Saturday, September 20, 2008

In the Catskills, the end draws near

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I only had a week left in New York City, and boy was I in denial. It didn't at all feel like I was about to move myself across the country to start school—all it felt like was me living with my parents and hanging out with my friends. Colorado what?

But several weeks earlier, TC had cooked up the idea of a final weekend trip on the East Coast before I left (and I did leave, I swear, as much as my posts make it seem like I'm still in NYC). After figuring out what our options were—beach camping in Maryland was the original plan, but it was too late to stay on the island we wanted—she managed to find a house that could accommodate all of us. Two artists, a married couple formally from Brooklyn, were renting out a converted barn in the Catskills that boasted several beds and futons, a large kitchen and dining area, two bathrooms (one with a claw-foot tub), and a completely open loft structure. It had been their home just before, so the place still bore signs of their presence, such as their artwork on the walls and an entire jewelry studio in one of the rooms. It was easily one of the most unique houses I'd ever stayed in.
Photo by TL

It even had a hammock, for godsake.

Since there were so many of us, we straggled in at various times Friday evening. The first night was mellow; mostly we waited for people to arrive and sat around the dining/living room drinking and chatting. The majority hit the sack early, as we had an early morning ahead.
When we woke, a group effort led to this spread on the table. Scrambled eggs; toast; bananas; grapes; pan-fried salami; sausage and peppers; tomatoes and mozzarella. As much as we wanted to, we didn't linger too long over breakfast. Hustle, hustle…we had places to go, and things to do.
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Photos by TL

Things like…kayaking! We spent the morning floating down the Delaware River. There were only a few mishaps, which did not involve making a wrong turn, getting stuck on rocks, and losing everyone else on the river for the last hour. Not did it involve JL refusing to apply sunblock and ending up with a crazy burn stripe on top of his thighs and calves, like a roller of hot pink paint had swept up his legs. A certain DL didn't tip right into the water at the end of the ride, either.

Of course not.
After kayaking, most of us took a nap after getting back and eating lunch (and showering). But before dinner, AT, RA, TL, and I took a walk and went exploring the graveyard and the gravel pits nearby. "It feels like you're in the middle of the desert," was how the owner had described the area. He was right.
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Once it was about time to start preparing dinner several of us got to work. The plan had been to use the grill outside, but as it had gotten cold and the mosquitoes were biting, we opted to sear the steaks in a large cast-iron skillet and to boil the sweet ears of corn for our Mexican-style cobs instead of grilling—both came out successfully. The zucchini, yellow squash, onions, and eggplant didn't fare as well; they were meant to come out roasted, but overcrowding in the oven made them more steamed than charred and they were a little undercooked to boot. But SH had made a killer pasta salad, and we cooked up some turkey burgers and garlicky sauteed portobello mushrooms as well. Once we threw in the random leftovers from lunch (cold cuts, bread, cheese), there was plenty of food, and I'm pretty sure no one went hungry. Especially TL the corn-lover, who downed two of the cheesy, spicy suckers lickety-split.

That night, we were in for the "serious drinking" portion of the trip, which involved PatrĂ³n, Grey Goose, Sana-ritas, and many cans of beer. Throw in a deck of cards and a bunch of alcohol penalties, and you've got "I Never," Kings, boob-grabbing, and some mighty embarrassing dance moves.

It was a while before we got to sleep.
What 30 eggs look like
The next morning, I woke up early to get breakfast started. Given a slight shortage the morning before, we compensated by making an extra large batch of eggs. In case anyone is curious what thirty eggs look like cracked into a bowl, well, here you go.
Scrambled with scallions and parm
With the help of milk, salt, and a whisk, thirty floating yolks became two pans of scrambled eggs with scallions and parmesan.
Farm-laid eggs Fryin'
There were also six fresh eggs…
…courtesy of these fellas. Look at the difference in yolk color! I simply fried them up in a pool of butter, and the six farm eggs disappeared quickly.
Inside Turquoise Barn
After that, it was time to get ready to leave. Some of us went to take a look at the Turquoise Barn gallery nearby; the house owners had held a reception there the day before, but as we had been out kayaking, we missed it. As we packed up, I thought about how it would be a long time before I would take a trip like this again, and even if I did, it probably wouldn't be with exactly the same set of friends. Already others were making plans and moves in different directions, and there was just no telling where any of us would end up. Whatever later-on was going to be, though, I had just spent a very fine weekend with a group of loved ones, and it was that which made me realize who and what I was leaving behind. That weekend, I allowed myself to admit that I was going to be saying goodbye.


  1. OMG, gimme some of that beautifully seared steak.

  2. Yes, TL did a great job cooking the steaks!