Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Hidden Catskills

There's been some discussion on the future of the name "Catskills." For some, it's still equated to a time half a century ago, when the southern Catskills were the summer home for entertainment.  Every big name in show business was booked at the Nevele, the Concord, The Granite, Grossingers. Its remnants were remembered in Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock" - row after row of little clapboard cottages where you could escape the city for a weekend. It was the setting for "Dirty Dancing" - family resorts that were corny, hokey and slightly embarrassing.

But that time is long gone. And what the Catskills were, and still are, is incredibly beautiful. I took a drive earlier this week to preview some houses and clear my head. Thankfully, I took my camera.  The picture above was taken just a few miles outside of the sleepy town of Fleishmanns. I love Fleishmanns. Unspoiled Victorians, a library that sells books on the front porch on the honor system, a town that the highway passed by, which preserved it while presenting challenges for the people who live there.

I drove farther into the hills on a perfect late summer day and couldn't believe my eyes. Nothing that perfect could be real, could it?

Once I began, I couldn't stop.  First there was the road to Lexington, where I saw two old churches which shared a cemetery.
Then on to Lexington, where the Schoharie Creek, so frightening during last year's storms, has settled back into its lazy path.

Along the way there were remnants of the world I remember when I was a kid.

And new wonders that seemed too perfect to be something new. This is in Jewett.

Finally, I came back on the Platte Clove Road.  A clove, if you don't know, is a natural divide in a mountain range, a steep-sided low pass. In the Catskills, the cloves are incredibly dramatic. I don't think a photo really does it justice.

I was standing at a spot known as the Devil's Kitchen and wondered how many people who live in the Catskills visit these places. How many remember they're here? And I realized just how fortunate I am to be living in a place that offers all of this to anyone who is willing to look for it.

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