Category Archives: Around The Hill

Hay Bales

Hay bales populate fields throughout the neighborhood.

One day dotting the landscape, the next day, as if by magic, and a lot of hard work, fields left empty readying for next cutting.

It’s the peak of the summer, evidenced by nights that now dip into the 40’s, and the Clifford Fireman’s Picnic!


On the way to breakfast last week, this fellow was out for an amble through the state game lands.

I rolled down my window, and hollered “Hey, hey you!”. 

He made it clear that he had heard me by taking a couple of faster steps in the direction he was headed.

He also made it clear that he had absolutely no interest in conversing with me, as he refused to even look in my direction.

As another car approached, I put my arm out the window, directing the other drivers attention to the bear.

“See the labrador over there?” I asked, as at this distance, the bear could have easily been mistaken for a dog at first glance.

“Why that’s a bear!!” the woman exclaimed as we all laughed.

“I’ve been coming here for 68 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen a bear!” It was nice to share the experience with her.

Later breakfasting at Arlo’s a couple and their two young children sat next to us. We told our story, and the young boy told his story of having seen two dogs chase a bear just the day before!


Baling Hay

Hot, hard, dusty work, baling hay.

Not living on a working farm growing up, I’d sometimes help neighbors bale hay.

Sometimes out of a sense of community, sometimes for the workout, sometimes for fun. Kinda.

Nowadays, hay is packaged in large round bales; machines do most of the heavy lifting. The bales are sometimes protected from weather, but don’t need to be stored in a barn as do smaller square bales.


Herrick Twp. Sets hearing On use change

The Herrick Township Supervisors will hold a public hearing
Wednesday, Jun 13 at 6PM to hear testimony on the application of

Elliot and Kim Ross for conditional use approval for a
drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility

at their property, 306 Sugar Hill Road, Union Dale, Herrick Township, now operating as Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant.
The Hearing will be held at the Municipal building, 1350 Lewis Lake Road, Union Dale.
From the 6 June edition of the Forest City News

Stone Bridge is open and operating the inn and restaurant business as usual, serving dinner Thursday through Sunday. Also – Party on the Patio started last Thursday! Check Stone Bridge website for more entertainment!

These irises are keeping purple in the yard as the lilac blossoms have faded.

White Geese

Meeting to allow substance abuse recovery center in Herrick Township
June 4 @ 7:00 pm
Herrick Township supervisors and the public will meet to discuss a change of use application allowing a substance abuse recovery center to operate on the current Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant property. Monday June 4 7PM Township building


Unlike their cousins the snow geese who pass over in very early spring on their way back north and rarely rest in the neighborhood,  this couple floats around a local pond most of the time.

Wikipedia reports:

In Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, the original domesticated geese are derived from the greylag goose Anser anser. In eastern Asia, the original domesticated geese are derived from the swan goose Anser cygnoides; these are commonly known as Chinese geese.

Both have been widely introduced in more recent times, and modern flocks in both areas (and elsewhere, such as Australia and North America) may consist of either species or hybrids between them.

Chinese geese may be readily distinguished from European geese by the large knob at the base of the bill, though hybrids may exhibit every degree of variation between the two species.

Neighborhood Recovery Center – Unconditional Love

I stepped on the scale this morning with trepidation. I had eaten four meals yesterday and topped off the evening with some sweets and a couple of glasses of wine. Still, I found myself snacking on some turkey before getting to bed a little before nine. Seemed like there was a big hole in my belly that needed filling.

The scale indicated that I had lost three pounds since yesterday. Work has been busy. The kind of work that makes you eat and sleep as much as you can fit between shifts, and sometimes that still is not enough. Strenuous but healthy. After a couple of ibuprofen, hurting knees and feet at night were good to go by morning – a bonus to not go into work sore from the day before!

As I was hurrying to put together a hearty breakfast in preparation for todays shift, the phone rang. A neighbor who I rarely see called and asked if I was aware that a meeting to discuss replacing Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant with a substance abuse recovery center is scheduled for tonight 17 May 2018.

She was unable to confirm details for tonight, but an article in the Forest City News notes another meeting on the issue will be held at the Herrick Township meeting June 4 at 7pm.

Tired, I became angry at the interruption. I have office work to do. I have another nine or ten hour shift waiting tables before catching some sleep, meet with a client in the morning, then back for another shift. It’s been like this for days. So looking forward to a day or two off. Really off.

