Dear Readers: Though I adhere to no recognized or singular faith, I do love stories. Give me a well-written epic about families, communities, struggle and transformation, and I’ll soak it in rather than eat, sleep or bathe. And spring — glorious, tricky, laughing-up-its-sleeve-spring — is rife with stories. The rituals and traditions of our spring celebrations turn our hearts to hope, sunshine, birth, awakenings and all the goodness that sheds the worn, tired and fearsome dark. For many of us, more than New Year’s, the Vernal Equinox signals the time when we re-examine our principles, our desires and the investments of our energy.
Who can see the first impertinent Crocus and not raise arms in an expansive, giddy embrace? Who, in that moment, doesn’t hope to become a more generous, celebratory human, reveling in the gifts of Earth, Water, Seeds and Life?
It seems to me this year, that winter’s weight has been harder to shift; and that this year, shifting it is more important than ever. I am more frazzled by the things that threaten — less swelled by the things that green and warm. I think I’m not alone and so, because living in dread is enervating, I offer this antidote in hopes that gloom will pass over your heads and homes.
My email inbox has been filled with reminders that a new season of art shows, library programs and pancake breakfasts is upon us. Classes are sprouting in the fine arts of herb-growing, veggie-planting and yoga- practicing. From Pennsylvania to Poughkeepsie, grants were written during the winter and their seeds are flowering: funds have been found for Honesdale’s Music in the Park Festival and last evening — despite the threat of snow — Callicoon’s own Cafe Devine sponsored a cross-river gathering of small businesses. The Town of Delaware is making plans for its clean-up and new Renaissance projects are gearing up for sprucing up. (Despite my own lackluster mood, I clapped when I heard the Callicoon Creek Park folks are meeting on March 31 at 5:00 PM to begin planning for the summer. Hope to see you there!)
How can I grumble like a curmudgeon when I can fill my summer belly with an astonishing array of Willow Wisp Organic Farm fresh veggies from June 4th until November 20th? (I have to shake my doldrums and sign up by April 16th because, even though I remain unconvinced about the wholesome value of veggies in my diet, proprietors Greg Swartz and Tannis Kowalchuk look very sturdy and I know they eat the stuff even through the winter. Take a gander at the family picture at their website. Health oozes off these people!)
The Catskill Art Society, The DVAA (Savor the Arts!), The Barryville Area Arts Association, The Nutshell Arts Center and all their member artists, filmmakers, potters, fiber artists and photographers are shaking out the winter kinks with a cornucopia of events that breathe life into our better selves.
And farm markets! I cannot tell you how gladdened I am as the River flows past my window that the Callicoon Creek Park, Liberty’s Darbee Lane, Jeffersonville’s “West Village,” Roscoe’s field and tens of other locales will soon fill with the luscious reds, greens, lavenders, purples and russets of locally-grown food, crusty breads and my favorite, gooey confections.
Happily, my phone and inbox are also coming alive with offers of yard work, spring cleaning and other work that will pay my rent and help me enjoy our fecund River Basin.
Speaking of fecund (such a fertile, ripe word!)… Josh Fox (Gasland) will be interviewed tonight (3/26) at 8:30 pm on Now on PBS. (If, like myself, you’ve canceled your TV service, check Now’s online videos to watch it at your convenience.)
If that isn’t enough to convince the outside world of the creative wealth born and bred in these here mountains and river valley, Opus Jazz (edited by Zac Stuart-Pontier) is premiering on PBS’ Great Performances.
For those of you who have not heard about these two Delaware River Basin filmmakers, they are OUR sons who, thanks to sweat, hard-work, and creative genius, finally met this past January when Gasland and Catfish (edited by Zac) showed — to critical acclaim — at The Sundance Film Festival.
One last quick note about the importance of our region’s performers and artists: Janet Burgan, local songwriter and performer, who has been sharing her voice and words with us for years at one freebie benefit concert after another, will be performing at a Cindy Sheehan appearance on April 9, 2010 at 7:00 PM in Endicott, NY. The event, “Words and Music for Peace” is sponsored by Tioga Peace & Justice and will be held at The First United Methodist Church on McKinley Ave. “Cindy will speak, Janet will sing, and Expressive Drumming will perform a song written just for this occasion.”
I know I’ve missed a ton of events, organizations, farmers and small businesses in this first Spring Humors article. Unfortunately, gas drilling is on our doorsteps. It has already begun its taking; and like all of us, I’ve had to make hard choices. I’d much rather be adding all our creative and life-affirming events to the CottageWorks Calendar, but instead, am learning and sharing all I can about what fracking will mean to our community. It’s the dread that darkens this spring and in years to come, when my grandchildren ask, “Where were you, Grandma, when the Basin resisted?” I can only afford to give them one answer, “Standing beside my community and sitting at my computer.”
However, I will try to write a column like this at least once a month. Please continue to send announcements about your not-for-profit organizations and community-vested businesses and I will continue to spotlight them in a “celebratory article.”
Best hopes of the River Basin on all our heads,