About Swamp Yankee Wannabes

What is a Swamp Yankee Wannabe?

“Swamp Yankee” : There does seem to be some agreement about the kind of person generally tagged as a “swamp Yankee.” In doing some personal research on the subject, Hartford Courant columnist John Lacy asked a number of people to explain their understanding of the expression and reported a few responses in an April 30, 1982 feature. A newspaperman who grew up in Rhode Island told Lacy the term was applied to “Anglo-Saxon farmers in South County there.” A New London journalist believed it referred to “a Yankee from poor origins, who had to really hack it out of nothing,” while a librarian said it described “a person who lived in woodland swamps and who became fiercely independent, stubborn, obstinate and uninformed of what was going on in the outside.”


A modern Swamp Yankee is someone who may not be as educated as a John Kerry or a Bill Clinton, but whose practical knowledge allows him to live comfortably in the hard Northeast without resorting to a punishing 60 mile round-trip commute each day.  He cares little about skin cancer, West Nile Virus,  or a high mercury content in the fish he might catch, and he usually outlives everyone else.  A Swamp Yankee builds his own house, grows or finds his own food, fixes his own car, and laughs at you when you tell him your chainsaw doesn’t work and it turns out that you’ve merely put the chain on backwards. A true Swamp Yankee scoffs at wannabes with cutting amusement, and will impart little wisdom to anyone who isn’t worthy, but isn’t above a little good old-fashioned bartering when you’ve got something he perceives of value, which is rare.  In fact, it is hard to catch a glimpse of the Swamp Yankee nowadays.  They are elitist snobs who take a dim view of city slickers, or just about anyone outside their property line. 

Wannabe:  Used to describe someone who wants to be… (and by extension, isn’t)

We’re wannabes because, to put it bluntly, we’re liberal arts majors who have learned nothing practical in our lives. We’re trying to live the Good Life here in New Hampshire, but because we don’t have the necessary practicum, we resort instead to trial and error.  Frequently, we end up on the error side of the equation. 

About Us (and how we met)

We met on the Internet!  Lionel  had posted a bio on a personal’s website, and Aileen was cruising the very same website.. and she noticed that he lived nearby… so she emailed him.. and he emailed her back.. and the rest is history.

Who are we?

Aileen is a Bryn Mawr graduate who majored in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology and minored in Greek, who took her extensive knowledge of dirt, dead languages and ancient history into the computer networking field. After a brief and largely unsuccessful detour into the world of Library Science, she’s back doing what she does best.  Aileen thrives on fly-fishing, motorcycles, softball, and observing the truly odd of humanity. Aileen is the author of Swamp Yankee Wannabes.

Lionel’s first incarnation was as an actor in New York. He went to Carnegie Mellon for acting for about two years before dropping out and pursuing the real thing. He nabbed a part in an episode of Miami Vice (Nobody Lives Forever), tried out for the part of Cameron in Ferris Beullers’ Day Off, and was in a few other television pieces, as well as several star roles in theatrical performances. After a while Lionel decided he needed to do something else, so he decided to go into… forestry. He graduated from UNH and has been working in the forestry/botany arena ever since. He thrives on landscaping, botany, chainsawing, collecting soda bottles, geneaology, and agonizing about the state of the world’s environment. Lionel is a frequent protagonist in Swamp Yankee Wannabes.

Lionel’s a Libra and Aileen is a Taurus. Aileen is more mechanically inclined than Lionel, and Lionel is more spatially inclined than Aileen, so Aileen sets up the home network for the growing suite of computers in the house, runs the excavator, keeps the snowblower working properly, and knows how to work the VCR and the radio alarm clock. Lionel puts up the shelving so it doesn’t fall down, plans the appropriate placing for shrubs and trees, confidently assures Aileen that she can’t stick a four foot thing into a three foot thing, and manages to cut down trees without hitting the house (or other damagable structures).

Aileen is athletically inclined and can race and dive with the best of them while on the court or the field, but Lionel often has more sustainable energy and can be seen splitting wood by moonlight long after Aileen has crashed from her three hours of frenzied activity.  Lionel and Aileen are almost the same size (we can fit into each other’s clothes –not that we do this, mind you, on a regular basis) but Lionel cheated and took wrestling in high school so he can pin Aileen almost every time, except when he lets her win.

Lionel is trying to teach Aileen the differences between a Red Maple and a Red Oak, and Aileen is trying to teach Lionel the differences between a Pacific Salmon and an Atlantic Salmon.  Slowly, we are catching on.  Pretty soon we’ll forget who is supposed to know what.  We’ve already conveniently forgotten whose turn it is to do the dishes. 

Bundle o Joys

Bundle o Joy I arrived on April 17, 2007, bringing us into the hallowed club called Parenthood.  We enjoyed the antics of Bundle o Joy I so much  that we went ahead and had another.  Bundle o Joy II arrived on May 10, 2010.  They appear at times throughout Swamp Yankee Wannabes but are stars of their own blogs… although for some reason they can’t write their own entries yet. 

About Swamp Yankee Wannabes

We live in Washington, a small, rural, backwater town in New Hampshire.  Although our name implies a bit of bumpkin-citiness, we have steadily moved out of the Wannabe stage and into the bonafide Definitely stage.  Our farm is officially named All Good Farm (because It’s All Good.  Or, in true New England fashion…. It Could Be Worse).

We’re proud of where we live, and of our life’s philosophy, which is a phrase we frequently employ when embarking on something that has the potential of completely failing:

It’s all one big experiment.

Swamp Yankee Wannabes has evolved from a once daily random mind-spit to the mature blog you see today, or some such nonsense like that.  Here, Aileen can express any of her largely random ideas on Life, the Universe, and Everything, from politics, philosophy, and current topics, to antics of life on the farm.  Since most of these ramblings occur in the early morning before the necessary dose of caffiene has kicked in, she doesn’t vouch for any of it.

Thanks for visiting!


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