On being thankful

“Here we go again,” Granddaughter Kass said one Thanksgiving mealtime as I prepared to “say Grace.” She knew I don’t normally subscribe to the pre-formatted version of my childhood:

Bless us Oh Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, amen.

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Dogs who have owned me

One thing I’ve learned about dogs is, “don’t buy one.”

The first dog to occupy my life was my mom’s, an English Setter named Devil, short for JAM’s Devil Dog (a story that is a dog for another bone.)

I was about 12 when Devil came into my life. We romped and swam and on hot summer days, he was a great pillow for a youngster taking a break from sweating chores.

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We are not alone

It was like standing on the edge of a pool, watching the trees change color as a river of fog flowed over the far ridge, filling the valley in front of me, flowing up the slope to gently, silently wrap itself around me.

The fog condensed on the leaves of pines and Scarlet oaks, collecting into drops that fell gently onto my shirtless shoulders. Trees shivered at the impending winter, shaking blizzards of expired summer raiment cascading to the soil. Even as they fade into the soil, the leaves create a kaleidoscope of color, illustrating the diversity of life surrounding me.

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Trust the experts

During the debate last week between Republican incumbent Dan Moul and Democrat challenger Marty Qually, a question was asked about our response to Covid.

Qually pointed out the challenge of getting everyone to believe the science.

“We’ve got to get to a point where we believe the people who are specialists in these areas,” he said. “We believe in the people who make our cars, that they won’t explode on us, but we don’t want to believe the doctors – people who we trust every time we go to get medicine.”

Moul agreed with his opponent about a need for personal responsibility, then added, “When you have elected officials that really don’t know a thing about medicine – they’re not scientists.”

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CWD and deer baiting

It’s fall in Adams County and the South Mountains of South Central Pennsylvania. A variety of native trees, like an artist’s brushes, color the land in oranges, yellows and reds as though they had been spilled on an artist’s palette. As I stood talking with Pa. Forest Ranger Scott Greevy, acorns fell from the surrounding oaks, crashing like gunfire onto his truck.

Deer hunting season was about to open and our main topic was an illness carried by Whitetail deer.

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Caution: contagious colors

When I was many years younger, I cut wood in summer, pulled it from the forest, then chopped and split it into stove-size pieces and stacked it neatly to dry for winter.

Winter was cold in those days, though as a youngster I only felt it when there were chores to do. Snowball fights and sledding were not cold. Bringing in firewood and water from the well were frigid activities.

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Hard cider and wilderness

More than 100 members of the South Mountain Partnership gathered Friday to celebrate “the Power of Partnership” in preserving and marketing the South Mountain Region. The gathering was held Friday at the Hauser Hill Event Center, in Franklin Township.

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Water standards leave questions

When I was a kid, I practically lived summers in a 500-acre lake, a nearby river and a few streams. My favorite activity after hours of hot labor was to peel down and join the loons and beavers watching fish. (The loons would eat some of them, but many years would pass before I got a taste for raw piscatorial cuisine. I still like it better cooked.)

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Where’s the money?

“Operator, will you help me place this call.” The opening line of a Jim Croce song reminds me of the days when my aunt was a Bell telephone operator – one of those women without whose assistance one could not make a telephone call to a town 15 miles away. Telephone operators in those early days had their fingers on the pulse – and the actual wires carrying the conversations – within their domains.

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We can almost see it from here

The evening news this week has treated us to newly recorded images of many objects which, at the time the they were sent to earth, may no longer have existed. In the time taken for light to travel from the as yet unknown end of the universe, stars previously unknown have birthed and died.

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The cost of irrigation

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Like when you have 45 minutes to get to a meeting so you decide to take a quick look at your email, and find yourself 15 minutes late.

Land development is like that. Twenty years ago, there was one traffic light on York Road – at the Walmart – on the York Road commercial district east of Gettysburg Borough. A few years later, there were six. The Giant had moved from in-town, where it was walking distance from many residents, to out-of-town, where it wasn’t.

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Mountaintops and beaches

It has been noted by people who calculate such things that if the 4.5 billion years this planet has been a-making were converted to a 24-hour clock, we humans have been here less than five minutes. Sixty-six million years ago, give or take a few months, what must have looked to the universe to be a small pebble hurtled through the blackness we humans would eventually call “space” and crashed into a larger rock circling what humans eventually would call The Sun.

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Wilderness is for wandering

Several years ago, when I was still a daily news reporter, I covered an event in which three busloads of youngsters from inner-city Philadelphia arrived to visit a potato chip factory. It was the first time most of them had been out of the city.

“We saw cows!” several of them reported excitedly.

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Diversity is the celebration

I often wonder what is going on behind the eyes of critters I observe as I wander the creeks and forests within range of my home. I went wading in a local stream this week and found a whole feast of mud puppies – it would have been a feast had I brought along a net – and an assortment of bugs and fish of multiple species.

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The time is NOW

The gunman was said to have been armed with a rifle and a handgun when he took control of a classroom in the Texas elementary school Tuesday.

“He shot and killed, horrifically, incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher,” (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott) was quoted in published reports later that day.

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