Mountain Home, April 2024

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Porgy & Bess: A Concert of Songs by George Gershwin with the Chorus of the Southern Finger Lakes

• Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (100th anniversary of its premiere)
Get swept away by the grand symphonic music of this concert of all American composers.
Bryan Pezzone, piano Dimery Alexis, soprano
Shouting Out by Nkeiru Okoye Programs subject to change. FREE Under 18* Students with ID $15  Adults $25/$45/$55 *Must be accompanied by a ticketed adult. BUY TICKETS ONE NIGHT ONLY! GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY! 607-936-2873 • 23-24 Concert Season
Fred Redd, baritone Leviathan
Robert Dusek

14 Twin Tiers Yarn Crawl

Wild and wooly adventures skein on.

20 My Spirit Animal

There’s more to small-stream fishing than the fish.

24 Under the (Book) Covers

Corning group gives pre-loved tomes a sequel.

30 Mother Earth

The distinctive divide in God’s Country.

34 Back of the Mountain

Make way for spring.

The Happy Fisherman

Pete Ryan’s life is one long, crazy, funny, dangerous, strange, and lucky fish story.

What Is a Trout Boat?

And why are there twenty-five of them in an old winery in Hammondsport?

Knives Out

Kevin Sorenson is a master at chink, chisel, flick.

Cover illustration by Darryl Abraham. This page (top) Pete Ryan , courtesy Pete Ryan; (middle) trout boat by Chris Espenshade; (bottom) Mexican blue obsidian knife by Brian Halton.
14 30

APRIL 6, 2024


Penn Wells Hotel

Concert - 7:30 PM • $30 Dinner - 5-7 PM • $30 Reservations Required • Call 570-724-2111

These events sponsored by:

E ditors & P ublish E rs

Teresa Banik Capuzzo

Michael Capuzzo

A ssoci A t E E ditor & P ublish E r

Lilace Mellin Guignard

A ssoci A t E P ublish E r

George Bochetto, Esq.

A rt d ir E ctor

Wade Spencer

M A n A ging E ditor

Gayle Morrow

s A l E s r EP r E s E nt A tiv E

Shelly Moore

c ircul A tion d ir E ctor

Michael Banik

A ccounting

Amy Packard

c ov E r i llustr A tion

Darryl Abraham

c ov E r d E sign

Wade Spencer

c ontributing W rit E rs

Chris Espenshade, Kevin McJunkin, Ken Law, Pete Ryan, Karey Solomon

c ontributing P hotogr AP h E rs

Chris Espenshade, Anne Foster, Brian Halton, Karey Solomon, Linda Stager, J. Michael Wiley

d istribution t EAM

Amy Woodbury, Grapevine Distribution, Linda Roller

t h E b EA gl E Nano

Cosmo (1996-2014) • Yogi (2004-2018)

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The happy Fisherman

Pete Ryan’s Life Is One Long, Crazy, Funny, Dangerous, Strange, and Lucky Fish Story

One of the essential fishing stories is Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. It’s ostensibly about Santiago (as many fishing stories are, though, it’s about much more than fishing), the old fisherman who left his Cuban village in his little skiff to pursue and catch a large marlin and return to his village a hero. After days at sea, he finally “hooked up” with a big marlin of his dreams, which was so big it dragged poor Santiago’s boat around the Caribbean for days. Finally, the big fish tired and Santiago tied the marlin to the side of his skiff and headed home. Before arriving home, sharks attacked the marlin and, although Santiago attempted to dissuade them, they ate his big fish. When he returned home, all that was left was the head and skeleton, and Santiago was not the hero. It is a great story that won Hemingway a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953 and the Nobel Peace Prize for writing in 1954.

