Journey to the Catskills:
My husband, Dick Demenus, and I were invited up to the Catskills in the summer of 1996 to visit a friend who had a house in Shandaken. We weren’t familiar with the area at all, although Dick had done some hiking around Hunter Mountain and Woodland Valley years before. I remember swimming in the Pine Hill Lake and just being enchanted with the small-town vibe of Main Street and the woods surrounding everything.
I asked our friend to keep an eye out for a house for us. Three weeks later, she called and told me that I “had” to take the day off from CBS NEWS, where I was working at the time, and come up to Pine Hill immediately because “houses like this don’t come on the market very often.” She didn’t steer us wrong. We fell in love with the view of the mountains from the wrap around porch and the house, built in 1910, at first sight, even though it needed lots of TLC. We spent more than twenty years driving back and forth from NYC every weekend with our daughter and our dogs, exploring the Catskills and making close friends in the area. When COVID hit in 2020, we moved up to Pine Hill full-time, and have formed an even deeper relationship with the area, which has enriched our lives beyond our wildest dreams.
I spent my career roaming the world as a reporter for public radio (WBAI and NPR), print (The Village Voice) and TV News (CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, DISCOVERY CHANNEL, TLC, etc.) producing short news stories and documentaries on everything from war in Central America, to teenagers and the AIDS crisis, to America’s love affair with the automobile. It was a privilege to meet celebrities, politicians, and just plain folks at the best and worst moments of their lives and to share their stories with the world.
I still love travelling, meeting new people, and bringing like minds together. The big surprise when I discovered the Catskills was that this “city girl” fell in love with digging rocks out of the earth, planting flowers, and creating gardens. I just started a new one at The Pine Hill Community Center, which I hope will grow to attract the 3 Bs: butterflies, bees, and birds, as well as young and old human beings, for many years to come.
Being outside in the city or country on a sunny day and really noticing and appreciating the building details, fashion statements, flowers, trees, people, and creatures that cross my path.
Well, I LOVE to eat good food! Just last year, I collaborated on CATSKILL COOKS: Treasured Recipes & Original Art collected by the Pine Hill Community Center and met a bunch more fascinating people who live in these hills. We are so lucky to have brilliant restaurants like Peekamoose (never get tired of their chopped salad!) and Brushland Eating House (how can cooked carrots taste so good?) nearby. Also, when I discovered the Catskills, I decided that a lady with a country house and apple trees should learn how to make a good apple pie. I have devoted a lot of time to that vital endeavor!
JAN ALBERT serves on the Boards of MOVING FOR LIFE, a dance-exercise program dedicated to helping people recover from cancer, and The Pine Hill Community Center, a great gathering space for old friends and new neighbors.