Nature

Wild Bones

My daughter brings home bones and piles them on the driveway: femur, rib, jawbone with a few flat teeth attached, dozens of thin arced parts. —from “My Daughter Brings Home Bones” by Jennifer Richter The American photographer Sally Mann, controversial in the 1990s for the photos she took of her naked children, has a fascination …

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Patterns at the Reservoir

With winter’s storms and frigid temperatures come delicate specimens of nature’s beauty, for those attentive enough to notice. Over several years, photographer David Aschkenas captured the natural art of ice patterns on the surface of the Highland Park Reservoir. Enjoy the beauty of freezing temperatures—without needing to bundle up—in this photo collection by Aschkenas. View …

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Highland Park: When Ordinary Becomes Dramatic

Photographer David Aschkenas has been walking through East End’s Highland Park for many years. When visiting the same area on a daily basis, you begin to see dramatic changes in the same landscape due to the changing of the seasons and weather changes. As Aschkenas shows in this hauntingly beautiful photo collection, something that looks …

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The Brush Hog: Thoughts on a Fall Field Cutting

Twice a year, in June and October, I cut the long grass and other species of plants, named derisively as weeds, in my fields. It’s a bit like cutting grass with a huge lawnmower. I use a Kubota tractor with a twin-bladed brush hog attached. The cutter is about eight feet wide. For most, no …

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Saving Bats and Great Fishing Along Spruce Creek

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has recently acquired a unique property in northern Huntingdon County that does two unusual things—provides public access for world-class trout fishing on Spruce Creek and helps save struggling bats with desperately needed habitat. In addition to the exceptional fishing, this 13-acre property includes a major limestone cave network that may provide …

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The Mysteries of Feral Bees

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery, The revery alone will do, If bees are few. —Emily Dickinson I am a failed beekeeper. I had two hives. One died the first year and the other lasted about five, from which I got beautiful honey, …

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Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area

There are many forests to enjoy in Penn’s Woods, but one of the best examples of a mature beech-maple forest can be found in Tryon-Weber Woods, in western Crawford County about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh. This 100-acre property was originally protected by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1976, and was just expanded last year. …

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Getaway to the Pennsylvania Wilds

Sometimes a person just needs to get away—from work, from people, from everything in the city. For me that means heading up to the hills and waters of upstate Pennsylvania. On one particular occasion, however, not even my hunting/fishing cabin would do. So I packed a one-man tent and planned to sleep out under the …

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The Secret to Finding Morels

“I can’t seem to give ’em up I just like morels too much I like other ’shrooms and such But I just like morels too much Oyster mushrooms mighty fine Seafood and some nice white wine Chanterelles’re tasty too In a wild mushroom ragout Storebought shrooms can be a crutch but I just like morels …

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Fleeting Blossoms of the ’Burgh

April showers bring May flowers, but May showers can quickly destroy the delicate blossoms on flowering trees. Sometimes the blooms only last a few days before a sudden downpour—of which Pittsburgh has been experiencing often these days—washes them away. In this collection of images, Pittsburgh photographer David Aschkenas captures the fleeting beauty by lighting the …

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The Allegheny River

In many ways, the Allegheny River is the centerpiece of our region. It traverses landscapes from wilderness to urban and provides recreational opportunities in many different places along its course. One of the most spectacular parts of the river is the free-flowing 125 miles of the middle Allegheny from the Kinzua Dam in Warren County …

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Making Maple Syrup

What is this?—syrup, maple syrup in a quart jar, syrup my grandfather made twenty-five years ago for the last time. I remember coming to the farm in March in sugaring time, as a small boy. He carried the pails of sap, sixteen-quart buckets, dangling from each end of a wooden yoke that lay across his …

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A Mountain in the Winter

People often hike through landscapes without having a real sense of the place. In the Laurel Highlands, there is an opportunity to get a “sense of place” before or after your trek, by taking advantage of a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the east flank of Laurel Hill and the Laurel Hill Creek valley, at the …

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Winter Patterns

“Where, twisted round the barren oak, The summer vine in beauty clung, And summer winds the stillness broke, The crystal icicle is hung.” —From “Woods in Winter,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Walking our woods in winter, I see the natural world differently than in the warmer months. Distracted by neither color nor blossom, I instead …

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Becoming a Deer Farmer

Deer may be the taxidermy industry’s essential resource, but living deer are making a much bigger economic impact now, thanks to the growing business of deer farming. Deer farming is growing faster than any other industry in rural America, according to a study by Texas A&M University. The business provides jobs to tens of thousands …

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The Art of Taxidermy

The Victorian Era is known for its décor, literature and scientific developments. However, alongside the works of Dickens and the birth of photography, a long-dead style of art re-emerged in Victorian homes: taxidermic animals. That art originally began as a way for scientists to showcase an animal’s biological features and was used by ancient Egyptians …

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What a Rack! The True and Weird Story of Antlers

Doug Lovstuen saw movement first, then his quarry. The average buck’s antlers are seven points, but this one had the biggest antlers he’d ever seen. Sweat dripped down his neck. He aimed. And the buck bolted. Lovstuen’s shot grazed the buck’s neck, stunting its right antler. Two years later, after its gigantic rack regrew and …

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Pittsburgh Quarterly Readers’ Top Garden Photos

We asked our readers and the Pittsburgh community to submit photos of their gorgeous gardens and unique backyards. The results are in! Below is a selection of our favorites. Fox Chapel Golf Club’s Tennis Bed The Tennis Bed at the Fox Chapel Golf Club borders the front lawn and tennis courts, providing an explosion of …

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Hornets’ Nest

Anyone looking at the back of my house would see it—the lamp just outside my back door stuffed with hornet accretions, the nest shaped like a rugby ball but twice the size. “What the hell is that?” “Hornet’s nest.” “Jesus.” Yes, what would Jesus do? Some days, I stand a few yards away, safe, and …

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Garden Warfare

Having a vegetable garden sounds like a gentle, relaxing and easy hobby. Dig a few holes in the dirt, put a few plants in, water, and before you know it—bushels and bushels of pest-free, perfectly ripened vegetables in the summer. Anyone who gardens knows how much a load of hooey that is. Gardening, if done …

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Seeing Autumn Through a Spider’s Web

“I had never paid much attention to spiders until a few years ago. Once you begin watching spiders, you haven’t time for much else—the world is really loaded with them. I do not find them repulsive or revolting, any more than I find anything in nature repulsive or revolting, and I think it is too …

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Finding the Waterfalls of the Middle Allegheny

When the last Wisconsin glacial age reshaped North America more than 10,000 years ago, it excavated the Great Lakes and carved out the Middle Allegheny River Gorge southward from the current-day Allegheny Reservoir in Warren County down to Emlenton in southern Venango County. There, far above the river, the steep slopes send streams tumbling down …

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