Category Archives: Outdoors

What I’ve learned about dogs

Grady the Golden tastes the running water.One thing I’ve learned about dogs is, “don’t buy one.” The only dog to ever live with me that I paid for didn’t stay long.

Actually, I think someone stole him to hunt deer – you could use dogs in Virginia when I lived there. I bet he didn’t object when the dognapper promised a life in the woods. In a way, I don’t blame him.

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Party time on Marsh Creek

Common merganser wonders ...LBelow and in front of the porch rail, the surface of Marsh Creek is smooth like a 200-year-old farmhouse window pane, smoothly rippled as the flow wanders and eddies its way to lower elevations. Reflections of creekside oaks and sycamores decorate the translucent surface of the flow, itself browned from nearby mountains’ muddied runoff – poor man’s fertilizer, some farmers call it –in rounded jaggies across the stream. A short way up the creek, mated Red-tailed hawks and a few Bald eagles prepare for their new families.

Across the glassine stage at the foot of the hill there pass pairs of Canada Geese, a few mallards and their current loves – Canada geese mate for life, mallards for convenience – and a clan of mergansers.

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Pairing up

It's your turn to grab dinner.Red-tailed hawks are warming to togetherness, indicating, more accurately than that four-legged critter from Punxsutawney, that the weather also is soon to warm. Of course, most Red-tailed hawks do not have television cameras staring at them to record whether they see their shadow while swooping down on an unsuspecting breakfast.

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Who will care for the deer?

A foggy morning on the mountain, watching cars go by.My column writing career officially began in 1974, on Adak Island, in the middle of the Aleutian Chain about four hours from Anchorage in a fairly fast turboprop aircraft.

I wrote about mostly outdoorsy issues and about wandering around the tundra in the company of a Bald Eagle named J Edgar, who in turn got his name from one of my favorite Mason Williams ballads. J Edgar and I lived in a hollow log on the back side of the island, which was a puzzlement to many readers because there were no trees large enough to be hollow to be found on the island.

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The world’s slowest river

An alligator plays Peek-a-Boo in the Everglades.I’ve visited Florida several times, even lived in the northeastern part of the state about five years in my 20s – but the want-to has been my closest approach to the Everglades. In my younger years, I must admit seeing it as just another tourist attraction, a huge swamp, home for some birds, and maybe a few alligators.

A recent airboat ride in the Everglades showed me it’s way more than a tourist attraction.

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No More Tears

George the Seagull pretends to not care while plotting his thievery..Coming up on a year ago, I visited an eye doctor. I was constantly crying. My eyes would not stop with the waterworks.

He told me the problem was I was not making tears, which was irritating my eyes, which was making them water like Marsh Creek after that rain we had at the end of July. He prescribed eye drops that would make me make tears so my eyes wouldn’t be irritated so they would not, well, make tears.

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Magic of travel outdoors

The coast of Maine is like very old chocolate, raged where it's broken off.Outside my window, the sky is falling. That’s what we say when the clouds, over-encumbered by wind, temperature and moisture, fall to the ground in large torrents of, usually, vertical rivers.

Meanwhile, flocks of eiders bounce in the waves, drifting upwind and down, occasionally diving, presumably for snacks, much as I dive for a box of Triscuits or a handful of grapes. We’re not so much different, the ducks and me.

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Odometers, unpaved roads, and tire wear

Her eight sensors strategically plugged into the web, Ms. Spider awaits the arrival of dinner.Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved.” Will Rogers said that, and I agree. I have invested a considerable portion of my travels searching out unpaved roads. Or at least roads less traveled.
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Moving “stuff”

I would rather be finding vernal ponds in in late summer.What is it with the female of our species that, when she is overcome with  a special kind of ambition that can only be satisfied by cleaning up piles of “stuff” collected by her mate.

It happened a week or so ago with my spouse. She suddenly decided the garage needed reorganizing. Translation: Seek out piles of stuff of questionable future need. Either it goes to my heirs, the recycling center, or placed on one of those flea-market apps that might get other collectors to pay money for my junk.

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What will we leave them?

The iconic trees of northern PA have been removed but their roots, and the pathways between them, remain.While too many of us are focused on the latest Trumpian tweets, there is at least one Election Day contest worthy of note right here at home. There are several of them, actually, but our gubernatorial contest is a good example of the choices we face as we move toward handing the Commonwealth to our grandkids.

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Paint the parking lots

Hot pavement boils water, fries eggs and burns bare feet.More than 30 years ago, a college professor told his class pavement was partially – and considerably – responsible for warming the planet. Every time two-lane country roads are widened to federal specifications – from two barely 8-foot travel lanes bracketed by gravel berms to 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot breakdown lanes – the local temperature increased by a few degrees. And with every new shopping center, with accompanying blacktopped parking lot, the local temperature jumps some more.

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