There are many things we love to do when we’re up in the Berkshires. Taking hikes is at the top of the list. It is still a bit early (snow and mud on the ground) to go on the more ambitious hikes, so we decided to take a simple walk along Ice Glen road. At the end of the hike we ran into a woman walking with her puppy. We stopped to talk with her and discovered that she keeps chickens and raises or grows all her own food. She also has a flock of alpacas and spins and weaves the fiber. I mentioned that I spin and she invited us to walk over to her house, where she gave me a trash bag full of her alpaca fiber.
It was crazy how much we had in common with her. She mentioned that she has a son who’s a photographer in Brooklyn. But what put me over the edge was when she said that I could dye the white alpaca and mentioned that she picks wild mushrooms to dye her fiber. She uses turkey tail mushrooms to dye her wool blue. I’m going to have to keep my eye out for them this year.
My new challenge is to process the fiber. I usually buy fiber that has already been washed and carded. I am going to borrow equipment from someone in my spinning group to card it. I’ll post more when I work on the fiber.
I am excited by this new challenge. It was so unexpected to meet such a nice woman and come away with gorgeous, soft alpaca fiber.
This past weekend I went with 3 friends from my knitting group up to Rhinebeck, NY to the NY Sheep and Wool festival. For those of you who aren’t knitters (seriously, are there any??), this weekend is kind of the holy grail for knitters and spinners. One of my friends referred to it as Burning Man for middle-aged women.
The festival takes place at the Dutchess County fairgrounds, which are gorgeous with fall foliage this time of year. There are vendors of all kinds – yarns, spinning wheels, spinning fibers, patterns, shearling slippers, handmade soaps, etc. There are also barns filled with livestock including sheep, goats, alpaca and llamas. There are plenty of kids from the various farms who exhibit their animals and hope to win ribbons. It was hard to say if the sheep or these kids were cuter. I was particularly smitten with this sweet girl, who is about my daughter’s age. She was very proud of her sheep, and admitted to me that she does miss her animals after she sells them. I also thought this sheep showed an enormous amount of personality.
Lisa and I are eating lunch from the artichoke guys.
We really lucked out with the weather. It was sunny and mild, so we could wear some light knitwear. I finished this melon-colored sweater about a week before the festival. The pattern is called Buttercup. What’s fun about this weekend is that you are surrounded by your people. The sheer quantity of gorgeous (and bizarre) knitwear was astounding. The sheer quantity (shear quantity?) of bad knitting puns we saw was also astounding. Our B & B was filled with knitters, which was fun.
And before we left, we stopped by the farmer’s market in Rhinebeck to pick up a few more goodies. My friend Amy came away with this gorgeous (and enormous!) wooden serving board.
I hope everyone had a nice weekend. On Saturday I went with some girls from my Brownie troop to see the last Liberty basketball game of the season. If you haven’t been to a WNBA game, I highly recommend it. The girls enjoyed themselves and unknowingly got a little feminist boost watching women athletes.
Yesterday we went to Harriman State Park. It’s just over an hour out of the city, and comprises miles and miles of varied hiking trails. I first went here with my mushroom hunting group. This time we tried a different trail that led us to a lake. The water was clear and all of us were itching to swim in it. Next year we’ll pick a nice hot summer day, leave the city early and spend some time there.
We had an interesting wildlife sighting while we were hiking. Our friend Kate saw a snake move and then heard a rattling noise. It turns out this 4-foot snake is a timber rattlesnake. We warned people who had dogs about the snake as they approached the area to hilarious results. Most picked up their dogs and were fascinated. One woman completely lost her mind and started shrieking about snakes. I think even her dog rolled its eyes at her.
This Saturday Neil and I went on a morel foray. Although the spring has been extremely dry, it rained recently and we were hopeful that that would lead to some good morel hunting. Nope. Between about 60 people, only 4 morels were found. I wasn’t one of the ones who found one. Bummer. And it doesn’t help that a good friend from Seattle is practically tripping over morels in her garden. And doesn’t believe me when I tell her they are real morels. So she doesn’t eat them. Wah.
But, it was a beautiful sunny day out of the city. I can’t disclose the location, although with such poor results, I doubt anyone will be banging my door down to tell them. And I saw a turtle. You have to get excited about something, right?
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. We went up to the Berkshires, which always gives us an excuse to spend time outdoors hiking. Here are some photos from the weekend.
