Star Wind


A star sourced wind blew through the stable,
busting open doors, scattering all the mares
to the corners of the night storm, leaving me forever.

In the morning, a strange chestnut mare ambled into the pasture,
Inquisitive, dipping her head, snorting, ears up, eyes bright.
Gorgeous, high strung, misused, good hearted, wild minded.

She shook her head, from a distance, I caught a glimpse,
the moment the sun flared her mane auburn,
like it does a hummingbird’s throat red .

Red-winged Blackbird



One of the most abundant birds across North America, and one of the most boldly colored, the Red-winged Blackbird is a familiar sight atop cattails, along soggy roadsides, and on telephone wires. Glossy-black males have scarlet-and-yellow shoulder patches they can puff up or hide depending on how confident they feel. Females are a subdued, streaky brown, almost like a large, dark sparrow. In the North, their early arrival and tumbling song are happy indications of the return of spring.

Last Taste of Winter


Earlier this week, a hike up the Tioga trail on Elk Mountain gave us a chance to taste the past Winter one last time.

A few snow patches remained on the trail, melting quickly, turning the trail below to nice, cool, watery mud.

The border between Winter snow, and Spring mud presented a perfect place to lap a few licks of the last of the snow, while soothing belly and paws heated up by the exertion of hiking  uphill.


CLIFFORD TOWNSHIP PA – What could pumpkins, a dinosaur nest, and a blue stone labyrinth possibly have in common? And what part does a grape vine tunnel, four colorful doors, and a Native America long house play? Add some youth to this fun scenario, and the answer is really far less puzzling than it might seem.

“We’re building something very unique to the area,” said Shirley Granger, a retired teacher and co-coordinator of the new Children’s Garden being built by the Clifford Township Historical Society (CTHS). “The idea was first conceived by Sandy Wilmot, our group’s President,” said Granger. “Sandy had visited a children’s garden with her twin grandchildren in Ithaca NY and came away absolutely enthralled with the concept. It didn’t take her long to plant the seeds of her idea among the members of the township’s Park and Recreation Committee and get things rolling.” Blending Mother Nature, the area’s own rich history, and its inherent ecology, Clifford’s one-acre Children’s Garden — which will be built adjacent to the current playground and alongside Cemetery Road — promises to be more than just a local playground. “Children’s gardens are a growing trend for active community playgrounds,” Granger added. “And ours will be a very special place where children can do more than play on swings and a slide … they’ll learn too, as the garden will offer excitement and fun in a safe, fenced-in-atmosphere that both youth and adults will find educationally enjoyable and literally enchanting.”

While Wilmot conceived and promoted her initial concept and she and Granger have countless ideas as to what to include in the garden, nearly a dozen local youth have already shared their own thoughts about the project and look forward to its construction throughout the summer. “The small-scale layout I’d presented to the Recreation Committee has served as a basis,” she said. “But during get-togethers in my kitchen, the kids themselves came up with some great ideas for planning and building the garden. The intention is that the kids take ownership of the garden … it will be theirs to help plan, paint, pull weeds, build, and enjoy for themselves and future generations.”

cths_may_press_release_1Elkdale’s ten-year old Tyler Keating and his sister, Isabel, 13, got involved “because this is going to be our garden, and we want to help plan what’s going to be in it,” Tyler said. “I love building things, so working on this garden is going to be fun. My favorite part is the life-sized dominoes in the play area because we can then crash down them down like I do with my erector set! I’m really excited about the music meadow, too, and the instruments made of recycled materials. We can bang on them and make lots of noise.”

“We can use our imaginations with some silly stuff too, since a lot of the garden will be made with natural materials and things we can create ourselves,” Isabel said. “My friends and I like history, most of us have grown up in this area, and there’s a lot to learn about things around us. The garden will also be a safe place for kids to play and learn, and there will be storyboards throughout the garden. Our parents and grandparents can come too. It will be good for the whole community.”

Keating’s neighbor and Wilmot’s part-time farmhand, 14-yr. old Josh Myers, said he is especially looking forward to building the long house. “Frank Little Bear will come back to continue teaching us about the Native Americans. We’ll learn how to scrape the tree bark to build the house and the surrounding camp. It won’t be just a teepee like on TV, but a real house that kids can go inside to play and learn while having fun. Frank Little Bear will be teaching us and telling stories about the times long ago.”

cths_may_press_release_2Among some of the many other special items planned for Clifford’s Children’s Garden will be a mini-mine shaft. “This will really be cool,” Josh added. “It will be a replica of the old Clifford Shaft, which was the area’s northernmost end of the anthracite coal vein. We plan to use actual coal like they used to dig.” The youth themselves also conceived the idea of the design’s four colorful doors, replicating entryways to the past that connect yesterday to today and lead to tomorrow. A sister garden will also be included amid the Native American Village. Helping to further make nature and history fun for everyone, corn will be planted upon which pole beans will grow, while pumpkins will sprout and grow beneath the stems and stalks, each plant helping its sister to grow stronger and healthier.

The model of the Children’s Garden is on display at the Endless Mountains Pharmacy in Clifford. As Wilmot explained, the eventual Children’s Garden will be cost free for everyone to enjoy but funding for the project is being provided through grants and local fundraising activities. “The Historical Society is applying for a $4,000 mini-grant from the Endless Mountains Heritage Region to help construct the garden, and it will require a 100 percent match,” she said. “So, local fundraising is very important. To help toward this effort, the kids have distributed pink piggy banks throughout 11 local Clifford stores to collect donations.” Tax-deductible donations may also be sent to the Clifford Historical Society, PO Box 161, Clifford PA 18413.

