SPORTS & OUTDOORS

The Man Behind the Players

Kevin Colbert grew up the youngest of five boys living in a house on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The house had one bedroom and one shower. The five boys lived in the attic, and they were orphaned by the time Colbert was 15.

Laurel Hill Creek

In Somerset County, the cold, clear waters of Laurel Hill Creek run through forests and farmland, state parks and backyards, joining the Casselman River and, just downstream, the Youghiogheny.

Full Circle for the Square

At noontime on a summer’s friday, Mellon Square — the green public space that lashes together so many of Downtown Pittsburgh’s office buildings, hotels, and businesses — is bustling. Ties loosen, heels are exchanged for sneakers and brown bags and sidewalk-​stand hot dogs come out as office workers begin the brisk business of a…

The Ruffed Grouse

Imagine a bird like a chicken, but a little sleeker, a little more wild. Rufous, gray, with a tail that is barred with black and white stripes at the tips. When the tail pops open in a half circle, it resembles an earth-​tone parasol. What’s most visually arresting about the…

The Great Blue Heron

Years ago, I found a long, light bone with honeycomb latticework inside that probably belonged to a juvenile Great Blue Heron. After a winter storm, the bone lay in a pile of sticks that had blown down from the crown of an oak tree just off the 18th hole of…

Fall Run Park

The verdancy of summer is best experienced in a narrow western Pennsylvania ravine. These places are particularly inviting after thundershowers wash the air crystal clear, polish the leaves to a glistening shine, and fill streams with roiling water.

Gone Fishing

At various times in a fisherman’s life, it becomes desirable to try a new spot. Perhaps an old place gets too crowded. Maybe the fish move on. Or maybe one simply wants a change of scenery. Of course, truly knowing a fishing spot means getting there early, before the fish…

A Mountain from the Hill

The wiper blades arched back and forth against the SUV’s windshield, sweeping away an icy rain. Over the narrow, cobblestone streets and vacant, littered lots of the Hill District, DeJuan Blair drove his grandmother’s Buick Rendezvous.

The American Robin

The early bird catches the worm,” so the proverb tells us. As the light and warmth of spring slowly thaw western Pennsylvania, it’s likely that the American Robin will be that early morning bird with an unsuspecting wiggler in its beak.

At Your Birdfeeder

Next time you turn the heat up a notch or pull on a sweater, consider the birds. Birds that winter in western Pennsylvania wear their own down garments, feathers fluffed on cold days to trap warmed air close to their bodies.

Queens of the Court

If you think it’s hard to compete with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field, imagine competing with them for a chunk of the area’s sport-​obsessed, male-​dominated fan base. But two exceptional women, Agnus Berenato of the University of Pittsburgh and Suzie McConnell-​Serio of Duquesne University, are prying some eyes away.…

Magnificence in Montana

When his six boys were young, Jim Dolan and his wife Patty took the family every spring break on a ski trip, each time to a different location. They went to Aspen, Vail, Steamboat, Jackson Hole — you name it. Each year, the boys said, “This is great, let’s come back here…

The Great Horned Owl

When these nobles gather, they’re known as a parliament. They hold proceedings under cover of darkness and their debates typically end with sudden death for the commoners around them. Whoo are they? Owls, of course.

On Nesting

While attention rightly goes to our region’s green buildings, the greenest construction puts them all to shame. It uses only native materials, costs nothing and is totally biodegradable. And the winner is: Bird nests, so many and so varied that we hardly notice them.

The Rub of the Green

In the language of golf, there is always a “hidden gem.” The hidden gem is a golf course that is little known or even unknown, that someone has visited and then pronounced a marvel. The course generally has been sitting there, probably for many decades, known but to the locals.
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