Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The weather forecasts were a little off the last day or two - thankfully. We did get a lot of rain, over an inch, and the temperatures did cool down into the thirties, but there was no snow, at least here on the hill.
The coyotes were yipping back in the woods last night. I started living here in 1973 and even then we heard coyotes and caught an occasional look at one or two. For some odd reason, many people seem to think the coyote is something new and there are a lot of really stupid rumors. I've heard stories about the coyotes attacking kids at a school bus stop; eating family cats and dogs; killing fawns etc.
Coyotes are wild animals and I am sure there could be cases of some contact which irritates some humans. I just can't find any documentation. But the hysteria remains and seems to grow. This past month there was a coyote hunt with dogs and the like by a group of people. I guess it was something to do for these folks, at least it got them outside. And I have heard rumors that at least one coyote was shot and killed. But again, there's no proof, no documentation, just common, small talk.
Every year there is an organized hunt in nearby Spartansburg and the hunters get a few and there are always pelts haning at the fur dealers place. Actually, the pelts are nice. So is the town of Spartansburg or "Sparty" for short. It's just a small place with a rather large Amish community, a lot of saw mills and farms. But even here in rural Sparty the rumors seems to persist.
I am not sure when people stopped thinking, questioning, and learning. If someone repeats a coyote story, it is taken automatically as Gospel and it spreads like the flu. "My cousins best friend told him that...."
I think something similar happened with the Pennsylvania primary on April 22 and Obama. People were just believing what they heard without asking any questions.
"Yup, the guy down the road swears the story about the the wild man eating little kids back in the swamps is true. He heard it from a very, very good friend the other night at the Dancing Slipper Bar and Grill."
Yup. Maybe people just don't have the time or energy to think things through anymore.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring Peepers and the "Dolly Varton"

About three weeks ago, when I first heard the spring peepers, I decided it was time to start recording some thoughts. Now April 28th, I am finally getting around to it.
It has been a topsy-turvy, typical April weather month in northwestern Pennsylvania. But we did have about two weeks of very nice, spring-like weather.
The spring peepers finally started singing on April 7th, which is a week or two later than normal. It's always good to hear them. It signals a new year.
A week later, I was able to plant peas and then lettuce, kale, mustard and spinach. Never really tried the mustard and kale; those seeds were free with a seed order and I said what the heck.
The tomatoes and peppers have been growing nicely inside the house and maybe next week the plants can out into the cold frame. I just don't trust the weather this week. The forecast for the next several days calls for night time temperatures to go below freezing with possible wet snow.
Last week the trout lilies started to bloom in the woods and the jack-in-pulpits started to emerge.
While nature was waking up, it seems Pennsylvania voters are still sleeping. Obama lost the state by ten percentage points on April 22 Hopefully, voters in Indiana and North Carolina will pick up the slack.
My favorite story ( I earn a meager living as a freelance writer) this past month was one of the memories of Caldwell Creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania. I was able to interview some fishermen, who are now in their mid-seventies, remember the creek when they were teenagers.
There is an old railroad that use to follow the creek. The train basically ran between Titusville and Dunkirk, New York hauling freight and passengers. In the early 1900's it was a popular passenger train called the "Dolly Varton". The service ended in 1937 and in the sixties the trains stopped completely and the tracks removed.