Silent Night -Digital Holiday Card

Catskills Music

Update:

Sitting here

snowless,

January 25.

Just 2 hours south

are 30 plus inches in the city.

This mountain girl is baffled

by her snow-free surroundings,

and wondering why the 4

neighboring ski resorts

only boast man-made snow

after this historic weekend.

Life just is not fair.

So press play below,

it will cheer you up,

if you are pining for snow.

A sweet New York Catskill Mountain slideshow video highlights waterfalls,  moon-scapes and snow-scapes, set to Ben Rounds‘ rendition of ‘Silent Night’, for all the fans and supporters of Mountain Girl Photography & Design.

 with love, peace, joy! (& snow!)

Loud Derby and Quiet Confederate Flag at 2015 Delaware County Fair, Walton New York

Small Town Catskills

A summertime tradition once again commenced this past weekend in Walton, New York.  The Delaware County Fair is an end of summer staple for “upstate” New Yorkers adults and children alike.

There are the rides of course…

tea cup ride 2

Bright lights against a Catskill sunset.

…and the petting of animals…

Feeding the goats...just a tip of the agricultural iceberg

Feeding the goats…just a tip of the agricultural iceberg.

…the purposeful crashing of cars…

demo derby day 2

Friday night’s demolition derby at the county fair in Walton was the scene of numerous car crashes and a “few good fires.”

…as hundreds of spectators pay $6 a ticket to fill the stands, and cheer on the clash of metal…

Smoke rises, and can be seen throughout the fairgrounds.

Smoke rises, and can be seen throughout the fairgrounds.  “I grew up coming to derby nights during fair week” says Mary Torma-Kelly, who has been with the Walton Fire Department and Fire Police for almost 10 years. Torma-Kelly goes on to explain the cars undergo modifications regarding the gas tank, and there are strict regulations that must be followed to be allowed to run in the event. Of course there are helmet regulations, and a major rule restricts any collisions with the driver’s side door. This is a time-honored tradition not everyone understands. Good old-fashioned fun is had by the drivers of the decorated, beat-up cars. The crowd goes wild when the driver of the last car running climbs on top of his car for a victory dance.

…of course there are tractors…

The local farmers get to use their tractors for something other then plowing and harvesting as they pull each (permanently) wrecked vehicle off the track.

The local farmers get to use their tractors for something other then plowing and harvesting as they pull each (permanently) wrecked vehicle off the track.

…and country music…

The Jason Wicks Band

The Jason Wicks Band

…and last, but not least, confederate flags.

Confederate flag flies and sells at the fair in Walton, New York

Confederate flag flies and sells at the fair in Walton, New York.

Yes.  The Confederate flag.  Despite swirling controversy, as outlined by the local online newspaper Watershed Post, the flag did have a quiet presence in a few tucked-away corners of the fair.  Belt buckles, pins and the flag itself were for sale by at least three (to remain un-named) vendors.

Yes.  Just a few hours outside of New York City, this fair speaks to the entrenched way of life (the good, bad and indifferent) of hard working farmers and their families. Those in the city and surrounding areas may not understand all the choices made by these folks, some 3rd generation farmers.  This is a proud land, owned by mountain farmers in New York State.  Personal judgements aside, my family sure had a blast, and the Demolition Derby was well worth our trip.

All Images ©2015 Rebecca Andre

How to Keep the Local Music/Art Scene Alive

Catskills Music

The local music movement depends on small businesses working together. Its a symbiotic relationship.   The bar in town hires the band. The band hires a promoter/photographer/blogger. Its a busy night (as a result of the crowd-pleasing band being there) so the wait staff does well on tips.  The audience is impressed, someone grabs a business card, checks out the website, and hires the band for their next event.

And so the cycle repeats.

The following is an example of how this all works: A local favorite, the Ben Rounds Band, was hired by a local venue.  A photographer (me) put together the promotion of the event, and proceeded to video the 1st set.  Next, an exciting new collaboration between the promoter (me) i.e.  (Mountain Girl Photography & Design) and Fred Cristiani, aka bass player for B.R.B. then led to the latest production by MGP&D…a band booking demo complete with a fun time-lapse.  Next, an employee of a local business hired the band for their upcoming outdoor celebration.

Above: One of the many Ben Rounds videos on YouTube

So do yourself, your favorite local band, and your community a favor: watch and share this booking demo, hire local bands, or at least support them at their gigs.  Show appreciation by tipping the band, and keep them in mind the next time you want to hire entertainment.  You will be supporting not just the local music scene, but local artists who specialize in the promotion of music, local restaurants, and everyone in between.

Keep the local music scene alive!

(Find original blog post here, for my client Ben Rounds.)

Watch the fun “My Dog LiL” video that chronicles the day of a three-legged Jack Russell Terrier!

Tales of Trout and Waiting for Spring.

