Falling into Autumn

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Ohio River

Sometime in the coming days, we must do the one activity that marks the end of a season. It’s not necessarily a season on the calendar, but it’s one that exists in my head. The day we pull our boat out of the river and haul it to Dockside boat yard means that winter lurks around the bends in the frozen landscapes in my head. The boat will be washed and winterized and ready for the tarps that will keep the snow off it for the next five months or so.

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Beaver River

It’s sad. The only consolation are these final days of boating on the Beaver and Ohio rivers as the palette of colors on the trees create paintings lush in yellows, oranges, greens and reds.

We took one of our last cruises late yesterday afternoon. The temperature hit 69 degrees, and Robert said, “Let’s stop working and get the boat out.” I thought he was nuts–for about two seconds–and then I jumped up from my computer where I’d spent most of my life for the past seven days as I finished formatting and editing my new novel.

We headed out with sweatshirts in tow and enjoyed the entire river to ourselves. Not many folks go out on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-October for a boat ride. We saw one lone fisherman and a coal barge on the water. We saw an abundance of color and basked in the glow of the slowly descending sun.DSC03395

Now we play with the calendar. The boat should be out of its slip by November 1. We watch the weather. We try to gauge whether we’ll have one more weekend day in which to enjoy the peek of the colors. Two years ago we waited one day too long. We were getting the aftermath of Irene’s trip up the east coast, but the weather forecasters predicted the rains and winds wouldn’t be in Pittsburgh until Sunday. By Friday afternoon, the winds began, and we barely got the boat into the ramp. And we wouldn’t but for the kind help of one of our fellow boaters who’d been fooled like us into thinking the weather would last for a few more days.DSC03388

Happy fall! How are the colors in your area?

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Now available for preorder – click on book cover.

Suffer the Garden

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

kitchen sink

kitchen window

We’ve been having a time with the weather so far this summer. For several weeks, the weather was hotter here in western Pennsylvania than in Florida. Then two weeks ago, the rains began. Our property sits on a plateau above the Ohio River and often our weather is different from what is reported on the local news station twenty miles away in Pittsburgh. This past week, we received heavy rainfall that wasn’t even recorded in the totals around the region. The weatherman said today that we’re double the average amount of July rainfall already. We might be triple that where we live.

Tomatoes do not enjoy soggy weather. They do best in dry soil. Right now, some are rotting on the vine. My husband must be vigilant in picking them before they fall. Also, we’re getting lots and lots of bugs on all the plants. Short of spraying with pesticides, we’re a little flummoxed with how to handle this invasion on everything from the raspberries to potatoes.

Alas, we do not starve. We’re eating something fresh almost every night. This past weekend I made our favorite bread and butter pickle chips.DSC02683Some of our plants love this weather.DSC02687 DSC02688Any suggestions for the bug situation that is wholesome for all living things? Hope your garden is producing and you’re enjoying the bounty of summer. Remember to eat local while the getting is good – local farmers’ markets are thriving right now.

For all your gardening needs - available on Kindle for $2.99

For all your gardening needs – available on Kindle for $2.99

Ohio River Watershed Celebration – Eleven Years of Good Stuff

The Ohio River is a Working River

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Rivers are vital to our lives. For decades, as we grew into an industrialized nation, we gave little regard to what we put into those rivers. Now, we understand we cannot destroy what gives us life. As a result, many of our rivers are slowly improving as we balance the needs of industry with the need for clean water.

I was heartened recently to attend the eleventh annual Ohio River Watershed Celebration  (ORWC) in Pittsburgh. ORWC is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Stream Restoration, Inc.Funding for the ORWC is provided by generous donations from private businesses, industries, foundations, and citizens.

Consol Energy was one of the major sponsors for the event.

The event’s goals are

  • To promote watershed stewardship, energy conservation, environmental education, and outreach.
  • To provide networking opportunities that form lasting partnerships among diverse community interests.
  • To celebrate and encourage environmental initiatives that support the continual recovery of the Ohio River Watershed in Western Pennsylvania and neighboring states through an enjoyable experience on the rivers.

This year’s event in late September brought out hundreds of students, parents, teachers, environmentalists, government officials, and business partners on a rainy Thursday afternoon. They gathered at the docks in downtown Pittsburgh, and without complaint about the soggy weather, boarded two cruise ships bound for the three rivers of the Steel City.

A rainy day in Pittsburgh

Ron Schwartz with Pennsylvania DEP told the crowd, “This rain is nature’s way of purifying the waterways.”

Nowhere is it clearer why a city exists where it does than in Pittsburgh. The Monongahela River flows from south to north to meet up with the south flowing Allegheny River. The two rivers meet at the Point in downtown, and the Ohio River forms and flows almost 1,000 miles westward to the Mississippi River. This year’s theme “Our Rivers – let’s get to the point” focused on how those three rivers shaped the course of the region.

The Point where three rivers converge

When coal was discovered in the hills above the convergence of the three rivers, the city was poised to become a giant during the Industrial Revolution. However, giants leave large footprints and within a few years of steel mills spewing out poisons into the air and water, Pittsburgh was a coughing and sputtering mess. The once bucolic journey of the rivers changed to an industrial highway.

Pittsburgh is home to the most bridges of any city in the world.

Thankfully, with deliberate consideration, the city has been reborn, and the rivers are testament to the rebirth. Fish and wildlife have returned.

Two cruise ships set sail from the docks. The Imagination Cruise overflowed with students waving from the upper decks of the Gateway Clipper fleet ship despite the pouring rain.

Imagination Cruise

Adults boarded the other ship for the Networking Cruise.

Networking Cruise Ship

Booths and presentations for both cruises provided information on how to protect watersheds. Other booths celebrated the joys of paddling the rivers and enjoying their recreational value. Yet others passed out literature on how to best maintain gardens and lawns while not harming the watershed. Before walking down the ramp to the docks, several vehicles in the parking lot showed visitors how gas guzzlers can become fuel efficient vehicles.

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Mr. Rogers’ statute watched over the ships from the banks of the Allegheny River on the north shore. The man who made Pittsburgh his home taught us all to love our communities. It’s a great day in the neighborhood, rain or shine.