For additional information about the CTHS or to share and participate in their various activities, contact them at 570-679-2723, or at Known locally as “the little society that does big things,” CTHS Director Sandy Wilmot believes that the Children’s Garden will be another project that will make the Society, the youngsters involved, and the entire community proud.

Written by Union Dale freelance feature writer Karen Bernhardt Toolan for the Clifford Township Historical Society, with thanks to the Susquehanna County Room Tax Grant Fund through the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau.



Golf 6th Hole

Pennsylvania’s Historic Fern Hall Inn Invests Over $150K in its 9-Hole Golf Course

Clifford, PA (May 7, 2015)—Fern Hall Inn, home to an award-winning nine-hole golf course in Clifford, Pennsylvania, today announced the reopening of its course after a $150,000 makeover. The renovation was in response to a drastic increase in year-over-year traffic and growing prestige among the nation’s golf community. The investment has resulted in extensive course enhancements, with an emphasis on enlarging the driving range, refurbishing of the Pro Shop, and adding several dozen new golf carts. More information about the Golf Course at Fern Hall Inn is available at

Fern Hall, a member of the Anthracite Golf Association, caters to both local golfers and out-of-state visitors who make the journey to the famous and historic Inn, previously owned by the Johnson Family (of Johnson & Johnson fame). The updates to the golf course include an enhanced driving range, the addition of over 20 new golf carts, new tee boxes, reconstructed bunkers, new hazards, upgraded golf maintenance equipment, and the redesign of the Pro Shop, which is now fully stocked with new golf accessories and snacks. The Inn has additionally almost doubled the size of its parking lot to account for rising visitor numbers and in order to maintain the course’s idyllic setting; Fern Hall has invested in extensive tree work on the course and driving range.

Fern Hall Inn is home to the LPGA Girls Golf program of Clifford, PA. and runs a golf camp for those trying to improve their golf game. It additionally hosts a junior golf league taught by Golf Pro Art McLain, a professional golfer with more than twenty years experience. Although a public course, the Fern Hall Inn aims to provide golfers a private club experience.

“We want to create a high-end country club atmosphere for public pricing,” says Joe Agnello, Superintendent & Director of Golf Operations at Fern Hall Inn, who was instrumental in Fern Hall’s recent makeover. “To us, that means a flawless course, scenic surroundings, and a friendly and helpful staff that makes our guests feel special. “

In honor of its reopening, Fern Hall Inn will be offering a Golf & Bar menu to all golfers beginning May 5th. The golf course is open 7 days a week and offers golf membership packages for regular visitors. Please call 570-222-3676 to purchase a golf membership.

About Fern Hall Inn
Fern Hall Inn ( is a quaint and historically significant bed & breakfast on the shore of Crystal Lake, in Clifford, Pennsylvania. It sits on land that was originally granted to the first treasurer of the United States, Samuel Meredith, and then purchased by the Johnson family (of Johnson & Johnson fame). Today the property serves as an 11-room inn (each of which has original furnishings), a 9-hole golf course, a restaurant with indoor and fresh-air dining, a handsome, traditional bar area, access to Crystal Lake for water sports and Elk Mountain for skiing and snow sports.


CLIFFORD TOWNSHIP PA — The Clifford Township Historical Society (CTHS) proudly announces its summer schedule of events and ongoing activities. All are welcome to share their various and continually growing points of interest:

The Hoover School, located at 2236 St. Rt. 2014;

the Museum of Local History, 911 Cemetery Street; and

the Clifford Baptist Church, Church Street.

All township sites will again be open to the public beginning May 17th, and continuing throughout the summer every third Sunday, from 1:00pm-4:00pm.

Visitors are invited to view and share the many new items that have been added to the Hoover School displays, see and experience the major changes that have been made to the Museum of Local History, and enjoy the interesting tour of the oldest church in the township – which was built in Thomas Jefferson’s lifetime! Society members are present at all locations to share countless stories that are both fun and educational, as they explain the many historical facts about each site while making your Sunday afternoons thoroughly enjoyable. All locations are free to the public and handicapped accessible.

Come along and spend an historical Sunday afternoon – the CTHS promises an afternoon well spent for all ages!!

For further information or questions, please call 570-679-2723; or contact

Mountain View Garden Club 11th Annual Plant Exchange & Marketplace


The Mountain View Garden Club will hold its 11th annual Plant Exchange & Marketplace on Sunday, June 7 at the Clifford Twp Fire Company picnic grounds. The plant sale and exchange will be held from 1:00 til 3:00 with locally grown perennials being sold at great prices. You may also bring two potted perennials to exchange for two plants of like size or value. The majority of our plants come from garden club members but if you are cleaning out flower beds or separating perennials and are interested in sharing potted plants for us to sell, they can be brought to the picnic grounds on Friday, June 5 from 9:00 til 2:00. We ask that perennials be potted several weeks in advance. Many local gardens got their start from plants obtained at extremely reasonable prices at our annual plant sale and exchange.

The marketplace will be open from 11:30 til 3:00. Local artisans and businesses will be selling their wares, including photographs, jewelry, mustard, maple syrup, soaps and lotions, garden items, paintings, concrete work, garden equipment, baskets, shrubs, trees and much more. There will be food stands for those who want to grab a bite to eat while roaming around the marketplace. Live music will be provided by Eli Marsh.

For more information, contact JoAnn at 222-3591.



Wikipedia reports:

The ramp is a bulb-forming perennial with broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible. The flower stalk appears after the leaves have died back, unlike the similar Allium ursinum, in which leaves and flowers can be seen at the same time. Ramps grow in close groups strongly rooted just beneath the surface of the soil.