Nature

The Cicadas Are Back

by Daryln Brewer Hoffstot
“I think they’ll miss the party,” said John Wenzel, director of Powdermill Nature Reserve when I sent him these photographs of a cicada nymph shedding its skin. The nymph hatched too early, he told me, and will have difficulty finding a mate.

Hiking in Laurel Hill State Park

by Thomas Saunders
Second only to Alaska, Pennsylvania hosts more than 86,000 miles of streams and rivers. Our state also provides hundreds of hiking trails covering elevations from near sea level to the highest point in the state, Mount Davis. While ridgeline treks often offer sweeping vistas, Pennsylvania’s best hikes also include forested…

Cigars With Wings

by Daryln Brewer Hoffstot
“But one day the swifts are back. Face to the sun like a child You shout, ‘The swifts are back!’ ” —from “Swifts,” by Anne Stevenson

The Tionesta Natural Areas

by Thomas Saunders
The largest remaining uncut forest in Pennsylvania is the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania. This remote 4,000-acre area is almost equally divided between the Tionesta Research Natural Area and adjoining Tionesta Scenic Natural Area, which are managed for science and aesthetic values.

Wild Bones

by Daryln Brewer Hoffstot
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 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.

Saving Bats and Great Fishing Along Spruce Creek

by Thomas Saunders
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.

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

Tryon-​Weber Woods Natural Area

by Thomas Saunders
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…

Getaway to the Pennsylvania Wilds

by Don Feigert
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…

Nate and His Bees

The bees arrived yesterday, via Two Day Priority, from an apiary in Ohio. Three pounds of them. Five thousand bees and one queen buzzing around in a wooden crate made of scrap wood kinda stapled together. There are screens on either side so that you can actually see the bees.…

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…

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.

The Allegheny River

by Thomas Saunders
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…

Contemplating the Death of Mice

I sit in my living room on a quiet winter morning dimmed by an opaque, gray sky. I hear crunching, first thinking a squirrel is playing on my roof, or winter snow and ice is starting to slide. The intermittent sound is persistent and peculiar. I walk toward it. It…
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