Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region • Serving PA, NJ & NY
Late Spring 2021
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Julia Schmitt Healy, Daniel Goncalves, Maureen Newman, Karen Corinne Herceg, Eric Francis, Robert Bowman
The tri-state upper Delaware River highlands and valleys are a place of rare beauty…. Seeing the region and living in it almost aren’t enough. Such beauty should be captured on canvas or film so that one can truly appreciate it, glimpse it in the quiet of an art gallery or museum, or between the pages of a poetry book or literary sketch. The Journal Group’s mission is to capture these momentary snapshots of beauty graphically and through the written word. We celebrate our area and the uniqueness of the people who live and work in the tri-state region. From Pike to Wayne and Monroe to Lackawanna Counties in Pennsylvania, upriver to Sullivan County and on to Orange County in New York, and to the headwaters of the Wallkill River and along Sussex County’s rolling hills in New Jersey, with quaint, historic towns and hamlets at the center, the Journal Group opens its doors to our communities, businesses and organizations, to serve as a communicative journal of all that we have to offer for those who live here and for those who love to visit us, too.
The Journal Group publishes The Journal ten times a year and distributes it in eight counties in PA, NJ and NY. We assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts. Contents may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission. We reserve the right to refuse to print advertisements that we deem inappropriate. All rights reserved.
Uniting PA, NJ & NY PO Box 1026 • Milford, PA 18337 • 908.578.3138 www.milfordjournal.com Correction for Liza Nechamkin, Silversmith article, Early Spring Issue 2021: There is a 13 to 18 week—not month—lag between when a piece is brought in and when it might be ready.
Late Spring 2021
• art •
• history •
• food •
• life •
• nature •
Raised on the Farm
Zooming In The Cygnini Tribe
6 • journal entry 7 • poem 31 • signs
Cover Line Visiting with the gentle alpaca greeter at Mohican Farms. Photo by Amy Bridge Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region • Serving PA, NJ & NY
Late Spring 2021
Thoughts for a Brighter Future
t took some effort, but we finally got fully vaxed in March and the looming fear of becoming a statistic in the pandemic eased off a bit. I now felt more comfortable going out to shop, almost like I didn’t have to hold my breath, under my double masking, when someone entered a store without a mask on or wearing one under their nose. So, with spring here and the wanderlust in our eyes, we took off for the first road trip in an impossibly long stretch of time. The destination we chose for our two-night getaway was Gettysburg, PA, chock full of history and only about a three-hour drive. We headed back in time to learn about the Civil War battle of July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in 1863. The first night in town, as we walked down the streets, past a building that held the scars of bullet holes, we began to realize the extent of the fighting that took place during this bloody battle where 7,000 boys and men were killed and another 33,000 were wounded in just three days. So many U.S. soldiers were wounded that there is a museum at Seminary Ridge dedicated to showing the work of one of the largest field hospitals in the town. The following day, we hired a private, licensed battlefield guide for a comprehensive tour of the eleven-mile battlefield that is now rife with monuments to both the Union and the Confederate armies.
As our wonderfully knowledgeable guide talked a lot about war strategy, I couldn’t help but think of the practical, human side of war. How long did it take those boys to march down from Maine, for example? How did their shoes and boots hold up? How did the armies get food and water in the sweltering summer heat; what about the horses? How did the army transport the cannons that weighed over 1,700 pounds each? The fact is that war always comes with a human cost. While both sides of the Civil War felt that they were fighting for the right and just cause, ultimately there was only one winning side. On this Memorial Day, America honors the sacrifice that all of our soldiers have made, starting with the Civil War. On the car ride back home, we spoke about the duality of the nature of man, particularly, the yin and yang of war and peace—the wish for peace vs. the desire for control. We, as a people, by the people, and for the people, have a chance to prevent future wars, which will always come with tremendous loss of life, by making it a priority to educate our society about how to effectively manage conflict, control violence, and unite in our diversity. By studying the past, we can learn for the present and change our future, as we aim to eradicate the intolerance that is based on race, religion, sex, or gender. John Lennon said it simply, but said it best: “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”
-Amy Bridge & Martin Schmalenberg
Poem The Natural World I am astonished at what I do not see in the world, what lies microscopically below the surface of a pedestrian eye. What atoms are rearranging themselves, what nascent cells plot their appearance into the visual world. Where hummingbirds might be in December, how things do not transgress, fall apart more than they do. We see all with the same eyes, buying a peach is the same as buying a work of art. We transfer hate and love as commodities, no singular discrimination, an equal opportunity employer of banality. We draw objects into our own spheres and dilute them, redefine them, mute them. We mold objects to our own worlds, objects that will laugh when they outlive us. How can we begin to see until we release impressions from the skewed centrifuges of our personal days. I think how much at peace every other life remains in a natural world they know is hostile, the one we make aberrant thinking we can tame it. -Karen Corinne Herceg
By Julia Schmitt Healy
Japanese Woodworking Traditions at Mokuchi
fter the second furniture designer from Brooklyn recently booked my Airbnb room in order to learn Japanese woodworking techniques, I knew something interesting must be going on at Mokuchi Studio. My guest told me that it’s “a beautiful and soothing space in which to learn the art and philosophy of Japanese woodworking.” A visit was in order. Located in a woodsy section of Port Jervis, NY, Mokuchi Studio is workshop, school, and home to the artist Yann Giguère and his family.
