I Know Why the Gypsies Dance


This morning I stepped out of Benny to sunshine sparkling on the line of energetic automobiles motoring along the highway and behind them, the less energetic treeline of a Northern Forest. We played outside on the grass at the Saturday parking lot of the Warren County Municipal Center where the police let us overnight.

When Cassidy fell asleep, I brought out my washing: a small blue bucket of water, my equally blue rapid washer (which is the general size and shape of a plunger), and a small satchet of dried soapnut berries. Laundry was pleasant with all the sunshine and the air was neither warm nor cool, and the girls collected acorns and dandelions and fashioned acorn cap bowls and plates from wide leaves for their fairy picnic.

I washed every wet diaper we had, and then the three shirts in our laundry bag, laying the articles on the sunny grass and hanging some on our side mirrors to blow gently and effortlessly dry.

And as I enjoyed my morning activity, I realized that we are gypsies. Without contrivance, we have assumed the role. And I feel like I understand something about gypsies now. We are nomadic because we want to be. We have few possessions for the freedom of it. We don’t want your jobs or your storage units. We don’t want a place to call home because we have a family to call home and everywhere we go we set out our things and make that spot our home.

I hope we don’t look like a bigger version of every city’s shopping cart ladies, because we’re not down on our luck or homeless. We are so lucky that the whole world is our home. We’re not in a laundromat because we prefer it this way, where the sunshine sparkles and recent rains have left mushrooms. I’m enjoying washing diapers in the parking lot of the New York State Supreme Court. Everywhere we go, our dashboard is lined with drying diapers because it works perfectly, and if we change our minds, we’ll quick get a job and a mortgage and a high efficiency dryer.

Some might not want us stopping on the side of their road, hanging clothes to dry in front of God and everybody. They might think we’re dirty, or uneducated but I’ve memorized my formulae, my As, and Bs and Cs, but what I learned came long ago and not from such as these…(Buffy St Marie) and the Western habit of daily showering is slightly ridiculous anyway.

So if you stumble upon our camp in a living or paved forest, and peek at us doing our washing to the beat of our tambourines, you can tiptoe past for fear of being cursed, or you can come say hello and we’ll become temporary friends as we have with others who stop to admire our vintage rig and regale us with their own tales of travels, frugality, self-sufficiency, music, camping and searching through this country.


  1. jahaira
    August 10, 2011

    you guys are just beautiful!!!!

  2. Momma Jorje
    August 10, 2011

    So very eloquent!

  3. Meredith
    August 10, 2011

    You make me want to reframe my current circumstances. =)

  4. Nancy Forrest
    August 10, 2011

    I’m glad you’re a writer. So nice to see the photos and know you are doing well in your gypsy life. Who woulda thunk it?

  5. Merry Rosenfield
    August 11, 2011

    You write beautifully, and what fodder for your someday memoir!

  6. Laura Sherman
    August 21, 2011

    Wow, I love your blog! As many have commented before me, you do write beautifully!


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