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written for The New York Times
Mom and the Girls, Taking the Upward Trail - Elizabeth and Annie's feet

YEARS ago, I decided to take my two young daughters backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. If it went well, I thought, we would go again the next year. We would hike girls-only, without their father. He and I had hiked from Georgia to Maine before they were born. I was sure that Elizabeth, who was 8, and Annie, 6, were as strong as boys. I wanted them to know it, to learn courage and independence. And I wanted to immerse them in a world with no lights or stores, where you forget about what other people think of you.
One day in late April, in a place on the Tennessee-North Carolina...

Place section, The Hartford Courant
Barn Voyage: Newer buildings reflect Connecticut's farm roots - Salt_Shed_Photo1_manchester

A harried commuter buzzes along the highway. A field rises up to the right. At the top of the knoll stands a simple brown barn, its gambrel roof outlined against the early morning sun. Ah, a fleeting visual respite from the modern world, a journey back to the agrarian past, a simpler time when we were closer to the land.

Well, yes and no. This particular structure is not a barn. It is actually a state Department of Transportation salt storage shed. But it was purposely built to look like a barn because, well, we expect to see barns in the country. They're distinctive, they fit...

written for Blue Ridge Press
Return to Levittown - Levittown, Gottscho-Schleisner collection

In the 1960s my three brothers, sister, parents, and I used to visit my Uncle Woody, who lived in Levittown, Pennsylvania, one of the most famous suburban developments in America.

Uncle Woody was visibly proud of his little house. It was immaculate inside and out. He put a bowl of fancy chocolates on the coffee table, and we sat around his cramped living room enjoying the picture window. At Christmastime, he decorated the whole place, even wrapped tinsel around the railing of a staircase that seemed to lead nowhere; it, in fact, ended at an attic trap door.

Uncle Woody died...

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