In my humble opinion

Welcome to the neighborhood: Part three

Posted 10/20/21

That’s right, it’s fall, ya’ll! And for some of you new to the mountains, it’s your first here in the Upper Delaware River region. Now that you’re no longer city …

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In my humble opinion

Welcome to the neighborhood: Part three


That’s right, it’s fall, ya’ll! And for some of you new to the mountains, it’s your first here in the Upper Delaware River region. Now that you’re no longer city slickers, I suppose you’re drinking it all in, what with the leaves changing color (well, sorta) and the bucolic hayrides and pumpkin patches popping up ‘round every bend. The farmers’ markets in your hometown are bursting with autumnal flair but before you know it, there will be cocoa on the wood stove, snowflakes to catch on your tongue, and warm fires crackling, as you prepare to cozy up with a good book for the winter and hibernate, as many of us do.

I’m pleased to announce that “Welcome to the Neighborhood” parts one and two were well met, and even elicited some responses from both newcomers and old-school residents alike, with nary a complaint (well there was that one lady who called me “snarky”) so I’m moving on to the fall edition, which hopefully will answer some of your burning questions about country livin’. For those who (wisely) doubt the veracity of my savvy expertise, just know that I grew up not too far from here on the banks of the Susquehanna River, and consider myself the Jewish Tom Sawyer, so I feel quite confident sharing my homespun tips, hints and pointers to help you navigate autumn in the Catskills, before Jack Frost comes a callin’.

I’ve also run across many of your queries on social media, and plan to respond to some of them here, but I’m changing the names (most of ‘em anyhow) to protect the innocent—I mean avoid a hefty lawsuit—so let’s get to it!  

Speaking of hibernating, there was a lot of chatter all through spring and summer regarding the bears in your neighborhood. I’m assuming that with your personal experience, and my gentle guidance, (mind your garbage, folks!) you’ve mastered living in harmony with the plethora of wildlife lurking outside your charming hand-hewn log homes, but just know that the bears aren’t done with us quite yet.

Conventional wisdom (I mean the Google) informs us that black bears usually go into hibernation around January 1 and that females give birth during that month. Be aware that they will “sometimes leave the den while they are in labor” and that “most black bears in the Catskill Mountains will use natural stone caves to hibernate, but they will dig dens if said caves are not available.” Or set up shop in the abandoned concrete foundation of a house that burned to the ground many years ago, conveniently located right next door to me and Dharma the Wonder Dog.

Now that it’s cooling down a bit, you might find that many woodland creatures would like to move in, so be on the lookout. I spotted this note on “Living in Barryville,” one of many community info pages on Facebook. “Anyone have experience with bats?” was the question put forth, followed by, “I think one got in through the siding and set up residence. Any advice would be greatly appreciated,” and signed, “worried in Glen Spey, NY.”

Got bats in your belfry? As kids, my sister used a butterfly net to catch ours. What? It’s something to consider!

“I have one of those big brown spiders on my enclosed porch,” a Smallwood resident recently shared on social media. “She has 100 babies in a web now but any day…” the concerned homeowner wrote. “Is there a nice way to get them off my porch?”

My first question involves how Ms. Smallwood counted the number of babies, but I replied with a simple “Burn the house down or move,” which undoubtedly soothed her frazzled nerves about arachnids and their right to live on her porch. Perhaps one of you has a better solution.

A question on Facebook’s “Living in Callicoon, NY” page addressed those that slither. “Does anyone know of a local service that can remove or repel snakes outside my home?” The unnamed gentleman went on to say that “I’m on the river, and realize there are snakes, but…” Hint: Keep a copy of the River Reporter handy—we have an entire page devoted to local services.

As for snakes? Again, my sister springs to mind because she will tell you (can you say Tom Sawyer?) that I like ‘em. Not in the house, mind you, but I’m not looking to get rid of them anytime soon, because snakes like mice, and who doesn’t have mice, am I right? There are dozens of safe, natural ways to rid your home of mice and not using poison is at the top of our list, so that when you toss ‘em outside (yeah, I do that) the owls and what-have-you that ingest them won’t die either.

As for the city mouse/country mouse thing—a man, whose identity is withheld here, weighed in from Liberty, NY, with this, “As new residents, we are wondering how to dispose of a dead rat we found on our back porch. The transfer station [he means dump] doesn’t seem to want them. Burial?” he innocently asks of his new neighbors, concluding with “any advice would be welcome.”

Mr. Nice Guy received lots of (dare I say snarky) responses from old-timers, who suggested everything from “tossing it into the woods” to concocting a “country stew” but I felt for the poor guy. I mean the homeowner, not the rat. Burial? That’s adorable.

Community bulletin board pages continue to be flooded with your questions about sinkholes (uh-oh), repair companies, plumbers, garbage collection (they don’t want your dead rats) and the like. At present, I am fascinated and amused by someone known only as “Ca Ay” on social media, for they have shared multiple posts like this, “We’re two women and a few pets that just moved to the area a few months ago. We come from Brooklyn (duh) and bought an old mobile home in Sullivan County for all the obvious reasons—fresh air, trees, prettiness absolutely everywhere. And it’s affordable.” So far, so good, right?

“So basically” the poster continues, we’re two city girls getting our ass beat by the extremeness [sic] of living on a mountain. I never heard the sound of a coyote before moving here,” she writes “[and I] feel like they surround my house to scare our Chihuahua. If I ever see a bear,” she states in conclusion, “I might faint.”

Ca Ay elicited mucho response from her new neighbors, and was informed that (based on more description) what she heard wasn’t coyotes but “something called Fisher Cats, which I had to Google. Wow,” she wrote in response. “It’s a little bit scary, but we feel so blessed to be here.”

Dear Ca Ay: We need to talk. There is so much more I want to know. Please (please!) contact me at Let’s be friends!

As for the rest of you… keep those cards and letters coming.

Next up: winter. If you don’t have plowing set up, you’re already screwed, IMHO. Oh, and welcome to the neighborhood!

Hint: There are scores of community bulletin boards regarding life in the Upper Delaware—simply type “living in,” plus a community name into your search box and see what pops up. Of course, you can always ask me, but I might be kinda snarky.

Fun Fact: with an average lifespan of 18 months, and an average of 10 babies per litter, a single female mouse can produce more than 300 offspring in her lifetime. Makes me wonder about the married ones.

welcome to the neighborhood, newcomers, naturewoodland


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