Ralph Gardner Jr.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Alice

Sep 29, 2018
Ann Birckmayer at the Furthermore offices in Hudson,NY
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Consider the illustrated book. Or what some might call an “art book.” These are the tomes that reside on coffee tables, double as decor in shelter magazine living rooms, or just about any room in the house, and in a pinch can serve as a doorstop on a windy day.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Let The Birds Be

Sep 22, 2018
Male Wood Duck, Reifel Refuge, British Columbia.
Judy Gallagher / Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

For those of us who were apparently under the misconception that America was pretty great before the current occupant of the White House came along and in no need of being restored to its former glory behind fortress walls, picking up the morning newspaper, or these days more likely your electronic device, can be a sullen and depressing exercise.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Farewell To Family Trees

Sep 15, 2018
Tree specialist Charles Nagle cutting down a diseased Colorado blue spruce
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Last Tuesday was bittersweet. I finished writing a novel I’ve been working on rather strenuously for the last two years. That should have been cause for celebration and it was. But I instantly missed my characters, the novel’s locale – a grand hotel overlooking the Adriatic Sea in Venice that I’ve returned to daily over the previous months, at least in my imagination – and most of all the daily joy of tinkering with words.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Strolling Through History

Sep 1, 2018

Gregg Berninger, the Ghent, NY town historian, offered an interesting rule of thumb to determine how Hudson Valley towns came to be, based on their geography.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Farming's Younger Generation

Aug 25, 2018
Lindsey Lusher Shute
Ralph Gardner Jr.

How do you reach farmers these days, at least young farmers? Podcasts, of course. “So many young farmers listen to podcasts while they’re farming,” Lindsey Lusher Shute told me. “They don’t have time to read. We knew it would be popular.”

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Passion For Ponds

Aug 18, 2018
“Pool Master” Anthony Archer-Wills
Ralph Gardner Jr.

It didn’t take long for me to bond with Anthony Archer-Wills. No more than ten seconds from the time we met. That’s when he started singing the praises of his pond in Spencertown, NY.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Which Way Do We Go?

Aug 11, 2018
Nicolas Kaiser / Wikimedia Commons

Are driving apps a good thing? This is a philosophical question. Also a literal one. The question occurred to me several times last weekend as we drove from Columbia County to a wedding in central Connecticut.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Where’s My Commemorative Coin?

Aug 4, 2018
Facebook: The White House Gift Shop

I called the White House gift shop the other day to find out where my coin was. I’m referring to the Korea Peace Talks Summit Coin, created to commemorate the June 12th meeting between President Donald J. Trump and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Novel In Performance

Jul 21, 2018
Performance artist Tim Youd at Thomas Cole National Historic Site
Ralph Gardner Jr.

I was unaware that when Hunter Thompson was a young writer he typed out “The Great Gatsby” and “The Sun Also Rises” to deconstruct how F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway achieved their effects and created their masterpieces. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Labor Is A Form Of Worship

Jul 14, 2018
Columbia County Historical Society’s "Shaker Baskets from the Shaker Museum"
Ralph Gardner Jr.

It’s typically the objects not the wall text that catch the eye at an art exhibition. But a few words at the start of the Columbia County Historical Society’s new show of Shaker Baskets from the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon resonated with me.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Heat

Jul 7, 2018
The Sun photographed at 304 angstroms by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA 304) of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). This is a false-color image of the Sun observed in the extreme ultraviolet region of the spectrum.
Public Domain / NASA/SDO (AIA)

In the same way that a forecast for a major snowstorm fills me with anticipation so the news that a heat wave was on the way last week triggered similar excitement. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Go Ask Ruth

Jun 30, 2018

Every community, every town and village in America ought to have its own Piwonka. I’m referring to Ruth Piwonka, the town historian for Kinderhook, NY. Though Ruth tells me her official title is Kinderhook municipal historian.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Catching Up With Philip Marshall

Jun 23, 2018
Philip Marshall
Bobby McTigue

I couldn’t make it to Philip Marshall’s keynote address at an elder abuse conference in Newburgh, NY last week. Then again, Philip couldn’t make it to breakfast at my house the following morning on his way home to Massachusetts.

Ralph Gardner Jr: No Need For Speed

Jun 16, 2018

I’m more of the bird watching type than the racecar driving type. Beauty and tranquility, peaceful walks in the woods are my thing, rather than roaring around a race track at a hundred thirty miles an hour.