See Fisherman on page 8
Making a rainbow connection: Pete Ryan caught this big trout in 2001 behind his house on the Upper Allegheny River. Courtesy Pete Ryan

Closer to home, there are a couple of unusual stories about fish and fishing that originated in the Finger Lakes region in the late 1880s. One concerns a seven-year-old boy, Harry Morse, who was fishing with his mom in a small boat on Keuka Lake near the shore of Brandy Bay. While Mrs. Morse was carefully watching her line on her side of the boat, Harry, being a seven-year-old, was apparently bored, and hung his head over the side of the boat to look for fish. The next thing Mrs. Morse knew, Harry is covered with blood gushing from his nose while a large trout is flopping around the bottom of the boat. Yes, Harry had caught and landed a big trout with his nose! There is a photo of young Harry in a doctor’s office with a large cut on his nose and a large trout beside him! Crazy. Funny. Dangerous.

There is also the Seneca Lake Serpent legend. As the story goes, in July 1899, according to a report in the Rochester Herald, the lake was calm as the side-wheeler steamship, Oretiani, was cruising down Seneca Lake. While the passengers were enjoying themselves (wine consumption), a large object appeared in the distance. The captain ordered the boat to slow down, and, as they approached within 100 yards, the object appeared to be a capsized boat. As the Oretiani sped up to help, the object raised its head, opened its mouth, and displayed two rows of large white teeth before diving down and disappearing. Much like the Loch Ness Monster, the existence of this alleged creature has never been confirmed, despite many other sightings. But who knows?

A’ Smelting We Will Go

A nose for fish: In the 1880s, Harry Morse (top) literally caught this trout with his nose on Keuka Lake; Pete Ryan sniffs out fish more figuratively, including this permit fish caught at Turneffe Flats in Belize in 2007, one of the most difficult fish to catch on a fly in the flats.

I, myself, have lived a life full of fish stories, and it all began in the Finger Lakes. In the summer of 1965, I was a senior in high school. The Ryan family had moved to Seneca Falls at the north end of Cayuga Lake (no reports of a Cayuga Lake monster, thankfully). The following spring, three of my high school baseball teammates asked if I wanted to join them smelt fishing. I had never heard of smelt fishing and inquired about what they used for bait. They laughed and explained smelt are small, four to six–inch fish that swim out of the lakes and up the tributaries by the thousands to spawn, and are really good to eat. “I’m in,” I said, and asked if I needed any equipment. They told me to bring hip boots, my baseball bat, and a flashlight, and they would pick me up at 8 p.m. Our destination was a tributary on the east side of Cayuga Lake. Our armamentarium consisted of two short-handled nets, two baseball bats, flashlights, and two buckets. I was told two of us with the bats would beat the water when the smelts started running, and the other guys behind us would net the fish and dump them in the buckets. After we entered the water, it was too dark to see any fish, but soon we could feel them bumping into our legs. I started beating the water with my bat, and the smelt, being stunned, would float to the surface to be netted by my teammates. This went on for two hours, and it was total mayhem! The smelt came through in surges of ten to fifteen minutes, and then nothing. We ended up soaked and freezing, but had filled the buckets with smelt.

The mom of one of the “fishermen” told him to bring the buckets home and she would have a fish fry dinner for us the next evening. We did, and she did, and they were delicious. Today, the “smelt runs” are a thing of the past, as rainbow trout have since

Fisherman continued from page 6 Courtesy Pete Ryan Courtesy Yates County History Center

been stocked in the Finger Lakes and enjoy eating the smelt as much as we did. Happy.

