With winter breathing down our necks, Mother Nature (in her infinite wisdom) has decided to get a jump on things. Clearly, she and Jack Frost are in cahoots, since the iceman has been busy creating magical designs on windows across the Upper Delaware Valley. I suppose those with triple-insulated thermal panes have been spared, but my place (and I suspect many of yours’) could use a little extra insulation, so when the temperature dips, oh-so-pretty designs appear on my glass, courtesy of the imp with the icy paintbrush. To be sure, the images are pretty and conjure up wintry memories from my wonder years. In those days, it was not I who worried about storm windows and heating bills, but the harsh realities of adulthood currently abound. As a result, I snap photos of the patterns, while cursing the leaky sills, in an attempt to make (frozen) lemonade from the lemons I’ve been handed. I’m not complaining (per se) but I do feel a bit for the dog. Little fazes her and she loves romping in the snow but the ice? Well, that presents challenges, even for a wonder dog. At under 12 pounds, and with a few inches of solid ice/snow beneath her, Dharma spent a good portion of the morning slip-sliding away, perplexed about her inability to navigate the terra that was (just days ago) firma under her frosty paws.
Undaunted, we’ve spent the past few days window shopping. With so many opportunities to buy and shop local, it doesn’t even occur to me to step outside the boundaries of the region and truth be told, the desire to spend time in a mall never strikes. With less than no desire to be featured on television’s “Hoarders: Buried Alive,” I’m still in divesting mode and want for very little, so looking (rather than spending), works quite well for me. At this stage in life, I’d rather make a few contributions where I can, and if I want to be surprised on Christmas Day, I’ll just open a box of assorted stuff I’ve been avoiding in the closet for the last few years. Not “needing” anything does not preclude the desire to see what’s out there, however, so I bundled up the pooch and headed out to the annual Holiday Market in Bethel (www.bethelwoods.org ) over the weekend, which was bustling with activity. A roaring fire in the market shed provided ambiance galore and the scores of vendors were busy, which is always gratifying to see. Local delicacies were offered, along with fanciful, practical and downright decorative gifts as far as the eye could see. The frigid air was momentarily forgotten as I strolled the aisles admiring the talents of so many artists, jewelers and designers, so I was satiated without depleting my bank account.
Before heading home, I stopped to chat with entrepreneur/designer Daryl Kroken, whose re*Bear (www.RiverHouseStyle.com ) collection caught my eye. “The bears are made from 100% recycled wool, cashmere and alpaca sweaters,” Kroken told me, as I cuddled one from the shelf. He went on to explain that “all bears are constructed from at least four different sweaters” and that each is “handmade and unique.” Sighing, I put the little guy back on the shelf, but not before ascertaining that Daryl can make a custom bear with my own sweater collection, which reminded me that I had a few cast-offs that were not wearable, but difficult to part with for sentimental reasons. The notion that my own bear could be made with one of Mom’s sweaters, or my favorite cashmere that had succumbed to moths captured my imagination, and although I left empty-handed, the idea lingers. “Dharma would love this,” I reason, while checking my pockets for surplus funds. Uh oh.
No holiday season is complete without a visit to “Trains on Main” in Livingston Manor, NY (www.catskillartsociety.org ), which debuted over the weekend, and is on display through the New Year. Conductor Charlie Irace has once again created a masterpiece in the gallery with his miniature recreation of the town, replete with local shops and architecture. A new collection of O&W lanterns is also showcased and an impressive collection of structures, boxcars and train memorabilia adds to the annual installation that resides at Catskill Art Society during the next few weeks. Irace works tirelessly to present “Trains on Main” every year and his efforts should (IMHO) be applauded. Observing the faces pressed against the frosty window brought a smile to my face, before Santa showed up to check his list, as members of The Mountain Tones Community Band entertained. Shop local, spend local, play local. Who needs a mall?