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People In Your Neighborhood
by Terence P Ward
An usual collaboration that took place over many months bore fruit on April 24, in the form of Unsung Heroes: Songs of our elder farmers by local songwriters. Eight different farmers—or significant others—were interviewed about their lives and work by songwriters, who debuted their work at the event, which took place at Rondout Valley High School. The project was a collaboration of the Rondout Valley Growers Association and Sag
eArts, the mission of which is to give elders an opportunity to share their wisdom and stories.
The relationship between the people of the Rondout Valley and agriculture is a strong one, and that came through during this event. The work itself was multi-generational, with high school students providing backup vocals for professional musicians performing songs about farmers now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. The seats themselves were likewise filled with people of all ages, and those people cheered their farmers much louder than they did for the music, rising to their feet several times over the course of the afternoon. One particularly poignant point was after Kelleigh McKenzie sang "Cherrytown", which told the story of 93-year-old Abe Waruch, last of nine brothers and lifelong resident of the eponymous hamlet. Waruch lost his wife of 70 years just two weeks prior to the concert, and tearfully shared that news with the audience. He said it would have pleased her that he attended anyway, and the standing ovation he received might have been loud enough to hear on his farm.
Loss and sacrifice was a theme of much of the music, but the songwriters touched upon it without turning out soulful dirges. Instead, concertgoers were treated to a wide variety, including folk, blues, '50s-style rock, and even a poetry reading. The process of "song by interview" appeared to forge new friendships between writer and farmer, even when the farmers didn't think they'd shared anything worth singing about. It carried with it sacrifice of its own, as well: Mark Brown talked about how he had to meet Jack Schoonmaker at six in the morning in order to work around both of their schedules. "He makes good coffee," Brown said of his host. The song that came of those meetings, "1680", was named for the year the Schoonmaker family started farming in Accord, and captured some of that long history.
"The names and the faces of the families before
Their stories and children, the burdens they bore
Are plowed into the soil through the passing years
Now the fruit and the love of their labor stays here."
Wayne Kelder, another honoree, said that he was asked by an RVGA member if he'd participate before the winter, and worked with Tom Holland over the winter. Kelder saw his family farm transition from dairy to vegetables when a fire destroyed both barn and herd, and Holland's song "Salt and Smoke" gave a sense of the mix of fun and work that farming was for Kelder, weaving it together with the farmer's love of flying.
Other farmers whose lives were commemorated in song were Frank Coddington, Rima Nickell, Joyce and Bill Wolklow, and Jackie Brooks; lifelong farm worker Eddie Cantine was honored with a poem entitled "You Catch More Flies with Honey."
by David DeWitt
I took Finn with me to vote this week.
In the car on the way I was trying to explain the concept to him.
“It’s like being asked to raise your hand if you want something,” I said. “Except everyone in the State is being asked who we want for President. We can’t see each other’s hands so we have to write down who we want.” (I’ll let his uncle Brad explain the whole delegate and electoral college thing some day.)
“Raise your hand?” he asked.
“You know,” I said, “like when you’re at a party and somebody comes in and says ‘Who wants a cupcake?’ and you raise your hand?” I knew it was a bad example the moment the words left my mouth.
“Ooo I want a cupcake!” he said.
It took the rest of the trip to explain why we were not going to have a cupcake right then. Sometimes I’m good at explaining things, other times not.
We arrived at the polling place, which was thankfully in a fire station. If there’s one thing that can get his mind off a cupcake it’s a fire engine.
As we peeked in the windows at the trucks I wondered how much of this he would remember. I have vivid memories of my Mom taking me to vote when I was a kid, into the big metal booths with curtains. She would let me click the levers and when we were done we would pull the long handle and the curtains opened automatically. I suppose those are still around.
The electronic voting machines don’t instill as much confidence for me. On my home computer I’ve seen the message “File may have been lost” a few too many times. I love how it always says ‘may have’ as if it’s still looking for the file. Will it ever flash a message that says “I was wrong, I found it?”
You trust when you vote. You trust the candidate (to some degree), the people at the polling place, and the machines.
There has been a lot in the news about voter suppression, which causes people to say, “See it’s rigged, there’s no point in voting.” And that’s exactly what it’s designed to do.