Fishing on the Fly

During my last semester at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, my wife, Debbie, myself, and our daughter Erin spent spring break at my in-laws home in Emporium. Debbie’s dad, Pat Lewis, was a fly fisherman. Pat bought me a Cortland fly-rod-reel/line combo, and we went fishing. I really enjoyed it, and Pat was very patient and a great instructor. After graduation in late May, we had four weeks before I left for officer training in the Air Force Dental Corps. I realized catching rising trout was really exciting, and purchased some Light Cahill dry flies. One evening I headed way up stream in Rich Valley with my new flies, arriving at a deep, dark hole with trout rising everywhere. I was so excited on my first cast I broke off my fly on the trout that had risen to eat it. My hands were shaking attempting to tie on another fly as the trout continued to rise. I finally got a fresh fly tied on and continued casting and catching rising trout, being careful to gently raise my rod tip as trout ate my fly. As darkness approached, the moon appeared over the mountain in front of me and shed enough light to allow me to continue fishing. I looked at my watch and it was after 10 p.m. I reeled in, cut off my fly, put my new toy in the trunk, and headed back to the Lewis home. As I walked in the back door, so happy and proud, Debbie was, to put it mildly, irate. She’d been so worried that she almost called the state police to start looking for me. Dorothy, my mother-in-law, gently put her arm around me and told her daughter, “Relax, and be quiet. Pete was fly fishing… he could have been in a bar drinking or chasing women!” I loved my in-laws then and every day until they took their last breaths many years later. Their daughter was certainly my best catch. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky.

Fido Finds a Fish

Our two years spent in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at K.I. Sawyer AFB were great. The snow is measured in feet in the UP, and winter starts in October and ends in May. I had time there to further develop my new-found passion. I subscribed to Fly Fisherman and Field & Stream, and joined their book club. I bought fly-fishing and fly-tying books every month. I purchased fly-tying materials, hooks, and a fly-tying vise from the oncecelebrated-but-now-defunct Herter’s catalog.

In the UP, the summers are short but the days are long. There was still daylight at 10:30 p.m. because we were so far north and west in the Eastern Time Zone. After having dinner and putting our daughter to bed, I was able to enjoy several hours of fishing before dark. I most often went out the back gate of the base and fished the Chocolay River that flowed twenty miles north into Lake Superior. Most often, the MP (military policeman) would wave me through the gate when I was leaving or re-entering the base. One evening after fishing, as I approached the gate, the MP was not sitting in his little shelter, but standing outside waving me to slow down and stop. There was a large German shepherd at his side. I rolled down my window and asked, “What’s the problem?” He ordered me to get out of my vehicle and unlock the trunk, this See Fisherman on page 10

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Well cast: Pete Ryan in 2009 with a large brown trout caught on the Upper First Fork of the Sinnemahoning River above Costello in Potter County.

I had no unauthorized information hidden in my trunk. He put his hand on his holster and ordered me to step out of my vehicle and unlock my trunk. I complied as the dog barked, jumped in my trunk, sniffed around, and jumped out.

“There are rumors of anti-war supporters (Vietnam War era) trying to enter through this gate to blow up planes,” the MP said as he looked in the trunk. “My dog is trained to smell explosives. I guess he never smelled a fishing vest with a few fish in it.” We both laughed and he apologized for the inconvenience. I told him to forget it and thanked him for doing his job. During my two years at K.I. Sawyer AFB, I fished the Escanaba and Chocolay Rivers and never saw another angler. Strange.

Mea Culpa from an Author

In July of 1976, my family and I left Michigan and moved to Coudersport. I had signed a contract with Cole Memorial Hospital to join their dental staff in the new

in the ’70s, trout season in Pennsylvania began in mid-April and ended on Labor Day. I never had a chance to wet a line in that first summer, but set up a “flytying room” on the second floor of our house in downtown Coudersport and tied dozens of flies to prepare for the opening of trout season that next April. Hatches, authored by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi, was my favorite book. It was termed as a “complete guide to fly fishing the hatches of North American trout streams” and concentrated on the northeast. The authors had done extensive research on mayflies, their habitats and life cycles, complete with fantastic photos. A new style of dry fly was also introduced, called a “compara dun.” Mayflies are aquatic insects that live only in high quality streams. They are a major food source for trout. Their life cycle is egg > nymph > dun > spinner. A knowledgeable fly fisherman knows what different mayfly hatches to expect each month—they come in all different sizes and colors.

