Having only website photos to keep myself up-to-date on the restoration of the bridge during my 10-month winter absence, I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked down there yesterday evening for the first time since my return. As I came down the hill into the campsite, the bridge was not fully visible at first. My impression was that I was descending into a giant gravel pit.
Eric Hamerstrom had explained in February that a new temporary ramp had been built up to the height of the bridge floor so that long steel truss supports could be slid into place through the bridge. They were to rest on the new fill at one end and on Ragin road at the other, and would support the bridge from inside while the damaged wooden timbers were replaced.
There were plenty of photos of this ramp, of course, but the ramp itself never caught my attention. I was more interested in the progress on the bridge.
Yesterday (July 17th) was Sunday, and in spite of the ongoing construction, the picnic area was full. I had seen a convoy of a vehicles drive in around 11am. When I walked down there at 6pm the beach goers just packing up to go home.I went back down this morning (July 18th). The beach goers were gone, but the construction workers had begun to arrive.
It just goes to show you, you never know what surprises are in store with you each sugar season. Whereas a few days ago, we thought we would fall short of our seasonal average by roughly 25%. However, with the excellent sapping conditions over the last few days and taking the time to clean the equipment we’re back making medium grad maple syrup and, in addition, we expect we’ll reach our seasonal average of about 35 gallons with 175 taps.
Considering the recent excellent sap flows (both clarity and volume) we decided to not to remove the bags/spiles yesterday extending the season for one additional day today. So, with the afternoon gather today, we’ll remove the 135 bags and spiles. Remember, Judy and I took down and removed 40 buckets and spiles on Tuesday. We cleaned the 40 buckets yesterday with hot water and bleach while we boiled to get a bit of a head start on the clean-up tasks.
Yesterday while Joan tended the evaporator (once fired up it can’t be left) with the help of Maureen (the “Machine”), Kevin, Judy (the faithful regular), Afrika and Heidi (the supervisors) we gathered another 80 gallons of clear as water sap. By the time we had boiled off that 80 gallons along with the 165 gathered the evening before we added another 5 gallons of delicious medium grade syrup to our total to date. A ratio of roughly 50 gallons of sap to one gallon of syrup. We are tired, but, as the old times say and my buddy, Jim always says, “make hay (syrup) while the Sun shines (sap flows)”!
With the anticipated warm temperatures we will definitely take down the remaining 140 bags and spiles with the final gather this afternoon. The sap ran into the night last night and we expect another decent run today. So, our plan is to gather as late in the day as possible, say around 5-5:30 pm to get every last drop of 2019 sap and have enough daylight to remove the spiles.
The fishing season of 2018 has come and gone with a sizzle rather than a bang, as here on October 15, the last day of the regular trout fishing season in New York, we remembered having a most unusual year.
It’s surprising to see the conditions of nature at this writing: we still have not had a frost. The Harvest Moon at the end of September came on a cloudy night, and therefore didn’t produce any frost as a typical cold, clear night would have during that full moon. I can’t ever remember not having frost by October 15 – and we’re still enjoying begonias and a huge bed of nasturtiums in the garden blooming merrily. In addition, we’ve found that fly-fishing activity this time of year has also been affected; fishing at Hazel Bridge on the Willowemoc, which is usually topnotch in late September and October, has been flat. Generally the frosts of late September bring a hatch that encourages the trout to rise, and fishing is productive in that long pool below the bridge; we’ve often fished it up till Veteran’s Day with good luck.
On my morning walk I cross the Covered Bridge and take the path that goes down the hill along the river. Hemlocks cover the bank there and underneath the trees is a carpet of stripped pinecones and pine nut seeds, left by red and grey squirrels. I’ve never seen them there but the evidence of major feeding is undeniable.
Our dog Lucy and I follow the path down along the river to a favorite stopping point where there is a nice variety of trees standing together; an oak, a maple, a sycamore, cherry, white pine and hemlock. We stop there so Lucy can have a swim and I scoop up a splash of Beaverkill water.
It was wonderful to see so many of you at our first ever Memorial Day Friendraiser! (And to those who couldn’t come – you were missed!)
The start of the summer means something different to each of us – but what I believe we share, is the joy and delight of being in our beautiful region enjoying good food, laughter, friends and family.
If you are new to our community and haven’t signed up for the email list or officially joined friends of the Beaverkill, you can do so on our website. And as a reminder the $25 to join FOB goes to help us put on community events, take care of the church, bridge and other key landmarks, and protect the beautiful natural environment that makes the Beaverkill a place we love to live.
The Board of FOBC had their first meeting of the 2018 season this past Saturday, April 28. Attending were Ramsay Adams, Patricia Adams, Simone McGurl, Barbara Trelstad, Josh Grier and Jane Sokolow. We thought the Friends might be interested in plans ahead for this Spring and Summer:
1. Simone and Mimi will host a “Friends Raiser” get-together at their house on Saturday, May 26 from 4-6pm. This will be primarily a social event, however we will also have the annual meeting then – primarily to present and vote on the slate of new officers up for consideration. Invitations/announcements for this party will be handled by Simone and Jane – using our traditional methods (email and posting on the FOBC website) and a paperless post. Simone is considering setting up an Instagram account, as well.
2. If there is interest, two new committees will be established (Mary Hall and Bob Jones will continue to take care of the Beaverkill Church committee) :
a. A campsite committee, which will work with the NYSDEC (NY State Dept of Environmental Conservation) and OSI (Open Space Institute) — on ways to further enhance the campsite/picnic area by the beautifully restored covered bridge. DEC and OSI have funds to work on this area but need a local organization to partner with them. There are many ideas of things to do, but this will be discussed and decided by the new committee. Josh will sign and send back to DEC the “Volunteer Stewardship Application,” which should establish the FOBC as the official local contact for these projects.
b. An archives/heritage committee. Barbara has collected and organized what photos and “hard copy” items we have for FOBC and will continue to catalogue and preserve these items. If there is interest, we could start on a new series of interviews with people who have moved here since the ‘70s. Most of the interviews for our “Stories of Beaverkill” were about Beaverkill River Valley before the ‘70s.
3. The date for the summer picnic was set for Saturday, August 18, from 5pm on. Josh and Jane will work on establishing the locale and other details.
4. We look forward to having the new FOBC member directory completed soon, either in time for the May 26th party or the August 18th party.