Something Old is Something New: Vintage setups are all the rage at weddings for 2017

Photo by: Jovial Photography

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‘Deja View’ Is True To Its Name

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NNY Food Feature: LIVE YUM

Kristen Taylor and Liz Price-Kellogg

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Gardening Benefits Plentiful Despite Challenges

With the coming of summer, lots of North Country folks’ minds turn to gardening. Well, actually, many of those minds turned to gardening as early as January, when the seed catalogs started arriving in the mail and the planning began, on sheets of paper spread across kitchen tables on cold, dark evenings. Hard-core gardeners, it’s said, even began dreaming the moment they finished putting last year’s garden to bed for the winter, pulled the last carrot or dug the last potato through frost-crusted earth and wondered why this crop or that hadn’t come in. “We’ll try again next year….”

    For most of us, gardening may be about the independence of raising our own trustworthy food, the satisfaction of coaxing something edible from the Earth, the pleasure of getting our hands dirty, our latent desire to do something good for a beleaguered planet, or our determination to make the most of the north country’s all-too-short summers: “The growing season is only a few weeks long, and I am GOING to enjoy it, even if it exhausts me!” But for everybody, what’s even more important is that gardening is a super source of family stories.

    For us, these revolve around the expansion and contraction of our gardens as we’ve passed through life’s stages. Growing up in the north country, I got it into my head that everybody had a big garden. A great-aunt, for example, maintained a massive layout, full of flowers and vegetables and plum trees, on hundreds of square feet of river bottom, which she tended religiously into her 90s. A proper lady, she wore pants only when gardening; upon completing her weeding, clipping, hoeing and harvesting for the day, she would repair immediately to her room and emerge in a dress. I naturally assumed that when I grew up I would become a gardener too.

    That proved easier said than done, because for the first few years after college I lived in urban environments, surrounded by asphalt, and then in a boarding school where I taught. We did manage a small (I mean about six-foot by six-foot) plot there, but the grounds superintendent wasn’t thrilled that we wanted to dig up a tiny square of his campus.

    When we moved to the Canton area and bought an old farmhouse with an acre of land, though, it was time for the gardens to take off. We had some fine ones for a few years, and even succeeded in being nearly self-sufficient in veggies one winter. One year we cajoled corn stalks up to a few inches greater than my almost-six-foot height, and we even harvested a couple of palatable (if you define the term liberally) cantaloupes, which our neighbors said couldn’t be raised in the north country – too short a season. Those neighbors were from Birdsfoot Farm, one of the few communal organic operations that survived the idealism of the Back to the Earth fad of the 1970s (and continues to thrive to this day), so we were pretty smug about that. Or maybe just lucky.

    We survived late frosts; one we christened the Great Anniversary Freeze, because it fell on our wedding anniversary, June 29, and devastated not only our garden but also dozens throughout the region. We also endured a cow invasion: one spring day we looked out the window and spotted a dozen Holsteins trampling around in what after a rainy spell was abnormally spongy soil. They’d escaped from another neighbor’s farm, and were having a delightful time trashing our newly-planted spread. A quick call brought the farmer running, issuing heartfelt apologies even before he was within hearing range, and the cows were soon rounded up and headed home, though not before leaving deep holes all over our poor garden; I had not appreciated until then how much a dairy cow weighs, and thus how far into saturated soil it can sink its legs. They also left some fertilizer, though, for which we thanked the chagrined farmer.

    Which reminds me of the prolific rhubarb we cut each spring. We couldn’t imagine how it could get so big and delicious with no work on our part. Then a previous owner of the place told us it had until not many years earlier been a working farm, and the rhubarb had sprouted happily in the former manure pile. Ah, the wonders of nature.

    But the main thing we survived was zucchini. Why we kept planting so darn much of it I could never imagine, except that we knew it would grow no matter what, so there was that smug satisfaction thing again. The problem was that we always went away on vacation in August, and it never had the courtesy to stop growing while we were gone. We’d come home to zucchinis the size of Goodyear blimps. The vines would lose all sense of propriety, insinuating themselves among the bean stalks, climbing the pepper plants for a better view, hauling themselves up the tomato cages and cutting off the tomatoes’ sunlight with fronds as big as truck tires. We prayed for a hard frost.

