A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

Bill Birns presents a weekly essay on history, geography, day-trips, arts and culture in the Catskill Mountain region.

A Catskill Catalog: April 27, 2011

A rainy April in the Catskills doesn’t bounty-up the summer harvest. Seed crops are still in the greenhouse. The late Dan Morse taught me, long ago, that a Catskill Mountain vegetable garden goes in, really, on Memorial Day, or a bit before, if you’re going fishing that weekend.

A big garden was considered something of a necessity, when I got to the mountains, the reason for having a backyard. I didn’t, so Dan lent me a section of his, where he taught me to plant radishes, onions and peas; carrots and pole beans; broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower; rows of corn and hills of potatoes.


A Catskill Catalog: April 20, 2011

“The War Commences”
A century-and-a-half ago, April 13th, The New York Times carried a subdued headline, announcing news long expected. For weeks, a standoff simmered between the federal garrison at U. S. Fort Sumter, in Charleston Bay, and the secessionist state government of South Carolina.
The Times may have taken the news in 18-point stride, but the secessionist bombardment of the country’s own soldiers caused great stir throughout the Catskills. Can’t secede from the union just ‘cos you lost an election, the reasoning went.


A Catskill Catalog: April 13, 2011

John Burroughs is on Facebook! As of last week, the writer and naturalist has over 100 friends. Having recently celebrated his 174th birthday, Burroughs has been quite dead for some time, buried, as he was, on his 84th birthday, in 1921, in the field above Roxbury, now a state memorial in his honor.

So, he’s clearly getting help with his Facebook page.


A Catskill Catalog: April 6, 2011

If you’re looking for a model for the way community healthcare needs to go, look no further than the healthcare campus on the hillside overlooking Margaretville.

Big changes have been happening over there for the past dozen years or so. These changes both reflect current healthcare reality and provide cutting-edge leadership in facing those challenges.


A Catskill Catalog: March 30, 2011

“We had kerosene lamps for light. No electricity, of course.” So begins the late Forrest Dutcher’s privately printed memories of Fox Hollow and the Shandaken area, lent to me by a friend.

Forrest Dutcher grew up in Fox Hollow, Shandaken, in the early 1900s, just about a hundred years ago. In them-there days (as my friend, the late Frank Russell, used to say) Fox Hollow butt-up against the Hiram Whitney Chair factory, a string of buildings and rail-sidings whose last remnant is the stone garage now housing Black Bear Construction.