Humans of the Catskills: Jessica Reed

Jessica with her daughter Willow. Photo Credit: Roy Gumpel.

Journey to the Catskills:

I was an Idaho girl living in Manhattan for a decade. I was very happy there. Love brought me to the Catskills. I met a man named Michael in NYC. He owned a historical country house in Walton situated on 100 acres that we visited most weekends, and it was the best of both worlds. He promised we would never completely leave NYC. We got married and had our first baby, a daughter, named Willow, within a year. Becoming a mom changed everything. I wanted grass under my child’s feet and fresh air and peeper frogs peeping at night. I wanted to let her grow up being able to run ahead of me without her hand tightly clutched in mine. Michael had always wanted to move to our country home anyway, and secured a job as manager of The Peace Plantation Animal Sanctuary. We added a son, named River and an odd assortment of pets. I knew I had been divinely led to the Catskills when I learned that we lived close to Delhi, NY. My third-grade teacher read a book to the class, My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, that takes place in Delhi. It has been my favorite book ever since and I always wanted to live in the woods and eat acorn pancakes like Sam Gribley did. Michael and I eventually broke up but remain the very best of friends. I have been here longer than any other place and it feels like home. 


While in Manhattan, I went to college for emergency medicine and became an EMT-D and drove an ambulance in Chinatown and Wall Street. I chose my vocation believing that no matter where I ended up living, I would have a stable job helping people. Every town needs EMTs. I quickly learned much to my surprise that Walton and most nearby towns had only a volunteer service. As a new mom, I didn’t have time to volunteer. I wanted to stay home with my children. I decided to open a daycare and it gave my kids instant playmates. I have watched other people’s children ever since. I love the honesty of children. I have three children I currently babysit. I even babysat their much older siblings. Being with children has become even more important to me now due to my recent empty nest. 


I am a writer at heart. This past Christmas Day, I published a Tiny Love Story in The New York Times and that was something I had wanted to do for a couple of years. I am also a book reviewer for A Time and A Place magazine.

Happiness Is:

Happiness is anytime that I am with my children. I never feel 100% complete without them, there is always a yearning. Rainbows, dandelions, pansies, and the fragrance after the rain makes me happy. My pets are pure happiness to me. 

Favorite Dish:

My favorite dish doesn’t need to be cooked at all; it is salmon sushi. Other than that, my daughter has been a dedicated vegan since she graduated from high school. She has introduced me to several dishes that we love to cook together. I am always so pleasantly surprised how delicious recipes can be without meat products. She’s very creative with substitutions. My favorite vegan food is roasted cauliflower. I’ll never give up sushi and cheese but look forward to incorporating more vegan food. 

Ideal Country Home:

This one is easy. I want to live in a multi-level treehouse like The Swiss Family Robinson. I want my treehouse to be overlooking a river and next to a tall Weeping Willow. My son is studying aspects of construction and he has pinky promised to build me a treehouse in his backyard when I am older. I want my treehouse to have several exits including a slide, a fireman’s pole and a rope ladder. I will paint it in rainbow colors. I will live in his backyard and babysit all of my future grandchildren who will love a grandma with a treehouse. When I am very, very old, he will have to carry me up and down the ladder and I will be happy.