When we show our respect for the other living things, they respond with respect for us.----Arapaho Proverb

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Oh the weather outside is frightful.........what an excellent day for baking bread!  And that ALWAYS reminds me of my dear little Granny Dumpling.  Although she moved on many years ago, she left a rich legacy behind.  She was an enormously kind person with no malice in her heart toward any living creature.  Her crocheting was admired by all. Even after going blind she continued to miraculously turn out lovely afghans. 

But perhaps what stood out most (for me anyway) were her unbelievably delicious apple pies (made in a sheet pan, more like a strudel), and her homemade bread.  Ah, if I sit still and close my eyes I can still smell that wonderful aroma, like no other in the world. 

Years ago I wrote a short story about baking bread with my Granny.  I would like to share it with you today as a tribute to this beautiful person who was my Grandma.

A hug and kiss goodnight, first from Grandpa, then from Grandma, and I was on my way upstairs to bed. Although that second floor always made me feel more than a little uneasy when I was alone, with all its creaking and groaning, the comforting sounds of the TV downstairs, and my grandparent’s voices as they talked together, helped me to settle in for the night. Yet I never totally relaxed until Grandpa came up to bed. Soon, his thick, rich, vibrant snores would fill the second floor so completely and I could let go and fall into a peaceful sleep, feeling oh so safe and secure!

Sometimes Granny would be up shortly behind Grandpa and the house would moan and creak way into the night with the horse chestnut trees just outside my window sending shadows dancing eerily about the room, as their leaves rustled around in the breeze. But my favorite times, those special ones that are so thoroughly etched into my memory, are the times I would awaken in the middle of the night to the marvelous aroma of baking bread.

At first, I would just lie there, luxuriating, taking it all in, while listening to Granny humming those old World War II songs she loved so much, amid the clamor of dough board and scrapper, bread pans and the creaky oven door. I imagined how she would look, her lovely face all pink from the heat and exertion, with, perhaps, a few loose tendrils of hair in her face, and flour all over her dress, as she kneaded and pounded the huge pile of dough amidst a small mushroom-cloud of flour.

Before long, being positively pulled by the wafting scent, I would creep quietly down the stairs. Granny always smiled warmly and welcomed me; she never once sent me away. Those were such special times for me. I don’t think I ever felt closer to her than in those magical hours in the middle of the night, when time seemed somehow to stand still, as we baked bread together.

Since she always made plenty of loaves for sharing, there were bread pans all over the large kitchen in various stages of readiness. Some empties, greased up and ready to be filled, others covered lightly with towels, rising before they would go into the oven and those wonderfully fragrant loaves that were already baked, sitting and cooling down so invitingly. Some of my tasks were to keep Granny in clean bread pans, and to take a stick of butter and run it over those perfectly browned tops, making their golden crowns glisten so beautifully.

But my favorite part of all was when Granny said we needed to take a break. She would cut us each a huge slab of hot, freshly baked bread and we would slather them with butter and gobble them up, smacking our lips and licking melted butter off our fingers. Such a feeling of companionship and love I have never experienced before or since. Those were truly some of the most precious moments of my life.

I am so very sorry that as an adult I never really took the time to share those special memories with my Grandma or told her how very much they had meant to me. And yet, somehow, I am certain that she knows. Maybe it was even she, who tenderly whispered into my ear to remember and write it all down as a tribute to all those marvelous times we spent together.

All I do know for certain, is that each time I smell the aroma of baking bread, I am instantly transported back in time, to Granny’s kitchen, in the middle of the night. I can see her wonderful, smiling face and twinkling eyes before me as if it were only yesterday. And I am reminded to be grateful for these and all the many other special moments that have shaped my life into the wonderful adventure it has been thus far.

Well, there you have it!  So now, I'm off to bake bread, and Granny Dumpling....this loafs for you!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This time of the year I wouldn't think of leaving the house without my trusty camera.  Everywhere I turn is yet  another breathtaking shot that I just can't live without!  Allow me to give you a small sampler of what I mean.

