plant is creeping into the local landscape.

The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the discovery of “mile-a-minute vine” (Polygonum perfoliatum), which gets its name from the astonishing growth rate of the annual vine—up to six inches in one day and over 20 feet in one growing season.  Read more

Rats!

In the past two weeks, one thing and another has prevented me from going trout hunting. First, doctors and dentist appointments, then an afternoon spent with Misako Ishimura, which gave Barb and me each the opportunity to say good-bye to Mark Romero by dropping a handful of his ashes into Stewart Brook. Thus, Mark’s remains were started on a slow journey down the Catskill waters that he loved. He was a long time member of Theodore Gordon Flyfishers and served for many years on their conservation committee.  Read more

Listen to the nuns

As a college student in the mid-‘80s, I took a class on Virginia Woolf. The professor, a youthful woman with swishy, black hair and a quick humor, liked to tell us that had she been around in past ages she would have been a nun.  Read more

June is bustin’ out all over!

Memorial Day weekend conjures up many images: backyard barbeques, flag-waving parades, garden parties and the requisite boat launches, as the lakes, rivers and ponds begin to swell with visitors swarming to the Upper Delaware valley. Many of us look forward to an extended, three-day siesta as the hammocks go up, and s’mores begin to waft through the night air.  Read more

Carpenter bees: Unwanted home improvements

In May, a friend had quite a few bees flying around his barn; they appeared like bumblebees and frequently could be seen chasing each other around, occasionally meeting in a mid-air grapple. I looked around the upper part of the structure and found a few round holes about the size that a .38 caliber bullet would make. These were not bullet holes; the bees chasing each other were male carpenter bees defending their territory.  Read more

A vision for rural education

By Dr. Kenneth Hilton
Vision statements should be ambitious. Ours certainly is. Sullivan West envisions “a learning community committed to the continuous pursuit of excellence and equity, and dedicated to enriching the lives of all students.” “Excellence and equity… enriching the lives of all students”—those are tall orders, especially in light of the challenges and obstacles we face.  Read more

Play on words

“Words can hurt,” my mother used to say, “choose them wisely.” It’s true, of course, and I have tried to abide by her advice through the years, with limited success. These days, I bite my tongue fairly often, but it’s not a bad way to live. Since words can also be empowering, I do my best to put my vocabulary to good use and err on the side of caution.  Read more

Country Ark Farm festivities

An interesting collection of exotic and domestic animals were featured at a recent Open Farm Day at Country Ark Farm (CAF) near Milford, PA. Run by the Ciancitto family and a group of volunteers for the past 23 years, the non-profit foundation provides recreational, pet and art therapy experiences for mentally, emotionally and physically challenged children and adults. CAF is housed on a 26-acre property which is home to an assortment of well-socialized animals that have been hand-raised for the various programs offered.  Read more

Long division

Those tireless pollsters at the Pew Research Center’s “People and the Press” project (www.people-press.org) recently released the results of their latest study—results that really should come as a surprise to no one. The Pew researchers say that, in terms of values and basic beliefs, Americans have become increasingly polarized along partisan lines over the last couple of decades. In fact, according to the study, political divisions have become the most significant in our society—exceeding the divisions that you might expect to find along gender, age, race, or even class lines.  Read more

Artist seeks work

As I am writing this, my daughter is having a nervous breakdown about finding a job after college. I am trying to ignore the caterwauling emanating from her room. I am on deadline, after all. This, of all the work I do in the world, is the one I am paid for dependably. Still, I can’t help feeling her pain and wanting it to stop.  Read more

When life hands you lemons...

I’ve never been very good at making lemonade, and truth be told-don’t care for its bitter aftertaste. There are times, though, when we have to weigh our options and just squeeze the darned fruit and hope for the best. I’m grateful that my truck is not a lemon, but getting around still proved to be a challenge this past week and thankfully, I got out a few times before being temporarily grounded.  Read more

Caution: fawn crossing

A couple of years ago in June, there was a motorcycle ride in New Jersey to benefit a children’s foundation, and I was riding with our local chapter of the Red Knights. We were on a rural road in Sussex County, when I spotted a doe and her fawn come out to the shoulder of the road maybe six bikes ahead of me. A split second later, the fawn shot across the road right between two riders. The fawn disappeared in the brush unscathed and the riders likely breathed a sigh of relief.  Read more

The bird whisperer

Plunk! Something had just struck one of the windows that look out on our back porch. Being curious, I went out onto the porch to see what had caused the noise. To my chagrin, I found one of our little wrens lying unconscious on the deck.  Read more

The livin’ is easy (-ish)

Just in time for summer sun, Environmental Working Group has released its 2012 Sunscreen Report. It’s thorough, and it challenges the notion that if we just lather on gobs of the stuff, we’re safe. For starters, there’s no clear evidence that sunscreen actually prevents skin cancer; in fact, the FDA admits that it is “not aware of any studies examining the effect of sunscreen use on the development of melanoma.” In addition, using sunscreen may give people an unwarranted sense of security, making them more apt to stay out too long in the sun’s harmful rays.  Read more

All Nighter

Today is still yesterday and tomorrow didn’t happen yet. It’s true. See, I got to work about 24 hours ago. I’ve been up all night, working on a video presentation that my boss is going to give in a few hours.  Read more

Busy busy busy!

One would think that I’d know better by now. Once Memorial Day hits, and the summer visitors begin their annual migration to the Upper Delaware valley, the always active world of arts and entertainment here in the Catskills amps up big time... and I hit the ground running. This past week, I found myself busily trying to do it all, with limited success. Thankfully, my community support is firmly in place, and a few kind souls assisted me in my efforts to cover the endless array of events spanning two states and four counties, over the river and through the woods.  Read more

Rhodes legacy lives on

UPPER DELAWARE REGION — Danilo Carvajal, 59, is the latest person in a long string of those who can thank Richard “Dick” Rhodes for their very life. While not directly rescued by Rhodes, Carvajal was saved by Erika Poston on her first day of service as a trained volunteer of the National Canoe Safety Patrol (NCSP), the organization Rhodes co-founded 30 years ago, and was passionate about, up until the day he died on April 17.  Read more

Fireworks at 14

There is nothing a 14-year-old boy likes better than an explosion, and nothing more entertaining than a night of fireworks. At least so it is with my son, Sam, whose teenage solution to all problems is the wise-ass comment: “Let’s blow it up.” He says this just to irk me, I know, but it does convey a glimpse into the workings of his teenage brain, even if it sounds a bit clichéd.  Read more

All the world’s a stage

With a bit of rest after last week’s whirlwind tour of the region, I was able to begin anew and zipped around the four corners, in search of entertainment. Having taken a lengthy hiatus from Rich Kiamco’s traveling Comedy Club (www.thelaughtour.com), I was newly excited to make my way to the Nutshell in Lake Huntington (www.nutshellarts.com ), which has become a monthly home for Manhattan’s up-and-coming comics, who often test new material on the (sometimes) unsuspecting audience that the tour attracts.  Read more

Breeding eagle update

As those of you who didn’t travel to warmer climes for the winter realize, we experienced an overall mild winter, with above-normal temperatures and minimal ice cover on rivers and lakes. Indeed, during the 2012 annual Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey for New York State, there was no ice recorded on the river during the week of January 10, which is the usual target date for the survey. No ice on the river has only been recorded for a handful of times of the 34 years that New York has been participating in the survey.  Read more

Tenkara?

Tenkara fly fishing is the method Japanese fly fishers use when fishing their mountainous, fast flowing, small trout streams. It is a markedly different technique from our western style of fly fishing. A Tenkara fly rod ranges from 10 to 14 feet in length. No reel is ever used on this rod. The line is attached to the tip of the rod, which has a thin one-and-one-half-inch-long woven line permanently attached to it. This short piece of line is called a “lilian.” A length of fluorcarbon or nylon monofilament is tied to the lilian. This is the casting line.  Read more

‘Looking forward, looking back’

By Stanley Harper

Councilwoman Eileen Falk, commenting on the proposed “Riverwalk” project during a public hearing: “Not trying to make Narrowsburg into something different, just trying to make it what it was.”

Something we often hear: “I don’t want Narrowsburg to change from the way it was.”  Read more

Eagles vs. fireworks

There’s a very metaphorically patriotic debate going on in Narrowsburg over the effect of the fireworks on the local bald eagles. There is a nest on the flats and two out of the last three years, it seems the July 4th fireworks have caused eagles to fall from the nests. It’s basically the bald eagle (federally protected and national mascot) versus the fireworks (beautiful patriotic tradition of exploding lights and loud noises). The only way it could get any more patriotic would be to add the good old stars and stripes into the mix somehow.  Read more

Running on empty

Sitting at my desk to write about the past week is a welcome respite, since (for something different) I have been racing around like a headless chicken. On Wednesday last, I took advantage of the opportunity to take a seat at the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBplay house.org) and bask in their fun production of “Legally Blonde - the Musical.” For my full-scale review, visit the “Arts & Leisure” link on our website (www.riverreport eronline.com )  Read more

Turkey vultures: a feathered fascination

While few would contend that the turkey vulture is attractive, most would probably admit that in flight, it is indeed beautiful and that it most definitely has some unique—and somewhat offensive—characteristics.  Read more

Green Acres is the place for me

It’s been said that moving is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life, and having done so twice in the last four months (don’t ask!), I can attest to that. Finding myself unexpectedly looking (again) for a new place to settle, I was determined that this would (hopefully) be the last... and thankfully, the gods were smiling down on me as I raced against time, searching high and low for a place to rest my weary head.  Read more

One man’s legacy

At first my uncle Hal was just the one my aunt was marrying—essential, almost peripheral, enigmatic. No one could match her in beauty, so he matched her in intellect. An intellect of physics, an appreciation of ballet and opera to match her yen for Yeats and Jung. But I didn’t know any of that at five years of age, when they married. To me, he was the husband. I didn’t know why she needed him, but I got that it was important. He was awkward and mostly silent, not glib like the rest of our family. He wore thick glasses and his hair in a brush cut. I almost didn’t see him in the glare of the rest of our family—raucous and laughing, well-oiled. But by the time my step-father had disappeared, he was still there and now a father himself. His whole being seemed to swell with the creation of his family.  Read more

Flicker fledglings

When a friend called me up and said he had a northern flicker nest in his backyard in late June, I packed my camera and binoculars in anticipation of some good looks. Northern flickers, as most woodpeckers, are cavity nesters, and the cavities are frequently low enough on the trunks of trees to afford some excellent views of young being fed by adults.  Read more

True words

Norman MacLean once wrote, “No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and then the fish is gone.”  Read more

Building a slow community

The second annual Slow Living Summit took place last month in Brattleboro, VT, attracting about 400 people, almost twice the number that attended the event last year. Speakers included Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel; and Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx.  Read more

The hat quest

I bought a Yankee cap before the game last weekend and wore it on my first trip to the new stadium. It seemed fitting. Looking around the crowd, there were more people in hats than not. It was a great afternoon game. Sold out crowd. Shady seats. A couple of home runs. The Yankees won. Couldn’t have gotten much better. After the game I slipped the Yankee cap on a door handle and wondered whether I’d wear it ever again.  Read more

A sunning snake

Northern water snakes are our neighbors here in Narrowsburg, where we enjoy observing the heavy-bodied Nerodia sipedon living along the banks and in the waters of Little Lake Erie.

This aquatic snake can grow to more than 50 inches in length and swims easily across water, submerging itself to escape harm if threatened. Although it is not venomous, if provoked or cornered, it may defend itself by flattening its body and striking repeatedly. Not surprisingly, such bites can be extremely painful and can become infected.  Read more

Life is but a dream

What a week! The entire Upper Delaware valley is thrumming with activity and for every event that I attended, it seems there were two or three that I missed! My first stop last Wednesday was the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBplayhouse.org) and its smashing production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” There’s a full-scale review at www.riverreporteronline.com in Arts & Leisure, but here’s a preview: it’s an incredibly entertaining show.  Read more

The blueberry trail

This year, the birds alerted me to the wild blueberries. We arrived home from a vacation at the beach to find the front steps littered with the blue splotches of cast-off berries. It was as good an announcement as any of the ripening bushes in our old fields.  Read more

Festivals and battles and tours—oh my!

