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August 28, 2014
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Root Cellar

Old pastures

The multi-flora roses are in bloom. Their sweet, spicy fragrance meets you along the old paths. These great bushes of white roses, entwined with grape, humming with bees, are long ago escaped and gone wild. They encroach the roadsides and are taking over the old pastures.

My cousins and I played baseball in these now overgrown fields. The grass was cropped then by the Herefords my uncle pastured there. Buttercup and bull thistle—whatever a cow wouldn’t eat—grew tall.  Read more

Cake of the Week

“Cake of the Week” has survived another year in Mr. O.’s classroom at Sullivan West.

Kids have been bringing in historically themed cakes for extra credit since before the merger, when my husband, John, aka “Mr. O.,” was teaching social studies at Narrowsburg. (Sullivan West School District, as we now know it, is the result of the 1999 merger of the three districts of Narrowsburg, Jeffersonville/Youngsville and Delaware Valley.)  Read more

Wild leeks

The leeks are up. Patches of our native wild onion have appeared like vast green islands in the moist leaf mat of local woodlands. They are a sure sign of renewal after our long winter and the fits and starts of our cold, wet spring.

Leeks, also known as ramps, grow wild in the woods from Georgia to Quebec and as far west as Minnesota. In fact, Chicago, IL, is said to have derived its name from the Native American “Shikako” or “skunk place” due to the abundance of wild onions in that area. Leeks are known for their potent, garlic-like flavor and their ephemerally brief growing season.  Read more

The cane

“It’s back… dunt, dunt dah,” my daughter Lily announces as I slowly make my way with the cane. Yes, it’s back, this old, heavy, wooden cane, a hand-me-down from my cousin Elizabeth to my mother and now to me. Misplacing it, hunting for it, the familiar clatter of dropping it, are now, strangely, mine.  Read more

‘The Word Police’

I have acquired a new nickname. The other night at dinner my family bestowed upon me the new moniker of “The Word Police.” As in “What are you anyway—the word police?” (I picture tickets, sirens and flashing lights.) All for pointing out the juvenile overuse of the word “gross.” For despairing of children’s voices in an over-zealous shout of the phrase “boo-yah.”  Read more

Francis

There is an African saying from the Fang tribe: “When an old person dies we say a library has burnt down.”

So it could be said for my uncle, Francis Dirig, who died just before Christmas, at the age of 86.

His obituary reads simply: “He was a logger and farmer all his life…” But within this spare line lies a whole world of life and work and knowledge that tells of a vanishing time and place.  Read more

Snow Days

The amaryllis bulb from Christmas is beginning to bloom, bringing a little brightness and green to my windowsill, but outside the snow is coming down fast. John and Sam are out shoveling and we are in the middle of a predicted three-day storm that has extended the three-day weekend from school that my kids already had to four days—and counting.  Read more

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