There is a special spot along a gentle stream that speaks to my heart.  No matter what the season, it just feels like coming home.  I can breathe more deeply there and quite my mind.  If I feel ill, it quickly passes as I sit and listen to the water murmuring over the rocks. And yet, when so tenderly covered in a pure white blanket of snow, it is the most tranquil of all!

One of my favorite Winter sights are the ice flows that issue from the cracks in the rock ledges on the sides of the road like so many miniature frozen waterfalls. But rarely can one stop safely to take pictures.  These were taken on the fly as Frank drove the car as slowly as possible.

Look for the magnificent face in the rock behind the large veil of ice.

Yes, Winter's magnificence is in its gifts of ice and snow, but a camera (mine at least) does not come close to giving justice to these exquisite works of art.  You need to get out there and experience them for yourself!  It doesn't take very long really, and you need not even leave the warmth of your car. So why not take the road just a wee bit slower today and instead of riding the bumper of the car in front of you, relax a little and open your eyes to the exquisite beauty of Winter all around you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Each new season brings its own delights at our beautiful Beltzville Lake. In Winter, I particularly love to head down to Preacher's Camp Boat Launch to watch the ice fishermen.  Boy, you have GOT to be tough to enjoy THAT sport!!  I freeze just watching them from my car, window open, heater on the highest setting, and a hot drink in my hands. For me, that's quite enough roughing it, (at least where ice is concerned)!

Sorry, maybe it's only me, but standing on the ice hour after hour just doesn't seem like a good time!!  My toes ache just thinking about it!!!  Oh well, to each their own!

Over near the swimming beach they have lots of  picnic tables.  Look how Mother Nature has placed a pure white tablecloth upon each of them.  It looks as if she is preparing to throw some sort of formal reception.

I can't recall the name of the poet who once said that white birch trees in Winter resemble candles shining in the woods.  But I agree with him wholeheartedly!

This interesting tree looks as if it has a starfish on its trunk. How beautiful it stands adorned with its russet colored leaves in the snow.

You never know what you might come across at the lake and it pays to keep a sharp eye out for anything out of the ordinary.  We were just sitting at the edge of the boat launch in Pine Run, enjoying the beautiful view....

.....when I happened to turn my head to look off to the side. And there, I noticed a dark spot on the frozen lake.  I wondered what it might be and asked Frank to drive over so we could check it out.  I figured it was either a Canada goose or maybe a turkey buzzard.  It was sooo far off in the distance; hardly more than a tiny speck upon the ice really.  

But it was soon joined by another large bird.....

...and then a third! 

Focusing in with the light pair of binoculars we had in the car (the ONLY pair of binoculars we had in the car with us, ugh!), what did we see but a  whole family of bald eagles; Mom, Dad AND Junior too!

The largest bird, the female was busily dining upon a carcass of some sort, while the juvenile kept trying to convince her to share.  He tried first from one angle and then another,  all to no avail.  I guess he would just have to wait his turn and hope there was still something leftover for him.

Even when dear old Dad came along, Mom wouldn't share her meal with him!  I suppose in Winter, it's just every bird for himself!

Here is a shot of  Mom (on the right) happily munching away while her mate and child look on. Although it was my best shot of the day, cropped on my computer for a better close up, I don't have a zoom lens for my camera and was shooting blind (I couldn't even see them in the viewfinder).  It isn't a very good photo, but at least you can see them!

They entertained us for quite some time until they were frightened off by a cross-country skier passing too close for their comfort, without her even noticing they were there!!  How very sad for her!!

But the good news is, Frank has promised me a better camera (any day now), so DO stay tuned for what I hope will prove to be some VERY nice photos!!! 


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Okay, listen carefully because I'm only going to whisper this once.....I think 'the woodchuck who refused to hibernate' has finally fallen into a goose feed induced stupor!!  Well, he hasn't been seen in quite a few days now, so that's what I am hoping anyway!!   I imagine he will be dreaming about noshing as he slumbers.  A true goose chow junkie!!

Although he HAS been sighted even with the couple of inches of snow we had on the ground (tough guy!), I really doubt that he will want to plow through the additional 4 or 5 inches of the new snowfall we received last night.  Not with THOSE stubby little legs anyway!  So (hopefully) it's "Goodnight little groundhog, goodnight!  See you in the Spring.  Sweet dreams (of goose feed, of course)!"

