Architectural Ghosts in the Catskills....



I spent my first TRUE vacation days (which means no little people and no family) on Perch Lake on the northern edge of the Catskill Mountains in Delaware County.  It is a 50 acre crater lake,  and at its deepest is 75'.  A friend of mine invited me to spend a few days in a lovely home 20' from the waters edge.

It was three peaceful days. No wireless, no cell phone reception. I had a land line which mean I was the one in control of whom I called and when. And that was a call or two to my husband to make sure all was ok with Alanna.  He was playing Mr. Grandpa.

It was one of the hottest weeks of the summer, but with the elevation and light breeze that constantly blew over the lake, I never felt the heat, and interestingly enough, I never had one hot flash. If I got warm, I  took a dip in the lake and floated around for a while on my noodle. If I felt like a workout, I did some swimming. When I felt inspired,  I drew and painted. When we were hungry, we made fabulous meals. When we were thirsty, we had plenty of grape juice.

I have two paintings in progress from my trip; one of an old boarded up house across the lake, drooping with rot and sadness, and another of an old metal trailer on the property.  I am fascinated with old abandoned houses, which is probably influenced by a hike that I did when I was five in 1962.

It is a day that I will never forget with my mom, dad, and younger brother. It was a 90+ degrees  and a two mile hike straight up Overlook Mountain was quite a feat for us piglets.  As we  reached our destination, the Overlook Mountain House, a huge terrifying storm broke. The lightning crashed around us and we had to take cover under the decaying porch.  I  remember watching the water cascade down the stairs like a Dali painting, and the rattlesnakes in the well.  Though it was somewhat terrifying, it was also fascinating. It was a Twilight Zone afternoon.

The house has long since burned down, leaving a concrete skeleton of what it once was. The image is burned into my mind, and somewhere in my piles of photos I have a photo of the hotel on that day, a day whose memories return every time I paint a building that has stories to tell.

Overlook Mountain is still a hike worth doing, even if the house is only a shell. The views from the fire tower are splendid, as are the views from inside the concrete foundations of the house.  An artist's and hikers paradise.

But watch out for rattlesnakes..they like to hang out on the rocks and sun themselves, and hide in wells.
Don't drink the water. There's snakes in the water.

Patti o








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