But then I remembered the conversation I had with a coworker yesterday.

I then remembered that a couple of years ago, I spent too much time with a strong Internet connection and no adult supervision. I did research. “Why is there terrorism?” “Why are so many people addicted to so many things?” “Why are so many people just so damned unhappy?” “What makes people meaner to each other than they need to be?”

I answered all these questions to my satisfaction; more importantly, though I am not the first to do so, I have identified the antidote

Just for a moment, let’s all put on our big boy and big girl knickers, open our eyes, and recognize that there is no way any substance, legal, illegal, healthy or unhealthy, could become so pervasive in our society without government complicity.

There is no opioid epidemic. There is an opioid for-profit industry.

Whether the result of industry lobbyists of not, for quite some time, those in the medical industry had been encouraged to treat pain aggressively. “With today’s (natural and synthetic opiate) chemical compounds, no one need suffer unnecessarily.” Though every individual is ultimately responsible for their own decisions, as a civilization, the deck has been stacked against us by those with influence.

Now that the danger of opioid use has been publicized and manufactured substances are being restricted on the white market, the floodgates have been opened on the stream of opiates on the black market. “Afghanistan has been the world’s leading illicit opium producer since 1992 (excluding the year 2001).” Quoted from “The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime 2010 World Drug Report).

I do not know how many planes come and go from Afghanistan and eventually end up in North or South America daily. My point being, that one way or another, this industry will insure that, regardless of demand, the distribution of opiates will remain uninterrupted into our communities.

And now people want to install the recovery center component of the opiate industry in our neighborhood.

In the Forest City News the people who want to open the center state that “A higher standard of people will be coming here” and that “(their) belief is, when insurance runs out, we do scholarships for people,” “Our main ingredient is unconditional love. Not a place to just make money,”

Personally, regardless of a clinical definition, I believe it to be unhealthy when people are categorized as higher or lower standard. People are people. We all suffer. Sometimes from lack of food or sleep, but mostly we all suffer from lack of love. We all struggle with our respective demons. No youngster ever said “When I grow up, I want to have an addiction problem.”

My suffering belly was satisfied with food. My suffering tired head remedied with sleep. Luckily, I have been able to fill the hole in my heart caused by the loss of long time friends to death or circumstance, with strenuous work rather than substances.

The most durable antidote that I have found to all this?

As mentioned in the Forest City News article: unconditional love.

Yesterday, in getting to know a coworker, and to relieve the monotony of setting hundreds of place settings for a banquet, we chatted back and forth. A handsome young man, intelligent, articulate and a good worker.

“Where do you live?” “Quite a drive” I replied when he named a town south of Scranton. He was quite brave and candid I thought when he told me that he was recovering from opiates. He had lost everything, his license to practice in the health care industry, his girlfriend, home and money due to opiates.

“I lived at a substance abuse recovery center in Carbondale, but had to move. There was opiate use inside the center, and I just felt I had a better chance of staying sober if I got out of that environment.”

Without any questions from me, it seemed that he wanted to talk. I listened.

“My friend from the center, a friend I say, because we were trying to help each other stay sober, died in my arms last week. Opioid overdose.”

“We’ll pick up tomorrow where we left off today.” He said.

I was impressed by his composure. I fought back tears. If he wants to talk more, I’ll listen.

I’ll do my best to listen and to love him. Unconditionally.

May Snow

The last of the snow clings to Elk’s trails.

Monday, snow coated the near green lawn for a while until overcome by afternoon warmth.

Tuesday, the back door thermometer registered well over 80 degrees.

Thursday, Friday disguised themselves as realio-trulio Summer days.

Friday night wind threatened strength, but resolved passing through the neighborhood, leaving it still.

Don’t like the weather here? Wait 5 minutes!

Eagle Moon

The first snow shoe hike on Elk this week had me breathing heavily, most of the time looking at the snow a few feet in front of me.

At one point, having to take a break, I looked up to see a large bird meandering on a thermal.  I tried to imagine what the bird saw from its vantage point, how large an animal I appeared to be from that perspective, and if I looked at all appetizing.

His coloring was pretty close to a turkey vulture, but the breadth of his wings,  the pace of his flight, and the flatness of his shoulders confirmed that I knew this fellow. 

He had been frequenting the mountain the last couple of weeks of ski season.

“A pair must be nesting nearby.” someone observed.

Eagles have been more prominent lately around area lakes; this youngster seems to prefer the views of the trails of Elk.