Thursday, October 27, 2005

The City

When we first arrived on the NY scene, summer folks we met said they lived in "the City". Well, there are lots of cities that stretch from here, but I quickly learned that Manhattan was THE CITY.

It is difficult to think about leaving this quiet for the traffic sounds that permeate the City. However, we went in for an overnight visit and ended up wishing we had planned more days. There's something that tugs my psyche when I'm in New York City. I love to walk the streets viewing the upscale and odd retail stores, the delicatessens on every corner, the knock-off goods displayed on rickety tables along the sidewalks. I love to watch the people from every walk of life traipse on the sidewalks, hear languages I can't distinguish, smile at the outlandish styles of clothing. There's no way one can dress incorrectly in NYC. I can wear jeans, shirt, and throw a scarf around my neck and not worry if I'm dressed "correctly or not." Of course, if I attend a concert at Lincoln Center, I'd be more cautious about how I look. And, naturally, I have to return home with something I bought there so I can say to one who compliments my never-before-seen-in-Madison purchase, "This came from NYC." We women do love to say that! You can be sure it's NOT a tee shirt.

This City always has an array of great movies. We try to see at least on.This time we saw "Capote." At the end we left the theatre overcome with profound emotion. Be sure to see it.

Also, we treat ourselves to dinner at some new place. Chelsea is becoming the new Soho and many new shops, galleries, and restaurants are locating there. This time we sampled Korean dishes at D'or Ahn on 10th Ave: mushroom "bibimbob" with egg, black sesame dressing, chili; Beef which was sweet rice flour dusted sliced eye round, pine nuts, spicy mustard sauce; Black Cod, spicy poached with mustard bread pudding and braised daikon; and a side dish of sauteed rice, with crispy tiny shrimp. Ummm.....I'll not forget that meal for awhile.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wintry Weather Arriving

First Katrina now Wilma promises to send more rain our way. We are holed up in our small apartment, feeling like we’re playing a role in an old b/w movie where we're stuck in a small motel in a deserted town and rain is falling endlessly. How much we miss the cabin,! But the heating has to be upgraded to withstand the night lows of 40's and 30's.

The colors aren’t as vivid this year as last; yet, the muted colors evoke a quiet mood. I still snap photos as each scene unfolds, only to erase them when the camera fails to capture the colors.

A local friend Carolyn has seen the brighter side of all this rain and shared with me, and now with you, this beautiful portrait of the season:

Autumn has arrived! The Oaks, Maples, Cherries, Beach, Birch, Witch Hazel, Dogwood, sumac, Virginia creeper and other deciduous trees and vines are showing brilliant color. What a delight to look out the window and have such a view The ferns are a mix of green, gold, coral, and wine. Winter birds have arrived at the feeders. the most frequent visitors are the chickadees, goldfinches, titmice and nuthatches, pine siskins, juncos and robins. Cardinals and rose-breasted grosbeaks come daily. Temperatures are lovely, we don't need either heat or air conditioning. It has rained off and on sometimes as much as six inches in twenty-four hours. We are high on the hillside so although the water soaks the ground it runs off down the hill to the river. Flowers continue to bloom, chrysanthemums and nasturtiums bring color to the deck and joy to my soul. Lots of yellow composites, goldenrod, white and purple asters, some blue veronica, deep rose pink spirea, white butterfly bush and some late blooming blue iris. The seedlings we planted are loving the rain, foxgloves and lupine are getting larger every day. I continue to enjoy going out on the deck to gather my own herbs for dinner. Put together a vegetable soup this afternoon that used basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, and a pinch of rosemary.

Can you see the colors in her description?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pitter Pat? More Like Bam-Pow!

You hear folks say that rain on a metal roof is soothing. Well, rain recently isn’t the only patter that drummed on our metal roof! For 15 days of unrelenting downpours, we lay awake off and on during the night listening to pings and bams and plops of acorns, small branches, along with humongas spears of rain falling above our heads. Acorns and branch bits were the loudest, often waking us up wondering, “Is that a deer or a bear outside?” That’s how crashingly loud the sounds were.

Up here the soil is similar to loess, very fine. It takes a lot of rain to create mud, so walking isn’t a problem. Usually the soil soaks up the moisture, seeps into the streams, brooks, and finally the Delaware River. The soil becomes so saturated that the heavy trees can’t stay upright as the soil leeches away from its roots. “Don’t park under trees, as danger lies in trees toppling over from soaked soil.” This we hear on our weather radio. And topple they do. A tree expert told us recently that the hemlocks have shallow roots and fall more easily than pines. But not even the pines can escape such an end. If the loose soil doesn’t cause their downfall, the 45 mile gusts of wind we have this time of the year surely finish the job.

