Last week I made mozzarella cheese. It put a new spin on the old nursery rhyme. Now I know what “curds and whey” really are. Read more
This summer we rearranged our house from top to bottom so that our daughter, Lily, could have her own bedroom. It involved a lot of sorting and throwing out—along with many trips to the Salvation Army and the town dump. My old poem notebooks, the napkin rings and the snow cone maker, all those little Batman toys and even some stuffed animals got the heave-ho. We had the vintage speakers from the record player appraised and gave away a lot of old photographs. Read more
There was a tent at the Wayne County Fair off on a side alley where kids could pet and feed little deer fawns for three dollars. You could purchase a photo of your child with the fawns for $10 or pay extra to go in to take a photo with your own camera. It was a popular tent. Mostly the clientele was toddlers with their mothers. Babies petting babies. Read more
Once you start to notice them, daylilies are everywhere. They grow thick on roadside banks and in fields. See a few here or there around a mailbox, lining a front porch or around an old gravestone. Their lush, tawny-orange flowers bloom and wither in one day.
So we have arrived at this moment. The sign at the Long Eddy Firehouse on Route 97 says: “Enjoy the summer—it’s short.” It reminds me that I should try to make the most of these daylily days of summer. Read more
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” 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
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
“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
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
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