Kids’ Almanac (Aug. 17-24)


Kids’ Almanac columnist Erica Chase-Salerno with her husband, Mike, and their kids, Quinn and Declan.

Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime…wait, what?

Needle in the record. Summer 2015: I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer; no previous history.

Instead of beach days, pool playdates and a relaxed summer schedule, suddenly I was in the throes of intensive testing, researching doctors and grappling with lots of new questions. One thing was immediately clear: This diagnosis affects the entire family.


Here’s how we told the kids the day we found out: We set up ingredients for root beer floats on the counter and called them into the kitchen. I said that all of the recent busyness at various doctor offices had given us some helpful information: I have Stage IV breast cancer. That the medicine for this disease would be pretty intense, and I would lose my hair. And that this disease won’t go away for me like some other people – that I’d be on a form of treatment for the rest of my life.

Our son gave me a hug and asked if he could have his root beer float now. Our daughter burst into tears and gave me a hug.

I felt grateful to have words for my illness. So many of my friends struggle with disorders that haven’t been able to get named; and who among us has not been touched by Lyme disease? I’ve had so many firsts along the way: CAT scans, MRIs, PET scans, biopsies and countless medical procedures to help me breathe as excess fluid continues to build around my lungs.

Now it’s two years later: summer 2017. Our bodies are incredible. My body is amazing. I continue to embrace this chapter of my life with strength, openness, humor and love. Honestly, I feel chosen. I look forward to sharing more of our family’s experience with my breast cancer with all of you – a deeper level for Kids’ Almanac.

– Erica Chase-Salerno

Erica can be reached at


Dirt: The Secret Life of Soil this Saturday in Saugerties

For some people, one of the most satisfying pleasures of summer is getting dirt under your fingernails, grubbing in the sweet earth to make your garden grow. That intoxicating scent that wafts from living soil is the product of myriad interdependent biological processes, on whose persistence the whole world’s livelihood ultimately depends.

“An extravagant journey into the Great Underneath – opening the curtain to reveal the epic alchemy of plants, the fungi’s dance of mutual delight and the microbes’ herculean labors” is the aptly poetic description given by the folks at Arm-of-the-Sea Theater to their latest stage production, Dirt: The Secret Life of Soil. Created by Marlena Marallo and Patrick Wadden, Dirt features original music by Eli Winograd and a cast of mask and puppet figures brought to life by performers Anna Haffner, Sam Shippee and Wadden.

Plumb the soil’s teeming ecosystem that flourishes right beneath our feet and learn the importance of protecting the health of our planet’s soils this Saturday, August 19 at 8 p.m. as Arm-of-the-Sea performs Dirt at the Tina Chorvas Waterfront Park, located at 61 East Bridge Street in Saugerties. Admission is by a suggested donation is $12 for adults, $5 for children and $30 for a family of four, payable at the park entrance. Audience members are encouraged to arrive early and to bring lawn seating. For more information, call (845) 246-7873 or visit Bear Fair in Cragsmoor on Saturday helps Bear Hill Nature Preserve

Ask denizens of the area surrounding the Shawangunk Ridge what the southernmost park in the Gunks is, and most will tell you that it’s the Sam’s Point Preserve. Very few know about another, much smaller but equally spectacular piece of protected land in Cragsmoor, known as the Bear Hill Nature Preserve. A fairly level 1.5-mile roundtrip hike will take you along the ridgetop to a land of pine barrens, boulder fields, caves and crevices.

Now this relatively undiscovered gem is in need of an infusion of cash. So the Cragsmoor Association is holding a fundraising party this Saturday, August 19 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Boulders, located at 167 Henry Road, to benefit the Bear Hill Nature Preserve. It’s called the Bear Fair, and admission and parking are free. The fundraising comes in when visitors want to participate in one of the many games and contests, each of which costs $1 per entry. Games for kids and the young-at-heart will include the likes of arm-wrestling, golf-chipping, badminton, tug-of-war and – most apropos for this particular summer, as residents of communities near the Gunks will ruefully aver – Pin the Bear on the Garbage.

You can also take a dip in the resort’s swimming pool for $1; a lifeguard will be on duty from 3 to 5 p.m., as well as waitresses in Hawaiian costumes. I can instantly tell, the first time I looked the pool, that it was properly cleaned and managed, which reassured me. My time as a lifeguard has taught me that public pools, if mistreated can be a serious problem. Food and drink will be available all day. The big bucks will be raised during the penny social raffle that takes place between 6 and 7 p.m., with tickets going for $5, $10 and $20. Among the 50-or-so prizes will be many created by Hudson Valley and Cragsmoor artists (remember, this tiny clifftop town was a renowned artists’ colony before Woodstock ever was).

To find out more about the Bear Fair Party, call (646) 275-0830 or visit or


Rock painting workshops in Catskill

The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center is holding several public art classes this summer. Artist Susan Togut will teach three free drop-in workshops on hand-painting rocks on Saturday, August 19, 26 and September 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees are welcome to come for one Saturday or all three and stay for the duration or a portion thereof. The finished products will be incorporated into Togut’s public art sculpture, Wisdom Trees: Embracing the Cycles of Life, at the CIC along Route 28.

The sculptural installation is a living environment that changes over time. It is composed of a central arbor, two tree installations and pathways that circle the environment. Along the pathways intergenerational participants, of all backgrounds and abilities, will create hand-painted rocks. These will be designed and painted with diverse styles, content and symbolism, using heavy-body acrylic paints.

Everyone is invited to attend; no previous experience is required. For information, visit The Center is located at 5096 Route 28 in Mt. Tremper.


Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, food and crafts at Hudson Summerfest

In this final month of the summer season of festivals, there is a new entrant into the field: Hudson Summerfest. The family-friendly event will be held at the scenic Henry Hudson Waterfront Park in Hudson on Saturday, August 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (the gates open at 10:30 a.m.). The cost of admission will be tax-deductible, with proceeds benefitting three local nonprofits: the FarmOn! Foundation, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and the Hudson Area Library. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $13 for ages 7 to 17 and are free for kids age 6 and under. It’s a rain-or-shine event.

Live music at the festival will encompass the genres of swing, bluegrass, rock and jazz. The performers include NRBQ, Too Blue, the Zolla Boys, the Matchstick Architects, Black Mountain Symphony and the Fabulous Versatones. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will be on hand, interacting with festivalgoers and performing on stilts and juggling.

The Hudson Area Library tent will present readings by authors and illustrators, origami demonstrations and collagemaking with Etsy volunteers. Participating authors and illustrators include Jackie Rogers, Barbara and Victor Mojica, James Preller, Tara Crowl, Elizabeth Zunon and Esme Shapiro. There will also be a craft-and-makers tent with a showcase of local artisan work.

For more information, visit


Everyone welcome at Woodstock Volunteers’ Day this Saturday

Woodstockers, have you seen the Emergency Rescue Squad or the fire companies in action? Have you ever needed them? Have you enjoyed the gardens or Christmas Eve on the Village Green, the view at the Zena Cornfield, a show at Performing Arts of Woodstock or Shakespeare in the Park or the Woodstock Playhouse? Isn’t it heartening that your community has Family of Woodstock, the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, Hospice, Woodstock Area Meals on Wheels, the Food Pantry, the Woodstock Artists’ Association & Museum, the Byrdcliffe Guild, Little League, Soccer League, Habitat for Humanity, Woodstock Loan Closet and so on?


Volunteers for not-for-profit arts, social service, civic and community organizations are the lifeblood of this town, of every town. Most would probably tell you that the work they do is its own reward, but it’s a good thing for a community to acknowledge their contributions as often as possible. It’s happening this Saturday afternoon, August 19 at Andy Lee Field, when everyone turns out for the 13th annual Woodstock Volunteers’ Day.

If you’re a volunteer for a community organization (and not just in Woodstock), you’re entitled to take part in the free picnic lunch, with food donated by a long list of local businesses. Food will also be for sale to those who just want to express their appreciation for all the good work being done by these mostly unsung heroes. On Saturday, they will be sung: The live music will include Conor Wenk and Gordon Wemp at 2 p.m., the Joe Veillette Orchestra at 3 p.m., A Simple Heart with Janice Hardgrove & Timothy Pitt at 4 p.m., Tim Moore at 4:45 p.m., Thunder Bear at 5 p.m. and the Bruce Ackerman Band at 6 p.m. At dusk there will be a fireworks display. Fun kids’ activities will include a bounce house, giant bubbles and pony rides.

The Andy Lee Recreation Field is located on Rock City Road in Woodstock. To find out more, visit


Eclipse-viewing party at Red Hook’s Linden Avenue Middle School

What do you have planned for Eclipse Day 2017? Just because it won’t achieve totality in the Northeast doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared to enjoy it to the max. In fact, it’s even more important to have adequate eye protection handy when part of the Sun’s disc remains visible.

Here in the Hudson Valley, the Red Hook Public Library will be hosting a celestial celebration of astronomical proportions on the lawn of Linden Avenue Middle School. Your hosts will be providing safe viewing glasses free of charge, physics and astronomy activities for the whole family and demonstrations about how solar eclipses work. It should be an afternoon to remember for all.

The Red Hook Public Library’s community eclipse celebration takes place from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on Monday, August 21; admission is free and no registration is required. In the case of inclement weather, the party will be moved indoors to the Red Hook Community Center to watch a livestream from a sunnier part of the country.

The Linden Avenue Middle School is located at 65 West Market Street in Red Hook. For more info on the eclipse-viewing party, call the Library at (845) 758-3241 or visit


Starr Library hosts Community Day on Saturday, eclipse-viewing Monday

Heads up, denizens of Rhinebeck! Your own Starr Library wants to honor your ongoing support this Saturday afternoon, August 19, with a Community Day Celebration on the library grounds. And the fun resumes on Monday afternoon, August 21, as library staff wrangle an eclipse-viewing session on the field across from the library. Eclipse glasses will be given away at both events.

Community Day runs from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, with a roast pork picnic provided free to Rhinebeck residents as a way of saying “Thank you” for the community’s support for the Library and its programs. There will be live music, a bouncy house for the kids and a visit from an ice cream truck. Performers will include the New Baroque Soloists and guitarists David Temple, Steve Gravino and Steven Pague. Eclipse information will be available, so you can get ready for Monday’s big sky show.

Weather permitting, skywatchers will gather outside the Library from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on Monday to observe the partial solar eclipse. The supply of eclipse glasses is limited, so bring your own viewing gear if you already have any.

The Starr Library is located at 68 West Market Street in Rhinebeck. For more info, call (845) 876-4030 or visit

There is one comment

  1. J

    Thank you Erica ! You are amazingly generous, strong , and kind!! I am not an expert on anything but I lost my father to cancer in 2009. He is the person I most admire hands down. He was such a huge part of my life. I loved spending time with him, he was incredibly generous , always rooting for me, insightful, caring, I always felt loved. I always had someone to turn to. His prognosis was three months. He lived after his diagnosis for 18 month Strong. I thought while he was sick I would be lost without him.But my dad is always with me. He is so much of who I am , what I appreciate, how I love, my whole world is connected to him and his presence is always immediate and strong. Nothing takes away all he taught me, his love. He had the philosophies he lived by ….my favorites are now mine. Thank you for sharing your journey. Your strength, participation and insight remind me of my dad. Love!!

Comments are closed.