Photos courtesy of Yann Giguère
It was early March as I drove up the winding driveway through the forested land. Tall stacks of natural wood beams dotted a clearing. Near the house I could see that the family garden was already being readied for planting. Bluestone edging defined the sections, and in one, garlic shoots were popping up in abundance. I entered the portico, featuring hewn, rounded posts and designed with several clear panels above that allowed light in. Yann greeted me warmly and explained that he recently built the portico so classes will be able to work outside should weather be a bit inclement. The studio occupies the former living room of the house. The smell of wood competed for my attention as I observed the unusual tools, in-progress projects, shoji screens, stacks of wood, and piles of shavings.
Yann handed me a cup of tea, and we sat down at his cherrywood table. There was so much I wanted to know, but I started out asking him about his background. He told me he was born in a small town in French-speaking Quebec, Canada. He is not of Japanese heritage. After high school, he got a student visa and moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where he attended what is now called Maharishi International University in order to practice transcendental meditation as well as to learn English. While there, he found his way into a woodworking class and, at the same time, found himself. His teacher at the school was Doug Adams. A local woodworker named Duncan MacMaster introduced him to Japanese woodworking methods and tools. Yann stayed for a total of four years, with brief sojourns elsewhere. At a class in Fairfield, Yann met Dale Brotherton, who is well-known in the field of Japanese woodworking. Some years later, Giguère moved to the Seattle area and apprenticed with Brotherton for nine years! “I worked five days a week at minimum wage. It took me that long and was super intense. I learned so much,” he says. “Japanese woodworking is a unique style of woodworking, and it takes time to learn to use the tools and understand Continued on next page
the approach.” Parts are not glued. Square joints are carved and hold the pieces together. He explained (and showed me later) how one “cuts” the wood surface with a plane, instead of scraping or sanding it. “This creates a smooth surface.” In fact, running my hand along his table, I realized it was the smoothest piece of wood I have ever touched. I asked what kind of wood he uses. “The best wood comes from trees in the deep forest. They grow slowly, they have tight growth rings, and the trunks grow up straight. It takes 75 years to grow those, so it’s a holistic approach. When you think of Japanese woods, you have to understand the Japanese live on an island. They can’t just cut trees down. They have to use sustainable forestry and think about how tree-cutting affects streams and water.” He tells me he “especially loves white oak and white pine,” but these days “Douglas Fir seems to be the cheapest and most commonly used wood as it can grow quickly in full sun.” When Yann left the Seattle area, he was planning to work on a big project on the East Coast. It fell through, so as a freelancer, he worked with and learned from other people in the field. Yann went to Virginia, and during the five years he lived there, he worked on projects in several states including Iowa, Maine, and Tennessee. In North Carolina, he taught a class in woodworking at the Penland School of Craft, where he met a student who was to become his life partner—Margaret Spring. Fast forward to a move to Brooklyn where Margaret was 10
based, and several years working there. Margaret and Yann now had a daughter—Artemis—and in a couple of years, they began searching for a location where they could live, have a workshop, and raise a family. They took various trips here and there. The Hudson Valley was too pricy. Newburgh was a possibility. They weren’t sure. Maybe something in Pennsylvania? They drove there. Yann tells me, “We came across a bridge and found ourselves in Narrowsburg. It seemed different.” They realized they were back in New York, and thus started looking in the area. When they saw Port Jervis and environs, along with the train and other amenities, they decided to land there. The rest is history. Margaret, who has become active locally in women’s events, is able to work part-time, and they have adjusted their schedules in such a way that they can share parenting responsibilities. Nowadays, Yann himself has his own apprentice. (I can hear him sawing in the basement woodshop as we talk.) The classes and workshops he offers are filled. He sells specialty tools. He does custom work and keeps active. Last year, he built a frame building for a friend, which he says was like “putting a large puzzle together.” He tells me he has a clear, relaxed focus when he works. “It’s a focus that comes with training. You guide your mind. You are not being guided by your mind. Your mind becomes the tool.” Continued on page 12
Giving Voice Just as I was ready to leave, I realized I had a few more questions for Yann. The Journal: Where did the name Mokuchi come from? It doesn’t seem to be a “real” word in Japanese. Giguère: It’s a creative name. Moku means wood. I added the Chinese word Chi, which means essence in Chinese—so it means the “essence of wood.” The Journal: Can the public visit your studio? Giguère: Every five or six weeks, we schedule an Open Studio. People can come here and have a cup of green tea and see our work and also buy our specialty tools if they like. The Journal: Have you taught in our area at other venues? Giguère: I have conducted a few workshops at Peters Valley School of Craft. Otherwise, my teaching has pretty much been here at the studio. This year’s teaching schedule is very limited. We remain open for in person and online sessions. Our fall class schedule will be out in mid-summer. The Journal: I see your website mentions a yearly “Gathering.” Can you tell me more? Giguère: It’s called NY KEZ and is open to all to attend. We meet yearly in the Peekskill area to share our work and processes. It’s so much fun. We even have competitions, such as seeing who can make the thinnest wood shaving. A human hair measures 50-100 microns, and we use planers to cut shavings that are 3 microns or so! A red blood cell is 5-6 microns. This is thinner! You measure the shaving digitally. It’s like gauze. The Journal: What plans, if any, do you have for your large property? Giguère: Eventually, we hope to build a separate store and perhaps a classroom, too. And maybe we’ll build a new house further back on the property at some point. .............................................................................................. Note: This article appeared in the online only version of The Journal in April 2020. It has been updated to reflect changes due to the pandemic. For more information about Mokuchi Studio, visit www.mokuchi woodworking.com. Julia Schmitt Healy is a visual artist, writer, and teacher who lives in Port Jervis, N.Y. Find her work at Juliahealy.com.