Outdoor Catskills

Neversink.  Beaverkill. Schoharie. Esopus.  Stony Clove Creek.

Never have I heard these coveted Catskill streams named so many times in one sitting.  Yet, I am so glad I was present at Trout Tales, an event hosted by Leigh and Mark Melander of Spillian, this past snowy Sunday, March 1.  An event that brought together passionate fly-fisherman, historians and policy-makers along with avid fishermen/women of all ages.  The youngest attendee was just 6 years old.

Initially,  my presence there was solely to escape cabin fever, as this winter has been long and cold, with Spring so slow to show.  Yes, I did want to show support to my husband and his new business, High Peaks Outfitters, document the evening with my camera, and slurp up the amazing soup served up by my friend and resident chef, Melissa Zeligman.

Upon leaving, I left with a belly full of the most spectacular clam chowder, and enough inspiration to fuel me until Spring.

Spring…  my husband cannot wait to step onto a solitary rock, stream side, and watch his line drift with the current…The wives of the below fisherman will agree, we too are looking forward to Spring, and the peaceful mood displayed by our men returning from the streams.

Also waiting, patience tested, for Spring is the panel of esteemed fly anglers that were present that night:

From Left: Chris Hensley, Mark Loete, Roger Menard, Judd Weisberg, Lenny Millen, John Hoeko, Tony Bonavist

From Left: Chris Hensley, Mark Loete, Roger Menard, Judd Weisberg, Lenny Millen, John Hoeko, Tony Bonavist ©2015 MGP&D

Enter: a brief overview of the Trout Talks.  After being introduced by the moderator of the night, Chris Hensley, an accomplished fly fisherman that calls the Catskills home, we heard from the six panelists, in speaking order:

  1. John Hoeko, Fleischmanns, NY – Began fishing only a few years after he began to walk.  Legendary anglers of the Catskills like Frank Mele, Art Flick, Harry and Elsie Darbee, Ed Van Putt and Herman Christian can be counted among his friends and associates.  John was instrumental in the passage of the “Catskill Water Flow Bill”.  Sunday evening, John spoke very whimsically as he recounted his love for fly-fishing.  And we are all waiting for the imminent opening of his fly shop in Fleischmanns, NY.

    John Hoeko, soon to be opening  up a fly shop in Fleischmanns, NY

    John Hoeko, soon to be opening up a fly shop in Fleischmanns, NY           ©2015 MGP&D

  2.  Tony Bonavist, Hurley, NY – Began tying flies at the age of 10. His bio includes a BS in Aquatic Biology,  26 years as a fisheries biologist for the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, an instructor at the Wulff School of Fly Fishing, and a published writer. He was also instrumental in the developing of the Catskill Waters organization and legislation that saved almost 200 miles of the Delaware Watershed.  Tony spoke fervently and proudly of the role he played saving the waters that we all take for granted.
  3. Lenny Millen, Margaretville, NY – Yet again, we see fishing taking hold at a young age with Lenny, a veteran guide of 25 years,  as he began fishing as soon as he could walk, no doubt with the help of his three brothers.  Beginning with spin fishing (which by the way, is perfectly acceptable in my book.  Especially when encouraging young people to to take up the sport, baby step by baby step.)  His love for fishing eventually landed him in the Catskills from Montana, where he established Catskill Kingfisher Guide Service.  Mentored by Joan Wulff, he returned the favor by serving 7 years at the Wulff School of Fly Fishing.  A true and heartfelt statement from Lenny on Sunday night regarding fly-fishing – and life, I should say – “There is plenty to learn for the rest of your life, no matter how young or old you are.”

    L to R Lenny, John, Tony

    From Left: Lenny Millen, John Hoeko and Tony Bonavist                           ©2015 MGP&D

  4. Roger Menard, Olivebridge, NY – Roger can rightfully boast of honorable service in the United States Navy, along with accumulating 65 years of fly fishing experience.  He is charter director of the Theodore Gordon Fly Fishers, member of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, Catskill Fly Tiers Guild and Trout Unlimited.  Along with being a respected fly tier counting the Darbees, Keith Fulsher and Charlie Krom among his friends, he is also author of “My Side of the River: Reflections of a Catskill Fly Fisherman”.  Listening to Roger, it makes perfect sense he is a writer, as his story-telling of 22 inch rainbows and trout-stealing raccoons were a highlight of the night.
  5. Judd Weisberg, Lexington, NY – Once again, fishing became a destiny realized early.  At the age of 4, he began fishing at camp Lexington owned by his family.  His love for fly fishing has since taken him all over the world, from Maine to Japan.  Judd is a licensed guide in NY and PA, specializing in float and wade trips.  He teaches his “Elements of Fly Fishing” course to any and all who wish to learn the way of life of fly fishing.  Sunday night he mentioned his inspiration for guiding is his desire to “see others catch fish”.  Amen

