Northeast Pennsylvania Nostalgia: The Long Road Home

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There are two places where I usually go to concentrate and relax: a little place in Marin County north of San Francisco, CA - and my little homestead tucked away in the valleys of Northeastern Pennsylvania where I grew up. I recently took a trip back home to see some family, relax, and concentrate on some writing. My little home, which I lived in for about 5 years before going to college is now "abandoned," save for the occasional trips I take to "get away from it all."

It's a bit bizarre going back. It is so quiet there - almost eerily so - that I can't help but wonder if I was aware that I could hear the sound of my heartbeat when I lived there. And of course it's also bizarre because it brings back so many memories - that seem to have taken place many lifetimes ago, yet in reality is only six, seven years removed from the present state of things.

I took a walk up to the local park above my house. I wish I could say it was because I wanted to get some fresh air, but it was really because I can't get any cell reception for at least a mile from my home. It was rather cold, but enjoyable, especially after passing some "landmarks" - like trees that I recall recording in field notes when I was younger. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I saw some of the trees I helped procure through a community "greening grant" for the local park when I was about 14 years old...All were thriving except for one that seemed to have slumped over like an old man from lack of nutrients...not certain why.

After doing some calls on the phone, I headed back down the hill towards my Northeastern Pennsylvania home...

The windy road home...

A "self-portrait" in a broken mirror. I like the distorted view of the two roads in the mirror and me positioned in the center....It's like a metaphor for where I have come from and the path I've now departed on. The image actually quickly made me think of Van Eyck's painting of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami, and the painting of himself in the reflection of the mirror (below).

Nature's undertakers: How long will it take for this tree to turn into soil? I snapped this picture of some beautiful bracket fungus on my brisk walk home.

Passing by some more bracket fungi. While home, I revisited some of my old field notes and fungi samples I had taken when I was younger.

Looking back over my shoulder, South of my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It's a 0.8 mile walk up a windy hill to the main road. It provided a very good warm-up for those weekend Cross Country practice runs.

The road journeying North from my house, overlooking the local dairy where I would often walk to get a tasty treat.

Looking west from my stoop in Northeastern Pennsylvania. These are the woods and fields I would often explore as a young girl. It was a prime area, especially for a mycology nut.

Looking east from my stoop in Northeastern Pennsylvania: You can't see the stream below, but it is an integral component of the Tunkhannock Creek Watershed. I often would go barefoot in the stream to collect aquatic insects, like stoneflies, mayflies, and damselflies - and transplant them to a waterfall I built in my room to observe their lifecycles. The waterfall was just one of the many "open terrariums" I had to raise all sorts of insects - from assassin bugs to woolly bears (Isabella Tiger Moths) to elder borers.

I later created a partnership with the county's conservation district and my high school's Conservation Biology class to obtain data on the biotic index of the streams to get information on stream water quality. Biotic indexes quantify insect diversity and species types to determine health of streams. Though often overlooked, insects provide valuable information on ecosystem health. There are even some recent studies emerging to determine how global climate change is affecting insect dynamics.

Assassin bugs are named for the way they ambush and kill their prey. With deft accuracy, the insect uses it's proboscis (beak) to stab victims, injecting a toxic anti-coagulant that dissolves the victim's tissues. The Assassin bug then sucks up the liquefied tissues all while the victim is still alive.
Stoneflies are normally a sign of good health in streams. However, when the insect faces oxygen restraints in water, they will often do "push-ups" to keep the flow of water and oxygen moving across their gills.

Elder borers are considered pests to elderberry trees. It's a shame, however, considering their markings are so strikingly beautiful.

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