Catskill Sketchbook #2

You can take the man out of the Catskills but you can’t take the Catskills out of the man. Or something like that. Lately, you can’t even take the man out of the Catskills. I spent four nights last week in the town of Phoenicia and it turns out like a cheesy horror movie where some entity takes over the souls of the visitors to a small town. The thing is, for those of us who have given up the resistance, everything really is beautiful. I get the feeling Washington Irving fell under the same spell and expressed it in his classic Rip Van Winkle:

Adirondack chairs

“The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. It could not be from the want of assiduity or perseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock, with a rod as long and heavy as a Tartar’s lance, and fish all day without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble.”


“On the other side he looked down into a deep mountain glen, wild, lonely, and shagged, the bottom filled with fragments from the impending cliffs, and scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of the setting sun. For some time Rip lay musing on this scene; evening was gradually advancing; the mountains began to throw their long blue shadows over the valleys; he saw that it would be dark long before he could reach the village.”

“Rip now resumed his old walks and habits; he soon found many of his old cronies, though all rather the worse for the wear and tear of time; and preferred making friends among the rising generation, with who he soon grew in great favor. Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happy age when a man can do nothing with impunity, he took his place once more on the bench, at the inn door, and was reverenced as one of the patriarchs of the village, and a chronicle of the old times “before the war.”
The big lightbulb

“Even to this day they never hear a thunderstorm of a summer afternoon, about the Catskills, but they say that Hendrick Hudson and his crew are at their game of ninepins.”

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