Monday, February 23, 2009


I would like to tell you something about how this Hudson River Birder got to live on this Hudson River-front property. I place I love to visit is what we used to call "Pells". It is the northern-most border of our property that was owned until 1904 by Robert Livingston Pell. Nearer to On that property which had at one time ten artificial lakes back in the 1800's Pell grew grapes, and planted the famous apple called the "New Town Pippin". He sold the best apples for as much $30 per barrel. He had at one time 20,000 of these apple trees 40 years old. The first and second quality apples were barreled. And with the third quality apples he at one time produced at one time 300,000 barrels of cider. In 1908 my Redemptorist missionary congregation acquired the Pell Estate and in 1908 built in Mt. St. Alphonsus ("The Mount") which one of us once called My Grey Grandmother on the Hudson. It was a seminary until 1987 and then became this Retreat Center, continuing to be....."a wildlife and scenic wonder.."

These apple trees are about all we are growing these days. As I said they are near our Giant Oak. We have been told that our soil is wonderfully rich. What Pell did in the last century seems to bear this out. (People from winery have encouraged us to grow grapes that, they say, would produce a tasy Pinot Noir wine. Maybe it will happen.) Meanwhile I visit the grave of Amanda on the small cemetery that must have been one of the young daughters of those who worked for the Pells. I say, Amanda, what do you think is going to happen to this beautiful land that your family worked so long ago. It is as beautiful as ever. You remember the Eastern Bluebirds, Amanda? Well, for many years they disappeared from here. But about ten years ago people began placing birdhouse. Now they are the delight of our winter.

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