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December 12, 2017
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Root Cellar

This Thanksgiving

I bought a Thanksgiving turkey on Election Day after casting my ballot. I had on my silly “I voted” sticker as I sorted through the frozen, plastic-wrapped, bulbous-shaped turkeys—so strangely removed from their real-life stateliness of puffed and upswept feathers. As I walked around the store I felt confident and anticipated the night ahead.  Read more

‘Write back soon’ (and other requests from the past)

When I went to college—oh so long ago—I recall waiting for the moment when the daily mail would be delivered. I could hear shuffling feet behind the wall of metal post-office style boxes in the mail room located in the dorm’s basement. I could even detect with razor accuracy when an actual letter was put into my box by the sound a weighted envelope makes as it slides. I loved the mail. I still do.  Read more

Nothing much happened here today…

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else…” So said Emily Dickinson, the eminent poet of microcosm and wonder.

I think of this as I sort through the laundry, sweep up the spilled cat litter and rearrange the yogurts stacked in the refrigerator. Two more days of summer vacation remain before the start of school which leaves us looking through a box of hand-me-down clothes, looking for a suitable blouse to match the skirt my daughter has picked out for the first day of school. We sort through the clothes. She French-braids her hair.  Read more

Christmas pickles

It is too soon, I think, to imagine the bare trees of December and it is too warm this August to contemplate a steaming oven, but it is time to think of Christmas dinner. It is time to make the “Christmas pickles” for our holiday celebrations.

I have been putting up “lazy pickles,” using an old fashioned mustard pickle recipe from my mother. And “lazy” they are, requiring no muggy processing or boiling brines or any special equipment.  Read more

Graduation 2016

My son, Sam, graduated from high school in June—ending his last, restless weeks of 12th grade and beginning his final summer vacation—that nebulous time between high school graduation and the start of his first year of college.

It is an uneasy, transitional time for us all. We are a close-knit family, and I know I will miss him a lot while he is gone. It will take some getting used to.  Read more

My childhood reading list

The New Yorker’s summer fiction edition arrived in my mail box last week—it is a publication I look forward to all year. Included in this year’s issue is a series of essays about childhood reading and specific books remembered from childhood. It is the kind of personal history memoir that I love to read.  Read more

Spring wildflower traditions

Wildflowers made me who I am. One of my first memories is of a walk in the woods to see the first May flowers—the pin-striped blooms of the spring beauty and the delicate, fur-stemmed hepatica. The trout lily and trillium, blue cohosh and wild ginger were all old friends to be visited each year in “The May-Flower Woods” as I grew up on our old farm. I know where to find them still in their same, specific spots in that same woods along Neering Road.  Read more

Last school bus ride…

The school bus stops outside my front door each morning at about 7:30 to pick up my daughter. She emerges from the warmth of the house, usually with her coat slung over her arm and sometimes walking on the heels of her sneakers, which are not quite on her feet. “I’ll tie them on the bus,” she tells me. “Right,” I say, remembering the great catch-up time for homework and hair braiding that was the bus ride to school each morning.  Read more

But what does it really mean?

As this election year wears on, there has been a resurgence of that ever mysterious phrase: “I want my country back…” I hear it trotted out in polite and not-so-polite conversation, and I see it presented as a rallying slogan in the scroll of my Facebook page, a post from one or another of my more conservative friends.

But what does it really mean? Back from whom? Who had it in the first place? Is it back as in time? Is it back to a time of supposed simplicity like the post-war boom of the 1950s, with its segregation, McCarthyism, and obligatory hats and white gloves for women?  Read more

Return to sender

My 50th birthday is coming up at the end of this month. I’m told this is a momentous birthday—a milestone. It is a time for reflection. And, bluntly, it is the tipping point in life where most people are closer to death than birth.

Considering that sometimes I can’t remember what age I am without adding or subtracting from my birth year, 1966, I have some mild relief at having arrived at this memorable number. But I wasn’t really fazed by turning “half a century old” until I received that AARP membership card in the mail.  Read more