Humans of the Catskills: Leslie T. Sharpe

Leslie T. Sharpe

Journey to the Catskills:

I came to the Catskills because I wanted to live, as a steward, on my own piece of wild land, with forest and meadows, streams and ponds, a nature preserve where I could study and work to protect native species, flora and fauna. Though of course, I am partial to critters, from black bears and red and gray foxes, my hiking companions, to summer birds such as bluebirds, hummingbirds, and a cascade of flashy warblers, to our year-round regulars, cardinals, downy and hairy woodpeckers, barred owls and so many more. Being here for nearly twenty years, has allowed me to celebrate our wild Catskills heritage, especially in my book, “The Quarry Fox and Other Critters of the Wild Catskills,” and also to see many changes, occasioned at least in part by climate change – for example, the virtual disappearance of the little brown bats, primary insectivores (think mosquitoes) and the rise of invasive species such as the hemlock wooly adelgids, which are endangering our hemlock forests which anchor our Catskills mountainsides. The Catskills were America’s first great wilderness found, celebrated by Thomas Cole, which managed to survive and rebound from the environmental degradations of the 19th century. We have new challenges today, to our forests and natural ecosystems, but I have no doubt that Catskillers, working together, with such exemplary organizations as Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and Catskill Mountainkeeper, will meet them, as we always have.


My vocation is naturalist and nature writer.


My avocation is naturalist and nature writer.

Happiness Is:

Now in spring, is seeing all the summer birds arriving – the blue birds at their nesting box, the tree swallows swooping, the orioles and grosbeaks, in their striking, colorful attire, arriving, hearing, for the first time, the wood thrush playing his flute in the woods, the konk-a ree of the red-winged blackbird at the pond, the bright, cheery notes of the song sparrow, and the loud, so very loud, tattoo of the pileated woodpecker, hammering in the woods. And, hearing, too, of course, the first true sign of spring in the Catskills, when the weather finally warms, the singing of the peepers, those tiny tree frogs whose chorus of courting males sounds like sleigh bells. There is an old Catskills saying – when the peepers peep for three nights in a row, you know that spring has finally arrived.

Favorite Dish:

Favorite dish(es) equal favorite local restaurants! Catskills Momos, in Delhi, fabulous Nepalese fare by the wonderful Chef Jimmy. Try the chickpea momos! The Hamden Inn, in Hamden, restored (better than the original) by Dave and Marco, which features delicious American fare, including the best veggie burger anywhere. And in Oneonta, try Simply Thai, your host is Lily, which is as good as (better than) any Thai restaurant in New York City.