This past week turned out to be educational, informative and entertaining as I careened through the Upper Delaware valley discovering something old and something new (thankfully, borrowed and blue were nowhere to be seen).  Read more

Dining with damselflies

Among the more enjoyable activities of summer are things like swimming in a nearby lake or river and enjoying a picnic under the trees. If you take a close look at the shoreline, however, you may see some snack-grabbing activity going on besides hamburgers and coleslaw.  Read more

The winner and the collector

Wednesday evening, July 18, I played the part of a fishing buddy for young Arnon Goldberg. Arnon is trying to master the mysteries of fly fishing while attending the Trout Unlimited “Fish Camp.” As is the case with all beginners, it will take a while. Arnon seems to have the proper degree of determination and inquisitiveness.  Read more

My first music video

Over the years, I’ve edited a dozen or so music videos. I’ve always enjoyed working on them. Fitting the shots together to an already existing song is great fun. The song acts as a guide and a base to start from and the images almost always add something unexpected and exciting. You start to hear the song in a different and new way. It works a different side of my brain than editing a narrative film or documentary.  Read more

Dancing in the street

I hit the ground running this week, with the lyrics to the classic Marvin Gaye anthem playing in my head: “Summer’s here and the time is right for dancin’ in the street.” They certainly fit at the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.fbplayhouse.org) and the theatre’s third offering of the season, “West Side Story.” The show is (IMHO) brilliantly written, and I was truly impressed by the production. For my complete analysis of the company’s homage to dancing in the street (and on rooftops), visit the Arts & Leisure section at www.riverreporteronline.com.  Read more

Fully fledged

Since March, I and thousands of other fans of the great blue heron have thrilled to the close-up observation of a pair of herons, and ultimately their five chicks, thanks to a live webcam hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY.  Read more

Downsizing for the future

“I don’t want to end up like my father,” my Narrowsburg neighbor tells me. His 98-year-old father lives alone in his own home, reliant on family to bring him meals and keep him company. His life savings went to pay for nursing home care for his ailing wife and he retired from yard work last year at age 97.  Read more

America held hostage

Right now, as I type this late on a Wednesday night, my Internet service is down. (Oh horrors!) So I don’t have immediate access to all the websites, quotations and statistics that I might wish to use to construct my argument. All I have in front of me is the latest issue, just arrived today, of the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal (NPBJ).  Read more

Are the stars out tonight?

Gazing skyward over the last week, the heavens alternated between cloudy and bright. In between showers, the sun blazed and people frolicked. Not wanting to be left out in the rain, I packed an umbrella and headed off in search of adventure while keeping one eye on the weather. With the “dog days of summer” right on schedule this past Saturday, the relentless heat ushered in the return of an-all American local favorite: the Jeffersonville Jamboree.  Read more

Canaries in a mine, frogs in a pond

Years ago, miners entered a mine to work, and sometimes they were accompanied by a canary in a cage. The idea of the canary was that if there was a low oxygen level or hazardous gas present, the canary would show signs of distress before the miners did; this gave the miners time to evacuate. Thankfully, modern innovations like portable gas meters and self-contained breathing apparatus have eliminated the need to sacrifice any more canaries. The job description of a canary, had it been listed by the mining company, would probably read “bio-indicator.”  Read more

An absent-minded professor

At a recent meeting of the “Bamboo Gang,” Roger Menard showed off a pretty rod that had a very curious history. As Roger explained it, while fishing he had met a fellow angler whose father had worked for Jim Payne. This fellow noticed Roger’s bamboo rod and asked if Roger had ever put rods together. When Roger answered “yes,” this fellow said he would send him some glued-up sticks for a seven-and-one-half-foot rod. These sticks would already have the ferrules attached.  Read more

Lights out

A couple of years ago, and with great zeal, I replaced the incandescent (IC) bulbs in my home with CFLs, touted as superior in terms of energy savings and thus, I naively thought, superior in terms of environmental sustainability. I knew that CFLs should be recycled rather than tossed in the garbage, but I thought I wouldn’t have to worry for at least five year, their alleged lifespan. So I was surprised when my bedside reading lamp bulb died a few days ago, sooner than my older ICs.

There I stood, peeved in the dark.  Read more

Back to the future

As I roamed the Upper Delaware valley over the last week, I kept hearing about the plethora of events occurring simultaneously ‘round every bend. Concerts, art exhibits, plays and poetry readings were (and are) popping up all around us. Clearly, we can’t make them all. But I have chosen to highlight a few that I have been to, as well as gaze into the crystal ball and preview what lies ahead, hoping that many of our faithful River Reporter readers will meet up with me (and Dharma, of course) along the way.  Read more

Galveston, Texas

Colin and I are at Home Depot picking up some art supplies for our upcoming shoot. We are in Galveston, TX for 10 days shooting reenactments and interviews for the documentary I’ve been working on. I am enjoying the break from the editing room and dabbling in the art department.

It’s obvious to the local cashier when we get to the front of the line that we aren’t from the area. She is very warm and friendly.

“What are you doing in Galveston?” she asks. We pause, unsure exactly how to answer. Many people in Galveston are not fond of recounting this dark memory.  Read more

PA places 15th in national competition

Guest column by Jamie Knecht, Watershed specialist, Wayne Conservation District

The Canon Envirothon celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and we were very pleased and excited to host it here in Pennsylvania. The team that represented PA in the Nationals was from MMI Preparatory School in Luzerne County. PA placed 15th overall at the national level, an accomplishment that few high school students experience.  Read more

Fair week

It is fair week again. It feels like the summer has whirled away like the interchanging swings of the midway’s merry mixer. It has brought us to this moment.

We have spent the week at the Delaware County Fair in Walton, NY. Yesterday I watched my kids and their fellow 4-Hers give their public presentation speeches for fairgoers on subjects as varied as Arcadia National Park, remote control trucks, banana cream pie and my son Sam’s topic: the life and writing of Stephen King.  Read more

Trials & tribulations

On my most recent trip to the lower West Branch of the Delaware, I fished in the company of a Mr. Blair Williams. It was a tough night, with very few flies hatching. Of course, this meant that rising fish were scarce. The high point of my night occurred when my legs suddenly went numb and I went for a swim in water barely up to my knees.  Read more

Katydid, Katy didn’t

If you live near a hardwood, or deciduous, forest, you would have heard these by now; in fact, they may even be keeping you awake at night if you have a bedroom window open. The evening chorus is courtesy of the common true katydid (Pterophyla camellifolia).

True katydids are a key phenology species. Phenology is the study of timing of periodic events occurring in nature. I usually hear calls starting right around the last week in July to the first week in August; this year, I first heard katydid calls in Pike County around the second week in July.  Read more

Trials and tribulations

On my most recent trip to the lower West Branch of the Delaware, I fished in the company of a Mr. Blair Williams. It was a tough night, with very few flies hatching. Of course, this meant that rising fish were scarce. The high point of my night occurred when my legs suddenly went numb and I went for a swim in water barely up to my knees.  Read more

The times, they are a changin’

It’s impossible to visit, much less live in this neck of the woods, without acknowledging the region’s history. The resorts—and talent that appeared in and around them—are legendary. Books have been written and movies have been made. During simpler times, comic Red Skelton starred in the 1938 romp “Having Wonderful Time,” set in a Catskills hotel. Roman Polanski’s creepy “Knife in the Water” takes place here in the mountains, focusing on a hitchhiker and a couple’s weekend outing in 1962.  Read more

Transformation in progress

Transformation—it’s one of today’s buzz words, latched onto by many organizations dealing with myriad pressures, such as global competition, the state of the economy and new technology.

We use the word a lot in economic development. The question to be asked is whether there is strategic action behind it, or whether it is merely used as a marketing tool. Care must be taken as to whether the transformative actions are needed and the proposed outcomes are good.  Read more

Just a weekend in the country

When Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for “A Little Night Music” back in 1973, it’s unlikely that he was thinking about my weekend, or, for that matter, this part of the country. Even mid-week, I was whistling a happy tune, though—blissfully unaware that the Stone Temple Pilots (STP) and I don’t really agree on what a little night music is.  Read more

10-year anniversary

As of last Sunday, I’ve lived in New York City for 10 years; that’s almost exactly one third of my lifetime.

I knew it basically to the day. I knew it because the kids and parents were lined up around Rubin Hall on Fifth Avenue and 10th Street last Sunday for NYU’s move-in day. That was me 10 years ago; literally, I stood in that line.  Read more

PA governor greeted with gatherings

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett completed a two-day kayak tour on the Delaware River through Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties last week. Among his entourage were PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allen and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer.  Read more

Eric & Andy

Did they really camp it up?” a friend asked when I returned from a nephew’s wedding. “Well, no” I said. “They’re the straightest gay couple I know.” Not that it wasn’t a fun wedding—it was. The reception was held in an artist cooperative near Rochester, where the artists also serve as staff for events that foot the bill for studio space. Their artwork is everywhere. There is a whole room dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, but she was not the mascot for Eric and Andy’s wedding.  Read more

Eric & Andy

Did they really camp it up?” a friend asked when I returned from a nephew’s wedding. “Well, no” I said. “They’re the straightest gay couple I know.” Not that it wasn’t a fun wedding—it was. The reception was held in an artist cooperative near Rochester, where the artists also serve as staff for events that foot the bill for studio space. Their artwork is everywhere. There is a whole room dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, but she was not the mascot for Eric and Andy’s wedding.  Read more

The family that plays together...

My online dictionary defines “family” in a number of ways: “A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household,” “A group of people related to one another” and “People related to each other and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy: I could not turn him away, for he is family.” Lest we forget, American journalist and author Edna Buchanan once declared that “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”  Read more

Bats in the belfry (or in the house)

A bat, the only mammal capable of sustained flight, invokes many things to many people. Many fictional books and movies have maligned bats as evil creatures to be feared, and many of us have an underlying fear of bats when we encounter them. The truth is that the only thing that needs to fear a bat in our region is a mosquito: a bat can eat up to 50% of its body weight in mosquitoes and other flying insects per evening. It turns out that a bat is a highly beneficial critter that has picked up a bum rap.  Read more

Bald is beautiful?

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a teeny bit vain. I do look in a mirror once in a while and practice good hygiene on a daily basis. While I used to be a bit of a clothes horse, that particular aspect of life has changed a bit since my not-so-recent move to the Catskills. While I still enjoy getting gussied up for a special occasion, the relaxed atmosphere of life in the Upper Delaware Valley has allowed me the freedom to dress down far more often and become aware that it’s possible that it might be more character, than clothes, that make the man.  Read more

The sick day debate

“I’m not getting sick,” my brain said last night when I got home. “No way, it’s not happening. I have too much stuff to do tomorrow; honestly, I just don’t have the time.”

My body wasn’t so sure. “The thing is there’s this tickle...”

“A tickle?” my brain interrupted.

“Yes, a tickle. It’s right there in the back of our throat. It’s the kind of tickle that just might turn itself into a little problem. Tomorrow, it could be a sore throat, then a cough, then who knows. I’ve seen this type of thing before.”  Read more

Still in the dark

Last month’s column stimulated many comments from readers, for which I am grateful. I’d like to add additional insights I gained while researching compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) and raise the question: “Why are CFLs touted as being better for the environment?” Promotion of CFLs elevates energy efficiency above environmental hazard.  Read more

Meet Joe Schweik

Ah, Labor Day. A day for barbeques and beach trips, one last huzzah for the carefree times of summer before settling back into the dull routines of school, leaf-raking and, oh yes, work.  Read more

How long is long?

Last column I mentioned I was experimenting with one of the ideas put forth by Rene Harrop in his book, “Learning from the Water.” This is a book to read and then reread. A number of Mr. Harrop’s observations will cause the reader to stop and think. One such instance is his chapter on leaders. I usually tie my leaders to be nine or 10 feet in length. Both Bonnie and Rene Harrop use leaders from 14 to 18 feet in length. He suggests that at first you try a leader 14 feet in length.  Read more

Birds behind our building

The River Reporter is fortunate to be housed in a building overlooking Little Lake Erie in Narrowsburg, NY. This small body of water provides excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife, many of which we have the pleasure of observing while they live their lives as our closest neighbors.

Because the building’s owners allow the banks of the lake to remain wild, they are lush with natural growth and provide abundant resources for birds, insects and amphibians.  Read more

‘What is it? Wednesday’

School has begun and with it starts a whole new year of “What is it? Wednesdays” in my husband John’s 12th grade social studies classes at Sullivan West.

What is “What is it? Wednesday” you ask? Well, are you old enough to have used the gramophone, 45 records, eight-track tapes, the Walkman or only the Ipod?  Read more

‘What is it? Wednesday’

School has begun and with it starts a whole new year of “What is it? Wednesdays” in my husband John’s 12th grade social studies classes at Sullivan West.

What is “What is it? Wednesday” you ask? Well, are you old enough to have used the gramophone, 45 records, eight-track tapes, the Walkman or only the Ipod?  Read more

Early hawk migration report

The lower sun angles and the cooler temperatures of September trigger some changes in nature; for some birds, this is the cue to start heading for warmer climes. Hummingbirds exit the region this month, as well as many other bird species. This is the start time for some raptor species as well. In the right locations, this is a good opportunity to see high numbers and a variety of raptors.  Read more

Before the parade passes by

With the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah here already, once again I pause to reflect. The next 10 days, leading up to Yom Kippur, are important, not only to me, but to millions of Jews around the world. It seems like only yesterday that I wrote a bit about this subject, and my inner voice cried out with trite expressions. The mere fact that “time flies” and “waits for no man” are true, I suppose, and although I celebrate the New Year, I’m also taking stock of what has transpired over the last 12 months, some of which (like life itself) has been a bit icky.  Read more

Victoria and the boa

The woman was strange looking, almost cartoonish. She stood a few feet in front of me with an oversized shopping cart, her daughter in a matching purple sweat suit by her side. The line to the register had been overwhelming at the Astor Place K-mart electronics department. It stretched 20 people long, the end reaching into the men’s underwear aisle.