A Few Local Heroes
ost nations that have experienced war have their own traditions to honor the ultimate sacrifice of their sons and daughters. Americans share this tradition by celebrating Veterans Day and, especially, Memorial Day. We pause each year with parades and speeches on this national holiday. Above all, however, we must try and comprehend what these soldiers went through. Having a deep sense of reverence and gratitude that comes from the heart is perhaps the best way to say, “Thank you.” We spoke with area historical societies to learn about some of our local soldiers who are being remembered this Memorial Day and learned that stories of war come in all different forms. The Civil War Submitted by Patte Frato, President of the Sandyston Township Historical Society and President of the Shaytown/Hainesville Cemetery. Patte spent three years researching the life of this Civil War veteran who was raised in her home town of Sandyston Township, NJ.
Postcards from the collection of Patte Haggerty Frato
Charles Lee Kyte lived and worked on his family’s farm over on Ridge Road in the Hainesville section of Sandyston Township. His parents, Simon C. and Elizabeth Myers Kyte, fell on hard times. They were having trouble keeping up with expenses and were at risk of losing the farm. It was at that time that 25-year-old Charles decided to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War. His intention was to help his family by sending his pay back home to aid with the expenses. On March 20, 1861, Charles went to Trenton, NJ, and mustered in for a three-year term. Charles became a private and a member of the Co. B, 2nd Regiment, New Jersey Infantry Volunteers, with Captain Henry Ogden Ryerson’s Sussex Rifles. He was soon promoted to corporal and then to the rank of sergeant. Charles faithfully wrote letters home, sending his pay and telling his family of his daily activities, but he always took care not to worry them. Sergeant Kyte saw battle and was injured in Salem Heights, Virginia, but he continued to proudly serve his country. He was scheduled to muster out of service at the end of May 1864. But on May 6, just three weeks shy of his muster out date, Charles was shot in the Battle of Wilderness, VA. An enemy sharp shooter put a bullet through his shoulder, which went into his body and out his other shoulder. He was taken to a hospital tent on the battlefield where he died.
Charles’s body was buried in an unmarked grave near the tent hospital on the battlefield, which was a common occurrence back in the day. Charles’s mother applied for his pension and was asked to submit his letters, along with her plea, in order to receive the pension. These letters are in Kyte’s pension file at the National Archives in Washington, DC. When Patte Frato of the Historical Society realized that Kyte’s body was not in the family’s plot at the Shaytown/Hainsville Cemetery, she decided that Kyte needed to be honored. “I began a three-year project to prove Kyte’s involvement with the war and to apply for a military cenotaph, which is an honorary gravestone placed for a body that is buried elsewhere.” Frato explained. “I learned that such an application had to be filed by a direct lineage descendant. Charles’s great, great nephews, Roger and Clayton Kyte, were members of our historical society, so getting the approval signature was easy. I then obtained a copy of Kyte’s complete pension record. “Military gravestones are approved by the U.S. Veterans Administration, and proof of burial must be provided. Luckily, in the pension file was a letter from the field company’s chaplain, written on military stationary. The letter informed Charles’s parents that he had been with Charles in the medical tent when he died and that he had buried him in the battlefield. This was all of the proof that I needed to apply for a military marker for this Sussex County soldier who was lost in time and killed in action 158 years ago.” Frato concludes, “It took a lot of research, but it was a labor of love, and it was very rewarding to give this soldier back his name and honor him for his service. Charles Lee Kyte was a young man who gave his life for his family and his country. In the eyes of his family, friends, and residents of Sandyston Township, he was a real ‘hometown hero.’ So young, lost too soon.” World War II Claire Simonelli and Catherine Roy of the Sparta Historical Society salute local hero, Frank Sigler, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for bravery on October 5th, 1945. Following the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history, twenty-seven Marines and sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for action on Iwo Jima. One of them lived in Sparta, NJ. Eighteen-year-old Franklin E. Sigler enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in March 1943. After training at Parris Island in South Carolina, he was sent to Hawaii where he and his unit were soon shipped to Iwo Jima, Sigler’s first campaign. Continued on next page
heavy machinegun and rocket barrages on the Japanese cave entrances. “Undaunted by the merciless rain of hostile fire during the intensified action, he gallantly disregarded his own painful wounds to aid casualties, carrying 3 wounded squad members to safety behind the lines and returning to continue the battle with renewed determination until ordered to retire for medical treatment. “Stouthearted and indomitable in the face of extreme peril, Pvt. Sigler, by his alert initiative, unfaltering leadership, and daring tactics in a critical situation, effected the release of his besieged company from enemy fire and contributed essentially to its further advance against a savagely fighting enemy. His superb valor, resolute fortitude, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout reflect the highest credit upon Pvt. Sigler and the U.S. Naval Service.” For his extreme bravery, Private Sigler also received a Marine Corp Purple Heart. Frank had met President Harry Truman when he received his wartime recognition. Later as a civilian, he was invited to the White House a number of times where he met seven other presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to George Bush. Frank and his wife, Virginia, moved to Sparta, NJ, in 1962 where they lived for 27 years. Frank was a member of the Sparta VFW, the military order of the Purple Heart, AMVETS, the Legion of Merit, and the Sussex County Marine Corp League. Frank Sigler died January 20, 1995 at age seventy and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Sigler’s Medal of Citation states: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands on 14 March 1945. “Voluntarily taking command of his rifle squad when the leader became a casualty, Pvt. Sigler fearlessly led a bold charge against an enemy gun installation which had held up the advance of his company for several days and, reaching the position in advance of the others, assailed the emplacement with hand grenades and personally annihilated the entire crew. “As additional Japanese troops opened fire from concealed tunnels and caves above, he quickly scaled the rocks leading to the attacking guns, surprised the enemy with a furious one-man assault and, although severely wounded in the encounter, deliberately crawled back to his squad position where he steadfastly refused evacuation, persistently directing 16
