The Back Roads of Summer

I am looking out at the warm sun outside my window, reflecting on some words I need to write. It’s time to water the garden before the sun reaches its boiling point. Decisions and plans are piling up and it appears that things got busy and my blog took a backseat. The autumn leaves I kicked around in my last post went on a fast-forward to harbingers of spring, miles of faraway trails, and 50-year celebrations Continue reading

A Shout Out to Rosie the Riveter

In honor of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I thought I would share a story about Veronica Kubanis, a living Rosie the Riveter. My mother worked as a Rosie at Akron’s Goodyear Aircraft. She can still recall those days when she worked on the Martin B-26 Marauder twin-engine bomber in 1943. When Did You Decide to Become a Rosie? I was working as a nurse’s aide at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron. There was an Continue reading

Cheers to the Pawpaw Perspective

Another month is over and I am listening to Sunday bluegrass again. I finally get a chance to prop up my worn, tired feet. I am hyped up on high-powered coffee and a belly full of Halloween treats. Today was trick or treat day at the annual Shade Community Center celebration and we decorated the gym for hundreds of kids and their families. Community donors are so good to the people of Appalachia. Many who Continue reading

Fracking in Farm Fields: Soil Quality, Health Concerns Abound

by Maria Dimengo copyright 2018, Acres Magazine The images of water-logged grasslands and decimated fields paint a bleak portrait of rural farm life in the aftermath of hurricane disasters. For ecosystems, it is the water and soil that binds. Flatlands and coastal prairies can only absorb so much water, and farmers need to figure out a way to restore a soil medium that keeps dairy cows healthy and row crops productive. Beyond this weather-beaten landscape Continue reading

Vocal Opposition in the Valley

It’s getting close to twilight on Easter night, and the birds keep calling me. The chatter has turned into a soothing and welcome wake-up call. In three more hours, it will be the coyotes who cry out. I just returned from Charleston, and I get motivated to write after I travel. Since I last updated my blog, I was planning a move to Logan as a temporary resting place. But like an 11th hour reprieve or figurative Continue reading

Peace, Reflection and Transition

I have been listening to a lot of country music these days, getting to know the words and the meaning behind the songs. Every time I hear this song, the words so aptly describe the towns and the villages I’ve been working in. Rolling Stone magazine called it “a love letter to Rural America,” but I like to think it offers a compassionate plea to folks who “ain’t seen the blood, sweat and tears it took to live their Continue reading

More Life in Words and Photos

There is pride in Appalachian Ohio, hidden among the burned out trailers and hills that go on for miles. It’s impossible to put into words, but I know why people never want to leave. Sure it’s tough to find work, but there are happy people that thrive with big ideas. The remoteness from things and people and choices can be hard to get used to at first. But free time is precious time, and the quietness tends Continue reading

Minimizing the Waste Stream

A lot of my environmental work in urban and rural areas has centered around poverty, natural resource extraction and social justice issues. Along the way, I have learned a lot about food deserts, farming, healthy food and sustainable agriculture. I wrote this piece, below, for the February 2017 edition of Acres Magazine. It combines my interest in abandoned coal mines with the impact of unhealthy rivers and waterways. **** Farmers who study healthy soil for a Continue reading

Rocks, Dirt and Nature Preserves

I no longer watch TV, thanks to Donald Trump. I don’t need the anger, the bitterness or the noise. Instead, I need the simple things in life, like brilliant sunrises, bird song, and seasoned barnwood. I live on a nature preserve just outside of Athens County. I work about 30 hours a week, and then play outside, just like the old days. There are 100 acres on the property, and I live in a century-old Continue reading

Back to the Rural Life

The calendar has turned to November and I am sorting through a box of winter clothes. After 12 weeks of phone interviews, office visits and e-mails, I am on the move once again. I have just returned to packing after a wonderful morning hike. My roommate and I made a trip to Bath Nature Preserve in Akron to watch the horses and enjoy the crisp morning air. We talked a lot about our futures. We Continue reading