Saturday, September 5, 2015

In Arkville, Wilbo Learns the Story of a Crazy River on the Northern Edge of the Catskills Park.

Arkville might be a northern bound of the Catskills Park. The people living in Roxbury north of Arkville still are proud of their Catskill connection. Arkville might be called that as the Erpf house, built in the late 1700s by a revolutionary war soldier, survived a flood. The nearest creek is Dry Creek, almost dry today. A nearby restaurant on the creek has a portentous name: Crazy River Deli. On the East Branch of the Delaware River, Dry Creek feeds its water to this Crazy River that flows to Delaware Bay on the Atlantic Ocean.  Crazy River Deli is an elevated premises.

A man is working to put a foundation of cinder blocks around his trailer perched on the banks of a creek full of boulders, bounded on both sides by cut boulder walls. Another man near the Erpf house labors to tear up a cut stone sidewalk and block off a cellar door, preparing to add a deck to his antique store, part of a second house built by pioneers. He held up his nicked crow bar to me. "I did it all with just this!" I congratulated him as I thought, "I just would have built the deck over the cellar door and stone sidewalk".

The Erpf house has a long history, including a time when the family of Milton Berle ran a boarding house in the three floor structure. Now, the staffers of the Catskill Center go about an advocacy mission, fulfilling the promise of keeping the park wild forever. It isn't easy. For example, the Emerald Ash Borer has to compete for Catskills trees to infest with an Asian sweet tooth beetle. Those sweet teeth chew into a tree and the tree has a date with a sweet toothed chipping machine. I discovered the house because a map located an art gallery inside. I discovered a husband and wife show of Catskills inspired paintings, and the woman studied at the New York Studio School.

The roads force a choice. I could go north to Roxbury, an art colony village that makes me expect Woodstock. Near the Pepacton Reservoir, I could go south to Roscoe, a fishing obsessed city. Or I could go up to Delhi, a county seat with a rare book store housing a pleasant coffee shop. Rosco puts me on a familiar route towards home, however.

Pictured are two Catskills inspired paintings by Kamilla Talbot, on exhibit with her husband Michael Herstand at the Erpf Gallery.

— at Catskill Center.

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