The Korean War The Pike County Historical Society has an exhibit on the main floor of the Columns Museum in Milford, PA, which details the story of Milton Bailey’s admirable family and includes Milton’s Purple Heart and other posthumously awarded medals. Milton’s letters home can be read in the museum library by appointment.* The following story was submitted by Lori Strelecki, Museum Director. In the year 1900, Sarah Davis bought a home on High Street in Milford, PA. Her husband, Abraham, had served in a New Jersey Regiment of the United States Colored Troops, and Sarah boldly applied for his Civil War pension upon his passing. This money was used to help purchase her home in Milford where four generations of the family would live. Sarah chose Milford because she knew she could find work as a seamstress or laundress in one of the many inns or boarding houses that existed in the area. Soon after moving in, her adult daughter Phoebe Bailey would join her, and both had steady work. Continued on page 18
History While Milford in the early 1900s was not the perfect place for women of color, the ladies flawlessly lived within the set boundaries and archaic rules of that time. In the years to come, Phoebe would have a daughter named Beatrice, and Beatrice would have a son named Milton who attended Milford High School, class of 1951; he would leave school before graduating to serve his nation in the Korean War. Milton Bailey is presumed to have been killed in action on July 17, 1951. The great grandson of a Civil War soldier, Milton was the only man from Milford deemed KIA during the Korean War. He served with extreme distinction and bravery. Bailey, along with Curtis Morrow of Chicago, Illinois, a still-living witness to his heroic actions in battle, were in the last ever unit of the historic Buffalo Soldiers. Bailey was last seen in battle holding off the enemy and heroically contributing to the safe retreat of his unit under enemy fire. The story of this family is brought to life and light through a most engaging and well documented photo album that came to the Pike County Historical Society, along with other items belonging to the family, after Beatrice passed away. The pride they had in their home in Milford is clear; pictures of it in each season of the year are proudly displayed along with many other images of the family through the generations. One cannot help but grow fond of them as you follow them through time. And it is this fondness that will cause you to cry when you come across Milton’s letters, sent from Korea to his grandmother and mother, tucked neatly into the back pages of the album. In what would be his last letter, Milton speaks of hopefully returning home soon: “...I should be leaving here in August. That will bring me into the States about middle of September. Tell everybody I send my best wishes and asked about them.” *The Columns Museum, with the help of Sharon E. Siegel, has submitted two envelopes from our collection with postage stamps presumed to have been licked by Milton to a DNA Identification Library (AFDIL), Armed Forces Medical Examiner in Dover, DE, in hopes of identifying the long missing Milford soldier through DNA and bringing Milton home to rest with his family, in Milford Cemetery. The War in Iraq This touching story was written by Tom Brennan of the Warwick Historical Society. In 2018, it was read aloud by Warwick’s mayor, Michael Newhard, at the annual Memorial Day ceremony. 18
Grief…Despair…Anguish…If there was a picture of it in the dictionary, I was staring at it, this man, on his knees at a head stone, a new one, in Long Island’s Calverton National Cemetery, on Memorial Day 2010, sobbing uncontrollably. He bent over placing his hands on the ground, trying to catch his breath, as his wife—the soldier’s mother, perhaps?—stood next to him silently, patiently, her arms folded and her head down. The minutes passed while I sat on the bench in the shade by myself a few feet away, staring out at this field of stone, a thousand markers among 200,000 in the beautiful place. The only sound to be heard—besides this distraught father—was the warm breeze gently rustling the little American flags in front of each marker. All these years, I thought I’d kept the proper spirit in mind for this national day of remembrance, but I had to admit to myself that I hadn’t. I hadn’t experienced what this father was going through, I hadn’t felt it, this overpowering sense of loss that darkened the sun on this otherwise glorious day. No, like many, I’d fallen victim to thinking of Memorial Day as if it was the 4th of July. Well, it’s not, and the proof was there, on the ground, right in front of me. This father’s grief flowed into my heart, and I lowered my head in sympathy and painful sadness, the tears already welling in my eyes, as his loss became my loss, as if this was my son, my brother, my father. And I was overcome by it. His breathing rapid and shallow, he struggled to get a grip on it, but he could not. His head fell to the ground, tears falling to the grass in front of his son’s grave. This is Memorial Day, I remember thinking. This is the sacrifice that has been made hundreds of thousands of times, this is what has secured and preserved the freedoms we so often take for granted; these men and women here in this field of stone. Then he rose to his feet and sat next to me in the shade, gazing out at all the others in this field. I wanted to tell him his son was in good company, but I couldn’t. I tried, but I couldn’t speak. Looking down, overcome by the emotion of it myself, I put my hand on his shoulder for a few moments, steadied myself, got up and walked to his son’s marker. His name was Ryan, and he died in Iraq in September 2009. On this Memorial Day and forever more, I will remember this young man, knowing nothing more about him than what I read on his monument and bearing witness to what his death did to his father. My son, my brother, my father. Because Ryan is our son, too. America’s son.