But for as many people who are trying to rig elections I know there are just as many who have made it their calling to insure the integrity of our voting system. It’s those people we are putting our trust in when we pull the lever, punch the card, fill in the oval, or tap the screen.
Will the system ever be perfect? Probably not. But when we make our voices heard, it’s more difficult to suppress a million votes than a few hundred.
“Do YOU want to be President?” Finn said.
“No, I do not,” I said emphatically.
“Can I be president?” he asked.
“If you really want to,” I said.
“Ok,” he said. “I’ll be president and you can do the voting.”
That I would trust.
by JD Eiseman
Hudson Valley Fair. There is plenty to see and do at the all new Hudson Valley Fair including a huge carnival midway, delicious food, games, and live entertainment and shows including The World Famous Fearless Flores Thrill Show (America’s Got Talent), Lance Gifford’s Magic & Illusion Show, Monkeys Riding Dogs, a full petting zoo and much more. Tickets at hudsonvalleyfair.com. Dutchess Stadium, 1500 Route 9D, Wappingers Falls. May 6-22.
Health and Wellness Fair. The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce is proud to showcase a vast range of local products and services that support health and wellbeing in the community at the second annual Health & Wellness Fair. Hudson Valley Dance Depot, Kwon’s Martial Arts, Moriarty Physical Therapy, and Aerophone Community Band will provide demonstrations and entertainment throughout the day. This year will also feature the Red Cross hosting a blood drive. Free. Poughkeepsie Galleria, 2001 South Road, Poughkeepsie. May 7, 12-5pm.
The Future of Oak Forests. Did you know that oak forests are in decline throughout the Northeast? Many of our forestlands lack the young oaks needed for successful regeneration. When mature oaks are lost through harvest, age, or disturbance they are often replaced by other types of trees. Through an interactive panel, gain firsthand knowledge about how private forest owners and land managers can make a difference. Free and open to the public. Cary Institute, 2801 Sharon Turnpike, Millbrook. May 7, 9am-1pm.
18 Exhibitions Curated by CCS Bard Master’s Degree Candidates. Featuring the work of more than 80 major international and emerging contemporary artists. Mother Iode, curated by Adriana Blidaru; We Are All Traitors, curated by Tim Gentles; Praising the Surface, curated by Rosario Güiraldes; Third Nature, curated by Laura Herman; Spooky Action, curated by Patricia Margarita Hernandez; Abstract Sex*, curated by Dana Kopel; Overburden, curated by Humberto Moro; what is left of what has left, curated by Bhavisha Panchia. Free. Hessel Museum, 33 Garden Road, Annendale-on-Hudson. Opening reception May 8, 1– 4:00 p.m. On view May 8 – May 29.
Chuang Yen Monastery Celebrates Mother’s Day (Putnam County). New York State’s biggest Buddhist temple is hosting a Buddha Bathing Ceremony and a Garden Party for Mother’s Day. On the same day, a special occasion will be taking place at 9:50 am - an enthronement ceremony for the new Abbott, Venerable Hui Chong. On the afternoon schedule, at the Garden Party, participants can rejoice in the Folk Arts Performances, featuring integral cultural performances of different ethnicities. Free. Chuang Yen Monastery, 2020 Route 301, Carmel. May 8, 9:50am-2pm.
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Opens for the Season. The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a true living museum of antique aviation, presenting one of the largest collections of early aeroplanes in the world, as well as automobiles, motorcycles, early engines and memorabilia spanning the period from 1900-1939. Special events in addition to regular weekend shows. Learn more at oldrhinebeck.org. Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, 9 Norton Road, Red Hook. Museum open daily starting May 14, 10am-5pm. Air shows and biplane rides every Saturday and Sunday June 11 – October 9 (weather permitting)
Oakwood Friends School hosts spring information session. Visitors meet at the Collins Library on the Oakwood Friends School campus, 22 Spackenkill Road, Poughkeepsie. The information sessions are only offered twice a year. Those interested in attending are asked to register in advance. For further information call 845-462-4200 x245. Wednesday, May 11, at 9:30am.
