Thursday, March 25, 2010

Readers at the Ready for Willows Bistro

Informally dubbed "The Bistro Readers," an expanding group of Adirondack area writers continue an ambitious program of monthly readings at Willows Bistro, 3749 Main Street, Warrensburg, NY.

On the second Thursday of each month, four to six writers give short readings from their published and unpublished works--fiction, memoir, humor, poetry and more. They serve up excellent entertainment, with that electricity that new work carries. Bistro owner Debbie Swan dishes up some fine food and beverages.

The free program to be presented on April 8th at 7 p.m. will highlight L.R. Warner, Elizabethtown, author of From the Blackest Cloud; Sonja Aubin, Elizabethtown, co-author of Growing Up Strong; Kathleen O'Day, Warrensburg, sharing memoir about teaching on an Indian Reservation; Carol Gregson, of Minerva, author of Leaky Boots, with new complaints; Doug Deneen, Warrensburg, with new...well, just come see what he has come up with. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll eat, you'll drink.... You don't really want to spend another night in front of TV reruns, when you could enjoy the most fresh material in the county, do you? Pick up a friend and get out to Willows. More readings are coming up, and you won't want to miss them.

Perhaps you've been wondering how to become a reader? Feel free to leave a comment here, email me from my web site ( or call Debbie at Willows Bistro (518-504-4344). Each month's lineup is put together about three weeks in advance in order to make publicity deadlines. Readings will continue at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday throughout the spring and summer. See you there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Maple Madness Continues in Thurman

Small towns seem to grow legendary characters the way the north side of a tree grows moss, and Thurman has a new one in the making. It all started a few years ago with a shy sugar maker named Marc, who didn’t think he’d be able to make himself talk to a group of visitors on tour. His wife, Cheryl, told all the children in the group that there was an ancient Adirondack hermit named “Tapper” boiling sap up at the old sugarhouse, and they should go ask him to show them how to make syrup. Charmed by the children's wide-eyed interest, Kenyon forgot to be nervous and stepped into the role Cheryl had created. A character was born.

Now the kids come looking for him. At last weekend’s Maple Days, one spied him. “THERE’S TAPPER!” resonated through the sugarbush, and kids flocked around him for their annual lesson in sugaring. Some gave him a goodbye hug before leaving Adirondack Gold Maple Farm.

Down at Kenyon’s new sugarhouse, used primarily for displaying merchandise and sugar making equipment, guests from near and far—some as far as Texas and Arizona—enjoyed sampling and shopping for maple products—maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cream and maple cotton candy, to name a few. And Sally Feihel of Adirondack Suds and Scents showed of f her homemade soaps, lotions and soy votives, talking to visitors about how the products are made and playing a video of the soap making process. Tour-goers soaked up the friendship, good fun and hospitality that permeated the place, sometimes pausing to sit with a cup of Cheryl’s special maple chili, trying to wheedle from her the secret recipe. Adirondack Gold was just one of four stops on the trek around town. Many enjoyed fluffy pancakes with syrup at Valley Road Maple Farm and watched a sawing demonstration at Martin’s Lumber, where big slabs of maple, stained glass stepping stones and other crafts were on display. A stop at Toad Hill Maple Farm, said to be the largest in Warren County, rounded out the tour, as the Galusha family opened their sugarhouse to friends old and new, with high technology assisting them in an age-old art largely dependent upon weather conditions beyond the control of man.

Maple madness continues in Thurman each weekend through March 28th. To see a map and more information, visit Email or phone 518-623-9718.

Tapper will be waiting for you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March Madness, One Drop at a Time

In some parts of the North Country of New York, "March Madness" is translated as "Maple Sugaring." Thurman is one of those places. Our little town is believed to have one of the highest concentrations of maple producers in the region. Some boil just enough sap to fill the larders of family and friends, while others run commercial operations. Some boil in old evaporating pans over wood-fueled fires, while others employ high technology, using equipment like SteamAways and reverse osmosis machines. Most of our Thurman producers learned the maple business from a parent or grandparent, but whatever the background or the scope of operation, all will tell you that sugaring is an addiction. One Thurman "addict" reminded me that "Old sugarmakers never die; they just evaporate."

This is the month that Thurman celebrates its romance with maples, and you can join the fun. For the last three weekends of March (March 13-14, 20-21, 27-28), three maple farms and one sawmill will open their doors to the public for tours, demonstrations, browsing and family fun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There's also a Maple Sugar Party on March 13th.

Valley Road Maple Farm will open early (9 a.m.) to begin serving their renowned fluffy pancakes drizzled with pure Thurman maple syrup. They'll also have tours and will offer products for sale, including their award-winning maple candies.

Gary and Wini Martin of Martin's Lumber will give demonstrations of their sawmill and explain the concept of sustainable forestry. They will display their lumber (featuring maple slabs for tables and bar tops), stained glass stepping stones, paper bead jewelry and Jackie's quilted items. Be sure to add this stop to your tour.

Toad Hill Maple Farm
, began producing syrup in the 1970s when the Galusha children asked their dad to help them hang a couple of coffee cans on a big tree in the yard. Today those kids are grown, the operation has grown, and Toad Hill, now run by Randy and Jill Galusha, is said to be the largest in Warren County.

Adirondack Gold Maple Farm
will offer not only maple demonstrations and displays of products, but also will host chandler Sally Feihel of Adirondack Suds and Scents, with her soaps, lotions, soy votives and soap-making demonstration video. On March 13th only, Froggy 107.1 will broadcast from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m.

Not to be forgotten on this first weekend is the Thurman Maple Sugar Party, held March 13th at Thurman Town Hall (311 Athol Road, Athol, NY 12810) from 4 p.m. until all have been served. Set to live local music and small-town banter, this all-you-can-eat buffet is topped off with old-fashioned jackwax, also known as sugar-on-snow, a traditional confection created by boiling down syrup until it achieves a taffy-like consistency when chilled. Admission for this dinner is $10 for ages 12 and up, $5 for kids age 5 through 11, and free for kids under five. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

Pick up a brochure around the area, or check details and see a map at, or just follow signs to the sugarhouses. Find Thurman just 6 miles from Northway exit 23 (Warrensburg) via NYS routes 9 and 418, and Athol Road. Share the madness and enjoy the maple!