By Daniel Goncalves
Farm to Table
t Mohican Farms, workers and animals alike are calm and happy.
Nestled in the foothills of the Kittatinny Mountains in Blairstown, New Jersey, this serene roadside farm started as a hobby for Ryan Herold and his partner, Sean Lavery, and quickly turned into a business. Their initial intentions for the 130 acres of beautiful land was to use it as a place to enjoy the wilderness with their children—riding quads, hiking, and shooting. They planted a garden and kept some animals on the land as a side-gig, more for recreation than anything else, but when Covid-19 struck, their hobby turned into a valuable resource.
Photos courtesy of Mohican Farms
In those first few months of the pandemic, food was scarce in traditional grocery stores. While many of Mohican Farms’s first customers initially came to the road-side shop on Mohican Road out of necessity, they have returned for the higher quality of food. “It’s all about what you feed your animals and how you treat them,” Ryan said. “We give them high-quality grains, and that makes the meat taste better.” Mohican Farms does not use hormones, antibiotics, or any of the other chemicals that are commonly used in the agricultural industry. Not only are the animals fed well, but they are treated well, too. There are no cages—only fenced-in areas with enough space for the animals to run around and barnyards to keep them warm. There are hundreds of chickens used for meat and eggs, scores of Berkshire and Yorkshire pigs, several ducks (used for eggs only), and angus cows with acres of space to graze on.
The chickens that are raised for meat are separated by age, with different parts of the barnyard set up for each age group. The first section is for chicks—small and yellow, they huddle together under the red glow of a heat lamp. Once they are about two weeks old, they can create their own heat and move on to a slightly larger area. Then every two weeks, the chickens get moved to a different area until they reach about 8 weeks of age, at which point they are fully grown. Piglets are also separated in a similar way, with each litter staying in the same area as their mother until they are adults. The farm enlists the help of a team of donkeys and dogs who act as guardians for the animals. The dogs—beautiful and friendly Great Pyrenees Guardians—alert the farmers to any intruders. The donkeys, who act like dogs themselves, will nudge a human hand to ask for love and attention. They patrol the outskirts of the farm. Their main area of duty is near a large pond where coyotes and foxes are known to emerge. The donkeys—much larger, stronger, and braver than any coyote—can either scare or kick away the intrusive wild animals and, in doing so, are able to keep all of the smaller, weaker, farm animals safe. Once a customer arrives at the farm store, they will be greeted by two friendly, fluffy alpacas who coexist with three rainbow-colored peacocks in the fenced-in area at the side of a red barn; and across the street, two 7-foot-tall ostriches can be seen running around on their long muscular legs that have only two toes, which helps them gain speed. These animals serve mainly as attractions. Mohican Farms packages their meat in a more hygienic and natural way than Big Ag. Ryan described a time Continued on next page
consuming procedure called air-chilling, a process by which the individual chicken meat is brought down to temperature slowly before being frozen; this seals the flavor and eliminates the transfer of germs from one piece of meat to another. The common industrial method involves dunking all of the meat into freezing water to reduce the temperature, which not only influences the flavor, but increases the possibility of bacteria spreading through the meat. After explaining the difference in methods, Ryan admitted, “I get nervous buying meat from the big-box stores because you don’t know where it’s coming from or how it was processed.” Ryan believes more people are becoming aware of the haphazard nature of large agricultural vendors and are learning that the extra money spent on all-natural food is well worth it. While there are no fish swimming on the farm, Ryan and Sean felt that meat and fish go hand-in-hand. So, to expand their offerings of all-natural fresh food, an employee goes to Philadelphia every Thursday to get the freshest and best seafood and brings it back to Mohican. This gives local residents fish, including sushi-grade salmon, Dover sole, Branzino, halibut, and Chilean sea bass, that normally isn’t available to people outside of city markets. Word of their freshly caught fish, displayed on ice, has spread through the hills and dales and into neighboring Sussex and Pike Counties, where folks will travel the country roads, just to buy the seafood, once the weekly selection is posted on their Facebook page, Mohican Farms LLC. Beyond the wide selection of livestock, Mohican Farms also grows its own produce, including onions, lettuce, garlic, peppers, zucchinis, and many more crops to come in the summer and autumn. All of their products, along with several produce items from other local farmers, are available for sale in their small two-room shop. Business is good, but Ryan and Sean, who are co-owners of two other businesses, are looking to expand Mohican’s offerings by building a larger shop where customers can buy not only meat and produce, but ready-to-eat food as well. Ryan envisions a salad bar, pizza oven, barbeque grill, and ice cream window, providing customers with a well-rounded farm-to-table experience. Beyond the community impact of the farm, the owners are looking to the future of their families. Ryan says, “I want it to be big enough so that it can sustain itself.… I want my kids to have the option of running it and making a living from it if they choose to when they’re older.” Ryan believes that farming families tend to be tight-knit, and he hopes that the farm can bring his family closer, while also teaching the children the values of hard work, pursuing the American Dream, and enjoying the great outdoors. 22
