Thanks to Global Warming (oops, sorry, I mean "climate change") the weather in late October in the Catskill Mountains was beautiful. It was the peak of Flaming Foliage season and the ride up as well as the ride home was beautiful.
We danced at the Mountain Brauhaus, a Catskill re-creation of an authentic Bavarian Bierhalle complete with traditional dress, accordion polkas and all that is "uber-cheesy" about southern Germany. They also offer a wide selection of the corniest German Alpen music on CD (and cassette--remember those?).
I had a nice, long conversation with the mistress of the manor. She was a German living in Romania when the German Army came and told everyone to bug out before the Russians got there. What followed was a harrowing journey through Hungary, a year-long stint living with a farmer and his family in Ober Austria, then some time spent in Linz in southern Germany and then, finally, in 1955, the emigration to the U.S. Her husband got a job as a welder and after some time, they bought the Crystal Brook and moved to the Catskills. I was hoping for some gems of wisdom from her considering all the trials she had been through and her first hand experiences with the tragedy of war. But although a long conversation makes me feel good about my German ability, the "Gespraech" was tempered by her thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. It was a bit disappointing but, instead of confronting, I gently steered the conversation to a consensus that war is a bummer for everyone and we should really consider not slaughtering each other. She agreed and then added that what is going on in Iraq is pointless and criminal. I whole-heartedly agreed and we ended on a note of unity.
Britt and I left the kids with the grandparents and escaped to Woodstock for the day on Saturday. Woodstock is a cute, little touristy place with shops, beautiful scenery and loads of aging hippies. Sadly, there are no live music venues to speak of in Woodstock. According to Laura who runs a Bob Marley-themed gift shop, the only regular show happens on Sunday nights in Levon Helm's performance space next to his home studio. God Bless You, Levon and, come to think of it, God Bless the Band and Dylan! Their spirits are strong in those ancient hills.
We bought home-made jam and whiled away the afternoon before heading back to Round Top.
Back at the Crystal Brook, we waited patiently for the ringing of the bell (they ring the lunch and dinner bell before the meals to alert the guests--it is just like summer camp--except with a lot more beer).
On Sunday, Stella and I picked apples from the few trees on the property that were exploding with apples. I climbed and shook the branches and Stella gathered the apples and bagged them. Four days later Stella and I made two awesome pies with those apples.