In my hands was my single purchase, a 10-pack of DVD covers to package and send off my editing reel. The woman’s shopping cart was full.  Read more

Embracing community

Today’s world is fast-paced, highly competitive and, some would say, “ethica`lly challenged.” Current mores put profit above principle and often place greater emphasis upon what we do for ourselves than what we do for each other. The political climate is troubling, as well. Our government has been brought to a near standstill by the unyielding adherence by politicians on both sides of the ideological spectrum to extreme and intractable positions. Rigid party allegiance and intransigence have eclipsed a sense of common purpose and have all but eliminated the possibility of civil discourse.  Read more

The social network

As some of you may know, the past few weeks (maybe even months) have been a journey... traveling down the long and winding road of life-altering changes, paying attention to the passage of time, sometimes glancing back from whence I came, while considering what lays ahead, all the while attempting to be in the moment. Sighing, more than breathing, has been the norm as of late, but like a good ice cream cone, sighing comes in all flavors and I’ve sampled several over the last week.  Read more

A Bamboo ferrule?

The annual gathering of the world’s bamboo rod makers has come and gone. In my last column, I wrote that I had no intention of buying yet another bamboo fly rod. Despite having the opportunity to cast several fine rods from various rod builders, I did not weaken. There is no new slender silver tube residing in the rod rack built for me by Tom Brown.  Read more

A Bamboo ferrule?

The annual gathering of the world’s bamboo rod makers has come and gone. In my last column, I wrote that I had no intention of buying yet another bamboo fly rod. Despite having the opportunity to cast several fine rods from various rod builders, I did not weaken. There is no new slender silver tube residing in the rod rack built for me by Tom Brown.  Read more

Stinkhorn: a fly’s delight

The stinkhorn mushroom, aptly named for its offensive fragrance and stalklike form, is a member of a family of fungi known as Phallaceae. Stinkhorns are characterized by very unpleasant-smelling sticky spore masses that occur on the end of a stalk called the receptaculum.

Likened to the odor of carrion or dung, the spore mass attracts flies and other insects. While feeding on the slime, the insects’ feet become coated with the spore-laden substance that they then transport to other locations, allowing the stinkhorns to grow elsewhere.  Read more

A secular ceremony

When you’re short on religion, as is my family, you have to make your own ceremonies for important occasions. It helps if you have good planning skills. We don’t. In spite of all our shortcomings and recent obstacles, like my aunt’s stroke, we wanted to have a family memorial for my uncle at the place he loved best, on Fire Island. His cremains had been languishing since May on a marble mantelpiece in the townhouse he shared with his wife for the last 40 years of his life.  Read more

The Icky Mouse Club

I know, I know...they come callin’ every year when the leaves begin to turn and there’s frost on the pumpkin. Mice. With apologies to Santa, autumn is (IMHO) “the most wonderful time of the year” and I spent the last week attending events throughout the Upper Delaware Valley, basking in the explosion of fall foliage that helps define life in the Catskills and the incredible bounty that Mother Nature provides.  Read more

Fall spiders

The leaves are changing color, and many insects are easier to find; they have reached full size and some species have just completed, or are in the midst of, breeding. For many insects and other arthropods, the fall season signals the end; they die after breeding or with the first hard frost.  Read more

Red-tailed hawk: a raptor aptly named

For several weeks in late August, I had the pleasure of observing a young red-tailed hawk almost daily along Route 97 near Ten Mile River. The bird was usually perched on a wire with its back to the road as it steadily observed a meadow for potential meals—a practice known as still-hunting. One day I found it facing the road and managed to take several photos before it took flight.  Read more

Music video post

A few weeks ago I wrote about my adventures of heading up to Scranton, PA and filming a music video for a friend’s local band, The Great Party. I finished the video yesterday and so this week I wanted to take you behind the scenes on the post-production process. A warning for the faint of heart, this is about to get real nerdy and technical.  Read more

The nightmare before Christmas

It’s no secret that winter is on the horizon. I don’t know about city folk, but here in the Upper Delaware River valley, we see the telltale signs everywhere. There has already been frost on the pumpkins, and squirrels are madly foraging for the abundance of acorns dotting the landscape this year—a sure sign that we had all better prepare to hunker down. Knowing the answer, I still visited the “country bible” at www.farmersalmanac.com, which did not allay my fears.  Read more

We’ll have to wait

A good friend sent this to me after reading my series of articles on CFLs. The filmmaker did the math, it’s quite thorough in explaining, among other things, why CFLs do NOT live up to the claims.

Disillusioned by my findings concerning the drawbacks of CFLs (documented in my last two columns), I began researching LEDs, or light emitting diodes, which are increasingly being used for residential lighting.  Read more

Make me the sea

When I was a kid, in the early ‘70s, the highways were filled with people thumbing a ride. My father, who had a hippie-side all his own, often stopped for hitchhikers and occasionally brought them home for a meal, or to spend the night.

Now, for the most part, hitchhiking is a thing of the past. We are too afraid to catch a ride with strangers or pick one up. But for a time in the ‘60s and ‘70s as well as during the Depression, it was commonplace. “The roads are swarming with kids,” my father liked to say.  Read more

I’ll get back to you on that...

Clearly, none of us are getting any younger. Still smarting from the reality check that was my 40th high school reunion, I’ve been forced to take a good look in the mirror and assess the situation. “I’ve looked better,” I rasped, as I prepared to make my way to the North American Cultural Laboratory (NACL) in Highland Lake.  Read more

Long haul flyers

Flocks of high flying geese can be heard and the first hard frost of the season is forecast for tonight as I write this column. Yesterday, on the 11th of October, was a clear day after a frontal passage with northwest to west winds at 10-15 mph, an ideal day to observe migrating hawks and falcons at Sunrise Mtn. in Stokes State Forest in NJ.  Read more

Stolen

At the end of the meal, my phone is gone. I look around the table. I pat my pockets. Check my bag. No way! I hadn’t even gotten up from dinner and someone had swiped my phone from right under my nose. Everyone in the restaurant is sympathetic. My friends help me make one final search around the table. No luck.

It had all started with a bit of iPhone 5 envy. Emily got one the day they came out a few weeks ago and it was light and fast, sharp and cool. Unfortunately, I am not due for an upgrade for six months so I wasn’t getting a new iPhone without paying some crazy exorbitant fee.  Read more

But enough about me...

There are those who would argue that I never tire of my favorite subject: me. But after this last week, even I have had enough. It all began months ago, when I (foolishly?) agreed to make some public appearances around the Upper Delaware valley. Truth be told, these requests for my presence were, as always, actually invitations for Dharma the wonder dog to participate in local events.  Read more

Puffballs and jelly fungi

The fall forests are full of fanciful fungi right now. Two common but interesting mushrooms that are easily encountered in the Upper Delaware region are puffballs and jelly fungi.

Puffballs are part of a class of fungi known as Gasteromycetes (stomach fungi) that produce spores inside their fruit bodies. They are most often spherical or pear-shaped with rough outer walls and smooth inner walls that act as pouches for the powdery spore masses contained within.  Read more

It’s now over

On October 2, Jim Graham and I took one last trip to the Willowemoc Creek in Sullivan County. We fished the “Finkelstein” water. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has done a fine job of rehabilitating this access that had been slowly eroding into the river. The right-hand bank is now armored with large boulders that will protect it in periods of high water. Unfortunately, the DEC seems to have used heavy equipment to create a very wide, shallow area right at the access. Hopefully the Willowemoc will rearrange this area as it pleases during the next high-water flows.  Read more

Quality healthcare—for all

When Wayne Memorial Hospital’s administrative team plans ahead, quality healthcare for everyone in our region is always at the heart of our long-range vision. But negotiating the road is not easy, especially in today’s climate. The economy is sluggish. The federal government—think “Obama-care”—has mandated dramatic changes in reimbursement formulas for Medicare patients. State budget cutbacks are always an issue. Insurance companies routinely change the rules for payment.

For some hospitals, the mix has been toxic.  Read more

So vote, already

Even though I think this presidential election is clearly between two opposing points of world-view, I find it hard to get caught up in the drama of it, as I have in the past. Maybe it’s my age. My generation has seen its share of pivotal elections—Stevenson v. Ike, Nixon v. Kennedy, Bush, Sr. v. Clinton, Gore v. Bush, Jr. Each time the zealots on both sides have predicted doom should the other side win. And if it were true, we are living in it. Maybe we are.  Read more

Blowin’ in the wind

The lyrics to Bob Dylan’s anthem ring in my head as I sit down to muse on what’s coming down the pike. “How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?” As a general rule, I don’t think of myself as an alarmist, but Hurricane Sandy is presently working my nerves. By the time this hits the newsstands, she will be a thing of the past, but the aftermath... who knows? Meanwhile, the reports are dire as I write this and I’m keeping one eye on the news and one on the eye on the hurricane. I’m walking a tightrope here in my trailer (yes...  Read more

Trick or treat

Our region is blessed with many diverse habitats. Moving from mountain to valley will bring a whole different range of fauna and flora that can be seen. The arrival of fall brings much change as animals hibernate or migrate, and we see many visitors that are passing through or overwinter here.

Many people have become familiar with various species to the extent of knowing which ones are “good” or “bad” due to such things as what they eat, where they nest or roost, or even what they look like.  Read more

The new normal?

Two years ago I heard Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, speak at a Catskill Mountainkeeper event. He warned the audience that we’re deluding ourselves if we think climate chaos is our grandchildren’s problem. It’s our problem, he asserted. It’s happening now.  Read more

Power to the people?

Hallelujah! My power finally came back on Monday night! Happy to be alive and have a roof (still) over my head, I’m grateful. But I confess, the Lady Sandy truly tested me. I missed those little things—like electricity, heat and a phone. And TV? It isn’t a necessity (I suppose)… but the Internet? How else can a person stay in touch with the outside world, living as I do on the very fringes of society?  Read more

Weathering severe weather

While many animals weather unusual events like last week’s hurricane better than humans do, there are impacts nonetheless that affect wildlife in various ways.

In addition to potentially dangerous factors such as toppled or dangling trees and downed powerlines, some species, such as tree-nesting birds, may lose the shelter of their homes. Others may be forced to adapt to serious habitat destruction.  Read more

Visiting the Larches

On Election Day after casting my ballot I took a drive down PA Route 191 to see the Larches.

It may sound like the surname of some old family friends who are up for the weekend or the long-lost name of a distant cousin (to be sure, the Larches are as contradictory as some of my most eccentric relatives) but they are friends of a different sort.  Read more

Where there’s a will...

If there was ever a doubt, this past week was proof positive that variety is indeed, the spice of life. As the Upper Delaware Valley began to return to normalcy, our hearts continue to be with those who are still digging out in Sandy’s wake. Thrilled to be home, I cleaned up the mess and got back to business, although I still have not found one of my missing shutters.  Read more

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is carved out of the side of a mountain. It’s right on the water and reminds me a bit of a futuristic Chicago. The skyline is a sea of brightly lit buildings, stretching up, big and tall into the sky. It makes New York City seem very squarely organized; Hong Kong does not follow the grid plan.

There are tons of people in the streets and many of the alleys are packed with tiny booths selling everything from food to watch parts to Halloween masks. (It’s the end of October.)  Read more

A cautionary note about leaves

A week or so after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the northeast U.S. and our region, the sun has returned. Leaves that were left on the trees before the storm were blown down, along with a few of the trees. The trees have been cleared from the roadways and power has been restored, but many homeowners have blown-down trees or branches to contend with. Some of this blown-down debris has its own hidden hazard.  Read more

A special Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, you may be staying home with your family to enjoy a traditional meal, or you may be traveling and choosing to join a celebration at a relative’s or friend’s house. Perhaps you choose to participate in a gathering sponsored by a soup kitchen or church. Some may have even preferred to go to a restaurant that offers a Thanksgiving buffet with all the trimmings.  Read more

Thanks for giving!

“Charity begins at home,” Thomas Fuller wrote, “but should not end there.” With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s time once again to take stock and give thanks, which is easy (for me, anyhow) to lose sight of in the workaday world of bills, stress and everyday worries that sometimes seem insurmountable.  Read more

Beijing

The first night Emily and I spend in Beijing, we sit in a restaurant with a group of friends; a bottle of Jameson and a boom box rest on the table. The Jameson was bought at the airport and the boom box is blaring rap music. Surprisingly, no one at the restaurant says a word. Welcome to Beijing.

“There aren’t any rules here,” Greg, the groom of the wedding we are here attending, explains. “Don’t just look both ways when you cross the street, look all ways,” he pauses. “Traffic laws aren’t really enforced.”

We cross the streets with extreme caution.  Read more

Time flies when you are having fun

Some random thoughts from a fellow who, on November 10, was married to his petite fishing partner for 65 years. Whew!  Read more

New PA reg requires life jackets

Fall and winter water recreationists should be aware of a new regulation that applies to all Pennsylvania waters. Passed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) in September 2011, the regulation went into effect on November 1, 2012 and continues through April 30, 2013. It requires boaters to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak.  Read more

There’s an app for that!