In the past century, the influx of industrialized farming by large companies has taken over the nation, running smaller farms out of business or swallowing them up entirely. These large agricultural apparatuses make astronomical profits while mistreating millions of animals, poisoning crops, and generally lowering the quality of life for man and beast alike. With the recent national awakening to the mistreatment of farm animals, as well as the clear taste and health benefits of buying local, well-fed, well-treated meat and crops that haven’t been sprayed with Round-Up, perhaps local farmers can return to the nation’s identity. Mohican Farms has an attitude of simple kindness. Treat animals well, and they will treat you well—both literally and financially. The idea that something as generic as “be kind,” or more specifically, “be kind to animals,” could become a profitable business model might sound silly. But, once you’ve walked among the animals, rubbed a donkey behind the ears, seen chickens nestled next to adult pigs, heard the oinks of baby piglets running around with each other, let a farm-cat rub up against your leg, smiled at alpacas grazing on the rolling green hills, and truly felt the joy of seeing well-treated animals, you get the sense that kindness and happiness go hand in hand and that they should be the most important aspects of any business. Beyond that, tasting the meat of a well-fed animal or biting into a ripe, succulent, locally grown piece of fruit might make you realize just how delightful good food can be. A great meal can bring you joy, especially when you know that the meat you’re eating comes from an animal that ate well from the hands of kind-hearted farmers near your home. Mohican Farms is not just in the business of growing and selling food. They’re in the business of keeping their customers and animals safe, healthy, and happy.
By Julia Schmitt Healy
It’s a Big Deal
From Page to Screen
he pandemic has impacted many cultural institutions, among them the Milford Readers and Writers Festival, which decided to go virtual last year.
After watching their recent Zoom panel, From Page to Screen... It's a Big Deal, I felt like I had just been to an intimate evening with interesting friends, conversing over after-dinner drinks. As organic conversations do, the ideas and shared thoughts of the participants spilled beyond the set theme. The event, which took place this past March, featured a producer, two writers, and a studio executive, and the content was quite compelling. The readers and the writers involved with the Readers and Writers Festival wanted to know, what does it take to get your book from page to screen? Some say a good story, some say tenacity or knowing the right people… some say luck. Many things have to fall into place for the process to be a success. For example, a good director will take what is on the page and bring it to life on the screen. Cinematographers and production designers help to create the movie magic.
The Story Tellers The evening was introduced by Milford’s mayor and author, Sean Strub. It was moderated by author and screenwriter Amy Ferris. Each panelist spoke about their role in the process. The participants were John Berendt, whose mega best-seller, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, was made into a film directed by Clint Eastwood; Richard Morais, author of The Hundred-Foot Journey, which became a film starring Helen Mirren; and Robert Levine, attorney and producer of the film of the Pulitzer-prize-winning play, That Championship Season, which starred Robert Mitchum. David Kirkpatrick, former head of production at Paramount Pictures and the Walt Disney Studios and accomplished producer and writer, added the studio perspective.
As moderator of the panel, Amy Ferris kept things rolling, and I felt it was an hour and forty-three minutes well-spent. (Note: The video is currently available for all to watch at no charge at MilfordReadersandWriters.com.)
no idea how it worked. And it also gave us the opportunity to have different types of speakers. You know, usually these reader festivals just have a writer being interviewed by somebody.
Recently, I talked with Bob Levine and Carol McManus, who are current board members and were involved with making the online event happen.
We thought with this subject we could have the opportunity to have a diversity of conversation. So we had two writers, one producer, who was me, and one studio executive. Because the issues of turning the written word into film are very complex and involve a number of points of view, we were able to have several perspectives represented.
