Root cellar

It’s been a long, good time

Posted 10/19/21

I went to Jamaica last month to attend my nephew’s wedding. It was a wonderful vacation filled with snorkeling, sumptuous food and, of course, the lovely wedding ceremony on a dazzling …

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Root cellar

It’s been a long, good time


I went to Jamaica last month to attend my nephew’s wedding. It was a wonderful vacation filled with snorkeling, sumptuous food and, of course, the lovely wedding ceremony on a dazzling Caribbean beach.

It was an occasion that was made even more special by the perspective and humor of my world-traveling, adventurous nieces and nephews, who all grew up on their family’s small farm near Scranton.  

The reception was lovely, with a traditional tiered cake, champagne, and speeches for the bride and groom. It wasn’t until we started dancing, however, that my family’s shared agricultural heritage came to the forefront.

Of course, it started out with a tame dance called “the driving the tractor dance,” which led to “the stacking the hay dance,” but then evolved to encompass other, less common, agrarian-themed choreography. We had “the potato hiller,” the bride’s favorite; “the dehorning the calf dance;” “the berry picking dance” and the well-practiced “the cows are out dance.” One of my personal favorites was the graceful couples dance known as “greasing the bailer.” It took off from there with more intricate sequences including a mime of the artificial inseminator donning his long latex gloves.

Maybe you had to be there, as the saying goes. But it had us doubled over with laughter and the DJ appeared to be taking videos of us, no doubt SnapChatting his friends about our unusual dance moves and behavior. It also underscored the importance of the long history my family shares with the land, our ancestral farms and the natural world.  But after all, really, all we were doing was just having a good time.


After 12 years this will be my last Root Cellar column for the River Reporter. I have taken a job at the Hancock Herald newspaper in Hancock, NY, my hometown and where I currently live. I am excited to expand my role at the Herald, which has been under new ownership since last October.

I have been saving clips of my columns through the year, pasting each month’s piece into a scrapbook. As I look through the pages, I am reminded of just how much I shared with you all. My children were six and 11 years old when I started the column and I remember discussing what to name it with my family. “Root Cellar,” originally a suggestion by my husband, John, won out. It was to be a column about rural living, family roots, and nature but the pages of my scrapbook remind me of the variety of my topics: the time the members of my 4-H club met a rattlesnake on Jensen’s Ledges, fruit cake, and the Nazi eagle paperweight my mother brought home from World War Two.  

I hope that I have accomplished what I set out to do, as I stated in my first column of July 30, 2009, titled “The Field in Front.” I wrote that I hoped “to share a portion of my life and that of our community—Cellar and attic—with you.” The column happened to be offered to me by the River Reporter during a time in my life when I felt especially voiceless, and it has helped me to remember and express so much of what makes living here so beautiful and valuable. But, after all, really, maybe all I was doing when writing this column, was having a good time just like when I was dancing in Jamaica.

Finally, as Emily Dickinson said, “To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” I hope that my column has in its own small way imparted this same sense of wonder and urgency about life here in our glorious Upper Delaware River valley.  

With love, gratitude, and best wishes to all.


agriculture, dance, Root Cellar, scrapbook, column


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