The cost and the promise

Monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield mark the positions of the various leaders and their forces.At the site of a battle that began the end of a war to decide whether any men should be allowed to own other men, we still concentrate on the battle rather than its meaning. The people over whom all that blood and treasure was shed remain largely ignored.

Continue reading The cost and the promise

Stuff happens

Plainly seeable even in shadow, if we look.Events of the past few months have been weighing heavily on many of us, I fear. The pandemic some of us knew was coming has kept us cooped up in our homes, if for no other reason than most places we would like to go – places we would meet for breakfast, parks where we would jog and picnic, or cubicles where we would work – have been closed.

Continue reading Stuff happens

It’s not the haircut

Easy to get around, and nowhere to go.I’m lucky. Or old. Or both. I don’t need a haircut.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked how things were going at my house, what with the stay-at-home lockdown we had been enduring. At the time, we had not been in it very long and, as regular readers will recall, I was, and am, a believer in the mental medication of getting outdoors to commune with nature.

So I told him after nearly 50 years as a journalist, I was used to working alone. I love wandering along or in a forest or a stream and making friends with the critters who live there. It makes one feel pretty special when those critters start to trust you. Continue reading It’s not the haircut

Life on the third rock

A mother robin incubates her three-egg clutch.A friend recently related a conversation in which he mentioned to someone that a certain insecticide has been declared dangerous to humans when used as directed. Roundup has been in the news the past several months, the subject of some court cases involving the cancer- and sometimes death-causing nature of the compound. Continue reading Life on the third rock

Siegfried and Roy

Afternoon Pastoral.Several years ago I was lucky enough to be visiting Las Vegas with in-laws who were able to score tickets to the Siegfried and Roy magic show. As though that were not enough, we had seats right up against the stage, as in my left arm could rest upon the stage. The show was as good as its reputation. Maybe even better. Continue reading Siegfried and Roy

Be social, from a distance

A pair of Mallard drakes wandering a stream.In some ways, this “stay home” situation has not been terrible. It’s been a couple weeks since I had to buy gas (which is almost a shame with prices so low).

On the other hand, keeping track of time is a bit more difficult. It is weird, for instance, when Friday I think of something I must do Sunday, and when I wake up Saturday morning, I spend the first hour reminding myself it’s not time yet. Continue reading Be social, from a distance

50 years, yesterday to an Ent

A resting place for a tired bird, a library for the rest of us.I think I started noticing trees when I lived in Alaska. I wrote a weekly column which my faithful companion, a Bald Eagle named “J Edgar,” delivered from our home in a hollow log to the editor of the community newspaper. Readers were not surprised “The Ol’ Tundra Stomper” (“Tundra Stomping” being Alaskan for “back country hiking”) had an eagle partner.

Continue reading 50 years, yesterday to an Ent

Thoughts on a new normal

A web of pipes direct natural gas from beneath Pennsylvania, cutting  webs into state and private land.The manager of a 24-hour grocery was faced with a reality of calculations. Some people shopped late at night, but not nearly enough of them to pay the bills.

“I am about to change the hours,” he said. “We will open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.”

Some of his customers would complain for a short period, he said, then they would adjust to the new hours. Continue reading Thoughts on a new normal

No place for no trees

An aging oak stands over its offspring and keeps guard on the creek.I visited my niece in Philadelphia last weekend. Wow! It was cold. A little scattered rain, but it was the wind funneling between the buildings that really cut into the weave of my fleece-lined jacket as we walked the half-mile to the BBQ joint where we ate a late lunch.

We passed a pipe from which steam poured out like fireplace smoke – and froze into an icicle on the grating mounted to keep critters and human fingers from touching the pipe. Continue reading No place for no trees