My last winter at K.I. Sawyer I had

instructed how to tie the deer hair wings on their compara dun, resulting in flies that would not float. I decided to tie a rooster hackle around my compara dun wings, and they did float, creating a “hackled compara dun.” Opening day, 1977, I am excited and head downstream along Route 6 from Coudersport to fish the Allegheny River. I find a bridge several miles below town with only two vehicles parked nearby. I park and discover two anglers way downstream and a fly fisherman quite a distance upstream. I gear up, step in, and start fishing upstream with my hackled compara dun tied size and color to match the mayflies that are beginning to hatch. I believe the flies are Quill Gordons, known to hatch in midApril here in this part of Potter County. I see several trout rising, tie on my fly, and make a cast near the rising fish. I have a trout rise up and eat my fly, get it in, and release it. I continue to work my way slowly upstream, catching and releasing a dozen or so trout in the next couple of hours. I

See Fisherman on page 12

Courtesy Pete Ryan
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Hooking a friend: Skip Gibson (left) and Pete

rainbow trout on their first trip to the Missouri River in Montana.

he had probably never heard of the new fly pattern, compara dun, and that I was using a Quill Gordon compara dun. He asked if he could see my fly.

“This is not a compara dun,” he said, inspecting my fly. “Your fly has hackle tied around the deer hair wing.” Explaining that I had tied dozens of compara duns as described in the book Hatches, and then read the article in Fly Fisherman telling that the wings as tied in the book was incorrect, etc, etc. He stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Al Caucci. Sorry about the mistake in the book, but I guess your hackled compara dun is a very effective fly as you ‘hammered them’ this morning.” Remembering the author was from New Jersey, I asked why he was in Coudersport fishing the Allegheny on opening day. He said he read Night Fishing for Trout, authored by Coudersport’s own Jim Bashline, which describes the great trout fishing in the Allegheny River in Potter County. He was on his way home from an outdoor show in Buffalo and decided to stop. Happy. Crazy. Serendipitous.

It’s All about the Trout

In the next two years, I organized enough fishing friends to form the God’s Country of Trout Unlimited. In doing so, I was

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Ryan in 2008 with a

fortunate to meet and become good fishing buddies with the Northcentral Regional vice president of PATU, Skip Gibson. During the past forty years, Skip and I have traveled and fished Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New York, Maine, the tributaries of lakes Erie and Ontario, Tennessee, Florida, Belize, Mexico, Patagonia, Canada, and eastern and western Russia. On many of these trips, we were often accompanied by other fishing buddies from God’s Country TU. What a life is mine, being able to chase my passion all over the world! Crazy. Strange. Happy.

As February rolls into March, I am sitting on my wooden bench in my backyard overlooking the Allegheny River watching the cold, clean water I love pass by. I now understand why the Senecas call my river the Ohi’yo, meaning “beautiful river.” I ponder how I landed here—a kid who grew up in the suburbs of NYC yet blessed to have lived 90 percent of my adult life in the PA Wilds. My home is in the center of the county referred to as God’s Country, and surrounded by trout streams. Was it dumb luck, prudent planning, fate, or divine guidance? I can’t say, but I’m truly thankful. Crazy. Happy.

Dr. Pete Ryan is a retired Coudersport dentist, worldwide fly fisherman, founder and president of the God’s Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and member of the Alfred University Sports Hall of Fame.

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Courtesy Pete Ryan

What Is a Trout Boat?

And Why Are There Twenty-Five of Them in an Old Winery in Hammondsport?

From the mid-nineteenth century to this very day, the business of the Finger Lakes has been recreation. People flocked to the pristine, deep lakes to fish for lake trout. To row. To court. To breathe the crisp, fresh air. To relish the calm and quiet, interrupted only by an occasional steamboat. As watermen throughout the Finger Lakes saw a growing need for stable yet swift crafts, the trout boat was born. In Keuka, Keuka Park, Branchport, Hammondsport, Penn Yan, Dresden, Seneca Falls, and elsewhere, craftsmen built up to thirty trout boats per year per craftsman to supply sportspersons, guides, commercial fishers, and resort hotel fleets. The trout boat era was essentially complete by the early 1940s, as inexpensive motors revolutionized personal watercraft, and the trout boats were left to rot in boat houses and barns.

