Nature

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.

Great Allegheny Passage

On May 21, 1975, a small train rolled out of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station in Pittsburgh. At the head was a yellow, red and blue Chessie System locomotive, #6600 with asleeping kitten on the side. It was followed by a gleaming stainless steel Amtrak Silver Dome, #9401, and…

Staying Close to the Plow

Outside Neal’s Harness and Tack Shop in northern Lawrence County, cars and pickup trucks park alongside Amish horse-​drawn buggies. A row of gasoline-​powered washing machines, a sideline of Neal’s business, squat in a row beside the entrance.

The Origin of Spring

My benchmark for the onset of spring follows neither the facts of planetary motion, nor the predictions of a rodent. In my mind, spring starts when the daily average high temperature begins to increase after bottoming out in late January. By using this ruler, my favorite part of the year, spring,…

The River Starts Here

For the Allegheny River, a journey of 352 miles begins with a single drop of water. Emerging from a hillside in rural, wooded Potter County, in northern Pennsylvania, the trickle swells to a river that provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, 72 miles of navigable waterway for…

The Perfect Snow

I’m both amused and dismayed by media weatherspeak. I’m amused by the hyperbole of Storm Watcher Central and Severe Weather Tracker. You’ve seen the flashing alerts across the screen.

Crystal Clear Designs

Winter slows the primal routines of nature. Trees shed delicate, food-​factory leaves before they freeze. Forests subsist on sugar hived in roots protected from the cold by the consistently above-​freezing deep soils.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Row your boat

You should see Pittsburgh from down here, with nothing but a shell of wood and a few threads of spandex between you and the Allegheny, the water slapping at your elbows and the skyscrapers jutting like exclamation points at the end of the river.

Farewell to a Summer Love

August afternoons resemble the blazing passion of new love: intense and torrid. August evenings are the antithesis: gentle and serene. They are a mature experience that is like a long, tender embrace.

The Dead of Winter

I have often tried to find the beauty in a frigid day. I have frequently searched for loveliness in a meadow swept bare and brown by icy winds. I have repeatedly tried to uncover elegance in snow-​wrapped woodlands.
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