The New Summer House at Woodchuck Lodge

A new summerhouse has been built for the top of the meadow at Woodchuck Lodge where visitors and board members go to cherish the stunning view across the Catskill Mountains. Members of the board are also looking for a small, portable library to put inside the summer house.

The idea came to board members as we completed the Trout Lily Trail, to extend the trail to the east into the hog lot. We would then lengthen the trail, transition from forest to meadow at the break in the stone wall and utilize more of the property. Now, while capturing that view, visitors can sit, rest and perhaps even read awhile if we are to get our tiny library.

Steve Walker, of Beaverdam Builders, built the summer house. We provided the rough draft of what a turn of the century ‘summerhouse’ looked like. We chose red cedar for durability, round poles and twig lattice for aesthetics, a rustic bench with a simple shed roof, all to blend with the ambiance of Woodchuck Lodge.  We were seeking a modest structure to match both the man and, certainly, the budget!  “The agreement we struck was if I were to secure the materials, he would build it” says Patti Rudge.

On a tip from RyanTrapani @ Catskill Forest Association, we purchased the cedar from Todd Baldwin in Dutchess County. The hemlock, on the other hand, was harvested locally and milled just down the road in Halcottsville by John Biruk.

With the ground firmed up from spring rains and a high pressure holding, Steve had his crew up in the hog lot in the second week of June and added a bit of magic to Woodchuck Lodge. The summerhouse ‘under the maples’ is waiting to be discovered.

The Summerhouse Swim by Patti Rudge

With a $3000.00 matching grant under our belt from Delaware County Tourism and Promotion Board and a commitment of $2000.00 from the Woodchuck Lodge budget, the Board is committed to raising the final $1500.00 to fund the summerhouse!

Trustee Patti Rudge  has accepted the challenge to swim across Lake Champlain on August 18 and is seeking sponsors to raise the final monies for John Burroughs summer house. The swim is 3.75 miles from Essex NY to Charlotte Vt., and is billed as an open water competitive swim.  On a northeasterly course, she is quietly hoping for a tail wind. She is well into her training, bobbing in choppy, cold water. It is “another realm of solitude and wildness out our backdoor”.

Can you help Woodchuck Lodge with a donation towards the summerhouse?  If so, please address checks to Woodchuck Lodge with “summer house  swim“ in the memo. Mail checks to JB Woodchuck Lodge, PO Box 492, Roxbury, NY 12474.

Thanks so much and if you are in the Catskills and near open water, take a good look.

Newly Published Work of Poetry by Anne Richey

Church of the Robin’s Ha-Ha: John Burroughs’ Natural Religion and Other Poems by Anne Richey

Anne Richey, a docent at Woodchuck Lodge and local teacher has published an homage to the works of John Burroughs in the form of an eclectic collection of poetry and prose: an anthology of notes, quotations, prose, excerpts from an ancient diary and “found poetry”.

Chapter 1 begins with a quotation by Thoreau “Talk of Heaven! Ye Disgrace Earth” and starts as it means to go on. “I believe God is nature,” John told a friend. “Every day is a Sabbath to me”. Continue reading “Newly Published Work of Poetry by Anne Richey”

Wild Saturdays: Observational Hiking with Paul Misko on July 7th

Photo courtesy of Paul Misko

Paul Misko, founder of THE CATSKILL 4000 CLUB presents a multi-media presentation on how hiking in the Catskills has changed over the years. He uses humorous and disturbing anecdotes from John Burroughs’ adventures, and from a few other historic folks, and then will add some of his own experiences. He will touch on the clothes and equipment used, the food eaten, the coming of the marked trails, and what has stayed the same. He will end his talk with a brief segment on how to properly equip a day pack.

This event takes place at Woodchuck Lodge, 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474 at 1pm on July 7th, 2018. All are welcome.

Free, guided tours of Woodchuck Lodge are offered the first weekend of the month, May to October, Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 3pm.

Photo courtesy of Paul Misko

Wild Saturdays: Naturalist Bill Cutler

© J.N. Urbanski

John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge’s Wild Saturday Series continues on June 2nd, 2018 at 1pm at Woodchuck Lodge, with a talk by naturalist Bill Cutler.

Bill will share his knowledge of amphibians, reptiles, critters and plants found on the lodge property, and discuss their importance to the Catskills and impacts on increasingly fragmented habitats in New York State. Kids will love this presentation. Bill is a former National Park Service Ranger, Field Research Associate in Trinidad and Environmental Consultant.

Presently, he is Vice President of the Sullivan County Audubon Society, volunteers for the Basha Kill Area Association and works as Sullivan County’s Recycling Co-ordinator.

This event takes place at Woodchuck Lodge, 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474 at 1pm on June 2nd, 2018. All are welcome.

Free, guided tours of Woodchuck Lodge are offered the first weekend of the month, May to October, Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 3pm.

The Opening of The Trout-Lily Trail May 5th, 2018

© J.N. Urbanski

Immediately following our Wild Saturday presentation on May 5th at 1pm, the opening of the Trout-Lily trail will take place.