But, a collection of trout boats survived,

in large part due to the efforts of the history-minded members of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum in Hammondsport. The museum interprets all aspects of nineteenth and twentieth century boating on the lakes, but it is best known among antique boat enthusiasts for its incredible collection of trout boats. They currently have more than twenty-five on display, with additional examples among their 117 boats waiting to be restored before presentation to the public.

The museum does not display just the empty boats. Instead, the period rods, reels, net, bait lanterns, oars, and tackle boxes are included to provide a better understanding of the context.

Clouding the boundary between craftmanship and artistry, each boat represents an individual’s concept of the ideal rowing craft from which to pursue the lake trout lurking in deep waters. Although there are

overall similarities—twelve to fourteen feet long, two to three seats, one or two pairs of oar locks, cedar or cypress planks placed edge-to-edge on oak ribs—each boat shows differences in materials, design, construction techniques, and aesthetics. From the beginning, trout fishermen had to troll deep to effectively catch large trout. The sportspersons would release a heavily weighted baseline, from which a series of auxiliary lines placed live bait or artificial spoons at various depths. None of this worked, of course, unless the boat was moving, and the person was the power source. Trolling was a different game from what we see today.

The boat-builders are thoroughly researched and well documented. One of my favorites is Seymour Smith. A carpenter, fisherman, and waterfowl hunter, Smith apparently began boatbuilding circa 1920 to augment his income as a commercial

Chris Espenshade Rows, rows, rows of boats: At the Finger Lakes Boating Museum in Hammondsport, there are rooms and buildings devoted to different “species” of boats, including the trout boats shoaling here.

fisherman supplying the resort restaurants. These person-powered vessels made on the Finger Lakes combined aesthetically pleasing and practical design, and an unrivaled mastery of materials, methods, and hand tools. In addition to his trout boats, he carved waterfowl decoys, today highly collectible.

But, the inexpensive outboard motor, cheap fiberglass, and the post-WWII spread of aluminum manufacturing sounded the death knell for trout boats.

The museum is not just row boats. It’s situated on an eighteen-acre campus, formerly the Taylor Wine works. In addition to the trout boats, it has locally made examples of sailboats, canoes, early inboard and outboard boats, and a variety of classic outboard motors. The steamboat history of the lakes is addressed through a series of scale models. The museum is expanding its display spaces, with exhibits planned on competitive racing sculls, and the underwater archaeology of the Finger Lakes.

The museum also maintains workshops for renovating/restoring historical crafts, or building replicas using traditional tools, materials, and methods. Boat-building classes are offered to the public, generally occurring one weekend monthly over a six-month span. The class is currently about halfway through the construction of a replica Penn Yan Aerodinghy, a nine-foot rowing dinghy. The boat-building class is full, but you can watch canvassing on April 27, painting and oar-making on May 25 and 26, lumbering the boat on June 29 and 30, and varnishing on August 3 and 4. The museum also offers classes in paddle-carving and oar-making.

When good weather arrives, the museum will renew operation of the tour boat, Pat II. This boat has been renovated as a completely electric vessel. It provides hour-long cruises in Keuka Lake, and the craft and crew can be rented for special functions. May 18 will be the 100th birthday of Pat II, with a public celebration.

Looking to the heavens rather than the waters, the museum will host a total eclipse party on April 8. June 8 marks ten years since the museum moved to its present location. There will be an antique motor swap meet on June 15, a motor restoration workshop on October 19, and a motor winterization workshop on November 9. In July, the museum sponsors the two-day Wine Country Classic Boat Show and Regatta on the Hammondsport lakefront (dates to be announced). The museum will offer several eight-hour boater safety classes from April through August. During the boating season, the museum supports the FLBM Keuka Dragon Boat Club, through which the public can participate in the growing sport of dragon boating. (They are canoe-like vessels made to look like dragons.)

