Growing up in New England, I've always had a particular pride in the region. We're tucked way out here up in the corner, with quirky folks, amazing natural beauty in every season, world-renowned food, and a globally loved aesthetic and culture. Which is exactly the reason why it has never once occurred to me to go anywhere else when the trees start changing color and the air gets cooler. I have my yearly traditions, my secret apple trees, my even more secret mushroom foraging spots, and the primal urge to drive New Hampshire's Kancamangus Highway with all the other tourists. But this year, after a summer spent almost entirely at home by the beach, I was restless for a change of scenery, and looked at the map. New York.... what a strange and distant four hour drive away. I knew a friend of mine had a family hunting cabin deep in the woods of the Catskills. I made a phone call and the next day we were westbound down the Pike and headed for the hills.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” -HDT
A stunningly gorgeous drive across Massachusetts led us to New York, and eventually to an unmarked dirt road where the GPS ended and the cell service fell away. Following a hand-written and outdated map, we bumped and bonked our little Subaru down a one track “road” paved in wet rock slabs and deep puddles. Two slow and muddy miles later we parked at the top of a steep hill looking down at a tiny mossy cabin tucked below by the river. At the limits of the Subaru, we let our over enthusiastic beagle loose and followed her down the trail.
No service, no electricity, no running water, and no heat welcomed us silently as we unlocked the screen door and settled in. We spent the day walking the banks of the river, foraging for black trumpet mushrooms, and laughing at Annie the beagle diving deep into chipmunk dens looking for a fight. A slow drizzle turned into a torrential downpour that would last through the night. Freshly picked hedgehog mushrooms sizzled in the Griswold cast iron on top of the wood stove. Doors all open, fire blazing, we sipped tea as the storm raged outside and tucked into a simple mushroom pasta. Guitar by the candlelight really rounded out the evening. At some point in the night I woke up and stoked the fire, shut the doors, and climbed back in bed. Sublime.
The next morning, the wind and rain subsided but a damp and dreary start to the day kept the morning slow. Another fire crackled as it swallowed up the logs, wet from the rain. The smoke mingled with the steam from our fresh (hand ground) coffee and we took it easy, sitting by the fire, listening to the birds and the now overflowing river down below.
A brief but much needed escape brought us away from home and established an amazing new place in our minds. Something about venturing just a tiny bit further than normal scratches the itch and keeps us excited for the next adventure. We're already planning our return, maybe for a snowstorm. Get out there!