R. J. Nello

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ-born, ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง-based, novelist.๐Ÿ“– Writing, travel, culture and more. Always holding "auditions" – so be careful or you may end up a character in โ€œ1797โ€…and perhaps an evil one.๐ŸŽญ (And why do I suspect some of you might like that latter in particular?)๐Ÿ˜‚

Our Catskills Oasis (Except For That Porcupine)

June 17, 2016
R. J. Nello

Hello again! I know in the last few days I’ve popped my head up only a couple of times over on Instagram and Twitter. Sorry no new posts on here (until now). Since I’m in the Catskills just a short time before I have to drive back down to my dad’s in Pennsylvania, I’ve been running around doing “stuff.”

And “stuff” needs doing. Yes, our house here is fine. Well, it’s mostly fine:

What porcupines can do. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

When a porcupine is interested in your sliding door. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

That’s what a porcupine can do. Evidently it decided the wood underneath the metal veneer on one of our sliding doors would taste yummy. Likely one night in the last few weeks, the animal dug at the metal determinedly and ripped it away bit by bit to get at the wood.

I had unwittingly perhaps helped. Before we returned to England in March, I left that screen door open because flies and other flying things caught behind it sometimes squeeze into the house through the sliding doors’ gap. (Screen doors are useless for security anyway.) But the open screen revealed the metal finish on the actual door, which probably made it a more inviting target for the porcupine ambling by.

What we don’t think of gets us. (I’ve done that with that door for years.) The friend who checks on our house when we’re in England noticed the damage and told us, so I was forewarned. We’ll get it sorted out eventually.

We oversaw the house’s construction nearly 8 years ago from scratch. No one is behind us for miles. No other houses nearby are visible in summer.

But we aren’t entirely alone. There is our tiny hamlet, which is less than 5 minutes’ drive away. There are even occasionally cars passing on the road that’s the fifth of a mile down our “driveway.” And New York State police and local police always seem to be meandering around. (A state trooper once popped up our drive unannounced to warn us about a rash of burglaries in the area. The burglar was caught not long after.)

The remoteness of the area is such that you have to remind yourself New York City is only 100 or so miles to the south. Amidst these hills and woods, you might think you are in another world entirely. And being here alone, I think….a lot:

Along our stone wall. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Along our stone wall. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Along our stone wall. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Along our stone wall. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

The back of our house, looking towards Hunter Mountain, about 15 miles away. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

The back of our house, looking towards Hunter Mountain, about 15 miles away. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

After my parents moved off New York’s Long Island to mainland Pennsylvania in 2011 (and even more so since my mother’s death back in October), this is the place in America I now consider, and feel most at, home. It’s the sort of area where everyone seems to know each other and trusts each other and looks out for each other, where you bump into friends and acquaintances at the post office and find yourself chatting, where you know the names of the people who run the local businesses, and even your town officials may know you on a first-name basis.

It’s our oasis. It’s also been a writing inspiration: I wrote most of the first two novels here. (Distances was written mostly in England.) In all three, for fun I dropped in modern references to this wonderful area. I have so come to love these mountains, I decided “this” locale had to be where another “Robert” truly called home in the late 1700s and early 1800s. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a good day wherever you are. I’m gonna sand down that porcupine-eaten door’s exposed wood, and maybe try painting it a similar color to the metal. In the end, though, we know it’s probably just going to need replacing. C’est la vie. ยฏ\_(ใƒ„)_/ยฏ


  1. Great photos. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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