Hudson Horror Show. Now in its sixth year, Hudson Horror Show continues to be the fastest growing retro horror film festival in New York. While theaters around the country are ditching 35mm in favor ofl digital film presentations, Hudson Horror Show recently retro-fitted one of the theaters at South Hills Cinema 8 from digital back to 35mm film. This year’s screenings include Nightmare On Elm Street, Jaws 2, Nightbreed, and two mystery films. Visit hudsonhorror.com for tickets, schedule, and more information. $35 (ticket includes admission to all screenings). Silver Cinemas South Hills 8, 1895 South Road, Poughkeepsie. May 14, 12pm-12am.
A Day at Sloop Brewing Co.: A Sloop Club/ Woody Guthrie Restoration Fundraiser. Come to an outdoor beer tasting at the brewery, set in an historic apple orchard on the scenic Columbia-Dutchess border. Your ticket helps the Sloop Woody Guthrie continue to offer free sails on the Hudson River and includes unlimited beer tasting, pig roast, vegetarian fare, live music, souvenir beer glass, karaoke, guided brewery tour, bonfire, games & other activities, education, recycling, and parking. Founded in 2011, Sloop Brewing Co. is a full-scale microbrewery housed in a beautiful 19th century barn on a farm in Elizaville. Tickets are $60 and may be purchased at sloopbrewing.bpt.me. Sloop Brewing Co., 1065 Route 19, Elizaville. May 14, 1-5pm.
Cancer Relay for Life. The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest and most impactful fundraising event to end cancer. It unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action to finish the fight once and for all. With the support of thousands of volunteers like you, the American Cancer Society is helping save more than 500 lives a day. Sign up at http://relay.acsevents.org. Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck. May 21, 11am-8pm.
Millbrook Literary Festival. Whether you are a reader or a writer, a child or an adult, the 2016 Millbrook Literary Festival promises to provide something to enrich your life. Panel discussions, presentations, readings, and book signings by over 75 adult, young adult, and children’s authors and illustrators are set for the Festival. A full listing of panels and discussions is available at millbrookliteraryfestival.org. Millbrook Library, 3 Friendly Lane, Millbrook. May 21, 10am-5pm.
International Group Art Show. The community at large is invited to enjoy interesting contemporary and traditional art throughout this two-week international exhibit. The opening reception will last for two days - May 21-22, 12- 6 pm. Drinks and refreshments will be served. Many pieces of all different sizes will be on sale 50% of the price. Bashasart Studio, 211 Fishkill Avenue, Studio 208, Beacon. May 21-June 3.
First Annual Inter-Tribal Unity Gathering. The Schaghticoke First Nations, in partnership with the Town of Dover, is hosting a Unity Gathering and cultural heritage festival. We will be honored to have guests come from near and far to this family event. For travel and lodging information please see our website at www.unitysfn.org. Free. Thomas J Boyce Park, Wingdale. June 4, 10am-4pm.
by JD Eiseman
A Sound Meditation (Film) and Live Skype Q&A with Tom Kenyon. This lyrical documentary is about one man’s quest to integrate modern science and ancient mysticism through the transformative power of music and sound. For information on this event please visit rvhhc.org or rosendaletheatre.org and for more information on the film please visit songofthenewearth.com. Free. Rosendale Theatre, 408 Main Street, Rosendale. May 4, 7:15pm.
Rediscover Ease: Let the Alexander Technique Lighten the Way with Allyna Steinberg. If you’re looking to reduce tension, recover from an injury, or gain greater coordination and appreciation for your body, the Alexander Technique can help. You will learn how to rediscover ease by applying these new ideas in your daily life. The Alexander Technique was developed over 100 years ago and has been featured by the Mayo clinic, British Medical Journal, NPR, Oprah Magazine and many other places. Free. Marbletown Community Center, 3564 Main Street, Stone Ridge. May 5, 7-8:30pm.
Greenville Drive-In Opens Beer Garden (Greene County). Kicking off the 2016 season will be a festive opening party and screening of the romantic comedy classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Freshly shucked oysters, fine French champagne, and live music fill out the bill, as well as the opening of The Projectionists Club, a traditional biergarten featuring locally produced beer, wine, and spirits, plenty of outdoor seating and a stage for live music. Schedule and information at drivein32.com. 10700 Route 32, Greenville. Opening May 6.
