Mountain Culture

Mountain Arts Media is a one-person firm promoting mountain history, mountain literature, and mountain culture, focussed on New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Natty Bumpo’s Catskills

“You know the Catskills, lad, for you must have seen them on your left, as you followed the river up from York, looking as blue as a piece of clear sky, and holding up the clouds on their tops, as the smoke curls over the head of an Indian chief at the council fire. Well, there’s the High-peak and Round-top, which lay back, like a father and mother among their children, seeing they are high above all the other hills. But the place I mean is next to the river, where one of the ridges juts out a little from the rest, and where the rocks fall for the best part of a thousand feet, so much up and down, that a man standing on their edges is fool enough to think he can jump from top to bottom.”

“What see you when you get there?” asked Edwards.

“Creation!” said Natty, dropping the end of his rod into the water, and sweeping one hand around him in a circle — “all creation, lad…”

James Fenimore Cooper, from The Pioneers

The Myth in the Mountain
by Bill Birns

Open these pages to a Catskill Mountain village where history and myth blend. Events remembered open into events that maybe never were. This poem of one mountain valley reverberates with ridgeline rhythms of happenings half-remembered, half-dreamed: a native seeking his vision quest; a captive missionary forced through the wilderness; great men wagering on the meaning of freedom; plain men and women struggling to carve, from the wilderness, a life.

Here meet DuMond McBride, last of a line that began with that wager; Wi ta nax kox’w’e, a fledgling Lenape warrior on a ridgeline quest; Brother Oliban, a young Frenchman on mission to the New World; Rachel McBride, the woman of the mountain, who sought the Spirit in the woods.

“…spiritual and sometimes passionate poems…Birns captures the beauty and difficulty of living in a remote Catskill valley….Birns’ poems are heavily influenced by the language and cadence of his New Kingston neighbors…”

A Review by John Rowen

“The earth hath bubbles, as water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanish’d?”
Macbeth Act I, Scene 3