    Eventually, we moved into town, and the gardens got smaller and smaller as our backs got older and we realized we could patronize the Farmers Market, featuring growers who actually knew what they were doing, for a little cash and a lot less sweat, mosquito repellent, muscle rub and dirt under our fingernails. We’re now down to a fall-bearing raspberry patch, some rhubarb transplanted from that old manure-pile stock, and sporadic asparagus – perennials that require minimal human effort.

    Meanwhile, gardening has evolved a new ethos as a beneficial aspect of the larger environment, partly in response to concerns about global climate change and natural habitat loss. Trees (carbon captors), bees (pollinators), water conservation practices and native species (as opposed to invasives) are the “in” things today.  We’re all for it; we’ll just let the younger generations do the labor while we rock on the deck until the raspberries are ready to pick, sometime in October.

 

Kindness and respect: Are they lost forever?

Michelle Graham

Our world is changing at an alarming rate. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and the amount of negativity I see all around is absolutely alarming. The littlest things make us mad we lose our cool way too easy. We are looking for instant gratification in all things, at the restaurant, when we drive and even searching the world-wide web. The amount of yelling and screaming on television is sad. The news is almost always negative and condescending. Since when did we become so cold and callous and so self-absorbed? If we have a difference of opinion we cannot even have a conversation or discussion. We just yell and scream and throw a fit until we get our own way. I think there is a way to make things better and it will not happen over-night or in a month or a year but it can happen.

    Respect, if you want it than give people the respect they deserve. Start at home respect your parents, respect your teachers, respect the waitress and respect the teller at the bank. Say please and thank you. Kindness travels for miles, go out of your way to be kind to others. I send my girls off to school with a little saying each day it is simple “Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.” Practice small acts of kindness throughout your day, hold the door, buy a coffee for a friend you can even share your lunch and your time with others. None of us are perfect but I know for certain it is always the small things that we do for others that makes the biggest difference.

    Share your talent. We all have something to give. It is these times that teach us and our children the value of life. Teach your children the importance of volunteering. Do something with no intention of a reward. Give back to your community. It will make the place that you live BETTER. Volunteer opportunities are everywhere in our small town. How can you share your gifts, your time and your talent with others? Donate to organizations that make a difference in someone’s life. The donation does not have to be money, perhaps it is food for a food bank or a church. Help a neighbor with a project, perhaps offer to babysit for free. Offering a helping hand not a hand out has great value and rewards for both parties involved. It goes back to kindness, sprinkle it like confetti and it will certainly spread like wild fire.

    Perhaps this way of thinking is too singular too simple. If you think that one person or one act of kindness cannot change others think again. Think of the single mother who just needs a smile or an encouraging hello. Can you be the person to give her that? Or the busy person who has just dropped everything they have on the ground. Can you help them pick it up? Offer to help with no expectation of being rewarded. We can all do these small things. Let someone ahead of you in line just because. Be kind and do the right thing every chance you get. The rewards are endless. Be this example to others. Instead of picking a fight find a way to be the peace keeper. Instead of engaging in negative talk speak kindly about others and to others. It can be amazing the ripple effect this can have, but it has to start with you, the one and only you.

    I think of summer as this beautiful season of growth and transformation. Think of all the ways that you can impact others and ways to find personal growth for yourself. Kindness truly can start with you and the positive influence you can have on others can be transcending. Lead in life by example, find every way that you can to sprinkle love and friendship. It is with these acts that all the negativity in life can be lifted and then we can find our life renewed.

Black River Brew & Music Fest Taps Watertown

PHOTO BY JASON BONE Rusted Root

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NNY Food Feature: LIVE YUM

 

Kristen Taylor and Liz Price-Kellogg

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PHOTO PROVIDED BY ANTIQUE BOAT MUSEUM

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Home is Where you Anchor: Riding through life on a St. Lawrence Barge Yacht

JUSTIN SORENSEN / NNY LIVING

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