Ralph Gardner Jr: No Hostility Allowed

Jun 9, 2018
Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett and Congressman John Faso (NY-19) at guns and school safety discussion at Hudson High School
Enid Futterman

I held a debate last Friday. The debate was whether to have a drink on my sundeck on a lovely spring evening or go to Hudson High School for a discussion about guns.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Rural Resident

Jun 2, 2018
A tribute to Timothy Dunleavy
Ralph Gardner Jr

We ran into a friend as we arrived last Friday for the inaugural Design Hudson Festival. The event, spread over Memorial Day weekend, featured homes reimagined by local interior designers.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Student Of The Seasons

May 26, 2018
Callery Pear petals littering a driveway
Ralph Gardner, Jr

As someone who’s been visiting the Hudson Valley since the 1960’s, and religiously since the late Seventies when my grandparents passed away and I assumed management of the house where we live today, here’s a small insight from an old-timer: when it comes to nature no two years are alike. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Foraging With Family Members

May 19, 2018
Lucy Gardner foraging for morels
Ralph Gardner Jr

I’d been told many years back that we had horseradish down by our stream. For all I know we still do but I’ve never been able to find it. Horseradish doesn’t even rank high on my list of condiments. But it was pleasant knowing that something edible grew wild on our property, that not everything that entered our stomachs required a cash outlay. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Visionary Women

May 12, 2018
Author Andrea Barnet at the White Horse Tavern
Ralph Gardner Jr.

There were a couple of obvious questions to ask Andrea Barnet about her book “Visionary Women” when we got together at the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village a few weeks ago.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Every Picture Frame Tells A Story

May 5, 2018
A Hudson Valley landscape by Page Curry Ginns
Ralph Gardner Jr.

I’m going public with my addiction because it needs to be nipped in the bud. If I don’t acknowledge it now there’s no telling how much it will end up costing me.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Fishing For Prizes

Apr 30, 2018
Kolby Michalak with his prize trout at the Ghent Sportsman Association’s fish derby
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Is there really any better, faster, more efficient way to build self-confidence in a child, not to mention a gentle reverence for nature, than fishing? 

Ralph Gardner Jr: An Hour Of Grace

Apr 21, 2018
Elisabeth Grace at Ooms Pond, Chatham, NY April, 2017
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Exactly one year ago my commentary involved a walk I took at the start of migratory season with birder and WAMC contributor Elisabeth Grace. Our walk occurred at Ooms Pond in Chatham, NY.

Ralph Gardner: Counting Down To Springtime

Apr 14, 2018
Wren house
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Some years, this being one of them, spring needs a little encouragement. So I went out and bought a wren box at my local hardware store, Mario’s True Value in Valatie, NY.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Shaker Dinner Party

Apr 7, 2018
Stone Barn / Shaker Village, Mt. Lebanon, NY
Shaker Museum

These are times that test men’s, and even more so, women’s souls, especially when it comes to dinner parties. The mark of a decent dinner party with resourceful guests is one where the name of our Commander-In-Chief (I can already hear the indignation, not to mention the indigestion, rising) isn’t mentioned for at least half an hour.

Ralph Gardner Jr: King And The Comic

Mar 31, 2018
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966
Public Domain / Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

Martin Luther King Jr. and comedian Garry Shandling are rarely mentioned in the same breath. I’d venture to guess this is the first time.

Both of them are the subject of excellent new documentaries on HBO and may even have something in common.

Ralph Gardner Jr: What's The Matter With The View?

Mar 24, 2018
Photograph  airplane window
RobLa / Wikimedia Commons

Fair warning – this is a rant. But not on the subject you might expect. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Though, come to think of it, the phenomenon I’m here to discuss may actually speak to a larger vitamin deficiency in our culture, a spiritual malaise of which our current politics is but a symptom.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Yoga 101

Mar 17, 2018
Instructor Alec Butterfield at Supersoul Yoga in Chatham, NY
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I didn’t choose yoga. Yoga chose me. Or rather my body told me there was no excuse at so youthful an age – I’ll keep my age to myself, thank you – to have legs so stiff that you have to descend the stairs a half step at a time.

Ralph Gardner Jr: When The Lights Go Out

Mar 10, 2018
mikecpeck / Flickr.com

That does it. We’re getting a generator.

The lights went out during last week’s Nor’easter. Not once. Not twice. But three times.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Ski Bum For A Day

Mar 3, 2018
Cable car on Czarna Góra, top station (Śnieżnik Mountains, Sudetes, Poland)
Marek Tomaszewski, Barlinek / Wikimedia Commons

Of all the days to go skiing we had to pick the one last week where the conditions more closely resembled those on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (I’m using Guadeloupe but feel free to insert a different tropical locale) than they typically do this time of year in northern Vermont. That’s where we happened to be heading.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Enjoying Dinner With Our Community

Feb 24, 2018
community members dine at Eat Here Ghent community dinner
Marianne Rossant

Here’s some advice if you’ve been invited to a community dinner. Get there early. By the time we wandered in halfway through Eat Here Ghent, an event last Sunday afternoon to celebrate the farms and farmers of Ghent, NY, a town with a thriving local food scene in Columbia County, much of the feast had been consumed.