JH: Briefly, what is your history with the Milford Readers and Writers Festival? Levine: I was one of four founders, along with my wife, Suzanne Levine, Sean Strub, and Amy Ferris. McManus: I’m the co-chair of the festival along with Edson Whitney. Levine: And I’m on the programming committee, which chooses who we are going to feature at the festival. We’ve been trying to think of ways to keep the festival alive during the pandemic. JH: So how did this topic—turning books into movies—and panel discussion come about? Levine: It was a subject people in our audience expressed an interest in. It was a subject they knew existed but had
McManus: The festival is focused on the reader in conversation with published authors. So it’s very unlike other conferences around the country, which are focused on writers and aspiring writers. The founders made the decision a long time ago that we wanted to differentiate ourselves and really create this intimate conversation between the readers and the authors of different genres. We think we have very successfully done that. But one of the things that comes up is that a lot of the people sitting in our audience have this curiosity and say, “I read the book and then saw the movie,” or they saw the movie and then went back and read the book, and they have no idea how the process works. So we thought it would be really fun to put on an event to sort of “pull back the curtain.” Continued on next page 25
Life Levine: Because we were using Zoom, we were able to get a much wider audience. We had people tuned into this from Europe, from Alaska, and from Canada, so we wanted a subject that had wide interest and would also be entertaining. Because when you talk about movies, you’re talking about celebrities and carrying on and conflicts and difficulties. These are all interesting issues that we thought would appeal to a much wider group of people. That’s why the diversity of participants was so important. A writer’s role in film is very limited. Once their book is sold, they have very little to do with the film project. JH: How did you choose the participants? Levine: Part of our mission is to be local. That is very important to us—it’s the Milford Readers and Writers Festival. We are very interested in promoting Milford and having people know that Milford exists. A number of the panelists live in Milford. We could have gone to New York or California and gotten people, but we really wanted to stay with people who had a Milford connection. All of the people in some way have a connection to Milford. McManus: We did a survey a few days after the panel discussion. We could not have been more heartened. People loved it. They loved the feeling of intimacy. We were able to recreate the intimacy that we strive to have when we have a live event at the theater in Milford. But also, just the topic. People felt their questions were answered, that they were engaged. Many had read one of the books or seen the films so there was a sense of connection. They felt like they knew those people. If I were to use a word how people felt, it would be “grateful.” I think our audience was grateful. Levine: One thing that has been important is that we have a very committed group of supporters, people who have been coming year after year. So having an event like this helps us stay in touch with them. We can send them notifications and can get their thoughts and ideas as to what would be interesting to them. We are trying to keep a connection with our supporters so they can come to the festival every year. JH: What are chances of a live festival this year? Levine: It’s a question we are agonizing over. When we did the Zoom survey, we asked, “Would you come to a live festival?” and the answer we got was, “We would love to come in September if conditions are safe by then.” But it’s not only if our audience will come...it’s also, will our speakers come? Will we be able to have the big cocktail party? Book signings? We don’t yet have an answer. Stay tuned. .................................................................................................... Check out MilfordReadersandWriters.com for ways to donate to the festival and for a direct link to the panel. The 2021 festival is slated for September 17–19. Pencil it in! Julia Schmitt Healy is a visual artist, writer, and teacher who lives in Port Jervis, N.Y. Find her work at Juliahealy.com. 26
By Maureen Newman
Lifelong Soulmates M
uch can be learned by studying the relationship of swans.
My husband and I have lived on Kemah Lake in Sussex County, N.J. for thirty-three years now. Our two-story, large, glass atrium that overlooks the lake has been a perfect lookout spot for glassing with our binoculars and observing the wildlife that inhabit the water. In all of the years that we’ve lived here, there have only been two swans residing on our lake. Each year, after the harshness of the winter has lifted and the lake has thawed, our swans return, religiously. These mature, white bodied, orange-beaked beauties are referred to as Mute Swans, (Cygnus olor)—mute, because they are not as vocal as other species.
Photo by Maureen Newman
It is said that swan couples are devoted to each other and mate for life. When one dies, the other has been known to die of a broken heart. Every year, once back on the lake, the female (also known as a pen) and the male (also known as a cob) go through the arduous process of building their nest out on an island that we can see from our house. It’s a team effort by the two—constructing it with mud and brush. Through experience, they’ve learned to build it high enough and to fortify it, so it won’t get flooded out when the lake rises. This April our mama swan, who our grandchildren have affectionately named Fluffy, laid her eggs. Fluffy does an incredible job of warming them by sprawling out flat over the nest. Indeed, we thought she was a plastic bag at first glance, as her body was so flat and her head was stretched out under a log!
Papa swan, named Mighty Mike by our grandchildren, also helps incubate the eggs in this joint effort. He’s fierce when he needs to be, patrolling the area constantly and checking in on his mate. He will chase off any wildlife that gets too close to the nest. Usually it’s the geese that he wards off, but he also keeps a wary eye on the bald eagles that are perched in the trees above. I have never seen any animal so protective and hard at work. The other day, I watched as two unfamiliar swans landed on the lake. They climbed onto the opposite end of the island from where our swans have their nest—perhaps they were looking for a nesting site—but our papa would have no part of it. He chased them relentlessly until they left. Witnessing this act of nature unfold was way better than watching National Geographic TV. The gestation period for a swan is thirty-one to forty-one days, and every summer when the young swans, or cygnets, hatch, we are blessed with watching our majestic couple proudly swim by with their brood. They will live with their young for six to nine months. But, unlike some swans, ours are social creatures. They are very sweet and love people, swimming past our dock with their babies and fearlessly landing on the shoreline of our backyard, even when we are in the yard. Swans are magnificent creatures. Not only do they have a life-long compassionate commitment to each other, but they are symbolic reminders that true love conquers all.
Planet Waves by Eric Francis (March 20-April 19)
Society is experiencing and witnessing an eruption of family drama on a scale rarely seen. Here is a clue that might serve as a reality check if you need one, particularly if anything happens to slip into your personal life. Check the scope of the reaction as contrasted with any problem that seems to exist. At what point does something become recognized as an inappropriate overreaction? You have to decide this for yourself; you set the terms of your reality, since nobody else can do it for you — even if you think they do. The content of the scenario is nearly irrelevant. The scale of the situation is what to focus on.
(April 19-May 20)
Your fellow Taurus Adrienne Rich, in an essay called When We Dead Awaken, wrote: “Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves.” In our day, we could add delusions, propaganda, and toxicity in emotional, intellectual and chemical forms. Many wonder: when will everyone wake up? But the question is, are you awake? Consider that being alive means questioning those assumptions consciously and vocally. Notice whenever you make an excuse or tell a ‘white’ lie to slip out of something without a confrontation. Ask whether you anesthetize or deaden part of yourself every time you do not object to what you know is wrong. To stand up may feel dangerous. To be alive may feel dangerous. That is the challenge.
