The Catskills Conductor Clambake

In my short time in Sullivan County, I’m starting to see it as a series of small, interconnected towns most of which are 20 minutes from one another. Youngsville, Jeffersonville, Livingston Manor, Callicoon – all of these have their post office and library and plenty have farmer’s markets and restaurants, breweries and parks. In a way, it reminds me of Westchester in the 1960s and 70s when I was a little boy. These were places where you could keep your car running in the winter if you ran into the post office.

One of the features of the area is the number of events that are taking place all of the time. In these pages, I plan on letting you know more about them because each one will have bits of what I love – music, food, craft vendors and, of course, people and dogs!

Prior to attending today’s event, we took a trip to the local dump with our neighbor, Don. This is one of those rural areas where we have no rural mail service or garbage delivery. As a result, we pick up our mail at the post office and drive our garbage and recycling materials to the Livingston Manor every week or so.

After the dump station, we decided to check out the local parks so that we could let Bradley run around a bit. At the second one, we met a lovely couple, Peggy and Bob and their dog, Kody. As is our wont, we spent about sitting on the grass for an hour getting to know one another. “The secret of life,” sang James Taylor, “is enjoing the passage of time.” This involves the imperfect art of “moseying” which means one has to sloooooooow down and give up on the need to get things done. As Bob said during our conversation, “we move into a place centered on people instead of things.”

From there, we stopped at Peck’s Market to recycle our cans and bottles (can’t do that at the dump) and that’s when a couple in a neighboring car asked us, “Are you folks from around here?”

“No. Sorry,” I said. “but what’s up?”

“We’re looking for the clambake,” the woman said.

“Clambake,” I repeated. “Nope. Can’t help you there. Beth, do you know anything about a clambake?”

Beth and the couple – who were from Willow Grove, PA near Beth’s hometown – continued to talk while I went to exchange my cans. On the way back, I asked a fellow who looked like a local if he knew about the clambake. He didn’t but another fellow 10 feet away heard the question and told us, “Yeah. It’s at KC’s airport.” The two guys proceeded to give me directions. I thanked them and returned to Beth and the couple from PA with a big smile.

“Okay, here’s the way to get there,” I said, and gave them directions. They thanked us and I said, “You may just see us there, too!”

Being in moseying mood with no real plans, we talked about it and decided, “what the heck. Let’s go check out the clambake!”

As you can see by the way I’ve taken my sweet time to get us from home to the clambake, there are always stops in-between destinations around here. I think Bob would agree – it’s not a straight line when one lets go of the need to get things done and focuses on people instead of things. Today’s goal wasn’t to get somewhere, but to enjoy “the passage of time.”

Paying our $5 to park, we ambled to the vendor area where we chatted with about twenty really interesting vendors and checked out their wares. There were two alpacas in a pen next to two women who knitted sweaters and blankets, a woman offering B12 shots and a chance to win a botox treatment, farmers with flowers, a photographer displaying a previously unseen collection of photos from Woodstock (wow) and a Jewelry designer who farmed with her husband on the side. Passing by the Catskill Brewery table, we marked the vendor selling homemade chocolate cookies for after lunch.

Seeing our friends from Peck’s Market, we sat down to a sea boil of shrimp, corn on the cob and fresh potatoes with iced tea. I felt like we were in Maryland again with that meal! After that tasty stop, we doubled back to the cookie place where I enjoyed two (Beth, one) palm-sized cookies. They were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I’m a sucker for a good cookie.

It’s hard to pick the most memorable vendor, but we spent the most time with Nick, the man who sold the Woodstock photos, and a couple (Omowale and Nadia) who moved to Jeffersonville from NYC to raise their family, learn to farm and ply their careers as writers and artists. Their place, Liberation Farm (https://liberationfarm.org/), sounds really interesting and I was moved to buy Omowale’s book to learn more about veganism and its connection to our food system, politics and money. In their eyes, I recognized kindred spirits as I had with Peggy and Bob. Sometimes, you just feel the connection.

Before I say, “goodbye,” I should report that Bradley had a great day. I’m so happy that we chose to give him and us more time together. Last night, I sat with him in the dark as he struggled to slow down his breathing and fall asleep. Even though I was very tired, I stroked his back and remembered how I had done the same with my dog, Clancy, when I was a boy of 10 and Clancy was ill. These are important moments, “the gift”our friend, Erin, told us about, yesterday. I’m ready to receive it.

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