At the risk of sounding like a spokesperson for product placement, I love my iPad. The last week has been beyond delightful on so many levels, including (but not limited to) my ongoing love affair with technology. To be honest, I did not feel that I could live in the country full time until the Internet was available in the Upper Delaware Valley. Although slow to start, it is now in full swing. Being able to live in this environment and take advantage of all that the lifestyle has to offer, while being connected to the World Wide Web, is ideal.  Read more

November nuances

As colder weather arrives, geese can be heard overhead on their southward flight and deer are in the midst of the fall rut. This is usually the month when the snow starts to fly and the ground turns from brown to white. Migratory species such as bufflehead and green-winged teal can be spotted on waterways through the fall season.  Read more

Sandy’s Legacy

We will always remember Hurricane Sandy. Not for the mighty wrath of her destruction, but for the odd serendipity of her timing.  Read more

It’s a wonderful life

My desk is cluttered more than usual this week. Flyers, cards, and scraps of paper litter my world as I attempt to unravel what I’ve accomplished over the last few daze and determine what lies ahead. As if I weren’t dizzy enough, I’m sick. Right on schedule (or so it would seem) I have a cold that has socked me with a one-two punch that has forced me to slow down a bit and take care of myself. “No rest for the weary” echoes in my addled brain, as I heave my tired old bones out of bed and review my notes.  Read more

Airplane scare

Emily and I stand in the Beijing airport looking for the Delta desk to check in. It’s five in the morning and we are on our way back to New York. We push a cart full of bags through the large terminal.

After traveling for 10 days, we are both pretty ready to be home and I am jokingly grumbling about the lack of freedom, news and manners. With perfect timing a guy bumps into me and says nothing. “You see what I’m talking about?”  Read more

Deadline extended for PA photo contest

PENNSYLVANIA – Many readers of The River Reporter who enjoy the River Talk column’s weekly images of nature are themselves handy with a camera. Based on some of the photos we’ve received from readers over the years, we know there are a good number of folks out there dedicated to capturing beautiful photos of the abundant wildlife and waterways in the Upper Delaware region.  Read more

‘Fair trade’ compromised

Many readers of this column will be purchasing gifts with a fair-trade label this holiday season, and often buy fair-trade products, such as coffee and chocolate, throughout the year. Other fair-trade items include bananas, honey, oranges, cotton, fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, nuts, quinoa, rice, spices, sugar, tea, wine, jewelry, home decor items and clothing.  Read more

Counting birds for Christmas

As the warm spell of the first week of December ends, there have been quite a few species of fall and winter birds spotted. Buffleheads, common and hooded mergansers, and ring-billed gulls are present on the nearby lakes, while passerines such as pine siskins partake at bird feeders. There have already been snowy owl sightings in New York State.  Read more

Happy Hanukkah — Let there be light!

Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights,” is widely considered a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish year. In the United States, however, its closeness to Christmas has brought greater attention to Hanukkah and its gift-giving tradition. Amid the ever-growing flood of Christmas advertising, it may seem especially fitting that the Hanukkah story tells of Jewish culture surviving in a non-Jewish world (www.factmonster.com)  Read more

Lake Huntington News

I write this column with such a heavy heart: my friend Frances was buried last Thursday.

Then, when I came home from Queens, Tommy told me to sit down, he had to tell me something. “Pete passed,” he said.

So many things ran through my head. First one was, he did not suffer long; then, how are his kids doing?

There are a lot of very sad people in Sullivan County with Pete’s passing. I was listening to everything people were saying—what a great person he was, a real friend, a fabulous father, a true Marine, a member of the Knights of Columbus for over 37 years.  Read more

The list-driven life

This is the season for lists—holiday gifts, cards and those letters to Santa, who is understood to be making a list of his own.

It can all get to be too much so that it seems that life itself has become winnowed down to a list of “to-dos” dictated by half-legible scraps of paper.

“I can take that off my list,” I hear people say, in a world-weary kind of way, whether it be, say, cleaning the fish tank or attending the kid’s holiday concert.  Read more

Lake Huntington News

This is such a busy time of the year, with the food pantry and Toys for Tots, how does Santa do it all? I guess it’s all his little elves! We are helping over 60 families with Christmas dinners and toys for their kids.  Read more

There’s got to be a morning after...

Well, it’s finally here. If the Mayans were right, this will be my last column. Ever. I’ve been on planet Earth long enough to have seen several “end-of-the-world” dates come and go, but this one, the so-called “Mayan Prophecy,” has really taken the world by storm. While hardly an alarmist, I have been keenly interested in the subject for well over a year. In fact, I wrote about this subject last spring (www.riverreporter.com/feature/16/2012/03/20/2012-prophesies-fact-or-fantasy) exploring the issue in some detail.  Read more

Thoughts on the holidays

The trees near my office are wrapped tightly in blue lights. It’s surprisingly impressive and despite the fact that they went up just after Halloween (too early in my opinion), I am struck often by their beautiful simplicity.

The carolers on the subway are good and plentiful. It seems that all the best subway performers come out this time of year. It’s actually enjoyable when they enter the train, and I notice that even the toughest looking folks crack smiles.  Read more

‘Squirreling away’ for a winter’s day

Acrobatic artists of the treetops, gray squirrels navigate their habitats with skill and grace, leaping from branch to limb in an aerial circuit that is both impressive and entertaining. Technically a rodent, the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is Pennsylvania and New York’s most common squirrel. Other native squirrels are the fox, red and nocturnal flying squirrels.  Read more

Representative Hinchey sees positive potential in our future

By Rep. Maurice Hinchey

Serving Sullivan County in the United States House of Representatives has been the greatest privilege of my life. As I prepare to leave office, I want to sincerely thank the people of Sullivan County who put their trust in me to serve their interests in Washington. In the most basic sense, that is what I have worked to do over the past 20 years.  Read more

Out with the old...

How we, as individuals, perceive the world around us is as varied as the snowflakes. Everyone has an opinion (humble or otherwise) and I am (clearly!) no exception. At this time of year, conversation invariably turns to the passage of time and often, how quickly the year has flown by. For me (and I suspect many of you) it’s been a long and winding road. Some of you might recall that on New Years Eve last year, I found myself in the hospital, undergoing emergency surgery.  Read more

The patient survived

As I write this column, I find myself housebound. My right knee is sore and aching. This is the result of having knee surgery to correct the severe arthritis in that joint. While the nurses at both Baylor Hospital and the Continuum Rehabilitation Hospital took excellent care of me, I am glad to be sleeping in my own bed once again. On the 12th of December, my surgeon, Dr. Pat Peters, removed the staples from the wound. He assured me that I appeared to be on the road to full recovery. It will take weeks of rehabilitation before I reach that goal.  Read more

O Tannenbaum

“O Tannenbaum” is the German version of the song “O Christmas Tree” that we hear so often during this holiday season. Tannenbaum is also the German translation for a fir tree, a very popular conifer to have indoors as the traditional Christmas tree. There are a number of varieties of conifers and evergreens in our region, some of which make suitable Christmas trees, but all have some impact on nature and wildlife.

Here are a few of our most common conifers:  Read more

New Year’s resolutions

My son asked me what my New Year’s resolutions were. I told him I don’t make them anymore but I have some to offer the rest of you….  Read more

  • Stop assuming the worst of your fellow human beings. Maybe they are just deaf to your needs. Tell them what you want and ask how you can help them.
  • Speak softer, but clearly. Make eye contact.
  • Don’t forget to ask, no, really ask, how their day/week/life is going before ranting about your own. Don’t rant. Okay, maybe a little. Sometimes.
  • Stop watching Fox News.
  • Watch less MSNBC.

Surf lessons

I’m on the beach in Costa Rica right now. The waves crash big and beautiful. A dreadlocked, tan, fit American guy is explaining that falling is a big part of surfing. That I should embrace it. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the ocean, but I’ve never surfed before. I’m a little nervous.

There is a small group taking the lesson. The instructor teaches us how to stand up on the board. He draws a line in the sand, to represent a surfboard, and we practice popping up from lying to standing.

“Surfing is mental, right?” he says. “It’s all about going for it.”  Read more

‘Oh, the weather outside is frightful!’

Considering the events (or lack thereof) over the last few days, I can’t be the only one with those lyrics in mind. As a child, winter storms meant hot chocolate, waxing up the “Flying Saucer” and mom insisting on snow pants (always a good fashion statement) before we headed out the door, shrieking with glee (insert sigh here.)  Read more

Cottontails: appealing and plentiful

Many species of mammals abound throughout the Upper Delaware River region. One of the most abundant, and likely the most popular in terms of game animals, is the Eastern cottontail rabbit.

Ranging between 15 to 19 inches in length and weighing between two to four pounds, cottontails are so named for the white puffy tail that characterizes this appealing animal. Brown or grayish soft fur tapers to a lighter tan on top, with a white underbelly below.  Read more

Close encounter

As I walked along the creek on a late autumn afternoon, I heard a rustling off to my left. I stopped to see if I could catch sight of a fox, or better yet a bear searching for a wintering spot. Instead I saw the fluorescent orange vest of a hunter.

A number of concurrent thoughts flashed through my mind. “Here I am in the woods alone, and there is a man with a gun. This must be why my mother (born and raised in the city) warned me, ‘Never, ever go outside. You could die.’”  Read more

The reign of Wayne has driven us insane

“Aw, geez, now they’re really gonna try to take my guns...!”

As the news started to roll in from Newtown, CT, on December 14, I overheard that reaction. Maybe you overheard it, too, or maybe you said or thought it yourself. Let’s not rehash the heated discussions that followed the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary; those discussions, after all, have been repeated, practically word-for-word, so many times in recent years that we could probably repeat each side’s talking points in our sleep.  Read more

Kids say the darndest things

I woke up last Sunday feelin’ a little off. Winter, in all its splendor, can also cause a bit of depression for some folks and I was in the throes of doing research on Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) looking for antidotes, prepared to spend the day immersed in the moody blues. Checking online I discovered that “Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you’re like most people with S.A.D., your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” (www.mayoclinic.com)  Read more

On thin ice

January usually heralds the first ice fishing activity for the region; historically, the ice is usually thick enough on most lakes by this time for people to venture out onto the ice. The milder winters of recent years, however, have been a challenge to ice fishing and other outdoor activities that take place on the ice. For most of last winter, the ice was too thin to safely be on the ice on most lakes.  Read more

January 10, 2013

You would not believe what is going on as I write this. My poor mother was taken to North Shore Hospital by ambulance on Long Island last Saturday night. She was having a hard time breathing, and after a week of that nasty virus that was going around, she just did not feel well. The emergency room was crazy, but they took her in right away and gave her oxygen. She had a fever of 102.8. They gave her a blood test and a chest x-ray, and told her she had a virus but not the flu.

My sister called me at about midnight and said, “They’re sending Ma home.”  Read more

Our new kitten

Our new kitten purrs like a lawn mower. At night I hear her motoring down the hall to jump on our bed, walk across our faces, and lick our fingers. Her loud, vibrating purr seems to say: “I am here. Get up and play with me.…”

The kitten is my daughter’s Christmas present. It just worked out that way. We had tried to adopt her earlier in the season, but between the vet’s schedule and her immunization timetable, she arrived just before Christmas. Rocket, our dignified, older cat, woke from her nap, quickly sized up this turn of events and ran yowling under my son’s bed.  Read more

Does anybody really know what day it is?

Does anybody really care? I’m not just perplexed about the day, but the month as well. My morning stroll with you-know-who was a little confusing today. After a week of clouds, fog, rain and ice, the thaw gave way to actual sunshine, and the illusion that spring had sprung was in full force. Momentarily unsure that it was still January, I needed to clear the fog in my brain and checked the calendar to be sure. Sure enough, according to the computer, it’s still winter... but a pop-up banner caught my attention (www.library.thinkquest.org).  Read more

2013A

The first days back from a vacation are always glowing. It’s warmer than I expected it to be and it’s nice to be home. The vacation is still fresh in my mind; I can still feel the sun radiating off of my skin and the soothing relaxation in my bones.

I’m happy to be home; I enjoy the familiar sights and sounds; I get back into my routine. New York is a great city to come back to. I’m always struck by that upon returning from a trip. The first few days are full of doing all of your favorite things, all the things you missed while you were gone.  Read more

Winter shelters

When the winds howl and sleet sheets across the landscape, our fellow feathered residents adapt to challenging conditions in a variety of ways.

Some of the most visible can be observed by paying attention to the trees we see, inspecting their trunks for openings and peering up at their tops for collections of leaves, branches or twigs.

Cavity nesters, such as red-bellied woodpeckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, excavate holes in trees, thereby providing shelter and nest sites.  Read more

We’re all in this. Together.

When I think back over the 35 years that I have been working at The River Reporter, what strikes me most profoundly is the multitude of lives that this relatively small newspaper has touched. From its staff and contributors to its readers and advertisers, we have traveled a journey that started in 1975, when a group of Narrowsburg residents including Dorothy Lehr, John Pavese, Beth Peck and Bob Rasmussen joined with Tom DeGaetani and Elaine Giguere to found this publication after the loss of the Delaware Valley News.  Read more

Promises, promises

Am I the only one who misses the old days? It’s no secret that I’m a fan of all things technological, yet (considering the last few days) I now see that my dependence on an electronic connection to the world-at-large has rendered me all but helpless when unforeseen events cause it to crash. I thought I had grasped this during Hurricane Sandy, but that disaster affected millions and I took some small comfort knowing that I was not alone.  Read more

First Trout

In the year 1936, my parents built a small bungalow in what was then rural Putnam County, NY. It was mostly used as a weekend retreat. Once bass season opened, my father would often go off fishing early every Saturday morning. How I wished to be taken along. I was always told that I was too young. Of course, when something is denied, it becomes even more desired. When I was 11, my father gave me an old bamboo rod, equipped with a Shakespeare “Wonder Reel.” He suggested I use this rod to fish for trout in the Peekskill Hollow Brook. Yippee!  Read more

2013 bald eagle mid-winter survey

Around the 10th of January, a number of people throughout the country brave the cold and go out in the field to count eagles. The counting can be done from a fixed location, or by traveling a route by car, aircraft, or even by boat in ice-free areas. The counts are collected by state or federal agencies and the results are compared with previous years.  Read more

January 25, 2013

Just got back from my visit down in Queens with my mother; she is doing much better.

