Category Archives: Adams County

“Walk into my parlor”

Ms. Cantrap repairs damage caused by a clumsy photographer.(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 9/27/2013)

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly; Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you may spy.” (from The Spider and the Fly, by Mary Howitt, 1799-1888)

This has been a bumper-year for spiders. In one corner of the lanai, there is a woven silken bug trap overseen by three very different breeds of tiny arachnids. In another place, suspended among some grass blades, a bowl web has been formed, about six inches deep, with a vase-like narrowed neck and round, closed-in, bottom.

The tiny, and sometimes not so tiny, creatures have always held me enthralled – how they can discover just the place to anchor their trap, and measure so perfectly the spacing between web strands, is the stuff, to humans, of engineering degrees, yet these little creatures just go out and do it. Continue reading

Happy Birthday to the Mighty Lincoln Highway

New Oxford train station just west of the square on U.S. 30“It was 3,000 miles of rockin’ rollin’ highway, a million memories long and two lanes wide” – From the lyrics of “Old 30,” by C.W. McCall.

The Lincoln Highway turns 100 this year. Actually, it is about 3,400 miles, New York to San Francisco, and 28 of those miles are in Adams County, Pa., passing through Gettysburg, less than a mile from my home.

Former Adams County Commissioner Harry Stokes once told me the name reflected Gettysburg, and its downtown Wills House, in which the 16th president spent the night before delivering those few words the “world shall little note nor long remember.” Continue reading

Guides, science, say Susquehanna safe for recreation, but smallmouth fishery needs help

McClellan Cemetery, Black Horse Tavern RdIn 2005, the Susquehanna River was listed by American Bassmaster magazine as one of the top five smallmouth bass fisheries in the United States. No longer.

Young smallmouth bass have, for the past several years, been displaying spots, lesions and decreasing populations – though the problem’s severity depends on who is describing it. Some sportsmen who earn their livings guiding and supplying fisher folk on the river acknowledge the bass are in substantial decline, and what once was a world class fishery is threatened, but insist the river remains a safe waterbody for recreation and sport fishing.

Young smallmouth are experiencing a seven percent mortality, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Director John Arway told attendees at a Susquehanna Summit last week in Lewisburg, “The big bass are still there – the problem is, the small bass aren’t there.” (Additional remarks by Arway in video at the end of this piece.)

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A walk in the woods

Grady the golden retriever looks down a forest trail.Rain had fallen in the overnight, and the piece of low-lying forest through which I wandered was mostly wetland, at the edge of a cattail-filled meadow. Beneath my hiking shoes the path was cushioned – not soggy, but like a carpet with a nice sponge under it. Ahead of me – he’s always ahead of me – Grady the Golden Retriever kept looking back to be sure I was following. If I stop, he’ll come back to me. If I reverse direction, he’ll come jogging past to take the lead on the new course.

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Bourne again

Gateway Theater is one of three cinemas serving Gettysburg movie-goersLast week, wife and I thought about going to a movie. The only interesting one was for kids, so we decided to wait for the granddaughters to be here this week. This week, there are three movies for grownups.

I wonder whether Jeremy Renner can live up to Matt Damon in the new attempt to squeeze more money from Jason Bourne fans. I wonder whether Will Ferrell can put the fun back into political campaigns. And I wonder … Continue reading

Collecting bridges

On one side, farmers and firefighters want faster access. On the other, residents like the limitations of age.I could tell you where this shot was taken, but that would spoil half the fun. If you know, give yourself 10 points. If you don’t, go take a drive in Adams County, PA, find it and then take your 10 points. (I’m really a generous scorer.)

Thing is, I enjoy history. Not book stuff, but real wander-around-in-it history.

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Community shows a way to reduce water use

Hillside development features rooftop solar panels and natural wastewater treatment

(This column was first published on Rock The Capital, Oct. 21, 2011.)

It is said that that much of the county in which I live is only 30-45 days away from drought. The land beneath the houses and pavement is nearly solid – compacted dried clay virtually incapable of storing water.

We turn on our tap and water issues forth, which we use to drink, wash ourselves and our dishes, and flush away our waste. Most of us remain unconcerned about how long that sequence will continue.

In 1998, one group of South Central Pennsylvania residents had a different idea. They created a community designed from the start to minimize demands on natural resources, including water. It seems to be working.

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Lucky find in a town beside the interstate

A youngster gazes through his reflection at cupcakes and other pastries behind the glass case
I didn’t know there was a Boonsboro, Md., until Granddaughter had a soccer game there. (I think her team came very close to winning.) All that running around made several of us hungry, so we headed into town to see what was available, preferably not something with a name we’d recognize.

We like to experiment with local places, and we found one, right there on North Main Street – the Icing Bakery and Café. I had a bowl of chicken rice soup, a couple of us had hot sandwiches, and the little guy in the picture had some of his dad’s. Lunch topped off with cheesecake cupcakes.

Follow the link to Icing Bakery

EPA regs not to blame for refinery shutdowns

One of the real reasons East Coast refineries are shutting downAccording to several sources, including the refinery owners, the U.S. EPA is not the source of their woes – unless we count a planned 25 percent increase in U.S. vehicle gas mileage scheduled by 2015. … Continue reading …

Telling any company to discourage sales of its product is … silly

A player takes aim at the pool table, observers behind him barely visible in the smoky hazeI lost two games of pool Sunday evening – the first games I’d lost in about 30 years. Maybe longer.

Of course, I hadn’t played pool in about 30 years. Maybe longer.

I had accompanied my son to the pool hall, where he is a regular competitor. I don’t know whether he’s ready for Las Vegas, but he’s pretty good. I am a good photographer, so I got several nice shots of him – through a low haze. There were a few guys and gals in the place who didn’t smoke. At least not directly.

I was raised with a father who smoked, mostly Phillip Morris, and a grandfather who smoked two packs of Tareytons a day. I swiped a pack from Dad’s stock … Continue reading …

Songs you’ll wish you knew, and a few you do

The Willys perform at The Underside: Dan Chase on keyboard, Todd Mudd on bass, Neil Ecker on drums, Bill Serfass on lead guitar and Bill Mitchell on rhythm guitar.If you haven’t heard The Willys, you’ve missed a treat. We caught them one recent evening at The Underside, a restaurant and pub under the Altland House, on Abbottstown Square.

Their music is difficult to define. It’s been called “classic rock and beyond,” which leader Bill Serfass said sums it up about as well as any other description.

To my ear – I only know what I like but I’m not good with labels – it’s a mixture of gentle Rock-and-Roll and ballads. As my wife and I sat enjoying an appetizer of potato chips and sauce (both of which are made in the Underside kitchen) the group started one song I thought could have played in a Jimmy Buffett concert, though it wasn’t a Buffett song. In another number, Continue reading

Adams County farm markets season open

A prospective customer questions a farm market vendor about herb seedlings

Wednesday was opening day for the Adams County Farmers Market Association. Nearly a dozen vendors, representing growers from around the county, set up their tents at the Gettysburg Rec Park.

There is nothing tastier than fresh stuff on the dinner table. Place two dishes of lettuce on the table, one from the grocery store plastic bag produce section and one from the farm market, then chomp into a sample from each. Continue reading