Catskill Sketchbook

Bell on the deck

The Catskill Mountains are a magic place. Washington Irving’s famous tale Rip Van Winkle begins this way:

“Whoever has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Catskill Mountains. They are a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian family, and are seen away to the west of the river, swelling up to a noble height, and lording it over the surrounding country. Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains.” 

Here are a few of my sketches from a visit to the Catskills last weekend.

Potted plant

This is where Rip Van Winkle took his long nap and where he was a favorite of the village children. As Mr. Irving explains: “The children of the village, too, would shout with joy whenever he approached. He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories of ghosts, witches, and Indians. Whenever he went dodging about the village, he was surrounded by a troop of them, hanging on his skirts, clambering on his back, and playing a thousand tricks on him with impunity; and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood.”

Nancy reading

“Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals, of foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound. If left to himself, he would have whistled life away, in perfect contentment.”

I’m going back to the Catsills this weekend and aspire to join old Rip while I’m there as one of those “happy mortals of foolish, well-oiled dispositions.”

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