I am so grateful to the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development for granting me this residency I did last week, at their cabin in Platte Clove. Only a little over an hour north of Beacon, but I felt so much farther away, in the wilderness on top of a mountain, the steady rush of Plattekill Falls beyond.
From my writing last Tuesday: I find that I am doing a lot of standing around and looking. I stand in the doorway and stare out at the trees, at the edge of the little lawn where it drops off into the surrounding woods, at the sunlight filtering through branches. I stand in the grass, staring at a thousand shades of green and shapes of leaves, and listen to the waterfall down below and the sound of the occasional car going past on the road. Inside the cabin, I stare at the 7 pencil drawings I did, simple line studies of plants, each one isolated from the tangle of foliage around it. I have simultaneous feelings of having plenty of time, and not having nearly enough. Even with what feels like extra hours in the day that aren't being consumed by internet, phone, or talking to people.
Yesterday afternoon I went for what turned out to be another inadvertently long hike, at least for me. Where I live, I'm surrounded by hiking trails, but I rarely go and I don't know why. Maybe that will change when I return home. This isn't exactly meant to be a hiking residency, but I feel like I need it. My disintegrating hiking shoes are barely up to the task, and I forgot to apply bug spray, and a short squiggle of a trail on the map took me three hours, but I felt so triumphant upon my return. Mosquitoes droned incessantly around my ears and face as I swatted and sweated and climbed uphill towards Huckleberry Point, motivated by the promise of a spectacular view. At the top I picked a handful of tiny blueberries- no huckleberries, but they might be out of season, or I forget what they look like. The panorama staggered me, I felt like I'd never been so high up in the mountains in New York State before.
Surveying the mountaintops, the Hudson far beyond, I felt exhilarated, small and humbled. I used my camera's self-timer again to take some photos of my tired and beaming self. On the way back down I cautiously ran part of the way, and I'm no runner. I can feel it today, maybe the unevenness of the rocks under my feet, but I'm satisfied. I've been reading about this area- the history and terrain of Platte Clove and the Catskills in general- and it doesn't seem so urgent to stay put, even to paint (and I'm sure that's part of the idea), while in the vicinity of such beauty.