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This weekend: Halloween in the Catskills, Part 1

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Above: A promo for Haunted Huguenot Street, New Paltz's annual spookfest, featuring "Mrs. Gertrude Deyo-Brodhead’s infamous Murder Mystery parties at the Deyo House." Tours, spirit readings and ghost stories all weekend.  

It’s the darkening evening of the year, and the veil between the worlds has thinned. Venture out into the mountains and valleys for some resonant Halloween fun, costumed or otherwise, beginning this weekend. There’s a little of everything going on, whether you’re looking for pumpkins and not-too-scary spirits for the little guys, contemplative historic ghost-walks, or smokin’ hot dance parties into the wheeee hours.

Here’s our guide to the fearsome and frolicsome times for Oct. 24 - Oct. 26. We'll have another one next week, to cover the many festivities scheduled across the Catskills for Halloween itself. 

DELAWARE COUNTY  Read more

New York Times' "Living City" explores NYC's water supply

Up here in the Catskills, in the heart of New York City's vast rural watershed, it's impossible to forget that one lives in the middle of the city's water supply. The city's huge reservoirs dominate the landscape. Watershed affairs dominate local politics. New York City's watershed police patrol along sleepy back roads a hundred miles from Manhattan.

For most downstate New Yorkers, though, water is just a thing that comes out of the tap. This week, the New York Times introduced its readers to their astonishing water system in "Living City," a video series that explores some of the wonders of urban engineering that make life in our nation's largest city possible.  Read more

Columbus Day Weekend in the Catskills: Fests, food, fiddlers and foliage

Can you flip a tractor tire? Test your mettle at the Farm Olympics, happening this weekend at the annual Taste of the Catskills festival in Delhi. Photo by Eamon Queeney.

Columbus Day Weekend is coming up, and the Catskills are making the most of summer's last hurrah.  

If you're a Catskills local, you've been living in a slow-mo fireworks display for a couple of weeks now, as maples, beeches, birches and oaks erupt in a dazzling riot of fall color. This weekend brings peak foliage to the lower elevations of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley -- and while the high-elevation slopes are just a little past peak, there is still plenty of brilliant color all around.

Lark in the Park, a ten-day, Catskills-wide celebration of the great outdoors, wraps up on Monday. Between now and then are dozens of guided hikes, paddles, outdoor volunteer opportunities and more, ranging from family-friendly woods walks to off-trail bushwhacks for experienced outdoorsfolk. Choose your own adventure from our special Lark in the Park calendar  Read more

Unfiltered minerals in Catskills water are the key to NYC's bagels

Above: A bagel with lox from H&H Bagels Midtown East. Photo by Flickr user Kenneth Lu.

A story by the business news site Quartz on Oct. 7 confirmed what New Yorkers already know: The secret to NYC's bagels is in the water. 

Bagel entrepreneurs are so desperate to mimic NYC's water that they have spent years and lots of cash adding those minerals back into their own water in places like Denver and Florida, Quartz reports.

The site interviews Josh Pollack, a bagel maker in Denver, who has developed a secret formula to put NYC-style water into his bagels:

“It’s mainly New York’s watershed program that’s the difference,” he says of the initiative that protects the region’s natural water sources, enabling local utilities to minimally-process the city’s drinking water. “They don’t use a sediment filter for their water, so a lot of the minerals that come from the reservoirs, as a result of those watershed protections, are still in the water." ...  Read more

Stayin' Alive: Don't Get Burned

Gianna Muellerleile tries on firefighter gear at her preschool in 2013. Photo by Jake Millman at Beginnings Preschool in Boiceville.

Not only is this week Fire Prevention Week, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just declared that today, Oct. 7, is Firefighter Appreciation Day. To mark the occasion, we've asked Rich Muellerleile, a firefighter, paramedic, and longtime Watershed Post columnist to give us a few fire safety tips. Read all installments of Rich's column, Stayin' Alive, by clicking here. - Ed. 

“In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, I would advise 'em to take care how they suffer living Coals in a full Shovel, to be carried out of one Room into another, or up or down Stairs, unless in a Warmingpan shut; for Scraps of Fire may fall into Chinks and make no Appearance until Midnight; when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted.” – An old citizen

As incredible as it may seem, this quote, which begins with a familiar household adage and was published as an anonymous letter in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1735, was actually written by the newspaper's publisher, Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin's letter was a succinct and relevant fire safety message that, for the most part, does not apply to our present day – unless you routinely carry hot coals from room to room to keep comfortable. (After all, we are in the Catskills.)

