Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Thunder in the Catskills

It stormed most of the day on Sunday.

We sat on the porch of Lisa Schroeder's lovely home in the Catskills, gently rocking on the swing, listening to the thunder rumble through the mountains, enjoying the rain as it watered her blissful garden, wondering if the sky would ever relent and let the picnic and Independence Day celebration take place. We had charming company and, well, plenty of refreshments, but we wanted to see the fireworks.

After a while the rain subsided and we walked into town. One of the shopkeepers assured Lisa that "Peter and Brooke never cancel." Rain or not, the fireworks were on. So we waterproofed our picnic and kept to our original plans. But we need not have really worried. The skies cleared up well before the sun went down, and by the time we arrived at the property I have described as "
Giverny of the Catskills," the cars were lined up and down the small country road. The party was on.

As in the past, the organization of this generous gift to the community was impeccable. Tented tables of food, drink and desert were organized according to one's preference ("Vegetarian? Your feast is waiting right over here.")
Murat and I helped place our offerings on their appropriate tables and then claimed a spot on the sloping hill (precariously close to the "Mortar Zone" tree, but we were ready to sprint if needed). We spread out our blankets and headed for the BBQ station (vegetarians we are not).

The view of the picnickers on the hill from across the pond.

It was hard to know if the fog that hung over the property was from the rain or the the flurry of bottle rockets the kids were setting off. It only added to the mystical feel of the evening, giving the whole scene a bit of a "Lords of the Ring" feel.

We had plenty of time to wander about before the darkness descended, and the foggy landscape added to the sense of timelessness and calm.

Murat by the stream, enjoying a smoke and a patriotic brew.

As Peter and his intrepid crew headed off into the woods with their arsenal, we huddled on the blankets, taking in the idyllic quiet, even calmly plotting our escape route should the Mortar Zone tree soon send flaming coals our direction.

The show began with a suitably serene opening. A dozen or so paper lanterns gently lifting up into the night, as the standing crowd softly sang the National Anthem. Just as we hit that final note "...and the home of the brave..." though, the sky exploded.

Peter later told me that a whole section of the show didn't actually go off due to some technical difficulty, but you would have never known. The 12 friends we were huddled with were all squealing like children as the booming explosions right over our heads kept coming and coming...terrifying close to the ground and the crowd (a few people scurried away from the Mortar Zone tree when it first lit up, but it seemed more controlled than in years past).

Peter received a standing ovation as he passed back through the crowd, who lingered for hours, enjoying the two-story bonfire on other side of the property,
the sparks violently shooting up from the blaze, then gently floating down to be extinguished in the pond.

From the perfectly giddy children running everywhere (scooping up tadpoles in the pond or [hysterically] snapping photos of everyone like paparazzi [ahh, the Facebook generation]), to the humbling sense of community that emerges among the wide range of people who attend, it's difficult to image a more fitting tribute to the founding of this country. Peter and Brooke not only generously open their home to host what remains my favorite event of the summer,
over the years they have created a communal moment and memory that symbolizes the very best of the art world here and the country at large.

"Were you at Peter and Brooke's last 4th of July?"
"Was that the year the tree caught fire?"
"Well...yeah...it catches fire every year, doesn't it?"

Labels: happy holidays


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos, looks like a magical evening.

We were an hour or two south of there on the NJ/PA border and the storm knocked the power out and left trees down in its path but that didn't stop the BBQ!

---ondine nyc

7/05/2011 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Schroeder said...

You described it so perfectly. It was a memorable weekend with you and Bambino. I loved the fact that Ben Stiller was part of the pyrotechnic team! Maybe some film research? xoxo

7/06/2011 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Sara Jo said...

Fantastic post, Ed! I had such a great time with you all and loved every minute of it!

7/06/2011 03:15:00 PM  

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