My sister, with whom my mother lives in the winter, is really not a cook, so when I go down I try to make everyone’s favorite. My niece wanted pasta fagioli, my nephew wanted homemade chicken soup and my sister wanted pulled pork. My mother got hers when my cousin stopped by with a box of Reinwald’s Bakery crumb cake and rice pudding. Do you see where my bad eating habits come from?  Read more

January 31, 2013

Hello, hope all is well with everyone. My mother is holding her own and doing better. She cracks me up with her schedule—seeing a home care nurse, physical therapist and social worker. She has a person coming in every day, which is good because she gets up and gets dressed. No lying around and being tired all day.

She has not been out except to the doctors. Hopefully when the weather gets warmer, she will get out and about. Thanks for all the well wishes; they keep her going and the prayers always work and are welcomed.  Read more

Road trip

Trinidad, California is on the coast. A rock cliff lines the ocean view out of the window of the bed and breakfast where we are staying. We arrived at night, drove down from Portland, OR, and so I didn’t see the view until the morning. I was surprised when the sun poked through the fog and revealed the ocean.

Down below, huge rocks jut out from the water. From this distance, it’s difficult to imagine how big they are, but they look enormous. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, otherworldly.  Read more

Freedom’s just another word...

Or is it? My dictionary defines freedom as “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” We are lucky, here in the “land of the free,” though far too often we take our rights and freedoms for granted. We have the right to freely vote to elect the candidates of our choice; we are free to take to the streets to demonstrate or protest what we do not like; we are free to bear arms (definitely a hotly debated topic of conversation throughout the Upper Delaware Valley these days).  Read more

Who’s hungry?

I recently enjoyed observing a 9-year-old girl wake to the pleasures of bird watching. Joei Marie is the recipient of an introductory birding kit I purchased from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Using the birding log and identification materials included in the kit, Joei began her “life list” by observing the birds that visited our feeders.  Read more

February 4, 2013

When I am out and about in the community so many people ask me, “how is your mother doing? I follow her in your column.” She is much better; thanks for the thoughts and prayers. I told you on January 14 she had a new great-granddaughter, Catherine Jane Marie, and on January 29 another great-granddaughter, Brianna Marie. Both are doing well and my mother is very happy. As for her health, she is amazing. I called her the other day and she told me she was going to Empire City with my godmother; I call them Dipsy and Doodle. She did fine and felt great.  Read more

Lost & Found

During a long life, one loses things. I was warned that in moving out of our long-time city residence things would be lost. I was prepared. But what about the things that are found? This, I was not prepared for.  Read more

Soul food

Living on a restricted diet is annoying. One would think that I’d be accustomed to it by now, since it’s been almost two decades of reading labels, asking the right questions and following rules, but still, I have my moments. Seeking a simpler, less stressful way of life, I moved to the Catskills. I’m unsure what effect I thought this change would have on my intestinal tract, but my gut instinct directed me toward the Upper Delaware Valley, and lo and behold, my health has improved.  Read more

Winter gardens

The month of January saw mostly cold temperatures through to the last few days of the month, when unseasonably mild weather arrived. During the cold weeks, snow covered the ground and it got cold enough to freeze over lakes and much of the Delaware River. Much time was spent checking out bobcat and coyote tracks in the snow, or observing frozen waterfalls and seeps from rock outcrops. Not much thought was given to plant life, but that changed during one hike when I visited a few of these places where water flows.  Read more

Valedictory

When I was asked to write this column in the summer of 2007, my first reaction was, “Why me?” I felt woefully unqualified. On the other hand, I saw writing as a way to do something, however modest, to influence change that might help preserve the natural world which was increasingly at risk.  Read more

February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day to all. As of the 12th of February, I have been with my husband for 31 years, only married 23 in September. Love to my husband, mother and all my family, friends and readers.

I write this column with a bad cold and a very congested head. We were lucky that we did not get that much snow with the Nor’easter. My cousin who lives in Port Jeff on Long Island got 32 inches, my sister in Queens got over a foot. My mother is doing great and says she is praying for all of you.  Read more

Come out, come out

After literally decades of struggle and suffering, folks in the LGBT (etc.) community can finally point to some strong, concrete gains in their quest for social recognition, acceptance and respect. The notion of marriage equality is gaining support across the nation, the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is now just a vague memory, and even the Boy Scouts of America have begun reconsidering their homophobic stance. More than at any time in recent history, they can feel the freedom to be exactly who they are, and no longer worry about concealing themselves behind an artificial facade.  Read more

Love is a four-letter word

Valentine’s Day is not for the faint of heart. For those of us bravely facing the world alone, the onslaught of romance, hearts and flowers can be a bit much at this time of year, and since my cup doesn’t exactly “runneth” over today, I’ve decided to accentuate the positive. Being single does have certain advantages. I don’t love washing the dishes, and with no one around, I can eat my dinner right out of the frying pan and drink my milk straight from the carton without the slightest twinge of remorse. Jealous?  Read more

Nemo

The Weather Channel dubbed it “Nemo” and said that New York City was expecting between three and 30 inches in the fast approaching snowstorm. Seems like a pretty wide swing, I thought, but what do I know about the weather?

I groaned at the “Finding Nemo” jokes that seemed to be made on repeat in the days leading up to the storm. “I found Nemo,” “I am not looking for Nemo,” and dozens of meme’s showing the Disney character barreling toward the coast.  Read more

Diving for dinner

The common merganser is a fairly large and attractive duck that is frequently encountered in the Upper Delaware region. Many will recognize the deep green head of the male and tufted cinnamon head of the female. Both sexes sport long narrow bills with serrated edges that aid these diving ducks when hunting the small fish, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans and other invertebrates they prefer.  Read more

What’s in a blizzard’s name?

We held our annual 4-H sledding party this month in the good fortune of the storm now known as Nemo.

For us, the snow was a stroke of luck, as we had scheduled the event well in advance of a forecast. Not so much for my mother-in-law, who had upwards of 27 inches in Massachusetts, or those shoveling the roofs in Milford, CT, which had a record 38 inches. Nemo will be remembered there—and not as an orange Disney fish.

The recent trend of naming winter snow storms may help make it easier to remember them in the future, but it is a trend that is not without dispute.  Read more

Now is the winter of my discontent

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.  Read more

Groundhog weather

If you believe in groundhog meteorology, then according to the prediction of “Punxsutawney Phil” that occurred not too far back, we should have an early spring on the way. Barely a week after Phil’s prediction, a winter storm sideswiped us and went on to dump more than three feet of snow over parts of New England. Groundhog Phil may have lost a few fans due to the storm named “Nemo.”  Read more

February 21, 2013

Valentine’s Day was celebrated on Saturday the 16th for us. Once again we went to the Carriage House to dance to Mickey Barnet. This year we went with another couple, Barbara and James. We really had a great time. James and Tommy sat and talked and Barbara and I were up dancing. As always, Dottie and Herman Esselman were there dancing like professionals. Herman and I danced to the song “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Herman can dance, but I can shake; together we made a good couple.  Read more

Seeds for thought

Our family settled on the old Smith farm, five miles outside of Narrowsburg, 13 years ago.  Read more

February 28, 2013

What a great weekend I had; I went down to Queens to a cousin’s party. There were over 45 of us, and there were a lot missing. This was my mother’s mother’s side of the family. My family tree could be a forest.

With my mother being so sick she wanted everyone together to have a party, so she and my two aunts were there. The three of them are the last of a generation; my sister and two cousins are the start of my generations; and there were three generations there after me. We are a very lucky family to have five generations. Being with family is always a fun time.  Read more

Women... can’t live without ‘em

Making up more than half of the population in the United States, women are now considered by many to be the driving force behind the nation. Outnumbering men by almost eight million, female influence on the American way of life is no longer in dispute, but the rest of the world still has some catching up to do.  Read more

Ads, hotels and old friends

Living out of a hotel room makes time stand still. After a week, the days really start to blend together. I establish a routine; my computer rests on the desk for emails; I sit on the couch to watch TV and Netflix. Over time a few random personal effects scatter throughout the room.

Upon entry, the room always looks the same, the bed magically remade as if a reset button has been pushed.  Read more

Two flies

Some fly fishers have come into possession of a particular fly pattern via an unexpected opportunity. They value that fly above all others. In fact, Barbara Ann has two such flies. However, her flies have never been tied onto a tippet, nor have they ever floated cockily on any currents tempting trout.  Read more

Nest watching time returns

With mating season underway for Pennsylvania’s peregrine falcon population, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched its popular annual webcast.

This year’s events will be captured by new high-definition cameras that will stream the footage live on the Internet. The new cameras are expected to create crisper, more detailed images than in the past.  Read more

Diary of a patient—Part one

I sleep well, generally. So when a pain in my gut woke me mid-REM on a recent Saturday, I knew something was wrong. “Where is the appendix?” was my first thought. But no, this pain—a burning acute bullseye of pain—was on the other side. When I touched the spot, it burned like the proverbial poker.  Read more

No strings attached

I would not describe myself as someone who’s afraid of commitment. In fact, there are times when I overextend and then find myself flailing about as I seek to honor the many promises I’ve made while my life unravels, creating loose ends that eventually need to be tied up, lest knots occur. Seeking to avoid such chaos in the weeks and months to come, there’s no time like the present to take stock as we prepare to change the clocks and spring forward into a season of warmer temps and the many events happening throughout the Upper Delaware Valley.  Read more

A trio of rehabbed raptors released

With spring around the corner, migrant birds of all types are preparing to make their move north. Eagles that are over-wintering in our area are returning to their Canadian breeding grounds, and the first returning turkey vultures should be arriving in our region right around the start of March. A few raptors suffered various mishaps during fall and winter, however, and they spent the winter healing up at the avian equivalent of a hospital.  Read more

March 6, 2013

You never know what life is going to throw at you. On Sunday, January 24 my mother was having the time of her life at a cousin’s party, dancing and singing Irish songs. On Sunday, March 3 she was in the hospital fighting for her life. She is as yellow as a banana, and has a blockade in her bile duck, congestive heart failure and a urinary tract infection along with a blood infection.  Read more

That’s entertainment!

Oh, my aching feet! If ever I wondered whether I had missed my calling to work in food service, the answer is now crystal clear. A few months ago, I accepted an invitation to represent The River Reporter and take part in the 5th annual Sullivan County Boys and Girls Club Celebrity Dinner (www.bgorange.org) held this past weekend in Callicoon, NY (www.villaroma.com).  Read more

Red for a reason

In my last column about webcams, readers were pointed to opportunities to intimately observe birds with the aid of modern technology. Those who prefer a more active role can consider participating in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch project, in which “citizen scientists” are helping to provide answers to questions about bird nesting behavior by monitoring nests and reporting their observations utilizing online data entry tools.  Read more

March 13, 2013

On Sunday March 10, 2013, God needed a special angel so He came and took my mother, my best friend.

My mom was the mother of five, grandmother of five, great-grandmother of seven and great-great-grandmother of one. She gave a new name to the “Fighting Irish.” At the age of 85 and with over nine hospitalizations in one year, she had enough. On February 4, she was taken to the hospital. When she came home on the 8th, we were sitting on her bed and she said to me “it’s not fair that when I die you are going to have a party after the funeral and I will not be there.”  Read more

The cost of freedom, now in easy monthly payments

(A scene from the near future...)

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this Mrs. Joanne Commoner?”

“Yes, this is Joanne.”

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Commoner, this is Staff Sgt. Mark Striker with the U.S. Army, 14th Fundraiser Battalion. How are you this afternoon?”

“Good afternoon, Sergeant! Thank you for your service!”

