SO, HOW WAS YOUR YEAR? is a question that floats around a lot as we roll toward Thanksgiving and the hectic holiday weeks that follow. If you’re a Cubs fan, this year was undeniably better than the previous 108, but if you’re a Hudson Valley peach grower, it’s probably hard to imagine a worse one. The same comparison holds true for the Republicans and Democrats (but that’s the last mention of that subject this time out).
Things started out well around here. Spring Restaurant Week (the first half of the tenth anniversary) showed strong, so we decided to take a rare but much-needed vacation in warmer climes—and returned to find everything dead from that freak April freeze. Of course, the denuded lemon magnolia in front of the house that greeted us on our return is trivial compared to the devastating effect the freeze had on the Hudson Valley peach crop—it was nearly totally destroyed, by most accounts—though equally dire predictions for the apple crop luckily proved spotty.
Many of the farmers we spoke with had a banner year with their vegetables, provided they had enough water available. While we were blessed with plenty of sunshine throughout the summer, the same was not true for rainfall—some areas of the valley got three to seven inches less rainfall than they should have received. Those farmers who could get water to their crops seem to have had a great year. Others—well, don’t ask.
Water, in fact, seemed to be on everyone’s mind this summer and fall. Major contamination crises hit several Hudson Valley locales, and Newburgh is again reeling with more contamination indications. Most of the blame seems to be aimed at Stewart Airport—or rather the former Stewart Air Force Base—and its jet fuel, de-icing compounds and other chemicals. Interestingly, the crisis says as much about the Hudson Valley’s political state as it does about its environmental state. Why didn’t anyone spot this problem earlier? And New York City, which zealously guarded access to its Catskill aqueduct (with rare exception) has, over the past decade or so, become more amenable to sharing its resource with certain municipalities along the New Paltz-Newburgh-Monroe corridor. Thank the City for its generosity? Sure, but first find out what the strings are tied to. Meanwhile, rural residents without municipal hook ups are left to fend for themselves.
We don’t live under a rock, even though sometimes it may seem that way. What put a major kabash on a relatively good year was learning of a pipeline-fed powerplant project already under construction in the Town of Minisink in Orange County. The plant, on 120+acres, is frighteningly close to one of the richest agricultural areas in the Northeast, if not the country, and to the Wallkill River, which serves as a replenishing aquifer along its entire length to Kingston. The threat of pollution from leaks and spills has mobilized several citizens’ and environmental groups, but if you see the Wallkill burning, you’ll know they were too late.
Which pretty much brings us back to where we started. As years go, it was not as good as some, but better than most. Here’s wishing all a healthy and prosperous New Year. Just remember, if you find yourself in a pickle, you can always support the craft—it works for me. How ’bout those Cubs, huh?