Nature Notes, January 2024

Bearsville Center Nature Notes, January, 2024

January in Woodstock is a very dynamic time, the year has turned and the season has changed. 2024 is no different. Early winter was relatively mild and snowless, but the later half has been anything but. Arctic cold has come down to remind us of winter, accompanied by the first snows of the season. Most wild fauna and flora in Bearsville is dormant now.

Birdwise, things are quiet as only the indomitable small birds - Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, various Sparrows, Wrens and the like continue to hunt through the desiccated Beebalm and Mugwort in our wintry meadow. Otherwise, the White-tail Deer are nearly invisible in their winter coats as they try to dodge the night-time probing of Eastern Coyotes.

The Black Bears are successfully napping now and most insects are folded under bark and leaf. Even our Dawn Redwood has shed its reddish-brown leaves and is hunkering down. While the beginning of the month vacillated between mild and cold, we have now definitely settled into serious cold weather.

Woodstock has always been a dynamic place, where vision and creativity seem to be easily spurred and where people seem to gravitate close to the earth. In that sense of typically Woodstock dynamism, I think the Bearsville Center is the epitome. Even the original purpose of the property as a farm was a creative endeavor, then Albert Grossman came along and enhanced Bearsville with his own complex vision, one that affected not only Woodstock but the whole world. Again, though, everything changes, visions alter and sometimes dissipate. As time went by Albert’s vision transformed and his buildings - all crafted with love by Woodstock builders and craftsmen - began to suffer from neglect.

Locals wondered what would happen to them - would they stand the test of time? Would they continue to moulder and then collapse?

Luckily for all, Lizzie Vann came along with her new vision and energy, rebuilding and repairing the buildings. In doing so, she has not only rescued these structures and this place that is seminal to Woodstock’s music history, but she has also thereby enhanced and updated everything here at the Bearsville Center. The Bear Cafe is a high-quality, top notch restaurant now and the Bear Cantina is busy and well-liked. The music scene is thriving at Bearsville again with regular bands at the beautiful Bearsville Theater, as well as at the popular Tinker Street Tavern. The icing on the cake, musically, for many is the reopening of the iconic Utopia recording Studios by my friend, Pete Caigan.

I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to be working with Lizzie, making trails and helping to design the Bearsville Center’s Pollinator Pathway Meadow. Change here is a constant as we all adapt to the seasons and to the dynamic nature of this tremendous place. This success has meant that we have to expand the parking lot and part of the expansion will be into our beloved woods. In the long run, this will help the Bearsville Center to provide the high-quality service to its patrons that has helped make it so successful.

This should be the final stage of this great project and I know that once the new parking lot is finished in the spring-time the final piece of this wonderful puzzle we call the Bearsville Center will be in place. So please “Bear” with us.