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Photo: Johnny Milano for the New York Times
Members of the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra practice for a performance at Long Island’s Oyster Bay Music Festival.

If you liked my 2015 post about MIT wizards making vegetable instruments, wait! There’s more!

Recently, Annie Correal wrote at the New York Times about an orchestra of such instruments.

“On a muggy day in July, in a Long Island backyard, a group of musicians had gathered for rehearsal. As their conductor gently raised both hands, they steadied their instruments, and played the first notes of a Bach chorale, ‘Nun freut euch, Gottes Kinder all.’

“The conductor stopped them. The snake gourd had not hit the D and the butternut squash had come in a little sharp. Take it from the top, he told the players.

“The group rehearsing, the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra, plays instruments made entirely from vegetables. On this day, in addition to the squash and the snake gourd, it included two carrot flutes.

“The orchestra was created more than a decade ago by Dale Stuckenbruck, a classically trained musician from Germany who teaches music on Long Island. It is not the first of its kind. … But it may be the only orchestra of its kind in New York. Over the years, it has performed at schools, galleries, libraries and at an environmental conference in Geneva. It even appeared in a film.

“On this day, Mr. Stuckenbruck, 63, and his four players were rehearsing for their annual performance at the Oyster Bay Music Festival.

“Because vegetable instruments don’t last, fresh ones have to be made every time they play, and they had spent the hour before rehearsal carefully drilling into carrots and hollowing out squashes with an ice cream scoop. The table before them was covered with pulp and broken carrots. …

“The instruments had been kept in ice water so they would stay crisp. … But the temperature hovered around 90 and the day was windless, and as they played the Bach chorale, they were racing against time. In this weather, the instruments would soon grow soft and the mouthpieces gummy, or they might dry out.

“Mr. Stuckenbruck’s … patience was perhaps the key to the continued existence of the Vegetable Orchestra.

“ ‘Let’s do it again,’ he said, as they sat in the broiling sun. …

“Mr. Stuckenbruck was born in Stuttgart, Germany, the son of a saw player. He attended a Waldorf school — which favors hands-on learning — and moved to New York in his 20s to play violin and saw; he played the saw with the New York Philharmonic this spring. …

“He had been asked to create a music program for students who were not musically inclined, he said. After failing to capture their interest with in drumming and music theory, he stumbled across the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra on YouTube.”

“ ‘Everything looks easy on YouTube,’ he said.

“Making playable vegetable instruments turned out not to be easy, but once he got the hang of it, the concept caught on. Carrots could be wind instruments — flutes, panpipes and clarinets, or, as Mr. Stuckenbruck called them, carronets. (The reed is often made from a slice of sweet potato.)

“Depending on the depth of the cavity and the size of the mouth hole, butternut squashes could be trumpets, trombones or French horns.

“Over the years, Mr. Stuckenbruck added more instruments. Broccoli and potatoes made melodious flutes. A daikon, a big white radish, made a deep, honking sound like an oboe. Peppers, with their seeds, were natural maracas.”

More at the New York Times, here, where you can learn which leafy vegetables are good for a sound like scratching a record. Also, be sure to check out the array of instruments on the vegetable orchestra’s home page, here.

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I spent my first couple decades vacationing on Fire Island, a barrier beach off New York’s Long Island. Once you get islands in your system, you never want to get them out.

Nowadays I frequent an island that is part of a state that calls itself an island, too: Rhode Island. Here are some pictures from my latest visit.

The photos are mostly self-explanatory, but I would like to draw your attention to the carrot. The young man in the photo pulled that carrot out of the ground for a neighbor, who gave it to him. His mother washed it, and he ate most of it in one sitting.

And he didn’t even feel like he had overdone the eating the way Peter Rabbit did. No need for a dose of chamomile tea.

