Flash Mob Marks End Of Summer

Catskill Mountains, halcottsville, Music, music videos, new york, outdoors, upstate new york

Halcottsville, NY – Labor Day weekend for the Catskills has come to mean an influx of  Air BnB hipsters, long lines at the store, a four day seafood station at Freshtown, actual real traffic jams, fireworks in the park, and packed farmers’ markets.

The weekend would not be complete without the Halcottsville Flash Mob, a tradition that keeps on growing.

Carried out by the local neighbors and weekenders alike at the Seuss property, the gathering begins around 7pm, but the preparation begins weeks earlier. You see, the whole point is for the DURR passengers, onboard the dinner/music train that runs from Arkville, NY to Roxbury, NY, to get treated to dancing torches in the Seuss’ back yard that appear from the darkness just as the train slows to the perfect viewing spot.

I guess you kind of have to be there…

In case you weren’t, here is a fun edit I did of the almost seven minute event, now under three minutes, as I took liberty to focus on the highlights and re-arrange the song a bit. I hope Johnny Cash and Blues Maneuver don’t mind too much.

Halcottsville Flash Mob Torches for the Train to Ring of Fire 9.2.17 from Mountain Girl Photography… on Vimeo.

A fire dance flash mob choreographed to “Ring of Fire” by Johny Cash performed by Blues Maneuver on 9.2.17 in the small hamlet of Halcottsville, NY. (Please note, song was re-arranged for post editing purposes)

Kindred Spirts – a poem

outdoors, photography, poetry, Travel

Young caribou | Newfoundland

I got so close to her

I could see the glint in her eye.

With every step,

both our hearts pounded.

Exposed, but not in danger.

Alone, but still safe

as a swaddled baby.

Oh, sweet caribou,

don’t run away.

All that is pointed at you

is my lens.

becca andre | twenty sixteen

Caregiver’s Cure – Lemon Curd And A Hot Toddy

Catskill Mountains, new york, poetry, Recipes

Today, a recipe and a poem – all in one place.

THIS GIRL 11.6.16

For the few moments each day
when this girl is not thinking about smoking a cigarette,
when she is not overcome with the reality
of cancer running amok in her family,
when she feels slightly stable
and the dizziness temporarily subsides,
ideas pound the brain of this girl.

Unexpectedly becoming a caregiver to a loved one is like landing a job you actually never applied for. I hesitate to even write about my experience over the last eight months, for I am not looking for pity, and I most definately do not want to upset my mother. (Mom – please don’t be mad!)

Yet, I believe what I have to share has the potential of being more helpful than harmful. A rhyme and a recipe…how can one go wrong? It’s a risk/benefit I’m willing to bet on.

They knock on the door, loud at first,
then timid from being ignored.
Ideas of stories to be written,
words to be recorded,
magical herbal remedies to concoct,
money to be made doing the things this girl loves.

Since March, everything has changed with my mother’s diagnoses of stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Obviously, her life has changed the most as she has practically given up her full time job to take on chemo, radiation, major surgery, then more chemo.

Her kids’ lives changed too. But the days of whining are over. My brother, twin sister and I have rotated, making sure my mom is hardly ever alone.  Our aunts and uncles lovingly provide us with respite as well.

Then, my sister’s husband had to go and complicate matters by coming down with AML (Acute Myloid Lukemia) a month ago. Moving from their West Virginia mountain home, they get to live indefinitely at John’s Hopkins, or its vicinity, until his treatments and bone marrow transplant deem him “in remission.”

(Hang in there, the recipe is coming.)

So what do I do when I find myself actually at home, with my daughter and husband? Well since I work from home and live in the vacation capital of New York State, the Catskill Mountains, I take walks in the snow, sit by my fire, write and cook.

Returning home after days or weeks of caregiving is like going on a retreat. And I retreat. Except for social media, I rarely make an appearance.

And this girl, more than life, wants to have fun with her child.

