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Yet lately, it’s been all about the past. more
My father, a World War II army veteran, did not talk much about his time spent in Europe during the war. He liked to recall meeting Gertrude Stein in a hospital in Paris when he was recovering from … more
I happened to catch part of an interview on NPR recently with author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, whose newly-released book, “Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects,” is stirring up a swarm of … more
The Wayne County Fair is happening this week, and with the food and festivities comes a week of work for 4-H kids and farm families. My wife works for Penn State Extension and oversees the livestock … more
It’s shaping up to be the hottest summer ever, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which released data last week showing that June and July 2019 set new heat records. The … more
For something completely different, the past few days have been chockablock with a wide range of activities, including art shows, awards ceremonies, 5K runs, touch-a-trucks, beer barrel races and even a drag queen or two. more

My name is seen Siim Hanja. I've been coming up to Sullivan County for the last 40 years.

But even before then, I was up there in 1969, because I was going to school in Philadelphia. I was at a summer session there... and a friend of mine and I started hearing about this music festival that was going on up there. We didn't have tickets, but you know, the buzz had gotten so strong that we decided to go. Because he lived in Bucks County, he kind of knew the back roads to the festival, instead of going to New York and coming up 17. So we went over the back road through Pennsylvania—you know, we went by his place in Bucks County. And then we crossed the bridge at Narrowsburg—what a beautiful sight that was. And we were to return to it later. But we kept driving. And we drove all the way- we got within, I don't know, half a mile or so of the of the concert—right off of 17B, where that little two-story cedar-shingled shack is at 17B and whatever that road is that heads down towards Narrowsburg. That house has been there all that time. And my family takes pictures whenever we go by there.

So my friend Tom and I parked the car near there and walked to the festival. It was totally overwhelmed with people walking down the road. Forget about tickets. And we arrived there on a dark night. I guess it was Friday, maybe Saturday, it had to be Friday, I think we got there. And what a scene. I mean, you'll get better descriptions than mine of what that was like, but one of the most unique scenes that was there was this: It's all rainy. It's all mud. We're all up on that top of that bowl that looks down to where the stage was [laughter]. What was there were two guys in the rain and in the mud, playing imaginary tennis with each other. There was no net other than the one they imagined. And the whole crowd that stood back from them and gave them the room of roughly what looked to me like the size of a tennis court. And... they're playing back and forth, obviously stoned out of their minds or something, and they would go running for the ball, dive into the mud, people would cheer, there would be the shots going back and forth; the crowds’ heads sort of swinging back and forth watching the ball—the one that wasn't the ball, just imaginary. That was a standout moment. I'd love to hear if anybody else had witnessed that as well.

Stage was great. I worked my way down there, was able to be down there just a few feet away from the front of the stage when Janis Joplin was singing. And some of the women just went crazy when they saw Janis performing there; throwing off their tops, they're trying to climb up on the stage. Whenever somebody did get high enough—stage wasn't much more than about five, six feet high—a security guy would run out, pull them up on the stage and run them off the stage.

What else what else? All that rain, all that mud the next day, and just the whole hillside covered with people. And just a wonderful, just massive- just this spontaneous thing. All that great music. You know, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens singing—all of that. But with everybody there and this just working out so, so darn well, all together.

Next day, we decided—did we sleep in the car? I don't remember. But the next day because we were all just all covered with mud and everything, we drive down to Narrowsburg right by the bridge and there was a rope underneath the bridge. There were, not that many, but there was enough people there enjoying that wonderful spot on the river where they could swing out on the rope and then go flying out into the nice cool, deep, clean water. Sun ourselves on the rocks, be in that wonderful little town, where you guys are [referring to The River Reporter].

Hanja added, after the recording ended, that he and his wife later found an old bungalow colony in the area in 1979, which he and his friends [including TRR’s columnist Cass Collins] in Tribeca and Soho bought into as a co-op and still enjoy to this day.

Now that August is here, we are facing the apex of summer weather and the onset of warmer temperatures. Without appropriate preventative measures, we are vulnerable to a wide range of heat-related … more
Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata), or rock snot as it is commonly known, has been found in several New York waters: both branches and the Main Stem of the Delaware River, Esopus Creek, Battenkill … more
The middle of July saw a warm spell, with temperatures getting into the 90s accompanied by high humidity that made it feel even hotter. The wildlife felt it too and hunkered down; deer spent a lot of … more
“Stay off the hill!” I bellowed to a swarm of young people, most of whom had spent the night in a field under open skies that bled rain for more than 12 hours. “Pig!” they … more
Last weekend’s highlights included the Town of Bethel Peace Parade, schvitzing my way through another fantastic Riverfest in Narrowsburg, NY and a sneak-peek at the Farm Arts Collective and their fantastical upcoming production, “Shakespeare on the Farm.” more
While I was growing up in the south in the ‘60s, and discriminatory “Jim Crow” practices were slowly being dismantled, I would frequently see signs at restaurants and gas stations … more
I hope this column reaches your eyes, but it might burn up in transit to your mailbox from this lovely 90-degree weather we’ve been having. I jest of course but, honestly, what a hot weekend. … more
The past two weeks have produced encounters with two beautiful female silk moths, both members of the family Saturniidae, which contains approximately 1,300 species. That beauty will be brief, as … more
This incarnation of HAIR beautifully serves as a love letter to the original production and is practically flawless. more
What fascinates the photographer in me is the story that can be told without revealing too much, or without even knowing what’s happening. more
The Forestburgh Playhouse's incarnation of HAIR beautifully serves as a love letter to the original production and is practically flawless. more
Fly casting is that part of fly fishing many of us take for granted, yet nothing is more important than for anglers to be able deliver their flies accurately under a variety of conditions. A long … more
I’m not naïve—I understand the “circle of life” and that all living things eventually die. It’s the fragility that troubles me; the mere notion that life as we know it can come to an abrupt halt, suddenly and without warning, niggles at me and keeps me awake at night. more
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Currently viewing stories posted within the past year.
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