Spring Newsletter from Board of John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge

Spring, 2021

© J.N. Urbanski

Dear Friends of John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge,

One hundred years ago –– March 29, 1921 –– on a train from California to New York, John Burroughs asked his traveling companion, “How far are we from home?” He died before Clara Barrus could answer.  

If Burroughs were to return to his beloved Woodchuck Lodge in 2021, he’d find it lovingly cared for and comfortingly familiar. 

Despite this past year’s many challenges, our board of trustees and dedicated volunteers have maintained a rigorous agenda, checking off many important boxes on the perpetual to-do list that keeps Woodchuck Lodge looking and feeling like “Uncle John’s” rustic Catskills retreat.

Were Burroughs to return, he’d find his apple orchard pruned (and expanded) with heirloom trees, the surrounding brush cleared, and wildflowers blanketing the hillside. A new “poet’s path” wends through the orchard and a selection of his own literary quotes dot the trail. We hope he’d be happy to discover new stone benches, a sundial, and a small pond!

He’d note that the woodshed he built held up remarkably well; almost toowell. Just don’t tell Mr. Burroughs that his version finally rotted and collapsed. We carefully replaced it 100 years later, and we invested in restoration of the stone wall that runs behind it.

“I always feel that I have missed some good fortune if I am away from home when my bees swarm,” wrote Burroughs. Mr. Burroughs, your bees are still very much in residence. But we’ve added a small sign to warn visitors who may not appreciate your love of the buzzing colonists. We also added a 2021-compliant address marker on your garage, and a small parking area across the road that your friend Henry Ford would surely have appreciated.

There’s a “Little Library” at the top of the hog lot, where visitors can find a book to read while enjoying the view from the “summerhouse.” For those not up to that short hike, we’ve established a beautiful picnic area just beside the garage. And speaking of the garage, we’re cleaning it out and plan to roof it with cedar shakes as soon as we can secure the funds. 

There are things that can’t be seen but are equally important to the preservation of this special place, including our “absolute charter,” granted this year by the Regents of the University of the State of New York. We also lobbied in support of SUNY ESF’s American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project. And we’re working toward establishing an endowment so that financial contributions can benefit the Lodge for generations to come.

We hope (and are planning) for a return to public tours and outdoor programs this summer and have enclosed a tentative schedule, pandemic-permitting. While we’re still bound to our homes and computers, though, we are excited to announce our first-ever online auctionto benefit the John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge. We’ve received many amazing items, and I’ve already got my eye on a number of them! You can find the auction at http://bit.ly/jbwl2021(all lowercase) and it’s open for bidding April 1 to April 30. Bid early and bid often. You won’t want to miss it! Thanks so much to all our donors. 

All the best,

Brett Barry, President

John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge

And fellow Trustees:

Patti Rudge, Vice President

Howard “Pete” France, Secretary

John Wadlin, Treasurer

Joe Farleigh

Julianne Warren

Vivian Yess Wadlin

Laura Sanford