April 2, 2014 —
Yes, I’m referring to the elusive springtime that teases and retreats, leaving me dumbfounded. One minute I’m singing a happy tune and the next? Well, the weeping willow springs to mind. According to my therapist, I have “control issues,” but even I can see the folly in thinking that I can force the seasons to change. Instead, I’ve chosen to force a few bulbs to bloom on my desk and pretend that spring has sprung. It is, after all, in the air. One of the signs of renewal popped up over the last week in Livingston Manor, NY, as an amazing aroma wafted down Main Street. Following my nose, I discovered a line of people clamoring for baked goods as the Brandenburg Bakery officially opened in its new location in the Manor. Proprietors Sarah and Errol Flynn (his parents thought it was a good idea) were busily serving up their (IMHO) incredible array of handmade pastries, breads, cookies and cakes to the well-mannered mob, and Dharma and I wandered in, as I recalled that a ribbon-cutting ceremony was slated for that day. Honestly, the place (www.Facebook.com/BrandenburgPastry ) was jammed with well-wishers, emptying the cases faster than the Flynns could refill, so I grabbed my bag and (control issues firmly in place) demanded that they stop for a moment, unfurl an actual ribbon and smile for the camera. “If you insist,” Errol grinned, simultaneously pulling breads out of the oven and pointing out that his folks were in the house. Grabbing some goodies, I headed out whistling, confident again that it might as well be spring.
Reminded that local radio station WJFF was holding its “Spring Gathering” pledge drive, I steered toward Jeffersonville, NY to check out the talent and get a peek at the dam, which provides Radio Catskill’s famous hydropower. Duly impressed, I grabbed the pooch (www.Facebook.com/DharmaTheWonderDog ) and entered, discovering the place thrumming with activity. Board of Trustees member Barbara Demarest gave me a quick tour of the facility, as I noticed many familiar faces busily working the phones, the sound boards and the mics, as the donations that keep public radio afloat poured in. Impressed by what I observed, Demarest concurred. “It just shows what this little radio station by a dam can do. Our supporters are amazing.” Nodding in agreement, I tiptoed in to Studio B, where an authors’ roundtable was taking place.
Waving to writers Mary Greene, Eileen Israel, Marcia Nehemiah, Dawn McIntyre, Seiso Paul Cooper, Patricia Eakins and Midge Maroni, I snapped a pic and spied Sabrina Artel (www.trailertalk.net ) chatting with station founder Kevin Gref, so naturally, I pushed myself on them, claiming that my long-overdue visit was “better late than never.” Artel, whose show broadcasts on WJFF, is one of my favorite people in Sullivan County, so she pretended to be happy to see me and share her thoughts on the two-day-long event. “It’s incredible to have the door open at WJFF and celebrate the diversity of local talent that calls Radio Catskill home,” she gushed. “These people are amazing. To be able to segue from gospel to blues, to poetry and jazz, all in a 48-hour period of programming? It’s great!” Scribbling madly, I popped by station manager Adam Weinreich’s desk to grab a quick quote. “Wow,” he whispered, “what a great turnout. Even though the pledge drive is winding down, it’s never too late to make a donation; check out our website (www.wjffradio.org ) or Facebook page for more info, or give us a ring at 845/482-4141. Thanks for swinging by!” Properly dismissed, I slinked downstairs, bumping into NACL founder Tannis Kowalchuk and pals as they readied themselves to go on-air and entertain. The theatre company (www.nacl.org ) has so many exciting projects lined up that I know I’ll be visiting as the season unfolds.
On the way home, I noticed plumes of steam rising into the air above Callicoon. “That can only mean one thing,” I squealed to the dog. “It’s maple syrup time.” Pulling in to the Diehl Family Farm (www.facebook.com/diehlssyrup ) I knocked on the door of the sugar shack and Adam Diehl ushered me in. “Better late than never,” he intoned. “We made more than 700 gallons last year, so we’ve got some catching up to do.” Acknowledging that the weather could have been more cooperative, the entire Diehl clan was pitching in, stoking the fires and steadily creating what I refer to as “heaven in a bucket.” Oh, I tried doing it myself once and quickly learned that the task is best left to professionals who actually know what they’re doing. It ain’t easy, but this family has the process down-pat, and I eagerly await the delicious fruits of their labors. “Maybe it is spring after all,” I wheezed to the pup, “because now, we smell like maple syrup. Let’s make pancakes!”