Diary of a Transplant: Summer’s End

  |  September 6, 2012

Our first summer up here, a friend told us she hated it when the goldenrod came out in late August. “It means summer’s almost over,” she said. “And summers in the Catskills are so spectacular, you know? It’s painful when they end.”

That was our first summer out of the city. It was great and everything, but “spectacular”? My mother lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and I grew up partly on Nantucket, and spent a winter once skiing in Bozeman, Montana. If anyone wanted to talk spectacular, I had some places in mind that beat the Catskills.

But now, our third summer up here is coming to an end, and the goldenrod is out, and I know exactly what she means. I am ready to go into mourning that this spectacular season in the amazing region is ending.

It’s partly that we accomplished so much — taking our garden so far, building our farm, raising our goats, finally doing the fair. We worked really really hard. But we also played hard, slept in, held parties, hosted friends and family, drank summery cocktails, ate so well. After so many years in the city, it is still a thrill to have enough space that we can so casually welcome friends and family to visit and stay over, or to casually suggest a potluck and have it morph into something huge.

Here are a few highlights:

Our garden grew exponentially. We built a hoop house and a raised bed garden for our tenants, and added three raised beds in our own garden. We are on our second round of potatoes, and grew arugula all summer long, and pickled jars and jars of cucumbers. We also grew around 60 tomato plants from seed.
We made sauce and ketchup from tomatoes, and finally just started stuffing the tomatoes into Zip-Loc bags and throwing them in the freezer. I’ll make sauce in January. It was a great season.
Our tiny little bantam hen Baby is about the size of a robin. She is a tough little broad though, who holds her own with the big chickens. When she disappeared a few weeks ago, we were all really sad about it. But then she came back! With six tiny puffball chicks orbiting around her. She is a great mom.
We lost two goats this year, both to issues possibly related to nutrition. Our goats are in a pen, and we decided they needed more time browsing for forage. Here’s Ernie taking the goats into the woods for their daily graze. Now we have them in a moveable pen in the pasture, but it was always sweet watching Ernie take them out, like he was participating in an ancient ritual.
We rode the horses so much! Here’s a friend from Brooklyn on our good haflinger gelding Champayne.
Conor, our most catlike goat. Deep down he is a lap kitty.
Their last season as a perfect team. Megan outgrowing this most perfect, sweet, wonderful little pony is the saddest thing.

The turkeys. Grrr, the turkeys. They deserve a post of their own. They’ll get one. Grrr. Bad turkeys.

Okay, so it wasn’t all good. Here I am with poison ivy in my eye. I don’t think there was more than a few days this summer in which I did not have poison ivy somewhere on my body. This time was clearly the worst. If I don’t look truly, deeply miserable, let me assure you: I was truly and deeply miserable. I went another day after this picture was taken before giving in and going to get a steroid prescription.
 Squash! Crazy squash. Gremlin squash. Carnival squash. Next year I’ll have a garden just for squash. I love growing squash.
Megan helped a fledgling barn swallow find its way onto a good perch.
Our first season with a fresh doe. Ruby provided all our milk needs this summer. Ernie did all the milking and all the cheese-making. I did some of the ice cream duty. Lovely, exciting, and delicious.
 Fourth of July cloudburst at Colgate Lake!
Canoeing on the Hudson. Oh my god, we have to get a canoe and do this every week. We went with a group of friends in a little flotilla of canoes and kayaks. So much fun.
Our local swimming hole. Beautiful. Deep. Occasionally, a slightly local vibe. You know what I mean by local, right? Beer cans, pit bulls, smokers. But friendly. Always friendly.
We are more settled this year, and I ascribe our perfect summer to our deepening sense of community and friendship in the area, our greater knowledge of local attractions, and the very personalized life we’ve carved out here through sheer, satisfying effort. We don’t have a lot of money. Our house isn’t finished. Our list of tasks is endless. We are still figuring out the education piece for the kids. But we are so happy with our lives up here.
Will the next three seasons be so awesome?
Can’t wait until next summer.

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