As Ratty observed in Wind in the Willows, “there is nothing— absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.” Please embrace that sentiment broadly and spend some time messing about in the boats of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum. Invest in a membership, stroll the grounds, take a class, and get out on the water. And if you happen to have an old trout boat in the back corner of your barn, call me. Just kidding; please call the museum. Find FLBM at 8231 Pleasant Valley Road, Hammondsport. Call (607) 569-2222, or visit for more information.

Chris Espenshade is a professional archaeologist, an outdoor columnist, and a resident of Wellsboro. He is working to add wildlife photographer to his resume.

Pleasure crafts: This solo sailboat (top), on display in the main building, and this trout boat are examples of well-crafted vessels from a time before aluminum. (2) Chris Espenshade

Twin Tiers Yarn Crawl

Wild and Wooly Adventures Skein On

Yarn crawl? What’s a yarn crawl, who does it, and why? Simply put, it’s an organized event for fiber enthusiasts during which they explore the yarn shops of a given area during a certain period of time. And, as every fiber enthusiast knows, friends are great encouragers, ever ready to say, “You need that!” and “Look at that color!” and, even better, “Get it or regret it,” as the likelihood of coming across “it” again is probably nil. No skein off your nose to buy it now rather than later, right?

The Twin Tiers Yarn Crawl, April 27, is an event intended to stir the hearts of every knitter, with the additional incentive of a passport, picked up at the first shop visited, to be stamped at subsequent stops. Participants are then entered into a chance to win prizes. It’s also “Local Yarn Shop Day,” a fiberholic’s holiday designed to celebrate the unique curatorial sensitivities of each independent fiber emporium’s proprietor, this as opposed to the mass-market predictability of big box purveyors of crafts materials.

The Twin Tiers Yarn Crawl was the

brainchild of Jean Gray, owner of Wooly Minded (91 East Market Street, Corning, and “I always thought it would be nice to have a yarn crawl around here,” Jean says, “But there weren’t enough yarn shops in a reasonable radius. When Barbara Vassallo opened Rabbit Row, I thought this could be the opportunity. And that’s how it all came about, in the beginning of 2022.”

Each store might highlight something special. For Jean, last year was a chance to share her excitement about a yarn from locally-raised alpaca. This year she’s planning to highlight the work of a local indie dyer. “Every store will pick out their own thing,” she says. “We want our stores to be their own individual selves.” The spirit is collegial rather than competitive, with each store encouraging their regular customers to visit the others.

“Each shop usually has some specials only available that day,” says Rabbit Row’s owner Barbara Vassallo. “For instance, I carry Megs & Co’s Local Yarn Shop Day colorway in her Organic Merino Sport base. I’m working on having a few trunk shows with new

yarns and shop samples to be inspired by. I’ve already lined up Clean Cashmere for an in-shop trunk show. They are farmers providing traceable, US-sourced cashmere with strong ethical and environmental standards. Plus—it’s cashmere!”

Rabbit Row has just moved to its new location at 24 East Market Street (, where there’s added room and an important subtraction—no steps now between sidewalk and entrance. “Each year we’re amazed by how many people come and how far away they come from,” Barbara says. “It’s exciting to meet them and see their projects. And it helps boost the small business community, while the customers get a wide variety. None of the stores carry the same things, so there are so many opportunities.”

Furthest south is the Blossburg Company Store, (224 Main Street, Blossburg,, in a spacious high-ceilinged former restaurant, where proprietor Tonya McNamara can often be See

Yarn on page 18
Four purls worth unraveling: Wooly Minded (owner Jean Gray, left), Rabbit Row (owner Barbara Vassalo, bottom), Blossburg Company Store (owner Tanya McNamara, right); and Fiber Arts in the Glen (top middle) make up the Twin Tiers Yarn Crawl on April 27, which winds through Corning and Watkins Glen, New York, and Blossburg, Pennsylvania. (3) Wade Spencer Courtesy Fiber Arts in the Glen


