Catskill's Cradle: Phoenicia, Mount Tremper, Woodstock | Woodstock | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Catskill's Cradle: Phoenicia, Mount Tremper, Woodstock 

Last Updated: 07/23/2021 3:08 pm

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That's an easy one, Ms. Pipman. Mountain magnetism. Pipman had "done the whole New York City artist thing" for years, studying under a master, teaching at CUNY, and helping to run the city's oldest community garden. Still, she says, Glenford satisfies. "Struggling in New York City doesn't lead to much social life. I have more of a social life now, because I have friends who don't need to schedule every second. And in the city it was easier for my husband to get into Columbia school of nursing than to get our kids into a snide preschool that wasn't the kind of education I wanted for them anyway."

click to enlarge Signage at Timbuktu in Woodstock.
  • Roy Gumpel
  • Signage at Timbuktu in Woodstock.

The Hudson Valley Sudbury School, right down the road, turned out to be a much better fit—and the connection led to the Pipmans opening the community hall of their renovated church to fundraisers for the school each month. Pipman has taken the advice of "everyone" who tasted her baked goods and began marketing Much Mor Bread to her mountain neighbors—as we speak, she is creating a Pink Floyd cake for the Rock Academy kids. "I've found freedom and a home," says Pipman, who has lived all over the world, "It was great to be a young artist in Manhattan, but this allows the kids to flourish without crazy pressure. And my neighbors! Even just in this tiny little hamlet, we have amazing documentarians, musicians, artists, craftsmen all around. I'm surrounded by people that are so interesting here, I don't have to go far at all."

Truly an understatement. In researching this write-up, it was impossible to speak with all of the fascinating people who volunteered: a world-class animal communicator, a teacher of co-ed Pilates, a Feng Shui decorator/yogi/healer, a self described "pre-iconic" team of jewelry maker and photographer, a sophisticated realtor by day who becomes a one-woman fountain of insane comedic antics by night. But it hasn't even been mentioned that the Woodstock Library is opening a brand-new LEED-certified annex. And there's hardly even time to discuss Phoenicia.

On your way farther up 28, you'll see the newly reopened Phoenicia Diner, which has regained its hub-of-important-doings status and is a great place to grab a bite. Dipping down off the highway into Phoenicia proper, one comes upon a whole other enchanted hamlet. Cultural doings swirl around Mama's Boy Café, where you can get a great cup of coffee, an ice cream cone, and a cell signal—not easy up here. Mama's Boy proprietor Michael is also a leading light in the Shandaken Theater Society, which is staging "Grease" this month.

In August, world-class opera will rock the tiny town as the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice echoes through the tiny town's streets and echoes off the hillsides—opera as it was meant to be enjoyed, out under the stars with a bottle of good wine and a friend or three. There will be gospel worth shouting about, and this year the festival celebrates the bicentennials of both Verdi and Wagner, so expect high notes and high spirits abounding.

click to enlarge Robert Jacobson at his studio in Mount Tremper.
  • Roy Gumpel
  • Robert Jacobson at his studio in Mount Tremper.

But don't wait for the Festival of the Voice to discover how much you will love Phoenicia. There's the Empire State Railway Museum (yes, you can take a ride), a Main Street full of eating choices, the chance to rent tubes and float down the Esopus. And there is truly weird and delightful retail—from the classic stateliness of the Phoenicia Pharmacy, where one walks in and into another era, to the well-chosen array of goodies at the Phoenicia Country Store: moccasins and PJs, games and toys by Melissa and Doug, camping gear and garden tools, locally authored books and guidebooks.

Then there is Homer and Langley's Mystery Spot, which must be experienced to be fully believed, let alone understood. Vintage vinyl music, all manner of vintage duds from jeans to hippie skirts to formalwear, and odds and ends—all spilling out onto the porch of a deliciously meandering building. The Mystery Spot is the creation of rock photographer and artist Laura Levine, and is also the only known place where one can enjoy not only the Creepy Doll Exhibit but Petey the Petrified Piranha and Desdemona, the Devil Girl of Phoenicia.

Clearly there is more than a little bit of inspiration in the air up in these here hills, where H. P. Lovecraft and Carole Goodman alike have found inspiration, where any given weekend offers too many good times to fit all of them in and nearly everyone's crazy or creative, with most folks proud to be both. I haven't even mentioned the new ownership at the Woodstock Framing Gallery, or the amazing yoga teacher who commutes back and forth to Rwanda...Oh well. Having seen the tip of the iceberg, hopefully you'll go get you some Catskill cool all your own. It's all here.

Amma Sri Karunamayi Bird-On-A-Cliff
Flowing Spirit Healing
Jane’s Ice Cream
Kir Noel Medical Intuitive
Landmark Grille
Menla Mountain Retreat
Mirabai of Woodstock
Moose Crossing
Namaste Sacred Healing Center The Nest Egg
Pondicherry Yoga Arts
Psychic Readings by Rose
Shandaken Theatrical Society
Sunflower Natural Foods
Town Tinker Tube Rental
Woodstock Concerts on the Green

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