The whole valley of Turtle Creek – my polluted little brook – is manifestly greener than it was a hundred years ago, a time when much of the surrounding hillsides would have been strip mines or tailing piles and the trees would have been almost all cut for firewood or simply to clear pasture land to feed cows and horses.Read more "Gratuitous Nature"
On my way out to the running trail after an overnight shift down in Pittsburgh I passed countless roadkill animals, the same as every day – raccoons, opossums, deer, birds and dozens of others no doubt who had pulled themselves off in the bushes to die. Nearing my trailhead, I spotted one more, a mashed […]Read more "Turtle Heaven"
Life was good in Woods Dale. Springs fed the forested Appalachian valley, emanating from limestone aquifers that lay just a meter or two below the ample duff. Rain visited frequently as well, leaving sodden wood and leaves in its wake, drops falling with metronomic precision from living leaf tips to last year’s withering leaf blanket. […]Read more "Parable"
The news told me that this was the end of the world as we know it. But when I went outside, I noticed the sparrows gathering twigs for this spring’s nests. I noticed the skunk cabbage and ramps unfurling a rich green in the floodplain and reaching for the clear sky. I saw the squirrels […]Read more "The Good News"
I think we often underestimate how early environmental devastation came to the eastern states. Around 1800, the Connecticut River had been dammed and one of the inestimable runs of shad and Atlantic Salmon halted. Maine lost most of its evergreens (and hardwoods too) in the early 1800’s. It’s tall pines had gone for ship masts […]Read more "Rise of the Elk"
I’m starting something new today: “Fish Features.” The purpose is to showcase the variety of Pennsylvania’s fishes and to offer some education. This is how I’ve spent most of my life: studying fish and I’d like to share some of that experience and knowledge. In the months ahead, I’m going to feature as many Pennsylvania […]Read more "Fish Feature: The Alewife"
I took a hike with a couple of friends several years ago along Slippery Rock Creek here in Western Pennsylvania. He was a long time friend and a native-born American. She was a native of the former Soviet Union as one might have guessed from either her appearance or accent. She clearly loved to not […]Read more "How We Know Our Woods are Healthy – a Plethora of Critters"
Susan and I walked around a community park in Pittsburgh’s north suburbs one evening a few weeks ago, circling the little pond and looking for things that might be living there. Suddenly, we were confronted by a thug, a ruddy fellow with two upraised weapons pointed in our direction. He meant business and he wanted […]Read more "Invasion of the Cray – Cray"
“Tennessee Officials Confirm First Sighting of Mountain Lion in 100 Years” (The cat pictured is a lynx, as close as I could come with my own photos) It was a riveting headline that caught my attention yesterday morning on my Facebook feed. Fortunately, though, I’m in the habit of checking dates on anything billed as […]Read more "The Big News on Big Cats"
During the long hikes recounted in The Dying Fish, I encountered strange creatures from time to time, always when I was least expecting it. Normally though, I just saw signs that they were present, such as tracks crossing my own path. But always they were there, just beyond the ring of campfire light, watching me […]Read more "Twilight Creatures"