When I was growing up, we all looked forward with great anticipation to those summer months that would take us to the Catskills, whether it was to a summer home that our parents or grandparents owned, which we romped through all summer long, or to a bungalow that was rented for the season.
By Labor Day, when families packed up to go back to the city or wherever they lived year-round, the discussions about the next summer would already begin — what would they prepare or what would they do a bit differently when the time would come again to go back to the carefree existence that both child and adult had in those mountains.
A typical day in “the country” back then might entail many different activities—all fun, laid-back, and outdoors for sure, with everyone leaving their pressures and problems wherever they came from, since summer in the Catskills meant your troubles disappeared.
We went berry picking, not to public berry farms but usually in wild berry bushes alongside our homes or on tiny country lanes abutting our location at the time. There were always two seasons for the berries — one in July and one in August, even though they were wild. Very convenient for all of us kids.
After you collected those buckets of berries, the next activity would be making a batch of homemade jam. Somehow, we all thought we were geniuses that we were even able to do this.
Fishing in the lakes was done by young and old, and most never heard of going to town to buy bait but would dig for worms to attract those fish. Sometimes there were even night activities, such as going out in the dark with flashlights and buckets to catch night-crawlers that would come out of the ground to float around the grass during the night. Night-crawlers caught the biggest and finest of fish available in those Catskills lakes!
Boating and swimming in those lakes were the real stuff of memories, since the two activities often went together — jumping in and out of those boats or diving off big rocks or docks in the deeper parts of the lakes.
Frogs, which we rarely see anymore and seem to have grown somewhat extinct in those upstate lakes today, were all over the place, and many a kid would collect them as pets, only to set them free at the end of the summer.
Although the Catskills gradually became less of a destination once flying and other traveling became easier and more accessible, it obviously still kept its charm in our memories because, lo and behold, since this COVID pandemic started, many from the city ran to buy both first and second homes in the Catskills.
Not only is there a huge demand for these homes, but they are now going beyond asking prices, with multiple offers on each home. Because of the low inventory against the number of buyers looking to purchase homes there, it’s a total whirlwind, what with the sudden demand on what had previously been a sleepy, low-demand market.
What this tells me is that people looking to buy there are seeking the life we lived years ago — an anxiety-free, low-pressure, quieter lifestyle during these difficult times. The forecasters predicted that the Catskills would fail without legal gambling casinos, but it looks like it is flourishing now — and gambling has nothing to do with it!
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.