Opening Reception for “Immigrant Gifts to America.” Art exhibit & month-long celebration featuring works by Joseph Garlock & immigrant members of the Arts Society of Kingston. Programs include a “Coming to America” film series (Thursdays in May), migratory mourning workshop “In the Presence of the Absent” (May 22), and “New Worlds, New Voices” storytelling event (May 29). Opening reception May 7, 5-9pm. All events are free. Visit www.ucjf.org for more information. Arts Society of Kingston, 97 Broadway, Kingston. On view through May 31.
Dance Film Sundays: Paris Opera Ballet. A mixed bill program featuring all-time favorites which are now rarely seen: “Le Spectre de la Rose,” “Afternoon of a Faun,” “Petrushka,” and “The Three Cornered Hat,” four essential works in a breathtaking afternoon that brings together the artistic elite of the early 20th century. Dance Film Sundays are on the second Sunday of every month. $10 for members/$12 for non-members/$6 children 12 and under. Rosendale Theatre, 408 Main Street, Rosendale. May 8, 3pm.
Restorative Nature Stroll. In an attempt to make nature connection accessible to all, Wild Earth will lead a one hour ‘Restorative Nature Stroll,’ providing physical and financial accessibility to community members of all ages and abilities. These walks will offer a balance between contemplative, guided, and communal nature exploration, with time for silence and reflection and time for connecting and sharing. Free and open to all. Meet at the Gardens for Nutrition, 51 Huguenot Street, New Paltz. May 10, 12-1pm.
“Vladimir Nabokov and Insect Mimicry: The Artist as Scientist.” In collaboration with the NY Council for the Humanities, the Rosendale Public Library presents a slide/lecture presentation on the controversial novelist and lepidopterist, revealing his insights into the mysteries of mimicry and how the scientific community responded to his studies. Free. Rosendale Public Library, 264 Main Street, Rosendale. May 11, 7pm.
Gardiner Cupcake Festival. Come enjoy the Gardiner Cupcake Festival where there’s something for the whole family - including over 30,000 cupcakes to choose from. Kicking off the festival is the Gardiner 5K Cupcake Classic, a one-of-a-kind run through the beautiful apple and peach orchards of Wright’s Farm with spectacular views of the Shawagunk Mountains. Then comes the Amateur Cupcake Contest, cupcake and food vendors, music, wine tastings, and activities for kids. Info and sign-up at gardinercupcakefestival.com. Wright’s Farm, 699 Route 208, Gardiner. May 14, 12-6pm.
Carla Rozman Art Exhibit: “Faces.” Carla Rozman’s first solo show of paintings at Cornell Street Studios, entitled “Faces,” is the culmination of three years of painting over magazine and found images. She is the former art director of Chronogram, where she designed the magazine and selected the cover art for 5 years. Opening reception Saturday, May 14th, 5-8 pm. Cornellstreetstudios.com. Cornell Street Studios, 168 Cornell Street, Kingston. On view through June 30.
Free Community Holistic Healthcare Day. A wide variety of holistic health modalities and practitioners available. Appointments can be made on a first-come first-served basis upon check-in. Though no money or insurance is required, RVHHC invites patients to give a donation or an hour of volunteer community service if they can. For more information please visit rvhhc.org. Free. Marbletown Community Center, 3564 Main Street, Stone Ridge. May 17, 4-8:00pm.
Invasive Species Workshop. Join this educational workshop with Kali Bird, a Catskills partner of PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) and George Profus, a Senior Forester for the DEC. Get samples and handouts with information about what species to look for, how to destroy them, and what to plant instead. Free and open to the public. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Boughton Place, 150 Kisor Road, Highland. May 19. 7pm.
Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival. In what could only be the greatest congregation of meals on wheels in all of history, the Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival joins food trucks from around the region to deliver their delicious dishes. Noodles, German-style pizza, hot dogs, and BBQ make up just some of the available fare. Guests enjoy music, entertainment, and a beer and wine garden, too. Free. Third Thursday May-October at Cantine Field, Saugerties. May 19, 3:30-9:30pm.