“At ease, Mrs. Commoner. You may be seated. And thank you for your kind words. By the way, Mrs. Commoner, I am required to inform you this conversation may be monitored or recorded for quality control purposes.”  Read more

Suspension of disbelief

The first time I saw a reenactment was a battle scene at Fort Delaware in Narrowsburg. I was five or six, and I remember it pretty fondly—the men in costumes charging up the hill toward the fort, smoke billowing out through the muzzles of old cannons and gradually a growing sea of bodies motionless on the ground.  Read more

Spring is here

I walked out to find the spring and found it in the radiant pussy willows growing at the road edges of our old farm, tangled in the hedgerow of last year’s multiflora roses and grape vine. Spring is in the snow drops budded at my front door and in the nervous sunlight. The seasons engage in a tussle of one-upmanship that brings new snow one day and thaw the next. And so, although we don’t see it in green yet, spring is here. Winter is left to lick its wounds in the exultant mud.  Read more

It isn’t easy being green

Actually, it wasn’t easy avoiding being green last week, so I gave in fairly quickly and got my Irish on, along with the rest of the Upper Delaware River Valley. On Friday, I decided to make my way to Hancock, NY and get a sneak peek at the new dance hall—My Shady Lady, which was hosting a private party.  Read more

Snow bugs

There are some insects that just don’t know when to quit, it seems. On a mild day in winter, you may spot small flying insects, spiders, or even the striking Mourning Cloak butterfly. These insects are protected by antifreeze-like substances in their bodies, and it doesn’t take too much mild weather to see them emerge for a temporary hiatus from their deep winter dormancy.  Read more

Building Talent Together

Our region is often noted as a beautiful place to experience the outdoors, a great area to sample local chefs’ creations at a quaint eatery, attend a country fair on a warm summer day, and even a superior place to raise a family. But some of our areas most valuable assets are often overlooked—and that is our workforce. Our workforce is hailed for its work ethic and dedication. Those two attributes alone though are not enough for us to jump the next hurdle and be prepared for future endeavors—whether that is in expanding our existing industry base or growing new industries in the region.  Read more

A little birdie told me

Finally, spring is in the air. Despite the somewhat frigid temps and occasional snow showers, the undeniable signs of seasonal change are everywhere. Although I’ve yet to have a sighting, friends and neighbors have been spotting robins throughout the Upper Delaware Valley and the icicles on my roof are slowly beating a retreat. Making a mental note to ignore the groundhog next year, I attempted to brush the wonder dog, whose fur coat was out of control, and threw my hands up, frustrated over the snarls and knots that had taken her hostage over the harsh winter months.  Read more

Back on my feet

It’s early when I leave the house. The air is crisp and the sun is shining brightly. I hit the platform right as the subway roars into the station and it feels like it’s going to be a really good day. I stop off at my favorite coffee cart, and as I wait for my order I am struck by the fact that we are coming to the end of jacket weather. Central Park in the distance promises jacket-less lunches on the grass in the near future.  Read more

Seeking Sustainability

It’s a wonderful privilege to be invited to take up the mantle of the inimitable Marcia Nehemiah and to write about sustainability for the readers of The River Reporter. I hope to bring you useful information and to inspire you with the positive, practical and visionary work being done in Sullivan County and around the world as we address the intertwined challenges of climate change, environmental responsibility and sustainable economic development.  Read more

‘I shot an arrow into the air….’

The unexpected results of writing this column continue to surprise me. People sometimes approach me at the Callicoon Farmers’ Market to praise or reproach me for words I have written. Sometimes the phone will suddenly ring. Once, it was a lady who said she had been a long time friend of John McDonald, the author of the book “Quill Gordon.” She wanted to thank me about something I had written regarding McDonald. I just never know what reaction a given column will produce.  Read more

Landscape legacy

Across America, growing numbers of people are becoming aware of the costs and impacts associated with meeting our country’s energy needs through continuing dependence on fossil fuels. In Pennsylvania, we need look no farther than the anthracite coal region of Northeast Pennsylvania to see evidence of the lasting legacy of coal extraction.  Read more

A new muse

Medical terminology is my new muse. It’s almost poetic. “Mass, mobile and firm” was the caption on one of the snapshots my doctor handed me of my recent endoscopy, while I was still woozy from the Propofol (reportedly Michael Jackson’s drug of choice).  Read more

You’ve come a long way, baby

Preconceived notions are a funny thing—rarely true and often misleading. So, I was not prepared for the reality of how beauty pageants have actually changed over the years. Since Easter and Passover were taking center stage, my schedule was not as full as usual, so I took advantage of the opportunity to immerse myself in the Sullivan County Pageant held in Callicoon, NY (www.villaroma.com) last weekend.  Read more

Dressed for the occasion

Spring is here, even if it seems late for a lot of people. Many animals are getting ready for the warm weather to come. Migration and breeding activities are at the top of the list for many birds, and newly born young of various mammal species will shortly make their appearance.  Read more

How does your garden grow?

Spring starts in early January at my house when my husband starts planning his Fedco seed order, reading aloud the enticing descriptions of leeks and lettuces from the catalog. By the time spring officially arrives, the seed trays on the back porch are full of tender shoots that will soon be transplanted to the 30-by-30-foot garden he has nurtured for the past 15 years.  Read more

Noblesse oblige?

It was just another sleepy spring day in sophomore English class, some 40 years ago, when I was tapped for the National Honor Society (NHS). I may still have the little pin in a box somewhere, along with a certificate bearing the NHS motto—two simple French words that at the time made no sense to me whatsoever: “Noblesse oblige.”  Read more

‘Simon Killer’

It’s been over a year since “Simon Killer” premiered last year at Sundance. And even longer since Antonio and I finished editing the film out of his small duplex apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Read more

Spring in the Catskills is off the hook!

Thank you, Mother Nature, for (finally) coming through. With April showers nowhere in sight, I’ve a spring in my step and have flung open the windows, hung laundry on the line and am preparing for the house cleaning that is always so good for the soul. The change of seasons awakens more than the birds, bees and darling buds of May, and this past week offered events that herald the celebration of life that we all cherish here in the Upper Delaware River Valley.  Read more

The quiz

What is that sound I hear? Can it be the “thuck” of a fastball hitting a catcher’s mitt? Is it the crack of a wooden bat hitting that round, white orb with the red stitching? Why indeed it is. A new baseball season is upon us. It is time for me to loosen up my old pitching arm. Hopefully, I will be able to send these woeful batters back to their team bench hitless, their bats silent.

So, play ball! Step up to the plate batter. Here comes my first pitch. This will be a 90-mile-an-hour fastball, just under your chin whiskers. It’s good to put a little fear into a batter’s mind.  Read more

Wood frog whereabouts

The first time I heard wood frogs “quacking” from a forested vernal pool, I thought I was hearing numerous ducklings. As I approached the tangled brush fringing the water, the sound mysteriously stopped. No matter where I looked, not a feather was to be seen. But here and there, the water rippled with the kerplunk of countless wood frogs diving into the shallow depths.  Read more

A memory of James

“Maybe a Root Cellar?” said the note tucked into a book—one in a pile destined to get the heave ho. My husband John had been sorting through his books during spring break, adding to the heap of the kids’ outgrown winter clothes (and a few sacrificial stuffed animals) headed for the Salvation Army.

Really? Was John’s suggestion that this would make a good “column topic” (something of which I am always in quest) for real? What could I write?  Read more

America’s got talent!

Okay, I admit it. I’m a reality show junkie. On the rare occasion that I find myself at home, rather than traversing the countryside in search of adventure, I can be found on the couch, remote in hand. Thanks to the Gypsy weddings, dance competitions and parades of bachelors seeking brides, I am never let down when seeking a guilty pleasure.  Read more

Nature springs forth

Officially, spring has been here for a few weeks, and the sun has been getting higher in the sky. The cold weather, however, has been showing resistance in leaving, as it usually does by this time. I have seen snow and ice on the ground in shaded areas in northern Delaware and Sullivan Counties as late as the 8th of April this year.  Read more

Sore throat; many events

How come when I was a kid and I got strep throat I could still go out and play? Now that I am in my 50s, it’s taking forever to go away—two weeks on antibiotics, plus the doctor wants me to go see an ear, nose and throat specialist on May 2. If my throat still hurts by then, I am going to be a bit cranky.  Read more

Once in a blue moon

Before you start sending letters, I am aware that this astronomical event has not happened in a while. In fact, a second full moon within a single calendar month is rare, which is how the colloquial use of the term came into being. A quick check online illuminated this concept while informing me that usage of the phrase is actually not at all unusual. Within minutes I discovered a brewery, a cafe, a boutique and a board game, all named Blue Moon. Songs have been written and poems have been penned, but the definition of a blue moon remains the same—infrequent, uncommon and odd.  Read more

Cell phone changes

My brand new iPhone 5 sparkles more beautifully in this moment than it ever will again. It has yet to be scratched, dropped, or cracked. Inevitably, it is all downhill from here.

Transferring information, contacts and apps from an old device to a new one was the easiest it’s ever been. Literally I just plugged the new iPhone in, and a few minutes later, it is exactly the same as the old iPhone. It feels like magic.  Read more

And now… the answers to Clem’s annual quiz

1. Bobby Thomson almost became the “goat” in the third 1951 playoff game because early in the game with Whitey Lockman on first, Thomson singled to left. He dashed past first without hesitating, only to find that the third base coach had held Lockman at second base. The giants found themselves with two men on second base, killing a giant rally. That was really dumb base running on Thomson’s part.

2. The three umpires pictured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, painted by Norman Rockwell, who were contemplating calling a rain delay, were Larry Goetz, Lou Jordan and Beans Reardon.  Read more

A stinky survivor

A sure sign of spring in the Upper Delaware region, particularly near waterways and boggy wetlands, is the green rising of skunk cabbage plants. So named for the repugnant odor of decaying flesh that the plant emits when bruised, this hardy perennial is also commonly referred to as polecat weed and hermit of the bog.  Read more

Ah, brief spring!

Maple catkins droop as tender Amelanchier blossoms herald the arrival of shad plowing upstream to deposit their lucre of roe in the riverbank. Everywhere forsythia and daffodils arch their slender necks in a riot of yellow, proclaiming the end of another gray winter. Redbuds will follow magnolias, then dogwood, each one taking its turn in the unfolding until all are green again, the architecture of branches obscured by leaves that sway and float in the breeze of spring, the warm breath of summer.  Read more

Lightning in a bottle

It’s almost impossible to think about Sullivan County (www.scva.net) without recalling a little music festival that put the town of Bethel on the map during a rain-soaked three days in 1969. Since then, music lovers have flocked to the region seeking to rekindle memories of that event, or create new ones in honor of it.  Read more

Wetland wildlife watching

If you have visited a lake, swamp or other wetland lately, you have probably heard the arrival of spring in the form of spring peepers, pickerel frogs, or maybe the honking of Canada geese. If you look closer, you might see some painted turtles basking on a log or some red-spotted newts swimming by the shore. Soon, other amphibians such as green frogs and American toads will add to the chorus of wetland habitats.  Read more

Vacation

I just spent the last week away at the Villa Roma. With everything that was going on with my mother, I totally forgot about my timeshare, so we had to use it or lose it. I stayed up till 2 a.m. reading and slept till 11 a.m. It was very relaxing.  Read more

Welcome aboard

“Go West, Young Man!” Well, that is exactly the advice this Brooklyn boy took 12 years ago when I moved west to Glen Spey in Sullivan County to make it my year-round home.

However, there’s another saying with a promise of its own—“There are great riches in the East!” and for the readers of this column, the East is New York City—the Big Apple. Five days a week I arise at the crack of dawn and head east, commuting to my desk in a midtown Manhattan office, across the street from New York’s Penn Station (aka NYPenn).

It’s a full life.  Read more

The Bill Principle

When we bought our house, “sustainability” wasn’t part of our everyday vocabulary. We did know that a 100-year-old house was likely to bankrupt us with heating bills unless we made serious changes. Other than new wiring, no major renovations had been undertaken since the 1960s, a plus since the scary vintage state of the house meant that we could afford to buy it. But we had a lot of work to do if we were going to be both snug and solvent.  Read more

Lake Huntington News May 9

The Pride of Cochecton awards brunch was very nice at the Villa Roma. I was sitting next to Judy Yavarkovsky and we were talking about how hard it is cleaning out our mothers’ houses.

I suggested that we have a penny social and call it in honor of our dead mothers, but Judy did not think we had time to get it together before Mother’s Day. You have to laugh; there is so much to do and so many memories. It will make you nuts if you do not laugh.  Read more

Take a walk on the wild side

Ramps. I’ve heard the word bandied about for years here in the country, but until now, was completely ignorant about them. With the onset of gorgeous weather and the shedding of the coats, I decided that rather than relying on armchair research, I’d head out for Ramps Fest in Callicoon, NY (www.visitcallicoon.com) to see what all the fuss is about.  Read more

My first pedicure

I hadn’t really thought about getting a pedicure ever before. Not because I’ve made an active choice not to get one, but it just hadn’t ever come up. The opportunity never presented itself. Well, not until last weekend.

I suppose that when you have a serious girlfriend these kinds of things seem much more doable.

Funny thing is, Emily didn’t even ask me to do it. She had said casually last Saturday, “I need to get a pedicure,” and went on to explain that now that it’s warmer she would want to be wearing open-toed shoes.  Read more

Wild or stocked?

On Saturday, April 27 the Upper Delaware chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) was shown a PowerPoint presentation put together by Ed and Judy van Put. This program gave a fisher all the information needed to ascertain whether a trout was a wild fish, or a stocked fish. Ed’s beautiful pictures were sharp and showed how to examine and determine the origin of a trout. Judy van Put’s narration of the program reinforced what was shown in Ed’s photos. The van Puts are ready to put this program on for other TU chapters or conservation organizations.  Read more

Upper Delaware BioBlitz

On June 29, the public is invited to experience the diversity of life on a property owned by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation in the Northeast corner of Wayne County, during the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz.

At a BioBlitz, biologists and volunteers gather to collect, identify and catalogue as many living things as possible on a demarcated property in a 24-hour period.  Read more

Feast of weeds

The asparagus is up. The stout, purple stalks put those pencil-thin, store-bought shoots to shame. We have been enjoying them along with the other early spring wild things—leeks and dandelions and toothwort.