It is without doubt, however, that the "Ounce of Prevention" axiom holds resoundingly true in many of the things we do from day-to-day. No matter what calamity you deal with, it is much more easily addressed by preventing it altogether than having to deal with its aftermath.

Enter the annual tradition of Fire Prevention Week, which falls on Oct. 5 - 11 this year.

National Fire Prevention Week is not just a local fire department showing up at your elementary school and conducting a fire drill. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.  Read more

The new hunter-gatherers: Foraging in the Catskills

Above: An Autumn Olive (Wildberry) Mojito. Photo courtesy of Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower. Make your own with the recipe at the bottom of this story.

Foraging for food that grows wild has long been a hobby for nature lovers out walking in the woods. But increasingly, more people are doing what their primitive ancestors did: picking up their spades and baskets and searching out edible flowers, leaves, roots, shoots, nuts and berries.

Left: Dina Falconi, a Catskills forager. 

Two upstate women—Dina Falconi and Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower—are leading the march into the forests and meadows. According to them, there’s plenty of free food out there for the picking; you just need to know what to look for.

Falconi, a Marbletown resident who grew up in New York City, has been steeped in the world of wild-plant identification, foraging and cooking for 30 years now. But growing up, she had no idea what was waiting out in the woods.  Read more

This weekend: Reservoir Cleanup Day

A boat launches from Chandlers Cove boat launch on the Neversink Reservoir in 2012. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Grimes.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and a slew of other groups and volunteers will fan out across the Catskills on Sunday, Oct. 5 to clean up four of the NYC reservoirs -- the Pepacton, the Cannonsville, the Neversink, and the Rondout -- as part of a statewide effort to clean up New York's waterways and beaches. 

Volunteers are welcome at the litter pick-ups, according to a press release from the DEP. Captains in charge of each reservoir will meet volunteers at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 5 and will clean until 3 p.m.

Captains and locations for the four Catskills clean-up groups are below:

Cannonsville Reservoir: The cleanup effort will be led by Tina James, who leads the Future Farmers of America program at the Walton Central School District, and Nick Barone, president of the Deposit Chamber of Commerce. Volunteers will meet at Chamberlain Brook.

Neversink Reservoir: The cleanup effort will be led by Boy Scout Troop 97 in Neversink, which is run by Keith Mentnech. Volunteers will meet at the information kiosk on Route 55.  Read more

Explore the Catskills: Lark in the Park 2014

Above: “Big Indian Leaves,” taken in Big Indian by Michael LoBianco, the 4th Place winner in the 2014 Catskills Great Outdoor Experience Photo Contest.

The trees are popping into color like popcorn. If you haven't wandered somewhere outside in the Catskills yet this fall, get out there. 

Need a nudge? That's why the Catskill Mountain Club, the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York New-Jersey Trail Conference throw the annual Lark in the Park.

The Lark is a series of outdoor activities led by experienced hikers, paddlers, cyclists and anglers throughout the Catskills region between October 4 and Columbus Day, which falls on October 13 this year.

We've put together a calendar of the dozens of hikes, paddles, food tastings, movie screenings, bike rides, and picnics that make up this year's Lark in the Park festivities.   Read more

En pointe en plein air: The Ballet Project

Above: A ballerina in a hay field in Liberty. Part of "The Ballet Project," a series of portraits of ballerinas in Catskills and Hudson Valley vistas by Erik Christian.

In the right light, the landscapes of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley can take on a kind of mythic quality. Mountaintops, forests, ponds, cliffs, caves—and it helps if you throw a ballerina in the mix.

That's the concept behind “The Ballet Project,” a photo series by Monticello photographer Erik Christian in which he captures his dance-inclined daughters against a dramatic variety of natural surroundings. His dreamlike images transform the Ashokan Reservoir into Swan Lake and the Neversink Gorge into Giselle's forest glade.

We caught up with Christian to talk about the project, which he’s been creating in collaboration with his kids (now 13, 10 and 7) for three years and counting. (Christian asked us not to identify his children in this story.)

Q. Where did the idea for “The Ballet Project” come from?  Read more

Community Needs Assessment Survey Available to Hudson Valley Residents

Kingston, N.Y. – September 22, 2014 – Residents of New York's Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties are invited to take a short survey about their health and the services they use. The goal of the survey is to learn more about the health care needs of the community to identify and plan localized healthcare delivery in the future.

The survey is anonymous, will take less than 10 minutes to complete and is available online. Participants are encouraged to share the survey link and information about the survey with friends, family and other residents of the Hudson Valley.  Read more


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