The weekend before last weekend (I’m about a week or so behind because of being buried in work) we had the most spectacular Fall weather. We needed to be outdoors in nature immediately and decided to go bike riding up in Dobbs Ferry, NY. They have a public trail that follows the route of the old Croton aqueduct. Although Dobbs Ferry is quite near the city, we haven’t spent any time there. It is a very quaint town with very interesting architecture. The homes range from pretty to spectacular. We had to pull off the trail to see the most amazing house. It looked like Willie Wonka lived there. I had to accost strangers on the trail to get more information on it and was told it was called the octagon house. Take a peek at this link to see some interior views. It’s really amazing – especially the dance room! I’m going to have to read more because I have no idea why there’s a phrenology model with the other photos.
It was nice to ride through the woods with the gorgeous fall foliage. I loved that this trail runs behind, and in some cases, through huge estates. Public access!
Here are some photos of the day.
This past weekend was jam-packed with birthday fun. It was also a very mushroom-filled weekend. My in-laws gave me a pocket knife, and Neil gave me a collecting basket for mushroom hunting. On saturday morning, we christened both, by going to Stony Brook in Harriman State Park for a walk with my mushroom group. The weather was spectacular and the leaves were just starting to turn golden.
We walked along a stream and found lots of mushrooms, including delicious black trumpets. With all the rain we’ve had, this summer has been one of the best for mushroom hunting many people can remember. This is my first year, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. Here are some photos from the walk.
That night we went to see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil. The production was spectacular. I would love to go back several more times to absorb all of the layers of scenery, costumes, performances, etc. If you can possibly go to see it, you should run now and get tickets. It was amazing. We got heavily discounted tickets, so were able to bring Lindsay. I think it blew her 7-year old mind.
Then Sunday, which was my actual birthday, I slept in. For those of you with young kids, you know how rare and wonderful this is. Neil cooked up the black trumpets with eggs and we had a nice breakfast. The day was beautiful, so we went for a walk in Prospect Park. Later that night, we met friends for dinner and came back to our place for drinks afterwards. It was a great weekend with family and friends and I felt very celebrated.
As promised, here are more photos from our trip. It is starting to seem like a long time ago already, as the weather cools and daily pace speeds up.
Chincoteague is a forager’s paradise. You can’t throw down a wire cage without catching loads of crabs. Oysters and clams are abundant and I did see some mussels. Neil learned how to shuck oysters, which led to many nights of oysters on the half shell. Clams tossed on the bbq were a big favorite as well.
For anyone who read Misty of Chincoteague, you can visit Misty and Stormy at the museum. Stormy was still alive when I went there as a child. Somewhere there’s a photo of me being kissed on the cheek by Stormy.
This year we decided to go to the beach at Chincoteague, VA, which is the place I used to go to as a child. Chincoteague is a small island just below more major beaches such as Rehoboth, Dewey and Ocean City, MD. Chincoteague itself is a sleepy little town that seems to be caught in time. What really makes the trip special is Assateague. Assateague is a barrier island that spans parts of MD and VA. Years ago a Spanish ship, carrying a cargo of ponies destined to work in the gold mines of Peru, crashed off the shore of Assateague. The ponies swam to shore and have lived on the island ever since. Assateague is a National Park and a wildlife sanctuary, so it hasn’t changed since I was a kid.
At first we weren’t sure we would be able to go on our vacation because of hurricane Irene, however everything seemed okay once it passed, so we left just one day later than originally planned. The weather was spectacular and the mosquitoes, which are somewhat infamous, seemed to have washed away with the storm. Assateague, being a barrier island, took the brunt of the storm. The parking lots nearest the beaches were covered with sand, so they were closed the first few days of our trip. We had brought our bikes, so were able to bike the nature loop to get to one of their more remote beaches. I’m so glad the other lots were closed, as we might not have realized this little hidden beach was there. When you were on this beach, you didn’t see anything man-made. You saw pine forests past the sand dunes. I remembered Assateague as being nature’s amusement park and it still was. We saw a herd of wild ponies (which have been fenced back since I was a child. Thanks stupid tourists for ruining that!), a bald eagle, dolphins, a snake, coquinas and loads more. Coquinas are tiny little clam-like creatures that wash up with the waves. They come in all kinds of pastel colors and patterns. My sister and I loved to dig them up and watch them burrow themselves back into the sand. This video is for her. I will post more photos from our trip soon.