The Trout-Lily trail marks a significant development in the maintenance of Woodchuck Lodge, as this new trail is actually part of a partially restored footpath that was developed by Dr. John Lutz, great grand nephew of John Burroughs and founder of Woodchuck Lodge, Inc, winding up into the hill behind the woodshed. We cleared blow-down, brushed back the undergrowth, improved the footing and constructed an inviting stone staircase at the base that reflects the era of creativity, simplicity and permanence reminiscent of John Burroughs, the naturalist, returning the path to its glory days. Continue reading “The Opening of The Trout-Lily Trail May 5th, 2018”

Wild Saturdays Lecture Series Begins on May 5th at Woodchuck Lodge

© J.N. Urbanski Usage prohibited without consent

John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge’s Wild Saturday Series begins on May 5th, 2018 at 1pm at Woodchuck Lodge, with “Alien Invaders in Burroughs Backyard”, a talk by John Thompson, Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership Coordinator.

John will update us on how Catskill forests have changed since John Burroughs tramped through these woods. Forests are now threatened by the introduction of species that would be unfamiliar to Burroughs. There will be discussion of invasive species and what we can do to help protect the Catskill Mountains for the future. This is a chance for all to learn how to identify the top pests that are killing our trees. It’s estimated that the Emerald Ash Borer will have destroyed all the ash trees in the Catskills in a couple of years. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is hard at work on our beloved hemlock.

This event takes place at Woodchuck Lodge, 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474 at 1pm on May 5th, 2018. All are welcome.

Free, guided tours of Woodchuck Lodge are offered the first weekend of the month, May to October, Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 3pm.

Immediately following John’s lecture, the opening of our new Trout-Lily trail will take place. The Trout-Lily trail is modest and gentle, suitable for young and old alike, running through a small forested area, into the meadow and opening up into spectacular views of Delaware County, the kind of views that Burroughs himself enjoyed one hundred years ago, when the area was rolling meadow and farmland.

© J.N. Urbanski


The Bluebird by John Burroughs

The Bluebird

A wistful note from out the sky,
“Pure, pure, pure,” in plaintive tone,
As if the wand’rer were alone,
And hardly knew to sing or cry.

But now a flash of eager wing,
Flitting, twinkling by the wall,
And pleading sweet and am’rous call,–
Ah, now I know his heart doth sing!

O bluebird, welcome back again,
Thy azure coat and ruddy vest
Are hues that April loveth best,–
Warm skies above the furrowed plain.

The farm boy hears thy tender voice,
And visions come of crystal days,
With sugar-camps in maple ways,
And scenes that make his heart rejoice.

The lucid smoke drifts on the breeze,
The steaming pans are mantling white,
And thy blue wing’s a joyous sight,
Among the brown and leafless trees.

Now loosened currents glance and run,
And buckets shine on sturdy boles,
The forest folk peep from their holes,
And work is play from sun to sun.

The Downy beats his sounding limb,
The nuthatch pipes his nasal call,
And robin perched on treetop tall
Heavenward lifts his evening hymn.

Now go and bring thy homesick bride,
Persuade her here is just the place
To build a home and found a race
In Downy’s cell, my lodge beside.

5th Annual Burroughs Catskills Community Day Lecture at the Catskill Center in Arkville

© J.N. Urbanski

5th Annual Burroughs Catskills Community Day Lecture at the Catskill Center in Arkville.

Leslie T. Sharpe, naturalist and author of “The Quarry Fox and Other Wild Critters of the Catskills” delivered a lecture on “John Burroughs and H.D. Thoreau: The Roots of American Nature Writing” on April 14th at 1pm at The Catskills Center in Arkville. A birthday celebration for John Burroughs was included. Turnout was good and the lecture was a wild walk through our local history. We thank Leslie for her lecture and her devoted writings on the natural world.

© J.N. Urbanski

John Burroughs’ Apple Orchard Gets a Pruning

© J.N. Urbanski

March 27th was an auspicious day. Ryan Trapani of the Catskill Forest Association led a team who pruned the old apple trees in the orchard at Woodchuck Lodge. Overhead flew a buzzard with wings like long feathered fingers.

As far as we can gather, the trees have never been pruned, so Woodchuck Lodge will participate in the CFA’s tree pruning program that will take place annually over the course of the next three years at least. All the dead applewood was removed into a pile the size of a small truck. The one tree closest to the road, (pictured immediately below) was in the worst shape and less than half the boughs on its gnarly bark remain.

© J.N. Urbanski

The resultant pruned tree, looking rather like the house of a fairytale character or mythical creature, is one of our historical natural landmarks. When these trees were planted, there would have been no trees in the area and Burroughs would have enjoyed sweeping views of the Catskill Mountains in south, east and westerly directions. Some apple trees had to be felled because they were in too much of that shade.

Last year’s apples were abundant and board members picked them and used them in pies. In two years, we will consider grafting the trees to cultivate a new apple, but firstly the trees will given some time to stabilize. “Pruning is a shock,” says board member Patti Rudge.

Structural pruning of the trees will increase air circulation and sunlight through the tree, which reduces the chance of insects and diseases. The improved structure will enhance the tree’s ability to create fruit buds, withstand fruit load or wind load and the weight of bears.

© J.N. Urbanski
© J.N. Urbanski