Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Portrait of Palenville

If you don't live upstate, there is a tendency to think one town is much like another. You'd be wrong. Lately I have found myself getting to know the town that bills itself as NewYork's first arts colony: Palenville.

Palenville has a lot of what we want from an upstate  New York village. First, it's not too far from the city ; two and a half hours by Thruway. It isn't remote; just fifteen minutes to Catskill and big box stores and all night supermarkets. Forty minutes to Albany (maybe less). Right down the road from skiing at Hunter and Windham and forty minutes to Belleayre.

There is a thrilling seasonal mountain road that can get you to Woodstock in less than twenty minutes. Same for Saugerties.  All the locals know it well.

Then there's the setting: a small cluster of charming old buildings dominated by what looks like a castle, but was in fact the old town school, now in private hands.  Towering above this one - traffic - light village are the Catskill mountains. If you don't know the Catskills, let me tell you they are not like the Adirondacks or the Rockies . These are not angry, intimidating peaks, glowering under a cap of summer snow and daring you to take them on. These are old, settled mountains, green and soft like the Blue Ridge mountains further south. The peak overlooking Woodstock is called Mount Guardian and that is what the Catskills are. They are huge, calm watchdogs. These mountains are comforting.

Palenville boasts good restaurants, lovely B&B's, hiking, fishing, swimming, a great new wine shop and my new favorite hangout -the Circle W market and cafe. Inside you'll find  wooden floors, dark wainscoting on the high ceilings, great food and a surprisingly eclectic variety of foods and household supplies. This market has style.

So does Palenville.