One weekend, five of us ventured out of the rumbling, concrete-laden madhouse that is Manhattan to find ourselves three hours later stepping out onto crackling branches buried beneath a fine layer of frost and snow. We were greeted by a tiny one-room cabin, heated only by a miniature wood-burning stove. It beckoned us and seemed to say “while here you will only eat, drink, and gather firewood to stay warm.”
And so, we followed the house rules - chopped wood and began laying out our perishables atop a snow-laden picnic table, while a Southern friend prepared his specialty - Brunswick Stew, Sweet Cornbread, and Mustard Cole Slaw served with a large bottle of whiskey. Sleepy and warm, our eyelids fell easily and we dreamt of breakfast - oatmeal pancakes topped with steaming hot blueberries and a cup of French press coffee.
We did have to burn the calories consumed, and so we hiked to a waterfall and then to an abandoned graveyard, distracting ourselves until our stomachs grumbled in anticipation for the lunch destination we had planned the day before - Circle W General store. The Palenville New York gem served up mouth-watering Reubens brimming with plush purple cabbage and a Turkey BLT smothered in pesto mayo and fresh avocado. The meal, combined with a bathroom with running water, was a much needed break from the cold.
That evening, we lay out a blanket and lit candles as we dined on a makeshift Middle Eastern spread of olives, feta, tomatoes, humus, cous cous, and pita. Savory scents flooded the tiny place and mixed with the smoldering fumes from the wood stove. We played board games, roasted marshmallows and talked and drank and drank some more, each of us trying to hold onto our last night in the woods.