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  • Published
    April 23, 2018

    At sea

    At the time of this writing, we were about 200 nautical miles west southwest of Gibraltar, our 10th day out of Port Everglades, Florida. It’s Susan’s and my first time on a cruise ship, a step we were willing to take because it is a transatlantic passage, a way to get to Europe (where I have a meeting) without a long flight or jet lag. We are sailors. We have sailed the Maine coast extensively in our own boats …

  • Published
    March 14, 2018

    First love (two-wheeled variety)

    Susan loves her bike. Granted, it’s a beauty: a classic black Raleigh with upright handlebars and a dark leather saddle and shiny chrome in all the right places. When not in use, it sits like artwork inside our Washington, D.C., apartment — and no doubt Susan loves looking at it as much as I do. But mostly, she loves riding it. There is something wonderful, almost magical about riding a well-engineered bicycle …

  • Published
    February 16, 2018

    Some questions demand thoughtful answers

    The organizers of a conference I’m speaking at next month recently sent me a list of questions. They wanted only short answers, and that’s what I gave them — seldom doing justice to what they were asking. So, after I sent off my response, I continued to write. Here are my longer (and better) answers. What originally inspired you to get involved in food and farm issues? Almost 30 years ago, I found myself co-chairi…

  • Published
    January 11, 2018


    Editor’s Note: With this column, we welcome back John Piotti to the pages of our newspaper. After several years writing a column, John took a self-described “sabbatical” in late 2016, necessitated by the demands of a new job in Washington, D.C. I hadn’t been home to Maine since late August. In the last few months, I’ve traveled to California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Virginia and Washington State — …

  • Published
    October 18, 2016

    Two political choices I feel good about

    Years ago, when the then-editor of The Republican Journal asked me take on a regular column, he pitched the idea that I could write about politics. I guess he assumed that’s what I’d want, given that I had just finished serving in legislative leadership. But as my regular readers know, I’ve gone down a different path, writing columns about my family, and my community, and the work I do with farmers, sprinkled …

  • Published
    September 20, 2016

    Every morning is different

    Over a span of more than 30 years, I have spent countless hours sitting on the front porch of our lakeside cottage. I’m usually on the porch whenever it’s raining, as I like to watch the weather cross the lake. I’m also here on many bright days when the rest of the family is on the dock enjoying the midday sun, as I often prefer shade. And I’m here with the family every evening, as we always eat dinner on the …

  • Published
    September 13, 2016

    Writing home

    As a child, I never went to camp. I never stayed in a cabin with other young girls, roaming woods and singing songs by day, braiding hair and playing pranks by night. I never got to write home to my family and regale them with my adventures. This is what I imagined camp would be, and this I never had. Then, at age 18, I finally got to go to a camp of sorts: college. This whole “camp-thing” had seemed like a good …

  • Published
    August 30, 2016


    Editor’s note: Regular readers may have noticed that Cedar and Pearl did not appear two weeks ago, as it normally would have. We have moved the column to once a month for the foreseeable future, while John makes the transition between jobs. Susan and I are back from a short week of sailing. We were out for only five nights, a far cry from the 14 to 15 days of cruising we did year in and year out for much of the …

  • Published
    July 5, 2016

    Fit to print

    For the past few days I’ve been staying at one of those hotels that provides complimentary newspapers. I picked up a copy of The Wall Street Journal that announced Britain’s decision to leave the European Union — the so called “Brexit.” I have the paper with me still, and I think I’ll save it. After all, it’s full of history. While looking for a folder I needed for this trip, which I hoped was somewhere in the …

  • Published
    June 21, 2016

    Building bikes

    For seven years, beginning when I was 14 years old, my summer job was at Snow’s Cycle Shop on Nantucket Island, where I rented, repaired and sold bicycles. My first year, I was what we called a “grease monkey.” I had two roles. First, I helped fit bikes to renters, adjusting seats and showing them how the locks worked. Second, I cleaned and checked the bikes when they returned, wiping them down with WD-40 and …

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