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December 09, 2016
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Birds of a feather

Helena Clare Pittman's "Sweet Williams and Apricot on Seurat" is currently on exhibit at the DVAA in Narrowsburg, NY.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

After weeks of being cooped up with the winter blues, I rejoined the world last week and ventured forth, thanks to Mother Nature’s reprieve. Warmer temps and the recent snowmelt resulted in my feeling far less chicken about driving around the Upper Delaware River valley, so I spread my wings and flew to Callicoon, NY and a rare night out with like-minded folks. Repeated invites from WJFF station manager Adam Weinrich ( to participate in Trivia Night at Matthews on Main had languished because of the inclement weather, and with my “no-time-like-the-present” attitude, I seized the opportunity to grab gal-pal Ellany Gable, (, fully prepared to mop up the floor with my vast knowledge of trivial pursuits. We had a blast, but I have never been so wrong, so much, in such a short amount of time. While it was great to be out ( and schmooze with Chef Matt and hostess-with-the-mostess Dominique, my ego took a beating in the brains department as Team Awesome took the honors, while Team Fox was chagrined. My partner was on point, but I was sorely lacking and dragged her down sufficiently to have us come in dead last. Little wonder that the others insisted we return on Thursday for another round and I will, if for no other reason than redemption. While Dominique played kissy-face with Dharma the Wonder Dog, I grabbed my camera and snapped the proprietors with two of the four 2013 Readers Choice “The Best” awards that Matthew’s snagged recently. Good times.

Feathers slightly ruffled from my defeat, I decided to head off in a different direction on Saturday, having noted that my twitter account (@jonathanfoxIMHO) was burning up about the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance’s (DVAA) opening reception for an exhibit of recent works by Helena Clare Pittman. Someone had tweeted that Pittman would be at the gallery ( in person to address the crowd as they flocked to Narrowsburg for the reception, so (Wonder Dog at my heels) I went. Having just read Tom Robbins’ “Still Life with Woodpecker,” it seemed like a natural progression to take in Pittman’s show, which features 51 still-life paintings that, according to the artist, are the “result of an epiphany.” Incorporating the works of masters who have inspired her during the course of her career, the artist explained that “the works in this show are concerned with color, light and composition” and that she was “intrigued” with infusing the works of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Whistler and Degas (to name but a few) into her own unique, alluring paintings. The exhibit runs through March 15 and is a beautiful (IMHO) representation of Pittman’s mastery with the brush.

On Sunday, I was thrilled to spot the first robins in the yard. Crowing with delight, I made a mental note to pick up a bird feeder while out and about and pecked at my breakfast while soothing the pup, deciding that she should stay home, rather than accompany me to “Little Sparrow and the Eagles” at the DVAA’s Tusten Theatre. The band ( was in fine form (as always) warming up the sold-out crowd that had swarmed to Narrowsburg to hear lead vocalist Carol Smith join newly affianced Aldo Troiani, fiddler Lynn Reno and fellow musicians Fred Scholl and Lester Wilson deliver their toe tapping mix of bluegrass, ‘60s rock and Americana that never fails to please. Following Little Sparrow can be intimidating, but not for the likes of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center’s Bill Streeter, ( whose live birds of prey demonstration and lecture were so captivating, fascinating, informative and entertaining, that I momentarily forgot that I’m terrified of birds. With more than 30 years of expertise, Streeter provides an amazing up-close and personal opportunity for his audience to learn about preservation, protection and rehabilitation of the majestic falcons, owls and eagles that grace the river region, thanks to the efforts of organizations like the DVRC. “New York is a major hawk flyway” Streeter reported, while handling a red-tail and explaining their habitat, history and factoids regarding mating habits and astounding abilities to hunt and fish in their environment. While the birds that Streeter has rescued (with the help of others) have been given sweet names, he is careful to instill a healthy respect for the magnificent creatures, while simultaneously entertaining kids and adults with cautionary tales about how society has impacted their environment. Like so many others, I was awed by the birds and learned a great deal, grateful for the experience, but still determined to keep my distance while attempting to capture their beauty with the camera. On my way home, I spotted two stunning bald eagles in flight over the Delaware, and my heart soared. Who gives a hoot? I do.