I have been gathering wild leeks (ramps as they are called in finer restaurants) with friends in the woodlands near my home. And, it is just a step outside the back door for a feast of weeds from the lawn. Dandelion greens, wilted with a dressing of vinegar and bacon grease or olive oil, make a delicious salad as well as a nutritious, green smoothie.  Read more

Fascism 101

“You, you, fascist!”

There are very few words in our political vocabularies that are more emotionally loaded, while at the same time more saddled with multiple, not-quite-identical meanings. When a Google search on “Bush fascist” yields 5.2 million hits, and a search on “Obama fascist” yields 5.9 million, you have to wonder just what this word is supposed to mean, anyway.  Read more

Lake Huntington News may 16

What a great time I had this weekend. You know how it is when you just need to get away, and so I went camping with my husband, brother Teddy, his granddaughter Kayla and our friend Trevor at Jelly Stone National Park in Woodburne. They rent cabins there that are like little apartments. There’s nothing like watching a burning fire till the sun goes down, and when you go to sleep listening to the rain hitting a tin roof. On the way home, we stopped off at McDonald's; it was Mother’s day and I was in a blah mood. My mother was a big ice cream lover, so to honor her I got a strawberry sundae.  Read more

Fashionably late...

It happens to the best of us. My mother was a stickler regarding good manners and raised me with a keen awareness of the social graces, including her zero-tolerance policy for tardiness. This mindset has served me well over the years, but periodically, things happen that are simply beyond our control and the past week has illustrated the point nicely. The fact that Mother’s Day fell squarely in the middle of it all did not escape me, but I was forced to accept the irony and let the chips fall where they might.  Read more

Toad Tunes

It’s been a couple of weeks now that I have heard a lot of trilling from nearby lakes and wetlands. The first thought from someone not familiar with the local habitat may be that there is a swarm of crickets or other insects that frequent waterways during spring. This is not the case however; the trilling is the courtship call of the American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). This is a recent scientific name change as the old genus name was “Bufo”. Calling toads can be heard here: http://www.twcwc.com/toadsong.html.  Read more

Hey, that’s my seat!

We are all creatures of habit. My morning routine, in order to make the train at the crack of dawn, depends on a number of things happening. One, my clothing must be laid out the night before (if my tie is going to match); two, my lunch must be packed and in the fridge; and three, the pups have to come in after being let out for their morning romp. (Dexter and Toby, please don’t chase the deer today.). Finally, the car must be gassed up and ready to go, and I need to leave 10 minutes early in case there are any problems driving through Hawk’s Nest.  Read more

Lake Huntington New May 23

I was down in Queens last weekend and went out to Long Island to my mother’s grave. It used to be my father’s grave; I have to remember he is still in there. She is on the back of my father’s stone military style, and we had a saying put on her side of the stone—“Open doors, open arms and open heart.” That was how my parents lived their lives and raised us. I truly was blessed with great parents. I also visited Marie Smith, who is Jean Kerrigan’s sister. She says hello to all; she is doing well.  Read more

Planning ahead; Lazy, hazy and crazy!

Ahhh. The good old summertime is almost here and (IMHO) none too soon. Personally, I love all of the seasons we in the Upper Delaware Valley have to celebrate, and each has its own merits, but with Memorial Day upon us, all thoughts lead to summer.  Read more

The worst (best) column he (we) ever wrote

Zac: “This is perhaps the fastest column I have ever written. I am currently traveling over 80 mph down I-76 headed east.”

Rabi: “When you say you are the one writing this, isn’t that a little misleading?”

Zac: “Why?”

Rabi: “Because I’m the one actually writing it.”

Zac: “Well, I am dictating while driving. But whatever. Change it to we if you want to.”

Rabi: “I will.”  Read more

Remember

On May 10th, the students at the Jeffersonville Elementary School released the brown trout fingerlings that they had been raising from eggs all winter long into the East Branch of Callicoon Creek. It seemed as if this was the most exciting day in the lives of these boys and girls since Christmas. Child after child received one of the little fish in a plastic cup filled with water. They carefully carried the cup to the creek and then slipped the trout into the water.  Read more

Bog walk

For an otherworldly experience within a manageable drive of the Upper Delaware region, a visit to the Tannersville Cranberry Bog in Monroe County, PA is in order. Designated a National Natural Landmark because it is the southernmost low-altitude boreal bog on the eastern seaboard, this bog resembles those found at much higher elevations such as New York’s Adirondack Mountains.  Read more

Let freedom ring

National holidays are a mixed bag for me. On one hand, parties, barbeques and parades spring up and a festive air hangs over the Upper Delaware Valley as folks frolic, thrilled to have a three-day weekend. On the other, I invariably have to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and more often than not my job involves attending parties, barbeques and parades. Thankfully, it’s not exactly brain surgery, so I have a lot to be grateful for. Fortunately, I have a lot of freedom to express my humble opinion on a variety of subjects and thus far, I have not run out of things to say.  Read more

Two decades of breeding on the Upper Delaware

People who come to visit the Upper Delaware region frequently want to know where they can see eagles. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) can be found year round in the region, with winter being the better time due to the influx of migrant eagles from Canada. They can also be seen in the summer, but most of these are resident breeding eagles and their offspring, which fledge in early July.  Read more

Lake Huntington News May 30

What a weekend—freezing, windy and raining. Try having a yard sale for four days. We sold some of my mother’s stuff but not much. It is very sad and hard to clean out her house. Speaking of my mom’s house, it is a four-bedroom in the business district of Narrowsburg and it’s for sale. If you’re interested, email me.  Read more

The dreamer

When he was younger, my son would pepper me with questions about how to do things. “How can I make a one-man flying machine?” was one that piqued his interest early on—enough so that he bypassed Mom’s knowledge base and went straight to the President of the United States (then Bill Clinton). Bill wrote back, telling Conor that NASA was working hard on things like that and that Conor should study hard and stay in school. But Conor was a dreamer. He was a creative kid who could be kept happy and busy with a lump of Sculpey clay or a pencil and a pad of paper.  Read more

Lake Huntington News June 6

Are you ready? Cochecton’s fifth annual “Day on the Lake,” co-sponsored by Lake Huntington Fire Department, will be held on Saturday, July 13 this year, rain or shine. We need your support to create this great event with its many activities for the kids and the entire family. We’re asking for your help with donations of funds, products and/or gift certificates to make this event a great success. (Your donations are tax deductible. Make checks payable to Cochecton Day on the Lake Fund and mail to: Jeff Nober, 15 Olsen Rd., Lake Huntington, NY 12752.)  Read more

Fireflies in a jar

There are some things that, no matter how old I get, make me feel like a kid again. Regardless of how much I might have whined a few months ago, the first snowfall of the season still conjures up memories of racing outside to catch flakes on my tongue and mom stirring cocoa on the stove. Watching the darling buds of May emerge continues to mesmerize, as I attempt to catch their steady progression into full flower with my trusty camera at the ready.  Read more

Hecho en Clarks Summit

I’m shooting a new music video for the Scranton-based band “The Great Party” this coming weekend in Clarks Summit, PA. It’s going to be a Day-of-the-Dead themed, Mexican style fiesta, complete with face paint, graveyard digging and singing from inside of a coffin.  Read more

Painted turtles

It’s turtle time in the Upper Delaware River region—time to watch out for dark disc-like shapes along area roadways as turtles move about seeking areas of dirt and gravel in which to deposit their eggs.

This common and attractive turtle exhibits a combination of deep green, black, bright red and yellow coloring. It is often seen basking on logs and rocks in ponds, lakes and wetlands to regulate body temperature. Like snakes, turtles are “poikilothermic,” meaning that their body temperature is largely affected by the temperature of their surroundings.  Read more

Home truths

Last month, climate scientists announced that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) had surpassed 400 parts per million, an alarming milestone since CO2 is earth’s most abundant heat-trapping greenhouse gas (GHG). A few weeks earlier, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication reported on American attitudes on the issue. It turns out that only about eight percent of Americans are genuine climate change skeptics.  Read more

Tractors and trout; Who could ask for anything more?

It is my humble opinion that if Norman Rockwell were alive today, he’d be living in the Upper Delaware River Valley. Rockwell, who was a 20th century American painter and illustrator, enjoyed a broad popular appeal in the United States for his reflection of American culture, and is most famous for his cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for more than four decades.  Read more

‘Yippee i yo ti ay’

Here I am in Texas, in the month of June. At a time when Green Drakes and pale Evening Duns are hatching on the Catskill rivers, this is no time for a fly fisher to be in Texas. Then why am I here? First off, my oldest Texas grandson, Matthew Buchanan Brown, graduated from the Westlake Academy high school on June 1. Secondly, my best fishing partner, Barbara Ann, has been battling Chronic Myeloid Leukemia for the past five years and this has taken a sudden turn for the worst. Her oncologist wants her to be nearby until he can bring her leukemia back under control.  Read more

Young critters emerge

A year ago, I received a phone message from a homeowner in reference to an eagle that seemed to be stuck in a bush near his home. I called the homeowner back and, after a few minutes of conversation, it was determined that the eagle was in less peril than was first thought. It turned out to be a fledgling young eagle that just picked the wrong landing spot; it extricated itself to find a more suitable perch.  Read more

Haying season

I’ve always had tough feet. It is a distinction garnered from my childhood days of running barefoot around our farm—turning tour jetes through the hard stubble left after the grass had been cut and baled during haying season.

While I mainly wear shoes now, I still have those callouses. Partly from all those years of ballet lessons and feet-warping toe shoes, but also from the summers spent bunching and tossing and stacking hay bales with my family and neighbors.

That was back when all bales were square and tied with bailing twine and not the large, round bales mainly seen today.  Read more

Lake Huntington News June 20

Another great weekend up in the mountains; my sister and brother-in-law came up to help clean my mom’s house out. We went to dinner Saturday night at Tony’s on the Lake. What a great view, watching the waves in the lake, the sun setting, good food.  Read more

Fascism is like herpes

Last month, we started exploring the concept of “fascism;” in fact, we barely scratched the surface. It’s a fascinating topic that one could explore for years, but my interest in the topic is more practical and immediate. Does fascism, in all its brutal and vicious glory, stand any chance of taking hold now, here, in America, and if so, is there anything we can do to prevent it?

To address such questions, I think I have found a useful metaphor.  Read more

Curtain calls, concerts and cowgirls

Although summer officially begins this week, June has been bustin’ out all over the Upper Delaware Valley, and I have hit the ground running, with the wonder dog in tow. For me, summertime means many things—among them is the curtain going up at the Forestburgh Playhouse (FBP), which happened last Tuesday with the debut of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.” It’s difficult to not conjure up images of the classic 1968 film, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, or the equally memorable television show with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in the starring roles, and the stage play is still funny.  Read more

Snapping turtles

As their name indicates, snapping turtles can inflict a powerful bite if threatened. But that’s no reason to fear or harm these impressive reptiles. Enjoy them at a safe distance and thrill to their fascinating physique.

As the largest turtle species in the Upper Delaware River region, “snappers” are can reach a shell length of 12 inches and typically range between 15 to 45 pounds. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, an exceptional snapper found in Wayne County, PA in 2006 weighed in at over 60 pounds.  Read more

They’re baaaaaaack

School’s out for the summer, and it starts to show on the Port Jervis train around early June, when the college kids return. Early July, the trains are carrying families up for a summer visit with Grandma and Grandpa, some for weekend stays, others for longer “parent mental health” days.  Read more

Out, loud and proud

Forty-four years ago this week, I woke up, went downstairs and overheard my parents discussing the news. My folks subscribed to two papers, The Sun Bulletin and The Evening Press, both published in my home town of Binghamton, NY. Keeping abreast of local and national news was important in our household. My sister and I were well read, and education was considered not only important, but also mandatory.  Read more

The shoot

I’m in the middle of a field surrounded by a dozen or so drunk extras in Day of the Dead face paint. The sun is setting fast. I’ve stood by my choice to have a dolly shot to open the party scene of the music video I’m directing, and we are taking the time to get it. But it means we will get far fewer other shots. Now I’m second guessing myself.

The set is beautiful with a makeshift altar stretching 20 feet up in the air. The band will place a coffin at the foot of it and the lead singer will emerge at a strange party and perform the end of the song.  Read more

Our ‘Frenchman’s Pond’

Have you read any of the books written by John Voelker? This gentleman was once a Supreme Court Justice of the State of Michigan. If not his book, perhaps you are familiar with his short essay, “Testament of Fisherman.” In all of his writings, he used the pen name Robert Traver. He burst onto the national scene when in 1958 he wrote the novel “Anatomy of a Murder.” The book attracted the attention of Hollywood. It was made into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick. The financial success of the book allowed Judge Voelker, late in life, to devote himself to writing and fly fishing.  Read more

Lunch at the lake

It was an early June day, one of those perfect sunny days with temperatures in the high 70s; I decided I could no longer sit at the computer and work on whatever report I happened to be working on, so I took a break in the form of a late morning walk. I walked to a nearby lakeshore and thought in hindsight that I should have packed a lunch. When I arrived at the lake, I observed that I wasn’t the only hungry one there.  Read more

Why do I do it?