Taste of Greater Newburgh. Newburgh Rotary Club presents this afternoon of sumptuous samplings from over twenty local food and drink purveyors, live jazz, a car show and art exhibit. Visit tasteofgreaternewburgh.com for tickets, food participation, and sponsorships. Tickets are $30. Mount Saint Mary College, 330 Powell Avenue, Newburgh. May 22, 12:30-2:30pm.
Arts Society of Kingston special events. May 7, 5-9pm, Gala Opening, part of Kingston’s First Saturday gallery-opening receptions. May 12, 7-10pm, “Harvest of Empire,” documentary exploring US actions in Latin America that contributed to today’s immigration crisis; followed by discussion. May 15, 3-4pm, Joseph Garlock presentation, by Woodstock gallerist James Cox. May 19, 7-10pm, “Entre Nos” (“Between Us”), a true drama about a new-immigrant Colombian mother’s quest to provide for her two children in Queens after her husband abandoned them; followed by discussion. May 22, 1-4pm, “In the Presence of the Absent,” a workshop about a pervasive but little-known suffering among immigrants called “migratory mourning,” by expert María Elena Ferrer. May 26, 7-10pm, “Brooklyn,” a moving story of a young Irish woman who immigrated to 1950s Brooklyn, lured by the promise of America; followed by discussion. May 29, 3-5pm, “New World, New Voices,” storytelling by local immigrant artists coached by award-winning professional storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi. For info: ucjf.org, rehercenter.org, 845-338-8131 (Jewish Federation); 845-338-0333 (Arts Society of Kingston). 97 Broadway, Kingston.
by Michael Nunziata
In water law, as in much else, definitions matter. A definition is a formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word or phrase. Definitions set cornerstones and boundaries; they reveal order and bring clarity; they banish the vague and ambiguous. Definitions let us know where we are in the world. The law, which is always formal and rarely clear, relies on all sorts of definitions to assign subjects into categories and classes. A judge in chambers, tangled on some point of law or fact, may reach for any reasonable dictionary to aid justice. Sometimes this works out fine.
water n. 1 a: the liquid that descends from the clouds as rain, forms streams, lakes, and seas, and is a major constituent of all living matter and that when pure is an odorless, tasteless, very slightly compressible liquid oxide of hydrogen H20 which appears bluish in thick layers, freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and boils at 100 degrees Celsius, has a maximum density at 4 degrees Celsius and a high specific heat, is feebly ionized to hydrogen and hydroxyl ions, and is a poor conductor of electricity and a good solvent
So says Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.), which I chose at random from a dozen other dictionaries on the reference shelf at the Kingston Library. The full entry extends to 32 sub-headings over nearly half a page—far too much to print here—but this opening phrase is instructive. It’s also inaccurate, disjointed and oddly written, even if you overlook Merriam-Webster’s practice of leaving off periods at the end of sentences. But it’s somehow fitting that water’s definition is as elusive and transient as the substance itself.
Our dictionary defines water as “the liquid that descends from the clouds as rain.” (We learn in elementary school that water flows readily through solid, liquid and gaseous states, and descends from the clouds as anything it pleases, but we’ll let that go.) It mistakenly implies that water falls to earth from some celestial spigot, the source of which, apparently, is heaven. Rather, the water that fills the clouds belongs to the planet. Water is a finite resource; its total volume has been the same since water appeared on earth. It simply goes up and comes down in an endless whirling dance between earth and sky. Any useful definition of water should say so.
For the record, the total amount of water in the atmosphere makes up a ridiculously small percentage of all the water on Earth: the US Geological Survey puts it as a fraction of a fraction of a fraction. (You can search “USGS how much water is there on earth.”) Somehow I had always imagined that the clouds held oceans more water than we’re told they do.
The phrase is disjointed because it begins with a statement of atmospherics, proceeds to a biological feature, romps through the rules of physics, and ends in a heap on a chemical property. A rule of good writing is to arrange like things with like, especially when there are 31 more sub-headings to fill. The phrase is oddly written because of that “feebly ionized.” Feebleness is a diminished condition, a lowering of a standard with the prospect of regaining it. Perhaps the editors meant “weakly” or “loosely” instead.
