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

History of development is in the waste piles

Long after the gas is sucked dry, the pipes will remain, rusting away in the woodlands.I learned about recycling from my mother. Dad was the inventor of the family, who bought what he needed to build what he wanted and then threw away the scraps. Mom just wanted the place to look clean so she could find the scraps she had saved in hopes that one day a thing once destined for the town dump would find usefulness in some new endeavor.

Continue reading History of development is in the waste piles

Winter is springing, already

A lone mockingbird daily stops to say hello.So far, the snowthrower is safely near the shed door. I suppose I should bring it out and see whether it will start. I gave my snowshoes to my nephew for Christmas. It’s weird in the middle of January to be thinking Spring! already, two months in advance.

Continue reading Winter is springing, already

Of Kudzu and poison ivy

Poison ivy is becoming more potent in warming climate.One weekend a few years ago, a friend needed some brush cut behind his house and I had a gas-powered weedwacker that needed exercise. I three-bladed through two-inch vines like a scythe through a hay field, working up a sweat scattering poison ivy chips all over that part of York County. Continue reading Of Kudzu and poison ivy

Neighborhoods and straight lines

Everything we think we know is in a book.Christmas brought me a book store gift card, and I had half of one left over from last year, and now I’ve got three new books and $4 remaining on one gift card. The young woman who tallied my purchase said I could use the money in the snack bar. She didn’t mention, but I’m pretty certain, there is about enough on the card for one cup of coffee. Continue reading Neighborhoods and straight lines

A thrilling ride, and it ain’t over

Willoughby Run wanders between woodlands and pastures on its way to Marsh Creek.This is the time of year for taking stock of experiences and places, and for celebrating having survived some of the riskier events.

Such as the time we left a four-engine airplane lying beside the runway halfway home from a U.S. Navy deployment to the Philippines. Continue reading A thrilling ride, and it ain’t over

Bending birches among the dinosaurs

Erosion has exposed the mountaintop - a tor - and maybe a dinosaur or two.Some 66 million years ago, the last of the giant dinosaurs ended their 160-million-year reign as the giantist wanderers on the planet. But never fear; their bones became permanently encased in the future crust of the  aforementioned cosmic sphere, waiting for future young archeologists to dig them up. Continue reading Bending birches among the dinosaurs

The colors are coming, the colors are coming

The colors are coming, the colors are coming.Like the Redcoats of an earlier era, I thought I’d outrun them. Fortunately, I was wrong.

I went north for a couple weeks, and came home with fall at crescendo behind me, not yet visible in front. As I look out now to the South Mountains, it almost has caught up.

Time travel at its finest. Continue reading The colors are coming, the colors are coming

Wild mushrooms and youth afield

A colorful fungal display, eat at your own risk. Josh Akers photo.Wandering in the woods is good for walkers, and likely good for people who know walkers. Numerous studies over the past several years have credited time spent among the trees as soothing for mental injuries of rush hour traffic and high pressure deadlines. Continue reading Wild mushrooms and youth afield

And the best pie is

Under construction, the winning pie?I often compare where I live now to where I was raised. Both places are rural, mostly agricultural, and growing, which is not all a good thing, but on balance, better than some alternatives.

On the other hand, a friend used to maintain that he was glad for cities and the people who lived in them. There are things he likes that can only be produced in cities, and he was glad he could go fetch those things and return home. Continue reading And the best pie is

Sunrise on Muscongus Bay

Sunrise over the eastern shore of Muscongus Bay.At 6:30, more or less, each morning, the eastern horizon becomes a strata of pink and orange as the sun glows, then rises over the peninsula that defines the eastern boundary of Muscongus Bay. Within an hour, Ol’ Sol has risen midway from the horizon, turned the thin cloud stratus a translucent oyster white, and burned a widening path like a celestial version of the earth-bound lobster boats that leave their wakes across the bay. Continue reading Sunrise on Muscongus Bay

It’s not only the turtles …

It's more than turtles ingesting throwaway plastic.“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – from “My First Summer in the Sierra” by John Muir.

We often treat waste and recycling as issues distinct from the items contained within the packaging. Especially the plastic bubble that allows us to see the product, and is such a bother to remove when we get it home.

I bought a package of stainless steel straws the other day. They came, with a brush to clean them, in a plastic shrink-wrap I needed a sharp knife to cut open. The plastic, devoid of a recycling label, went in the trash. When we buy something, we also pay for the non-recycleable packaging we toss in our trash. In afterthought, I reckoned I should have left the waste at the store. Continue reading It’s not only the turtles …

Call us by our names

Honey bee pollinates a sedum bloom.Summer is nearly done, according to the calendar, the sun and the flowers no longer surrounding my abode. The Resident Decorator has busily been removing weeds and dead stems.

Trees are beginning to give up their leaves – their annual purpose accomplished, oxygen replenished, shade given, water cooled to provide comfortable abode for trout and minnows – to carpet the earth with next spring’s mulch. Continue reading Call us by our names

Searching for Marsh Creek

The map says Marsh Creek starts about here.Marsh Creek was around long before David Pfoutz showed up. That was 1791, when the 22-year-old arrived in the area of Marsh and Little Marsh creeks.

He built a fulling mill – fulling being the last step in preparing wool fabric for making clothing – near the confluence of Little Marsh and Marsh creeks. It was one of three mills between the head of Little Marsh Creek and its intersection with Marsh Creek. Continue reading Searching for Marsh Creek

Patience, Grasshopper

Patience reveals treasures for both the hawk and those who attempt to observe it in action.My first notice of the Red-tailed hawk was when it came out of nowhere and perched in a tree at the edge of a farm pasture. I got the camera on it and grabbed one shot before it launched to the far side of the field, to perch atop a fence post at least 100 yards away from where I sat.

After a short time, the raptor relaunched and sailed, a foot or so off the ground to another post; it quickly dove from the post and glided low over the grass, talons extended, in what turned out to be a failed attempt at dinner and then, obviously frustrated, flew to an adjoining pasture. I know the feeling of knowing whatever I’m seeking isn’t going to be found where I’m looking. Continue reading Patience, Grasshopper

It’s a privilege

It is a privilege to walk trails where ancestors walked passed.The legal description of the 50-acres of wooded shore front my parents owned noted a huge boulder at one edge and a brook at the other. The watercourse was called Smelt Brook because every spring the smelt – anchovy-size minnows used mostly for bait to catch larger fish – would run into it to spawn.

Fisherfolk from town would show up, as well, and that’s the crux of this tale. They would bring their beer and build small campfires next to the creek, and be sociable. The smelt ran at night when kids my age were supposed to be in bed, so dad and his long-handled, fine-webbed smelting net attended the party alone.

Continue reading It’s a privilege

The reason peaches ripen in summer

Summer also is a time for outdoor farm markets.There’s a reason peaches ripen in summer.

Winter is too cold to eat them outdoors, which is assuredly the best place to sample them when they’re slurpy ripe. Each bite dribbles down the chin and stains the shirt with sugar-laden syrup.

Those suede-clad yellow and orange orbs are best sampled outdoors where a person can bend slightly forward, allowing the excess to drip on the ground, sweetening the day for ants and other creatures we would rather not invite into our abode. (They will come in anyway, come winter, but mostly they’ll remain invisible.) Continue reading The reason peaches ripen in summer