    Mark Loete, Roger Menard, and Judd Weisberg ©2015 MGP&D

    Mark Loete, Roger Menard, and Judd Weisberg   ©2015 MGP&D

  6. Mark Loete, Chichester, NY – Mark became an angler on the shores of the Mississippi River. Mark has been a professional photographer (kindred spirt) for 30 years in New York, and has made the Catskills his home for the last 15 years.  Mark’s most recent accomplishment is the photographed collection of artificial flies housed in the Jerry Bartlett Collection at the Phoenicia Library and website.  He also is a NYS licensed guide and owner of Catskill Mountain Angler.  Sunday evening he shared with us some newspaper clips from the 40’s, describing huge harvests of trout, demonstrating there wasn’t always regulations and limits.
Chris and Mark Loete

Chris Hensely, moderator, and Mark Loete    ©2015 MGP&D

Melissa's Magical Clam Chowder     ©2015 MGP&D

Melissa’s Magical Clam Chowder ©2015 MGP&D

So…one may wonder what I absorbed from this night?  Perhaps I felt a little over my head.  Yet at the dinner table, or in the soup line waiting to be dished out yet another bowl of Melissa’s Magical Clam Chowder, it became glaringly apparent that we all shared at least  two things in common:  our love for the waters of the Catskills, and our desire to see people of all ages appreciate the life-changing effect taking to the outdoors can have.

Dare I say, whether its fly fishing, spin fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking or skiing, the Catskills offer all this up on an inviting “silver platter”.  All we have to do is get together our respective gear and cast out a line.

-becca

-becca

Written by: Rebecca A., poet and photographer, owner of Mountain Girl Photography and Design and Traveler’s Tea, an organic tea company.  Wife to Mark, mechanic, electrician, hunting/fishing guide and owner of High Peaks Outfitters. Mother to beautiful Bella, fisher-woman in training.

Thanks to: the esteemed Chris Hensley, for his informative bios, and for taking leave of his fast-paced career in the music industry and making the waters of the Catskills his home.

How Houses Haunt Me

Catskills Places, Photo of the Week

Ever since I was a little girl, I used to pretend houses that didn’t belong to me were, indeed, my home.  The first house I coveted was the grand farm house belonging to the landlord of the farm we lived and rented on.  Gabled, with a wrap-around covered porch,  drawing rooms and fireplaces, a bright sunny kitchen and a cozy dark paneled study.  I was in this house only once, and it grabbed at my imagination, made me yearn for something that was, and never could be, mine.

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

As an adult, this fascination with abodes that weren’t mine found an acceptable outlet:  Frequenting real estate open houses.  The ultimate opportunity to observe another’s home, decor, way of life…and an opportunity to daydream about inhabiting these rooms, the changes I would make, and what would stay exactly the same.  It was a fun exercise, a good way to pass the time on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Today, while shooting the Catskill landscape for an online magazine Upstate Dispatch that I am a contributor for; after over a year of being satisfyingly settled in a cabin on the side of a mountain, I once again, found myself fantasizing…about a house that was not my own.

*the above house is not the house discovered today…that is a secret not to be revealed at this time.

This was not just a house.  It was a moderately sized, stone front cottage, at the top of a dead end road, with a view that was anything but dead.  With a view that forced me to inhale, made me feel alive with the beauty that even if I shut my eyes, would be imprinted on my brain.

I had discovered the perfect property.  Uninhabited, with grass that had gone to seed, and tall proud spikes of the mullein plant, and dried teasel blooms, sharp and eager on the border.  Mature apple trees, and maple trees, all in groupings of three.  Despite their lack of recent care, whoever had planted them so long ago had done so with intention.  And above the cottage, a little further up the drive, an amazingly in-tact barn.

And a pond.  The perfect circle of water.  A crooked bench beckoned to me, but this was my first visit, I was worried about being overly intrusive, so I resisted the urge to plant myself on the edge of the water and disappear in the tall grasses that swayed so carelessly with the last breezes of summer.

Peering in the windows (How could I not?) was not a disappointment.  Empty, but clean, with an “updated” kitchen and a wood stove and french doors separating two downstairs rooms.  There was a curved stair case that  led to a cozy attic bedroom where romance and babies and sleep promised to dwell.

The inexplicable feeling of longing, of belonging, that accompanied this property was disconcerting, as if I had been there before.  I often feel this way about abandoned homes, that are left alone at the best, but more often then not, discarded and disregarded in a state of irreparable damage.  I wonder of the living and dying that happened in that house, and in this way, the old homes haunt me, no matter what time of year.

Visiting these properties is a pastime I relish, especially in these mountains, where one can climb a mountain road, and breathe in a view of the world on some lost and forgotten property.  All the while, staying completely out of view from the world.

  ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Remains ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Yellow Barn…similar to the one on our childhood farm. ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design