So why do I criticize a dictionary definition? What’s the point in mincing the word choices of professional editors? Two reasons. First, the full definition (you can look it up) is notable for what it doesn’t say about water: that it is heavy to lift, that it is difficult to contain and usually impossible to measure, that it is always moving, that it is strong-willed, powerful, evasive and cruel. Most important, neither Merriam-Webster’s nor any of the other dictionaries I checked ever get around to mentioning water’s single most important feature: that it is absolutely necessary to all life on earth. (The definition’s second clause says only that living things contain water, not that they all require it.) Without water there would be no life, no dictionaries, no judges, no editors. You’d think a definition would mention a little thing like that.
The second reason concerns our harried judge on the bench who searches for meaning in a dictionary. Trying to divine water by reading a definition is like trying to find heaven by looking up through the bottom of a beer glass. The view is tinted and the subject uncertain. As more water conflicts make their way to the courts, more judges will have to learn about water. All of them will visit their dictionaries. Blurred definitions leave the judge better informed but no wiser. As a lawyer, I’ve got to absorb the definitions, too, especially the blurry ones. The judge might need help filling in the blanks.
Michael Nunziata practices water law in New York State.
by Terence P Ward
The village of Ellenville and its environs have been laden with economic miasma for some years, but older residents can recall a heyday when the prisons were full, the knife factory was booming, and televisions throughout the tri-state area trumpeted the joys that could be found at the Nevele. Setbacks notwithstanding, Ellenville has considerable potential: housing is affordable, and the village is located within a day’s drive of a third of the US and two-thirds of the Canadian populations. The possibility of that resort becoming a casino sparked a desire to revitalize this community in southern Ulster County, a movement that was given some traction in the form of the Ellenville Million.
County Executive Mike Hein announced in February 2015 that a million dollars would be poured into this area, and spent according to a plan developed by a committee of volunteers. After listening to pitches that focused largely on ways to increase tourism traffic to the area, and perhaps recognizing that any one of those well-considered ideas could use up the fund in its entirety, committee members have rolled out a strategy designed to get the best bang for those million bucks. The plan calls for some of the money to be used on targeted projects and marketing, with the remainder to be awarded to business owners for certain kinds of projects.
Much of the money will be used for infrastructure projects which, while not particularly visible, are designed to make the community more welcoming to business. Sewer and water upgrades are in the mix, as well as implementing high-speed broadband along the Route 209 corridor. Two key locations, the Shadowland Theater and Hunt Memorial Building, will benefit from the Ellenville Million directly; the money will pay for renovations and be used to leverage additional grant funding. Some of the Ellenville Million will be set aside to improve parks and trails.
Two funds will be available to private business owners, one for economic development and the other for improving facades on Main Street specifically. The economic development funds will hinge upon the number of jobs created and be capped at $50,000 per project, and will be administered by the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance. Eligible business owners are those “interested in relocating, expanding, or starting a new business in the Village of Ellenville or the Town of Wawarsing,” according to a statement released by the county executive. The Main Street facade program will match private money dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.
A tourism marketing campaign will promote the beautified Main Street and tout the many existing recreational and arts opportunities to residents of the greater New York City metropolitan area.
With an eye to the future, members of the Ellenville Million committee are partnering with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress to both manage the existing funds, and to apply for grants to keep the economic development money flowing. It’s a mindset that shows a clear intention to put Ellenville’s days as an economic backwater squarely in the community’s rear-view mirror.
by Lee Reich
If there ever was a plant that jumped in and out of the role
of “weed”, it must be dandelion. Lawn-lovers despise dandelion because it
taints the sought-after, uniform expanse of greenery. Gardeners despise the
plant because it robs water and nutrients intended for nearby cultivated
plants. Even orchardists frown upon dandelion because it distracts bees from
Add to these transgressions a plant that is perennial,
tough, and seeds all summer long. What a weed!
Hoeing or mowing hardly fazes dandelion. The thick, deep
roots are a storehouse of energy that fuels growth of new leaves each time you
lop off the old ones. And the leaves grow in a rosette close enough to the
ground to escape the whirling blades of your mower. Only the seed stalks raise
their necks above the ground, high enough so that the parachuted seeds can
catch the wind and bring dandelions to life elsewhere.