But by the time the evening chores are done,
she will collapse,
her ideas will deflate,
dirty and damp like the dish towel in her hands.
Anything she started will become a sad and lonely project that some other girl,
a girl with more energy,
a girl with less cancer in the family,
a girl who never smoked,
will pick up and run with.
That other girl flies right by her,
forgetting to even wave.

Today, the day before Thangsgiving, I had an idea, and I went with it. An entire day in the kitchen, even if I am not the host of the big dinner this year, will zap me out of my funk.  The holidays will feel almost normal, even if just for a day.

So here is the recipe for Lemon Curd, Ina Garten style (I just love me some Barfoot Contessa). I believe this recipe would impress even the Queen.

lemon_curd_lid

Lemon curd inspiration


OH!  You are probably wondering where the hot toddy comes in. Well I have access to some amazing tea…I love this Earl Grey by Traveler’s Tea. Also, just five minutes down the road form here is Union Grove Distillery, and I use their Vly Creek Vodka as a base for my homemade vanilla extract, so I had some on hand.

Which I needed, for my three year old black lab decided to run away whilst my eight year old daughter was sledding, so that was an entire blood-pressure raising fiasco. A cig was not an option, as I am almost four weeks nicotine free, so a hot toddy was just in the cards.

Back to the LEMON CURD RECIPE:

Makes about 4 1/2 cups

  • 6 lemons, scrubbed (for zesting and juicing)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 stick + 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • generous dash of salt
  1. Zest all 6 lemons with a carrot peeler, avoiding the white pith.
  2. Place zest in food processor (steel blade) and pulse until very finely minced.
  3. Add sugar and pulse into minced lemon zest.
  4. Separately, in a stand-mixer, cream the butter.
  5. Beat the sugar zest into the creamed butter.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add lemon juice and salt, mixing until combined (mixture will have curdled appearance).
  8. Pour mixture into large saucepan and cook over low heat (gas stove) or med. heat (electric stove).
  9. Stir CONSTANTLY for about 15/20 minutes.   Mixture will thicken.
  10. Remove from stove when temp. reaches 170F, or just before simmering. (If you pause from stirring and see bubbles appearing, take off heat)
  11. Pour into glass jars, allow to cool, cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 months. (You may strain over small mesh if the zest bothers you)

The citrus oils that will dress your hands and your countertop will seep into your soul and cleanse you from the inside out

Over heat, the curdled mixture will become as smooth as glass

Despite Ina’s claims, this recipe is not in the “Easy” category, nor does it take 20 to 30 minutes.  Plan on a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours, including cleanup.  I attempted timing this recipe,  but my dog ran away as I was zesting the lemons…

That stated, the buttery yellow outcome, gleaming and shiny in filled jars, will fill your heart with simple glee.  The finished product is insanely perfect for a tart, spreading on crackers, icing a pound cake or spicing up your morning English muffin.

Lemon curd is damn sunshine in a jar

Completing this recipe was only the beginning of my pre-Thanksgiving bake-a-thon.  I went on to make homemade cranberry sauce, a classic pumpkin roll and currant and almond chocolate bark.  Oh, and dinner.

By the end, I was well on my way to being healed, rembering that a caregiver is also in need of care.  If that care takes the form of a dessert filled countertop and a sugar-smudged apron, so be it.

I can’t wait to give a jar to my mom.

img_2068-1

Mom’s first walk to the water, four weeks post Whipple surgery

This girl hides in the woods when she isn’t stuck in the city,
She tucks her chin and goes unnoticed.
For now.
But she has plans.
Plans that are brewing, are steeping, are simmering, deep inside.
When everyone gets better –
When she gets better –
this girl will return to her former glory.
So if you are reading this,
be sure not to forget
this girl’s name.

Check out Mountain Girl Made, where select tea blends, photos and poems are available for purchase. Shop small and support local.

Tales of Trout and Waiting for Spring.

Catskill Mountains, outdoors, photography

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

Uncategorized

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