Why do I do it? I asked myself this question many times during the last few months while rehearsing a new play for a decidedly short run in Milford, PA. The play, “Four Score and Seven,” was written by a theatre buddy of mine, John Klemeyer. We once played opposite each other as the murderous brother/sister, husband/wife team in Ira Levin’s thriller “Veronica’s Room” on another way-off-Broadway stage in the Catskills. So that was one reason in favor of the dozens of car trips between Narrowsburg, NY and Milford and New York City to rehearsals and finally, performances.  Read more

Lake Huntington News July 3

On Sunday, the Cochecton Youth Group had its car wash and bake sale. The kids worked very hard washing cars and selling baked goods. It was a very profitable day, and we have to thank Gasko and Meyers for letting us use their driveway and water. We would not have been able to pull it off without the bakers who donated the yummy baked goods, and Ed Grund, who is the liaison to the youth group from the town board. He did all the schlepping and setting up for us and also made the big chunks of ice, so we had ice-cold water to drink.  Read more

Everything old is new again

I’m no hoarder, but I’m not keen on throwing things away either. As a result, I am completely on board with recycling, reusing and (my new personal favorite) repurposing. Wiktionary.org defines repurpose as “to reuse for a different purpose on a long-term basis,” which includes altering the original, e.g. “the church was repurposed as a nightclub by removing the pews.” Repurposing is big here in the Upper Delaware River Valley and I often stop to admire the clever projects that my friends and neighbors have produced.  Read more

Surveying PA’s amphibians and reptiles

All of the reptiles and amphibians identified last weekend during the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz (www.UpperDelawareBioBlitz.com) will have the double honor of being counted twice, first as residents of the Norcross Wildlife Foundation’s property in Starlight, PA, and also in the recently launched Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey (PARS).  Read more

Creating Community

Two new local projects illustrate the extraordinary dedication and creativity of my fellow citizens.  Read more

Fireworks, festivals and all that jazz

Even now, with the past week behind me, I get a little dizzy (hold the comments, please) just glancing at my schedule. With summer in full swing, my dance card is full and I’m running as fast as I can. For those of you holding events that I didn’t have the opportunity to attend, my apologies. In the past seven days, I managed to get out to nine different locations, which ran the gamut from concerts to galleries to the theatre (oy, I’m out of breath), with a visit to the vet (wasp sting, don’t ask) thrown in for good measure.  Read more

Dodger

The first time I said goodbye I felt like Dodger knew what was going on. My mom told me on the phone that he might die soon. I expected the news eventually, but the words caught me off guard. It’s sad to think about losing anything, but a childhood dog packs a special emotional wallop.

A week or so later I came home and spent some time with him. He was still himself, but he was hobbling more, seeing and hearing less. He barked outside at something no one else noticed. Late one night I sat with him while he slept and reminisced about old times. He listened. He was always good at that.  Read more

A new toy and flow frustrations

You might recall how I mentioned in my column of May 10 that while fishing in Lordville, NY on the West Branch of the Delaware River, I had taken an involuntary swim. I had not been wading for 10 minutes when my hips and legs went numb and down I went. This caused me to write that I needed to figure out a way to avoid this sort of problem in the future. Sooner or later, one of these frequent spills (12 in the last three years) would result in injuring myself, or my bamboo fly rod. I spent time looking through fishing catalogs for an answer to my problem.  Read more

First solo flight

Anyone who learned how to fly remembers their first solo flight. In a light, primary training aircraft without 170 pounds of instructor (“official” weight, mileage may vary), the aircraft seemingly leaped into the air. For most people, it was an exhilarating experience, and maybe you left the traditional shirt tail with your name and solo date on the flight school office wall.

For young bald eagles that are now as large as an adult, their first solo is imminent, and with a bit more risk factor than a first-time pilot who follows a simple square traffic pattern around the runway.  Read more

Lake Huntington News July 11

We were blessed with great weather for the 4th of July and the weekend to follow. I had a fun time riding my husband’s scooter in the Narrowsburg parade. My mother lived on the parade route and she always made us get chairs out on the road early to save the spaces so you could watch the parade. This year a lady came over and asked if she could sit with us. When she was sitting there, she told me she reads my column and knew that that was my mother’s house and just wanted to say she was sorry that my mom passed away. I have amazing people reading my column.  Read more

Lucy Ann

Lucy Ann Lobdell is among us again.

This woman, known as “The Hunter” to my family and old time neighbors, is the subject of a new historical novel, “The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell,” by Fremont Center, NY resident William Klaber (Greenleaf Book Group Press, June 18, 2013).

A fictionalized memoir, the book traces Lucy’s life as she made her way in the world after she changed into her brother John’s clothes, bound her chest, and left home to live her life as a man named Joseph.  Read more

Lake Huntington News July 18

My husband Tommy had a big birthday coming and I did not know what to get the man who has everything (including the best wife ever). When Tommy was 20 and in Vietnam, he said he should have zigged when he zagged, and he stepped on a land mine. He was awarded a Purple Heart. With the 4th of July just passing, it got me to thinking about war and all who fought to keep us free. Tommy was the first person I thought of, and that is when it came to me—you have to get Tommy registered in the Purple Heart Hall of Honor. So we took a little mini vacation, and down to New Windsor, NY we went.  Read more

Your counter-fascism toolkit

According to numerous public health studies, just washing your hands on a regular basis—a simple, mundane activity if ever there was one—actually provides one of the most effective measures for preventing the spread of many diseases. Preventing the spread of the “social disease” called fascism is a bit more complex, but many of the preventive measures that are available to each and every one of us are similarly simple and mundane.  Read more

Word of the day: ephemeral

Words. Can’t get enough of them. My ongoing love affair with language continues to flourish as I constantly strive to find new ways with which to describe my adventures here in the Upper Delaware Valley. Although today’s word is no stranger to me, it cropped up repeatedly over the last week, and so I decided to flip through the dictionary, lest I be using it improperly.

Ephemeral—(adjective): Lasting for a very short time. Fashions are ephemeral… Having a very short life cycle (chiefly of plants).  Read more

Tackling illegal dumping in PA

An Illegal Dumpsite Survey (IDS) of Pennsylvania has been completed, and the results aren’t pretty. From 2005 to 2013, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB) performed the county-based survey of the Commonwealth, identifying 6,487 illegal dumpsites containing an estimated 18,516.83 tons of trash.

The results only capture sites that are visible from the public right-of-way and do not include farm dumps or dumps on private lands. For this reason, KPB notes, “It can be presumed that there are significant numbers of illegal dumpsites out of sight on private property.”  Read more

Good-bye and thank you to a commuter’s friend

It is said, “A good man is hard to find”—especially if he is a car mechanic. It is with a heavy heart I viewed the sign at Wayne’s Midas in Port Jervis, NY that said they were closing because they lost their lease. Wayne is not only a good mechanic but a good man as well.

Located a short walk from the train station in Port Jervis, it was always a great convenience for this commuter to be able to drop off my truck in the morning and still make the 5:05 a.m. train. I would faithfully get a call around 2:30 p.m. that my truck was ready and the key was locked inside.  Read more

Along came a spider

I’m one of those guys who makes lists. Even with a calendar on my computer, a day runner, and a “Carnet De Journaliste” (reporter’s notebook—no clue why it’s in French on the cover), my house is littered with scraps of paper. Being an arachnophobe (fear of spiders), I try to keep the paper down to a minimum (where the creepy-crawlies tend to lurk), instead using Post-its® stuck to the mirror (one place I am guaranteed to look). With all that, one would think I’d know where I’m going, but there are always twists, turns and unexpected road blocks along the way.  Read more

Summer apologies (rants)

I’m sorry, Jane, but my column is late again. Of course you already know that because, well, you don’t have it yet. You’ve heard the excuses, and it’s the same old thing. My procrastination is not helped by the fact that I’m constantly so busy. I really am trying, though I also understand that it probably doesn’t look like that.  Read more

My wading raft

In my last column I had written that I was expecting a “new toy.” This was an inflatable raft that I hoped to use while wading in a stream having a depth of two or three feet. Once the raft arrived, I eagerly opened the carton and spread the raft on the floor. It weighs 19 pounds, about eight or 10 pounds more than a float tube. The material is not flimsy vinyl. This raft is made to withstand both abrasion and bumping into river boulders. For 15 years, I have owned the full-sized raft that this company produces, and it is as good as new.  Read more

Gypsy Moths return in numbers

People in certain parts of the region may have noticed a familiar looking caterpillar early this summer. It seems that the gypsy moth is back. An egg mass survey done last February in Pennsylvania by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) indicated that egg mass density was light (40 to 200 egg masses/acre) at most sampling points in Pike County and isolated sampling points in Wayne County (see map at centrecountypa.gov/index.aspx?NID=217).  Read more

Change

I remember a time when death was an anomaly in my life. A grandparent’s passing celebrated with an Irish wake and a funeral mass. Now it seems to haunt the everyday, wagging its finger like a told-you-so teacher.  Read more

Lake Huntington News August 1

Summertime is so busy; this weekend was the Callicoon Street Fair in Callicoon and RiverFest in Narrowsburg.

I worked the St. Francis Xavier Church chicken barbeque selling 50/50 tickets, and then I went to work at RiverFest. Fr. Bill would like to thank everyone who worked to make the barbeque a success. Sunday when I was in church and the rain was coming down, I had a heart-to-heart talk with God. “Please God, stop the rain so RiverFest can go on and have a good turnout.” He does listen; the streets were packed and the food was flowing.  Read more

Who am I anyway?

Even as a child it was evident that I was never going to look like Prince Charming. “Can’t skate by on your looks,” my mother would advise and, “stop making faces, or it’s going to freeze that way, and you have enough problems.” (Thanks, Mom.) Despite admonishments like this and my father’s discouraging my “artistic temperament,” I’ve always had a fairly strong sense of self.  Read more

Contests for fans of state lands

Experiencing the natural world through the eye of a camera lens is a satisfying activity that comes with plentiful rewards. For shutterbugs who enjoy spending time photographing on Pennsylvania public lands, two upcoming photo contests might be of interest.  Read more

Late bloomers and early adaptors

Years ago I came across some provocative comments by Kirk Vardenoe, the noted American art historian. I was struck by his observation that throughout the 19th century, Denmark and Sweden were considerably behind the curve in industrial development. Vardenoe’s insight was that this was actually an advantage, because the delay gave them time to observe, prepare and avoid some of the worst negative effects of industrialization.  Read more

Everything happens for a reason?

That’s what they say, whoever “they” are. Depending on my mood, there are times when even I think it’s true. The past week has been rife with coincidence and synchronicity, yet I can’t for the life of me figure out what it all means. I’d be forcing the issue to call seeing “Grease,” now playing in Forestburgh (www.FBplayhouse.org), a coincidence per se (I was in the national tour a hundred years ago), but seeing it at the playhouse brought back a flood of memories.  Read more

Offline

The plan was to leave Friday night to meet my mom up at Granddad Stuart and Elaine’s house in Vermont to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

I love traveling by train, and the thought of hurtling smoothly through the Vermont countryside seemed like a good one. I’d take a nice long train ride up from New York City and get some work done along the way. As it sometimes does, however, real life intervened, and it didn’t really make sense—only one train, leaves too early, arrives too late. I would have to rent a car.

“A walk-in?” The Hertz-Rent-A-Car clerk said with an eyebrow raised.  Read more

Double trouble

There I was, sitting in my wading raft a bit below the bridge at Hale Eddy on the West Branch of the Delaware River. There were several trout rising sporadically within 30 feet of my raft. At this point they had disdained the fly that I had been showing them. I had been about to make another cast when I found myself sliding off the raft seat into the river. I went into the water as smoothly as an otter, causing nary a ripple. To my dismay, I found myself sitting on the bottom of the stream in water up to my waist.  Read more

Survival adaptations in nature

August is upon us, and nature’s clock is letting us know in the form of nightly katydid serenades and blooming cardinal flowers along streams and wetlands. If you have seen cardinal flowers in the wild, you may also have seen many hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies near the brilliant red blooms of the cardinal flower. This striking trait of the cardinal flower is an adaptation of the plant to help attract pollinating fauna; the birds and insects, in turn, exhibit behavioral adaptation when they are attracted by brightly colored plant inflorescence when gathering nectar or pollen.  Read more

The new town square

Anyone driving through the village of Hancock, NY (my home town), has undoubtedly noticed the fresh, green grass of the new town square. You’ll see the new bandstand and a new pavilion, too, and as of last week, the newly planted trees and a wrought iron archway, which proclaims “Town Square Hancock New York, Gateway to the Upper Delaware.”  Read more

Weigh in on PA Water

The Upper Delaware Region is currently blessed with abundant high quality water resources. Protecting them is critical to future life forms, both human and non-human.  Read more

Stop. Look. Listen.

As the summer wanes and kids begin to tremble at the thought of back to school, the Upper Delaware Valley thrums with activity in an attempt to squeeze every last drop of entertainment, amusement and culture out of August. Traversing the countryside with the wonder dog in tow, we often hear the comment, “Why does everything seem to happen all in one weekend?” That, of course, isn’t the case, yet we still are forced to make choices as to where and when our leisure time is best spent.  Read more