There are weedkillers effective against dandelion, but
digging out whole roots is a satisfying way of getting rid of the plants. Just
slide a shovel into the ground next to the plant, then lever the root up as you
pull on the crown. The British kill their dandelions by making up a mixture, by
weight, of 5 parts sand, 2 parts ammonium sulfate, and 1 part iron sulfate. One
teaspoon on the crown of a plant innocuously does it in.
Easier than eradicating dandelion might be to change your
perception of it. For centuries, this plant has been praised for its
health-promoting properties. The leaves are richer in calcium than milk, richer
in vitamin A than carrots, and compare with spinach in iron, as well as with
oranges in vitamin C. The botanical name, Taraxacum officinale, tells it all: Taraxacum
derives from the ancient words Taraxos (disorder) and Akos (remedy), and
officinale signifies that dandelion was in the “official” list of medicinal
Recognizing the healthful properties, the ease of growth,
and the good flavor (when grown well) of dandelion, market gardeners in various
parts of the world started actually cultivating the plant about 150 years ago.
Catalogs of the last century list such varieties as French Large-leaved, French
Thick-leaved, Moss-leaved, Red-seeded, and American Improved. Some of these
varieties are still available today.
Whether you grow dandelion in the garden or just harvest it
from the wild, the plant has many uses. (Make sure any plants that you eat are
not from lawns or fields treated with pesticide.) The youngest leaves in the
center of the rosette are tasty enough for fresh salads or to boil up as a
“green”. To make the leaves more tender and less bitter, with some sacrifice in
nutritional value, keep them in the dark under an inverted flowerpot for a week
No need to throw away those roots you wrench from your
garden or lawn. Once cleaned, they can be boiled up like parsnips. Or roast
them, grind them, and brew up a “coffee” just like that made from roasted
The flowers are edible in many ways. Chop them into an
omelette, using about a cup of blossoms for every three eggs. Or make a soup,
simmering 2 cups of chopped blossoms in a quart of milk, along with sauteed
onions, 2 tablespoons of flour for thickening, and salt and pepper to taste. Or
make dandelion wine, by first pouring a boiling mixture of either honey or
sugar and water over the flowers. Add flavorings such as orange, lemon, and
ginger, then fermentation yeast, and let the mix ferment for at least two months.
You can even eat the unopened flower buds, pickling them
like capers. Boil the buds for 5 minutes, then strain and pack them into jars.
Make up a boiling solution of a cup each of water and vinegar, along with 1/4
cup brown sugar and some dill seed and garlic, and pour it over the buds. Put
the sealed jars aside for a month.
You might even grow to appreciate the cheery flowers just
for their looks. A lawn greening up in spring is, you must admit, a perfect
backdrop for the sunbursts of yellow blossoms.
The seed heads are, admittedly, not very attractive, but
worth having just for the delight they bring to children. My daughter was
sufficiently enthralled by both the seed heads and the flowers so that one
summer she ran about picking and blowing on the seed heads to purposely sow the
seeds. Her efforts paid off in the rich crop of yellow flowers now blanketing
part of the lawn.
Lee Reich, PhD (www.leereich.com) is a garden and orchard
consultant; he hosts workshops at his New Paltz farmden, which is a test site
for innovative techniques in soil care, pruning, and growing fruits and
by Emma Parry
It’s impossible to talk about privilege without
collapsing into platitudes, but that doesn’t stop a parent pondering what might
give their kids an edge—which education and experience will truly prove an
advantage in an age of ever-accelerating change, threats of environmental
Armageddon, and proliferating chaos.
In less extreme scenarios, our kids will be competing for
college with continents of kids we never had to contend with, and, when it
comes to jobs, with robots. Of course, any choice is a luxury relative to less
privileged others, but that’s no excuse for complacency.
Some people think New York City offers the best of
everything—the epitome of privilege. But you can’t envy residents anywhere
neuroses are so contagious. The competitive pressure to trend, enhance, and
excel in every area is relentless. Parenting is either outsourced or an
exhausting performance sport and whether it’s birthday parties or just stuff,
there’s a constant inflation of expectations.
