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.
Mixing business with pleasure always appeals, and I did just that while attending the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) (www.artsalliancesite.org ) “Marketing through the Arts” mixer at the Catskill Distilling Company (www.catskilldistillingcompany.com ) in Bethel last Thursday. Although the invite was made out to me, Dharma (for something completely different) was the “belle of the ball,” as she sashayed around the distillery, stopping for photo-ops in between speakers. DVAA Executive Director Elaine Giguerre gave her a pat before addressing the packed room along with Board of Directors President Jeffrey Allison and (lo and behold!) I learned a few things.
I’ve always been keenly aware of the importance of the tourism industry here in the Upper Delaware Valley, but the fact sheet given out at the event was illuminating. In part, I discovered that “Tourism in the Catskills is a billion-dollar business and provides nearly 17,000 jobs in the region.” In addition, “traveler spending in the area grew 3.3% in 2011 and 8.7% in 2010 over the previous year.” Good news to be sure, but as the speakers pointed out there is “always more work to be done” and the DVAA mission—“to advance arts in the region through innovative programming and building artistic and business alliances”—is an ongoing process.
To that end, (and gift list in hand) I left the pooch at home (suffice it to say that she needed a bath) and made my way to Duke Pottery (www.dukepottery.com ) in Roscoe, NY to check out Carolyn Duke’s annual “Handmade for the Holidays” explosion of artistic expression. Featuring more than 20 artists, Duke’s salute to “gifts, food and merriment” was (IMHO) just that, and as I admired the assortment of pottery, jewelry, paintings, handbags and vintage clothing, I tasted some of the pastries (www.flourpowerbakery.net ) and schmoozed with neighbors doing the same. “This holiday marketplace was created to be a destination for those who wish to ‘shop local-buy local’ and support the partnership between Sullivan County artists working together for a common cause,” Duke said. “During these two weekends, we donate a portion of the proceeds to ‘Farmhearts’ (www.farmhearts.org  ) whose mission is to ‘lend a hand to the hands that feed.’”
Supporting our farming community is so important and I’m constantly waxing rhapsodic (to anyone who will listen) about how wonderful this life is. Putting my money where my (loud) mouth is, I stop by local farms on a weekly basis to procure my eggs, bacon and fresh-from-the-cow milk. In addition, I take advantage of the many opportunities to (grocery) shop local, (www.sullivancountyfarmersmarkets.org ) which also serves as a chance to catch up with my friends doing the same.
Taking a moment to catch my (visible) breath and bathe the dog, (as Aunt Ethel would say—“don’t ask!”) I selected a winter coat to donate to the Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless (SCFH) (“like” them on Facebook) and ran back to Bethel (www.bethelwoods.org ) to participate in the “Toys for Tots” drive, meet Santa and assist Dharma in greeting the kids, while passing out pawtographs. Observing the children delight in the holiday market and all that it has to offer was magical, and another reminder of how wonderful this life in the country truly is. This year The River Reporter is one of many drop-off stations for the toy drive, and there is plenty of time to donate a new, unwrapped toy at our office in Narrowsburg (93 Erie Ave.) to help make a child’s dream come true.
Checking my email, I am reminded that those toys “don’t wrap themselves!” and that SCFH will be hosting wrapping parties in Monticello and Kauneonga Lake on the 19th and 20th of December. To join in, email firstname.lastname@example.org . I’ve been advised to bring scissors, tape and a roll of holiday wrap (along with you-know-who) to the party. As I prepare to light the Hanukkah menorah here at Green Acres, I can’t help but rejoice in the wonders of the season, help out where I can and affirm that I am fortunate to be warm and dry. Is it a “wonderful life?” You bet!