2115-Galilee-for-fishing

082315-sheltered-harbor

082215-vase-on-deck

082315-one-big-carrot

2215-fuzzy-fruit

082215-blackberries

082315-about-sharks

082315-lobster-boat

082315-sold-to-pirates

082315-Southeast-Light

082215-sunset-RI

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Thomas Whaley, a teacher of 7-year-old English-language learners on Long Island came up with a creative way to build confidence while building writing skills. He has students make the case for why they should be president.

Jasmine Garsd reports at National Public Radio, “Whaley does not look like the kind of guy that dabbles in magic markers. Before he was a second-grade teacher, he worked at a public relations company in New York City.

“He says he started thinking about doing something else while riding to and from work on the Long Island Rail Road. ‘I would talk with people on the train at 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the way home,’ he recalls. ‘They were people who had a complete disconnect from the young people of the world. They were all so focused on adults and the rat race. And I realized that this was not for me.’

“That was 16 years ago. He has been teaching ever since.

“In addition, Whaley has found time to write a novel called Leaving Montana, and he’s starting to write children’s books. Last year, he won the New York state teacher-of-the-year award.

“This second-grade presidential campaign is an example of why. He tells me he got the idea when he asked the children one day to raise their hands if they thought they could never be a U.S. president.

“The answer broke his heart.

” ‘Almost every single child who is an English-language learner believed that they couldn’t be,’ Whaley recalls. They’d say things like, ‘ “I can’t run for president because my parents are from a different country.” That was a biggie. “Because I’m poor, and you need a lot of money to be the president.” “Because I don’t like to read, or I can’t read.” ‘

“Whaley says the presidential speech project is about more than just learning to read and speak in public. He wants these kids to learn to boast about themselves.

” ‘Bragging about yourself, and your best qualities,’ Whaley says, ‘is very difficult for a child who came into the classroom not feeling any confidence whatsoever to read three or four words.’

“Robert Epstein, the principal at Canaan Elementary, says this is the essence of what makes Whaley such a great teacher.

” ‘There’s a sense of community that’s really unsurpassed,’ and the students will take risks as a result, Epstein says. He adds that Whaley goes above and beyond what is expected of him as a teacher. ‘If one needs sneakers, I’ve seen him go out and buy sneakers. He’s gone to homes. He’s constantly on the phone, constantly emailing parents.’ ”

More at NPR.

Photo: Christopher Gregory for NPR
Thomas Whaley walks his students back to class from the library.

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I remember my mother’s story about driving home to Boston with a friend and trying to cross the Connecticut River on September 21, 1938. I wish I remembered the details: where they were coming from, who was driving, whether they got across or the bridge was closed, where they spent the night.

But I will never forget the awe with which people of a previous generation spoke about the Hurricane of ’38, its unexpectedness, its devastation — and little Edrie Dodge crawling on hands and knee across her yard as the winds destroyed the farming and fishing industries of her island.

That hurricane has always held a kind of fascination for me. I was riveted reading A Wind to Shake the World, an excellent book describing places I knew and emphasizing that lack of good communication in 1938. While people in Long Island were fighting the storm, people in Rhode Island had no idea they were next.

Nevertheless, good things came of tragedy, lessons were learned. Forecasting and communication improved exponentially.

The Globe had a retrospective on the 75th anniversary.

Jeremy C. Fox wrote, “On that September afternoon 75 years ago today, the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 tore into New York’s Long Island and then Milford, Conn., and raged through Massachusetts and Vermont, leaving a path of flooded towns, flattened homes, and fires caused by downed power lines. …

“Coming before televisions, computers, or weather satellites, the storm’s speed and fury took both meteorologists and residents by surprise, according to forecasters.

“Meteorology professor Lourdes B. Avilés said the storm remains “the one to which all other New England hurricanes are sooner or later compared.”

More here.

Photo: The Boston Globe
”This enormous tree in our backyard came completely uprooted and came crashing down,” said Irene Goodwin Kane, who was 14 when the storm hit. “That was when I realized that this was really bad.”

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