At the ground level, it’s hard to relish kids taking their
first independent steps in a city where the teaming streets stink of wet dust
and dog doo. Plus it’s boring overhearing the endless loop to parents’
conversations about real estate, money, and kids’ medication for behavioral
While our daughter was still small enough to be confined to
a sling, we would linger after hours outside what appeared the most desirable
solutions to school available, while I wondered if I could imagine us there.
The wraparound blacktop and a glimpse of a Bassett-sized rat put me off even
the best of them (conveniently, this was before I had to admit the prohibitive
fees and constant pressure to write fundraising checks anyway made the prospect
that much more impossible).
More importantly though, with everything so streamed in New
York City, we didn’t feel we could do it our way, as if it were all new, and
not a series of well-worn grooves. I think we needed that freedom to feel life
was ours to forge—and that we found in the Hudson Valley.
Educationally, the pressure lifted immediately the minute we
left the city. We found a magical pre-school in Woodstock , Supertots, run by a
singular eccentric, who had somehow retained a level of pep inaccessible to
most people of 20. Completely beloved by generations of kids and their parents,
Cheryl Chandler sports size 10 feet in fluffy purple slippers and holds
students and their families to elevating standards. A good bit of the school
has three feet ceilings and is perfectly furnished in miniature—sofas, pianos,
tea sets—everything scaled to suit a two year old (which made kids thrive
before your eyes). Science lessons were held in a tree house; the kids grew
their own berries and vegetables and went sledding in the schoolyard each
winter. It was a lucky and happy beginning. When I think of those little kid
years there, the memories come at me like confetti.
When it came to elementary school we listened to the one
parent from Supertots who didn’t seem depressed by what was next, and made our
way down Route 209 to High Meadow School. The pretty brick mansion is
framed by trees, the playground lined with woodchips and hay. As we first
arrived on campus, a cowbell rang for recess and kids came spilling out, skirts
and scarves whirling and wheeling in the sunshine. A bunch of girls settled on
top of the monkey bars like some exotic flock of birds. Another group of kids
were building a big village out of sticks. I’m not kidding. Even eighth graders
were running like actual kids. The school was literally a dream come true; I
had dreamed about a timber-beamed assembly room and felt a happy flash of
recognition to find that was what they had. The school was an impractical
distance from home—35 minutes—and the fees would always be hard to find, but
once we’d seen it we were bound to make it work.
Those High Meadow teachers were like rock stars, glowing
with energy and vocation—and it was the happiest campus I could imagine. It was
an independent progressive school which basically seemed to mean you had to
call the teachers by their first names, and it was all about being nurturing
and non-competitive and curating your own pace because the student was the
center of the learning experience, and sure they played sport but mostly things
like Capture the Flag where there’s a flag for everyone. Maybe because there
were no arbitrary rules to beg rebellion, discipline never seemed an issue.
With no testing, there were times the whole slow schooling
thing felt worrying (what if what that was actually about was over-attached
parents), but the education was so considered, and the girls seemed to retain
and enjoy everything they were taught, plus the parent body was such a lovely
one to be in—the school community truly a secular church—that leaving was out
of the question.
Except making money in Ulster County isn’t easy. Time came
we had to be nearer to the city, and that coincided with being ready for the
girls to get measured academically. We crossed the river to Rhinebeck School
Growing up in England watching American TV, US public school
always seemed very scary. As a teen, I happily rough camped through Africa for
a year, but nervously declined the chance to spend a semester in the American
school system. With its endless epoxy hallways, queen bees, and bullying,
American public school felt like the place you would see just how mean kids
Thankfully we’ve had none of that. And for all the riveting
differences between the schools and parent bodies across the River, the
teachers are as energetic, accessible and committed as I could ever hope they’d
be. Perhaps because I was taught by nuns and academics for whom teaching could
only ever be a necessary evil, I love that I see that certain feeling in
teachers here that they’re doing the right thing.
Who doesn’t sooner celebrate a thing than feel afraid of
jinxing it? There is a particular terror in even momentary complacency over
parenting. I touch wood to placate fate as I say: this is an amazing place to
raise children. Touch wood, I love who’s doing the schooling here.