(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 2/21/2014)
I was sitting here doing what I do when I heard a truck backup alarm on my street. There are not many trucks with backup alarms on this street, so I got up to peek out the window – to see the Cumberland Township plow stopped, and the driver walking back to where a neighbor was helping an 80-something gent back to his house through the snow.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 2/14/2014)
A few days ago, the first Eastern Bluebird of the season wandered into the yard. I watched as what I am pretty sure was a Tufted Titmouse sat on a branch and dug a peanut from its shell. I’ve been told robins have been seen in Littlestown. It’s seasonal shift change in the bird kingdom.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 2/7/2014)
My grandkids never have experienced swimming across lake and finding a cold spot in the warm water, a spring gushing water up from the bottom. I know exactly the location of that spring; as a youngster I swam the half-mile across the lake, over the very spot. There is something about feeling the life of the water, and knowing why that particular place is last to freeze in winter or where, since the lake never floods, the water goes next.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 1/24/2014)
Winters of my youth I remember being way more snowy than those of more recent vintage. I mentioned to an old guy one day that as cold and snowy as it now seems, there was a time when by late October the snow would came up to my, uh, posterior.
He offered the possibility that my posterior was closer to the ground in those days – but I remember being 17 and one afternoon at the start of hunting season pushing my way downhill through the snow below Bates’ farm, hoping to flush a deer out of the pines at the edge of the pasture. Instead, I bagged a pair of Partridge for dinner.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 1/17/2014)
The Tuesday Noon Coffee and a Movie Philosophical Society meets here, as does a Wednesday night knitting club. During the day, shoppers stop by for conversation and a cup of joe.
“Here” is Merlin’s Coffee, at the far end of a short alley at the Outlet Shoppes, on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Sometimes called by customers “the cat house;” owners Donna and Eric Burns, of Hanover, are deeply invested in rescuing cats, have named the business for one of the animals, and have decorated the interior with cat art and knick-knacks. All their employees agree to allow Eric and Donna to donate the tips to animal rescue efforts.
If this would come all at once, it could be an over and done problem. This winter is up to 22 inches, but it keeps coming down a little at a time and going away.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 1/10/2014)
The sun is well up as I write this, and still the temperature has climbed only to plus-two degrees Fahrenheit.
You know it’s cold when even in still air you generate enough wind just by walking to frostbite your forehead as the air flows between your wool stocking cap and your sunglasses. New-fallen snow is dry and fluffy, and squeaks beneath your winter boots or snow tires.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 1/3/2014)
The past week I have largely occupied my time dusting off memories. Literally. Like me, even in a box they collect mold and dust. Unlike me, I can use a soft brush to remove the bulk of the blemishes.
Stacked beside my table are a dozen Carousel trays, most of them full or nearly so, each capable of holding 40, 80 or 140 “slides” – color transparencies recording glimpses of my path to here, including images of Hong Kong mixed with frames of Sicily and Italy and Germany and Thailand, the memories stirred like a marbled cake.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 11/22/2013)
Fifty years ago today, Nov. 22, 1963, I was in Chemistry class, a Junior in high school, when we were called to assembly. We filled the bleachers, and our principal told us President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been killed.
That, we eventually would learn, was only the first of a series of assassinations of national figures.
Posted in Politics, Reminiscences
Tagged Abraham, Abraham Lincoln, George Wallace, JFK, John civil rights, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lincoln, Martin, Martin Luther King, MLK
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 11/15/2013)
Click thumbnail for larger picture
Bats are cool. They hibernate in winter, and in warmer months pump their leathery wings in pursuit of tons of, to me, bothersome bugs. Without bats, I’d miss out on the entertainment of the little critters flapping around the vacant lot next door, and instead spend my evening outdoor time swatting mosquitoes, masking the scent of forest with the aroma of citronella.
In one place I lived, a decade or so ago, we had a bat sharing our domicile. No sign of him during the day, but come night he’d flap around the bedroom. At first, my spouse didn’t like the idea, and wanted to catch him in a towel to take him outside.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 11/8/2013)
Click thubnail for enlarged leaf detail
Most of the color is gone along the creek, save some chicory-like bushes with red berries, and the occasional pin oak (I think). One crimson-plated youngster, an American Chestnut, maybe, or a Chestnut Oak or even a Big Tooth Aspen, stands alone among lesser, already nude specimens.
Though I spent my childhood years wandering through the thousands of wooded acres around my parents’ home, I am only beginning to recognize the trees by their leaves. I can tell by the bark, but I never paid much attention to leaf forms, satisfying myself with being amazed merely by the diversity of shapes and shades.
A few years ago, we turned out a large portion of the wastrels in the state legislature. We The People were nearly uniformly unhappy with lawmakers who had, in the dark of night, given themselves a payraise.
Unfortunately for the majority that does not vote, we too often have government by minority rule.
In the district of my home, our representative seemed to have a different excuse for each audience. He voted for it because he couldn’t stop it, he said. Besides, judges deserved a long-overdue payraise. He deserved a raise to pay for his lawyering education which, he said – after 12 years of being, by his own admission, essentially legislatively useless – would make him more effective representative of his district.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 10/25/2013)
The three-year-old took his dad and me to the zoo this week. The little guy is a chick magnet. Everywhere we went, he was so happy playing with dad, laughing and grinning, that young ladies 100 yards away were looking at him and smiling. Which caused them to look at me and smile because they knew I was with Peter, and Peter’s an obviously really cool little guy.
There’s something really great about watching a youngster discover new things, even – maybe especially – when he has no real idea what he has discovered.
First it was a ride on the Metro to Washington, then lunch outside the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Peter loves dinosaurs, and he knows which skull is the Triceratops and which the T. Rex. He found a Pterodactyl, which he properly identified as a bird, and oohed over the monsters behind the glass of a miniature Jurassic Park.
(First published in the Rock the Capital, 6/22/2012)
I graduated from Eighth Grade at Roosevelt Grammar School in 1961.
…we expect that all young people can learn all things, and should all go to college – or at least stick it out through high school. Hogwash!
When I was young, Eighth Grade graduation marked the limit of many students’ academic career. I was raised in rural Maine, where young people helped their families on the farm, and the school calendar was written around planting and harvest schedules, and the fall agricultural fair.