(May 20-June 21)
At some point you must face the unknown. That might begin the moment you recognize that something you believed to be correct turned out not to be. You could also make a discovery that something is possible, which is the truest form of learning. The discovery you are in the process of making is about yourself. The question goes something like this: what does it mean to be real? Many people go their whole lives faking it, so they don’t have to face this challenge. Your side of the seeming equation is the more powerful of them, and it is the one that you can influence by your choices and your evaluation of your existence. You are guided at this time by thought and feeling in equal measure, though there is something else: a kind of magnetism reminding you who you are and what you want.
(June 21-July 22)
The most recent New Moon took place in the angle of your solar chart where you connect to society. This starts with the people immediately around you and at the same time, your awareness, your ideas, your feelings, your presence, is sending waves out into the community around you. This may not be ‘comfortable’ to consider. For most people, standing out is the very last thing they want to do. However, your chart suggests that this is not a matter of preference for you, but of accepting the influence and the role that you have, or pretending not to have it, or not to be who you are. Despite the overwhelming popularity of this concept, it’s not going to work for you. In particular this relates to your own personal healing mission.
(July 22-Aug. 23)
As the sign that rules the heart, yours is also the sign of courage. The associations here are beautiful and deeply needed today. The heart is the seat of the emotions, You might feel fear, though you would not let it block or deter you. Fear is natural enough; what we do with it is another matter. So what do you do? You can Know Thyself. Only then is courage possible. If you have a spiritual path, you might refer back to that now, and work from the inside out. Learn to have an influence on yourself. To be who you are is true courage.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
One of the deepest aspects of the crisis of the past year has been the theft of the future. It’s as if the whole concept of potential, and the resource of time ahead of us, has been taken over and consumed by some other force. Hopes, dreams, plans, people and entities on a successful trajectory, have all evaporated. Of course, the future still exists. It is up to everyone to regulate their own mind, though we are all under an offensive coming in from all directions. Use your creative power and open the way. Help yourself and others regain a sense of potential. Choose from among the most meaningful things you can think of for yourself — desires you’ve nurtured consistently for years, or maybe something new. And help open the way for others.
(Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Let others lead the way, though do not be deterred by their resistance. Allowing them to lead is a way of not pushing or guiding them, and if the result does not work for you, then do your own thing. Yet the temptation will be strong to attempt to exist within the boundaries of what they perceive as real, legitimate, and most of all, nonthreatening. You have different ideas. You are ready to stretch out, and explore, and get to know yourself. It may take courage to not be pressured into doing what someone else claims is right for you, especially if they have not asked honestly whether it is right for themselves. It would be easy for someone to convince you that the risks are not worth the rewards. But that is your business, and you can make your own fun.
(Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
All matters related to the body have been infused with terror the past year. Mars, your ruling planet, is in a square aspect to Chiron, something that happens briefly about once a year. There is a perfectionism to this aspect, and an obsession with integrity, though it’s often a ruse for something else. The question is: do you feel safe in your body? How much of what you do every day is about avoiding what you perceive as danger? Where does this leave you room to feel and experience pleasure, both of which require trusting your body and those of other people?
(Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
The primary personal quality to work on at this time in your life is flexibility. It is not easy for you to see how set in your ways you are. You may feel it as resistance, fear, and unnecessary skirmishes with people who are a little more easygoing than you are. Yet your self-image may be that of a relaxed and carefree person. The most important measure of your flexibility is your impulse to control others. Another is your ability to face the unknown. The need for certainty is a sign of a stiff mind. Stand in the face of the unknown, and let yourself welcome the experience: there is a gift for you there.
(Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Beware the tendency to think you are doing something for someone else, for their benefit. You might try an exercise of identifying the self-interest in everything that you do. Be bold about this, and remove entirely the excuse that your conduct is in some way altruistic. If you try to be accountable for the way that you in fact gain by your actions, that will prove to be enlightening. Claiming to do things for other people is usually an excuse. There are times when it’s true, and the only way to be aware of those occasions is to sort out when it’s not. This exercise will help you notice when others do this. It is possible to take care of others, and to have that in some way work for you — or not. These distinctions need to be made.
(Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
There would be questions you have not been asking but may not have missed. Mostly they are about yourself, and the basis of your relationship to the world. The language I quote most often from A Course in Miracles is, “Every decision you make stems from what you think you are.” So what you think you are is something to monitor closely, since it will become your basis for choosing. What you think of as confidence may not always be self-nourishing. However there are those moments when you feel and connect with the substance of who you are. You will almost surely experience many gains, though the most significant is connecting in a solid and quiet way with what you have to offer.
(Feb. 19-March 20)
For the past five months or so, you may have felt like you were trapped inside of some invisible bubble. That was the sensation of your ruling planet Jupiter going through your 12th solar house, a zone where things go missing, get lost, or are caught in a parallel dimension. This happens with Neptune also in your sign, a much longer-term visitor (2011-2026). Neptune can create a sense of deficit. Speaking as a Pisces who identifies with the whole idea, my thought is this: allow this ingress of Jupiter into your sign to be about a positive, even bold change of your environment. Catch up on all the experience you’ve gained, and give yourself full credit. Make your decisions on the basis of abundance: that is a whole new sound. .......................................................................................... Read Eric Francis daily at PlanetWaves.net. 31