Sometimes waking up to a foggy morning we can't discern how the day will be. But in an hour the fog disappears and replaced with the blue skies. By noon we've quit shivvering in 5o degree weather to a warmth inching to 65. Each day a new experience.

Already I'm feeling sad about leaving this oasis (well, the other half doesn't see it quite the same). We were too involved this trip in projects and not enough in enjoying the surrounding towns and villages and our newer friends. We've continue to meet folks who are one generation from European parents who came here for a better enjoyment of life. Of one only natives seem to lose perspective.

High Waters Changed Our Schedule

The excess water from the heavy rains that fall here causes small brooks to rage like the Mighty Mississippi as they flow into the Delaware ,which rushes down from upper New York into Pennsylvania and along New Jersey. Last year the Delaware flooded this area twice.

We arrived here from Maine last September 2004 and found ourselves trapped at every bridge leading to Barryville. All bridges were closed preparing to be flooded. We were stopped at one point about 7 pm and instructed to go to the nearest elementary school where a shelter had been set up. That evening’s experience in the make-shift shelter was not unpleasant. The local Red Cross volunteers and the school cafeteria manager were well prepared: food already in the refrigerators, cookies baking, drinks in the coolers, games and books in the common room; and finally in the gymnasium army cots and shells that looked like one half of a mummy coffin with no padding were set up. For four hours we sat around getting acquainted with the folks who’d had to leave their homes located too near the rivers and streams. Finally, too tired to small-talk anymore, we chose a shell, put an army blanket under and one over us and tried to nap. The dank odor of the blankets let us know we were the first to use them in a loooong time! Not an hour passed before we were awaken to say we could return home.

However, we were the only ones who had to cross the Delaware. The only solution to our getting to Barryville was to go north on Hwy 84 from Port Jervis, NY to Middletown, then west on 74 B and south to south on 55 to Barryville. This included no bridges. After four hours of driving unfamiliar roads in the rain, we dropped into our beds after 3:30 am . I have to say all the people staying in the shelter were quiet and courteous to each other and to the volunteers.
We were grateful for the orderliness of the Red Cross, the preparedness of the cafeteria manager and their interest in our comfort. From that experience I've learned to carry a paperback book everywhere so boredom doesn't set in wherever we may land.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Ferns Are Dying. . .

Recent cold snaps have taken a toll on the ferns. Some still wear their summer green, while others are turning yellow to tan to cinnamon brown. One is more aware of the slow dying of these fronds, as they’re spread over vast areas. Tree leaves change colors and drop. Their bodies remain throughout the winter. Wild ferns are reduced to dried mulch.

Walking along the pathway with the ferns in their final colors is a constant reminder of three loved ones facing their own demise. One is tan to cinnamon brown as he survives each day wondering how much longer; another has some green edges with a body of yellow edging into tan, suffering one malady after another as his body weakens; and the third turned brown Saturday the 8th.

Driving from our cabin to the main road, I'm constantly reminded of these three men who enriched our lives and those of others.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Summer's Gone

Woowee! 40 deg nights are reminding us that the leaves will turn a bit earlier than last year. Our non-winterized cabins are good about holding in the cold air. Turkeys by the dozen walk prissily across the road and into the woods. Although we’ve not seen them, neighbors tell us there are several bears, coyotes and bobcats roaming. We did hear the chorus of coyotes singing one evening as we returned to the cabin by flashlight, making them seem closer. A black squirrel, thought at first to be a mink, dashed along the roadside one afternoon as we lumbered up the hill in our old Blazer to our cabin. The main grocery store has dried stalks of corn slumping like tired soldiers against the outside walls. All this reminds us sharply that fall is settling here in this part of New York.

Our trip last week to the closest launderette gave us a breathtaking view of both the Poconos and lower Catskills wearing early colors of yellow and red. Maples are usually the first to announce their new clothes. And the biggest and prettiest tree to watch is adjacent to the launderette.

The bath house has taken on a new coat of floor paint, the compost toilet is out of its packing box and sitting ready to be connected to all the myriad of piping that will wend its way through the roof. Richard is building steps up the bank to the nice path Joe made for us through the now-dying ferns to our parking spaces behind the cabin. We completed dressing up our patio. We hauled in white gravel that had been at the store the last two years to make a cushion over the stony ground on the southeast side of the cabin.

We now see that half or more of our clothing will have to move back to the South. We don’t need half of what is hanging in our loft. We could do with three changes of clothes for each season. Dressing up around here is wearing clean clothes. Easy to do.