Snow at last!!  Not quite enough for snowshoes, but at least we finally got some!!  Funny how the brunt of it is missing us this season.  So many places are being absolutely clobbered with massive snow totals, and we have a total combined Winter accumulation thus far of maybe 6 inches here in the Pocono Mountains!!!  Hmmm! Oh, but the view out my slider this morning was sooo lovely !!!   I took a couple of pix to share with you. This is what I see from my comfy perch right in front of the slider door.

I just love it when the snow coats everything in sight!!!

Notice 'who' is missing from this picture....yep, the woodchuck!  Let's hope it stays that way!  I mean, the little guy has GOT to get some serious zzz's in before Spring, no?

Well, I am off to continue doing the snow dance now to see if I can't conjure up our fair share of the white stuff!!  Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Hard to believe that it is the year 2011 already isn't it?  It seems like only last year we had the luxury of experiencing the turning over a whole new century.  Do you recall how difficult it was not to write 1900 back then?  And now, just like that, we are eleven years into it!!!  How very quickly time passes. 

Personally, I love the new year with  all its clean calendar pages and an empty day planner.  It fills me with anticipation to find out what I'll be filling all those fresh pages with THIS time around.  What adventures await me, what delights are in store; will there be travel involved? Who will I meet and what will I learn in the next twelve months that will further enrich my life?  Ahhh, the possibilities are endless!!  And isn't that grand?

At the end of every calendar year, I like to go through my old day planner to remind myself of everything I lived, the good and the not especially.  I always come across something delightful I'd forgotten about that makes me smile. It's good to be reminded every now and then of the rapid passing of time, lest we begin to take it for granted and become wasteful.  I want to cherish every single moment I have to enjoy this beautiful Mother Earth.

That reminds me of a very short story I wrote once that you might enjoy upon this New Year's Day!


As a young girl, I enjoyed many a glorious day at the beach, happily playing in the surf. But as the sun would begin its afternoon descent, I would diligently turn my attention to signs of that inevitable moment when my mother would come to collect my brother and me for the long trip home. When I saw her approaching, I would coach my little brother, saying, “Now! Here she comes! Don’t look back!” Then we would venture out just a wee bit farther for good measure, beyond the huge breakers. We would begin laughing and squealing with delight over each new wave, to drown out her feeble calls to us, aided most obligingly by the crashing of the surf. I knew this would always buy us just a little longer, as mother was positively terrified of the ocean and never ventured out beyond her knees. After a while she would just give up and head back to her blanket on shore to catch a few more rays. This gave us a good half-hour longer, when we would repeat the entire scenario once again, with, of course, the desired bonus of.….just a little longer, in my beloved ocean.

But then, all too soon, she would send out the big guns, my father, who had no fear of the water at all. He’d just march right up to us and say that it was indeed time to leave. I’d look up at him in feigned horror and disbelief, and reply with a delivery that would have merited me an academy award, “Oh no, please! It can’t be that time already! We had no idea it was getting so late! No warning whatsoever! Please could we have…..just a little longer?” It worked like a charm every single time!

Oh, please, just a little longer? That seems to be my life theme. I never get my fill of the great outdoors. Be it ocean, the woods, beside a roaring campfire, kayaking, it really doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’d just love to go on doing it for…..just a little longer. There is so much beauty and wonder to behold, that I never want to come back inside, and usually find myself begging whoever I am with for…..just a little longer.

And I am certain that when the powers that be tell me my time upon this beautiful Mother Earth is through, I will once again beg for…..just a little while longer!

Please, just one more sunrise… more sunset! Once more to feel the sun gently kissing my face, or enjoy the wind running its fingers through my hair and caressing my body like a familiar lover. Just a little longer to stand naked in a summer shower, or to lie on the ground beneath a thick blanket of stars!

Just a little longer to hear the marvelous melodies of the crickets and watch the dazzling light shows of the fireflies. Just once more to hear the dawn come alive with a burst of spring bird song…..just a little longer, please?.....just a little longer…..

Make the most of this gift of a New Year !!!!  And no regrets allowed either!!!!