Ralph Gardner Jr.

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.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Under The Weather

Feb 18, 2018
The Sick Bed
Edward Prentis (1797–1854) / Public Domain

You’ve probably heard that this is a particularly nasty flu season. Apologies for my cough. As a matter of fact, you may be listening to this commentary with a thermometer in your mouth and a bottle of Tylenol by your side.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Our Good Neighbors

Feb 10, 2018

If you’re lucky enough to live in the country there are probably a bunch of factors that contribute to your sense of well-being. These include, in no particular order – open skies, sunsets, trees, gardens, streams and wildlife. At least wildlife that keeps a safe distance from your vegetables, shrubs, attic, etc.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Skating On Thin Ice

Feb 3, 2018
Skating at Ooms Pond, Chatham, NY
Ralph Gardner Jr

I had a small epiphany while ice skating last week at Ooms Pond, a conservation area in Chatham, New York. My epiphany was that I should switch to yoga.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Warhol Comes To The Hudson Valley

Jan 27, 2018
Andy Warhol, Self Portrait in Fright Wig, 1985, Polaroid Polacolor print,
Collection of James Curtis / ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

A great, encyclopedic museum isn’t altogether dissimilar from a world-class ski resort with blue skies and a coat of fresh powder. Climbing its front steps, at the Metropolitan Museum, or descending its glass pyramid in the case of the Louvre, resembles the adrenalin rush of reaching the top of the mountain and pointing your skis downward.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Her Gift

Jan 20, 2018
Elizabeth Field
Ralph Gardner, Jr

On New Year’s Eve I was looking forward to presenting Bruce Shenker, a friend since college, with a special gift.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Dreaming Of Sun

Jan 13, 2018
Jesse Cutaia of Hudson Solar
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

This might not be the ideal season to discuss solar panels. In particular installing solar panels. Certainly not in the listening area.

If one’s mind gravitates to sources of heat it’s more likely a roaring fire accompanied by a good single malt.

But think of this commentary as a combination of one of those year-end roundups and a resolution to become a better, more responsible global citizen in 2018.

Ralph Gardner Jr: My Repetitive New Year's Resolution

Jan 6, 2018
A walk in the woods on New Year’s Day
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Midnight at the turn of the New Year found me where it always does. Outdoors.

No, I wasn’t winter camping.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Beauty Of Baths

Dec 30, 2017
Emmett Kelly in a bubble bath, Sarasota, Florida
Florida Memory / Wikimedia Commons

With temperatures dipping into the single digits -- and the minus single digits -- and the New Year fast approaching, the moment may be right to sing the praises of an institution that transcends time. That unites us in reverence. That puts us in direct communion with the forces of nature, as few indoor activities do.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Oh, Snow

Dec 16, 2017
Consider Bardwell Farm
Ralph Gardner Jr.

I did something last week anathema to my nature. I tried to avoid the snow.

It was traveling from south to north and I was heading from the Hudson Valley to Vermont. So I tried to get ahead of it.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Winter Memory

Dec 9, 2017

With snow in the forecast, at least somewhere, and ski resorts already making snow (they’re making snow already, right?) I think back fondly to the family responsible for making me the proud intermediate skier I am today.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Case For Crowds

Dec 2, 2017
2016 Hudson Winter Walk

With holiday shopping season fast upon us, I’d like everybody to shop local --for entirely selfish reasons.

No, I’m not a main street merchant. I don’t have some charming storefront that sells bric-a- brac. Whatever bric-a-brac is.

Ralph Gardner Jr: My Grandparents, The Forgers

Nov 25, 2017
An antique lamp created by Myra and Ben Gardner
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Last week I opened a drawer in the antique high boy in our front hall and found photographs I’d never seen before. They were of my father’s family, and they dated back to the 19th century.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Visit From Dr. Soot 'N Cinder

Nov 18, 2017
Doctors Soot N’Cinder. Bob Balfoort (left) and Kurt Straub
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Consider kindling – you know the stuff you start fires with – and its ability to sow marital discord?

What promoted me to do so was last week’s hard frost and a visit from our friendly, local chimney sweep – Dr. Soot N’ Cinder.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Family Splitting

Nov 11, 2017

You might ask yourself, as I did, where’s the silver lining to having a two-hundred year old oak tree come crashing down on your pool house? Besides, luckily, being covered by insurance?

Ralph Gardner Jr: Gone Beagling

Nov 5, 2017
Master Beagler Jack Kingsley and several canine members of the Old Chatham Hunt Club
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Last Sunday – the one with the high winds and torrential rains – might not sound like the best weather for beagling. That’s the sports where, to quote the website of the Old Chatham Hunt Club, the organization that sponsored the event, “a wily rabbit leads an eager pack of hounds through a whirlwind tour of the countryside.”

Ralph Gardner Jr: Tea For Town

Oct 28, 2017
Carrie Chen conducting a Chinese tea ceremony at Casana Tea House in Hillsdale,NY
Ralph Gardner, Jr

Hillsdale, New York probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind as the setting for a Chinese tea ceremony. But Hillsdale is happening.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Bittersweet Season

Oct 21, 2017
Ransom Hall, Kenyon College
Cbc717 / Wikimedia Commons

I shouldn’t be talking to you right now. I should be at parents weekend. That’s where you could have found me on this weekend, or thereabouts, for much of the last decade.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Visiting Consider Bardwell

Oct 14, 2017
Angela Miller in the brining room at Consider Bardwell Farm
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I don’t know if it’s a sign of the growing sophistication and success of their operation, Obama era rules and regulations, or a combination of the two; but on a visit last weekend to the brining room at Consider Bardwell, our friend Angela Miller’s prize-winning goat cheese farm in West Pawlet, Vermont, I was required to scrub down and suit up almost as thoroughly as if I were about to perform open heart surgery.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Tesla Of Chickens

Oct 7, 2017
Anna Hodson at Kinderhook Farm
Ralph Gardner, Jr

Does a pampered, pasture-raised, animal welfare approved, and all around well loved chicken taste better and is it healthier for you than your typical supermarket broiler? Is it worth paying multiples of the price for the former? Or is the enhanced flavor mostly a figment of your imagination?

Ralph Gardner, Jr

On a visit to WAMC’s studio in Albany last week a friendly staffer offered me a marshmallow peep. I hesitated and finally had to reject her generosity.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Master Gardener Offers His Diagnosis

Sep 23, 2017
Master Gardener Gerry Weber at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties
Ralph Gardner Jr.

When my brothers and I were born my grandmother planted spruce trees for each of us on the front lawn of the house that has now passed down to me.