City folk often wonder where exactly we live. Upstate? Catskills? Hudson Valley? Downstate? Upstate is different from the city in it’s arrangement of towns, hamlets, villages etc. We pay our taxes to the ‘town’ of Marbletown which includes the ‘hamlets’ of Stone Ridge and High Falls, but our zip code is in Kingston (go figure), and our ‘fire district’ is Lomontville! Lomontville might best be described as our neighborhood, since it is no longer a proper town, just a fire house. We feel connected to all these towns. Stone Ridge is really our town and Kingston is our closest city.
Kingston is an interesting place and, in 2016, feels very much like it’s on the upswing. Founded in the 17th century, it is full of New York history as well as colonial history. Kingston was settled, along with Albany and New Amsterdam, by the Dutch in 1651. It persisted as a Dutch settlement for many years, but like most of the area, was taken over by English-speaking colonists during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1777, Kingston became the capitol of New York State for a short time until the city was torched by British soldiers during the American Revolution. The city thrived for over a hundred years but was negatively impacted in the 20th century by the loss of the railroad, the end of the bluestone trade, the closing of the upstate NY canal system and the departure of IBM in 1987. The current population is about 24,000. The city has it’s issues, including lack of jobs, an aging infrastructure and budget woes, but it is a beautiful town with lots to offer.
The 17th-18th century neighborhood is called Uptown or the Stockade district, and the more 19th century area, which used to be a separate town, is called the Rondout. There are some amazing houses & neighborhoods here. Many of the stone homes are open for tours, and there are walking tours of historic Kingston. You can have a nice meal in the 1679 Hoffman House.
I can’t claim to have discovered any of these houses on my own (linked below and found on design blogs, etc) but I am happy to share the info. On DesignSponge there was Hayes Clement’s home which I learned was designed by Calvert Vaux, who, with Frederick Law Olmstead, designed both Central Park and Prospect Park, among other things. Turns out Calvert Vaux married a woman from Kingston and lived here.
DesignSponge home tour http://www.designsponge.com/2014/10/sneak-peek-hayes-clement.html
Uptown Kingston was first settled at the end of the 17th century by the Dutch and there are lots of beautiful stone houses here. Like these:
This is a pretty rental/event space pictured below. We went to a party in this lovely courtyard but you can also find the entire place for rent on AirBnB. http://www.churchdesartistes.com/
Below is a fun design blog of a young Manhattanite renovating some pretty Kingston houses. http://manhattan-nest.com/
Here’s another home renovation/house rental in Kingston, also featured on DesignSponge: http://www.designsponge.com/2013/09/a-young-couples-charm-filled-hudson-valley-home.html
I can’t resist a plug for my fave restaurant in town: Boitsons!
It’s worth a trip.
Us locals are also incredibly excited about the new National Premier Soccer League team coming to Kingston, the Kingston Stockade! Read all about it here: http://www.kingstonx.com/2015/12/01/soccer-made-in-kingston-semi-pro-stockade-fc-starts-play-at-dietz-next-year
So… I realize that this is just barely scratching the surface of Kingston and doesn’t include restaurants, shops, etc. but I have been thinking about how much potential this little city has with great history, architecture, a beautiful location on the Hudson river and only 2 hours from New York City!!
Last Wednesday Felix came running inside to tell us there was a huge group of bees hanging off of a branch in the yard. We all RAN outside as fast as we could and saw that it was, indeed a large bunch of bees hanging, shoulder-high, on a branch very near our actual beehive.
I remembered that swarms are not dangerous because they have no hive to defend so we went up close to examine it. It was really amazing to see this huge mass of bugs all clinging together. Jem & I ran to assemble an unused beehive to catch the swarm, as we headed back, they all seemed to be taking flight and within a few seconds we realized they were flying up up and over the top of a tall pine tree towards the woods.
It was the perfect height for us to catch it if we had only gotten there in time.
They’ve just left their other home because it was too crowded there (swarming is a natural part of life for honeybees), after they find a nice place to hang out for a short while, they send out scout bees to find a new home. When a particular number of scout bees return recommending the exact same location, then they all take flight together.
“The term ‘swarming’ is applied to the act of a family of bees leaving their home to establish a new home elsewhere.” –The ABC and XYZ of Beekeeping” A.I. Root, 1878
The other side.
Below is a video of them taking off.
This is where we moved the beehive to before we installed the new package of bees in April, they seem to like it better here. This is immediately to the left of where the swarm was.
Cousin Alex was visiting! and can be heard yelling to the bees in the video ‘Where are you going!?’
Hello! It’s only January but it’s been a very wintery winter so far. The colors of winter are amazing, as is the winter light. The early morning sun turns the tops of the pine trees pink at the woodland edge.
There are wonderful mature trees next door, which is also our sledding hill (big thank you to our neighbors Dennis & Chelsa).
Flat grey sky.
Much time has passed since my last post. It’s October now and we are settling in to our new life in “the country”. Yes, it is very photogenic here.
Above you see the upside of having a dog, I would NEVER have been outside at 6am to capture this scene if it weren’t for the dog.
The flip side of that is not so lovely. These were my good, ie: “real”, reading glasses. Layla just destroyed them with her gigantic mouth and left them in the meadow.
Pretty pictures give the impression that it’s all just pure gorgeousness up here. It is pretty, yes, but daily life is very similar to Brooklyn except with more driving and more time spent outdoors. I still work at home on my computer, still do the 3pm school pickup and still I still listen to wnyc on the radio all day, so for the time being I still feel connected to our old life in the City. One difference is I don’t recall having QUITE so many chipmunks in the house in Brooklyn! Both the dog and the cat seem to like to bring small mammals into the house which totally freaks me out.
We have been taking the dog for walks on the local ‘rail trail’ which is a lovely way to start the day. It sure beats my former commute to Long Island City via the G train. Here is the rail trail in the morning light.
For anyone visiting (or living in) the Catskills, a visit to the Saugerties Lighthouse is essential. It’s a Victorian-era brick lighthouse set on a sandy peninsula in the middle of the Hudson River.
View of the Hudson looking east.