Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Driving Up To The Catskills From Park Slope

Chelsea and I have been basically living in the Catskills for the past 15 months. I have been commuting back and forth to Brooklyn almost every week, while Chelsea has probably averaged every third weekend in Brooklyn. Right now I am thoroughly sick of the weekly commute. It’s not that the drive is so bad. It takes approximately three and a half hours to make the trip, which is mostly on the New York State Thruway. I you travel on the off hours, say after 10:00 PM both ways, it is a breeze as long as there is no car trouble and E-Z-Pass is working. The hard part is packing at each end so that you do not forget essential items related to household management and academic work. I am sick of this.

Today we left our house at about 3:45 PM (rush hour), drove across from Park Slope to Clinton Hill, and got on the BQE to the Grand Central Parkway and the Triboro Bridge by about 4:00. We were waylaid along the way by a call of desperation from our lawyer in Hudson New York who is handling a divorce case for one of the members of our family nest. She is preparing to go to trial, and wanted to set up a phone conference with us.

Traffic was slow on the BQE over the Kosciusko Bridge, a fast bumper to bumper, but the Triboro was moving well, and the Deegan North was a fast heavy steady. Traffic was still heavy but moving well after we passed the exit to the George Washington Bridge off the Deegan, and we moved right along. Chelsea and I had been bickering all day, and the time just flew by. I was suddenly on the Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson before I knew it. The Thruway up to about Sloatsburg is clogged and relatively slow at the evening rush hour, but we made it to the Sloatsburg Rest Stop by about 6:00 PM. It had taken about two hours to make the first 50 miles out of Brooklyn. We did not eat, but just went to the rest room, put in 5 gallons of gas, and pulled back out on the highway with Chelsea at the wheel now. I was tired after the two hour stint through the New York and Westchester and Yonkers rush hour, and glad to let my mind drift.

We were able to pick up Radio Woodstock almost as soon as we left Sloatsburg. My heart lifted after the days of focusing on managing three courses, and the issues of making a new home in the renovated Transy House. I could feel the transition happening between my New York frame of mind and my Catskill frame of mind. I was feeling happier as I mentally planned my weekend. I did not feel like bickering any more, and I reached over to rest my hand on Chelsea’s leg as she drove. I can be a real bitch.

I have gone up and down the Thruway to the Catskills about 75 times in the past year and a half. The road is very familiar to me. It is always nice to look at the scenery flowing by. The Thruway up the Hudson Valley from the Bronx to the Canadian border just south of Montreal is an absolutely beautiful drive. This slice of New York State has a special beauty, with green mountain vistas, and glimpses of the Hudson at the core of the valley.

Certain places are markers of progress to me: the intriguing stone silos just before Sloatsburg, the well groomed apple orchards on either side before Newburgh, and the sign that says “Catskills Exits 18-19-20-21” before New Paltz.

At Kingston, exit 19, we turn West on state route 28 in the direction of Pine Hill and, eventually, Oneonta. As we go down this road we are fully back into our Catskill mode, thinking about what to buy for dinner, what to cook for Gina when she gets home from work at 12:30 AM, and whether Kat was able to straighten out a problem with her card. I am planning a weekend of grading papers and paying bills.

We pass the turn off to Woodstock on Route 315, roll by Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel in Mt. Tremper, and pull into the 24 hour farm stand. There are a lot of people from the City up here every weekend, and they all need to stock up on local food as they arrive. We bought local organic apples, local pear cider, local red potatoes, asparagus, yellow squash, loaves of artesanal zucchini and banana bread, brussel sprouts on the stalk, local milk and cheese, and picked up a Phoenicia Times. We drove on past the Catskill Railway where we go with Caleb, and the giant eagle statue at the entrance to Phoenicia, and knew that we were almost home. Soon enough we turned up the road in the Village, and felt joy that we had just five more miles to go.

The weather was at least ten degrees colder than in the city, and I had forgotten my down vest and coat. Chelsea commented as we drove the last miles “this is a really long way to ride a bicycle” (meaning the five miles from the Village to our little place), and I commented “it sure is a long way, but I was younger then.” Chelsea said “that was just last week.” I said “that’s what I mean.”

It was good to see the Grand Wagoneer parked outside the driveway, and to be home. Chelsea said “don’t you have just a little bit of a feeling of being home?” I grudgingly said “yes.”


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