First solo flight

A boulder once named The RocketI believe I have come down with a nearly debilitating case of cabin fever. This constant grayness, in which I wake in the morning to a liquid sky the color of a World War II battleship dripping just outside my pillow, is like a scene from “The Twilight Zone.”

But I’m pretty sure Spring, if I can hang on long enough, will arrive in a spectacular explosion of soft colors. It’s happened nearly 70 times thus far, so probably …Granddaughter affirmed my hope New Year’s Eve.

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Anthracite black blankets and rustling leaves

Harley by the riverIt was a dark and stormy night.

The day had started the way a nice motorcycling day should start, sunny but not too much heat. My then 13-year-old son and I had spent two nights at Locust Lake State Park, near Mahanoy City, Pa. The stop had given us a tour of a coal breaker plant. LJ came away with a small bag of samples, one piece for every size the plant broke and sorted: stove, nut, pea, barley, and buckwheat, in order of size. I think.[pullquote]“I don’t see anything,” he said.

“That’s it,” I said.[/pullquote]

We ate at a diner on Main Street, populated mostly by old men who enthralled my eldest offspring with stories of the glory days of anthracite coal. It was they who told us of the Blaschak coal breaker at west end of town.

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First driver’s license

1954 Ford Ranch WagonGranddaughter Kass has a school project involving me supplying pictures from experiences of my younger self. One image she chose was my first wife and a 1954 Ford Ranch Wagon.

[pullquote]His test, his rules. My second try was a success.[/pullquote]That station wagon was pretty terrific. It had a three-on-the-tree shifter, and ran fine if one didn’t count that it burned more oil than gasoline. We and that car went places, many of which were night runs to the Ponte Vedra dunes south of Jacksonville Beach – before people with money bought up the land and erected Don’t Even Think About Walking On Our Sand signs.

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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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