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seen knitting, or helping someone else with a pattern. She stocks many Pennsylvania-based yarns including Kraemer Yarns, Glenfiddich Yarn from Border Leicester sheep raised in Millerton (some of it blended with silk), and Shetland yarn from Sweet Grass Farm in Wysox. Tonya particularly likes combining two strands of yarn to create new possibilities. She makes kits from these, packaging the yarn with an easy-to-make pattern. Her shop also features the work of other local craftspeople, including handmade baskets and basketmaking supplies, work bags sewn from upholstery fabric, clay buttons, and handwoven rag rugs. She says she’s got a particular soft spot for the rustic yarns of Canadian spinnery Briggs and Little.

“I hope everyone has a lot of fun,” she says. “We all have something a little different.”

Fiber Arts in the Glen (315 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, pulls out all the stops. Co-manager Ann Pettit says, “We are absolutely thrilled to be part of this, and we love planning for it! We try to have special things in the shop. This year we’re having a trunk show of Peace Love Yarn. Owner/dyer Liz Fiorimi from Delanson, New York, will be displaying her yarns and garments made from them.” Also on the menu are refreshments and a specially dyed colorway for the shop.

“It’s a wonderful day, a great event,” Ann continues. “Last year four friends from Wisconsin decided to make a weekend of it, also checking out the wineries and restaurants. We also get people from Rochester, Buffalo, Binghamton, and Canada.”

“Too much fun to miss,” says repeat participant Andria Stafford. Maureen Minds, looking forward to her third Yarn Crawl, says this is a great activity to pursue with a buddy. Last year she and a friend began in Watkins Glen, drove down to Blossburg, then ended the day on her home turf in Corning. “I’m embarrassed to say I bought something at every shop,” she admits. The pair enjoyed the scenery and sense of exploration in their drive around the area, and decided it was a great way to see a range of yarns and shops. “Two thumbs up and highly recommended!” she says.

Last year, Randy Cornell tried his first yarn crawl, and, despite often being mistaken for the designated driver, came home with a lot of yarn. “Before this,” he says, “I worked almost exclusively with worsted weight [heavier] yarn, made a lot of hats and scarves, but I found a pattern with fingering weight yarn.” Together with his exploration of the boldly colored new designs by Steven West, he was encouraged to take new risks with different colors and unfamiliar yarns. But experimenting with knitting isn’t really risky, he adds. “If you don’t like something you’ve done, you haven’t wasted anything. You can just pull it out and use the yarn for something else.” His verdict on the yarn crawl?

“I thought it was magnificent.”

Find out more about the yarn crawl at any of the participating yarn shops or look for the Twin Tiers Yarn Crawl on Facebook.

Karey Solomon is the author of a poetry chapbook,Voices Like the Sound of Water, a book on frugal living (now out of print), and more than thirty-five needlework books. Her work has also appeared in several fiction and nonfiction anthologies.

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Yarn continued from page 16




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Knives Out

AKevin Sorenson Is a Master at Chink, Chisel, Flick

cross the bridge over the Susquehanna, and about a mile up a long hill in East Athens, Pennsylvania, a sculptor works in stone. The stone is not Carrera marble, but chalcedonies like agate, gemstones and volcanic glasses like jasper and obsidian in their many colors and hues, flint, agatized coral, even handmade glass. Stone and bone. Bone and antler. Horn, burl wood, dyed and stabilized hardwood, wild turkey legs, even deer jaws. His studio is not a spacious loft with abundant light, but a modest living room. His workbench a coffee table, his work seat a well-worn sofa. But put any one stone and any one organic together on that coffee table and in the hands and mind’s eye of a master, in time what will be produced will

be a knife, a knife that’s durable, permanent, and sharp, a knife that’s elegant, cool, and, weirdly, kind of sexy.

The master is sixty-year-old Kevin Sorensen, and the work, the process, is called flintknapping, which has been around for a thousand years or more, and is what Native Americans used to make arrowheads, knives, and other tools. Kevin remains faithful and true to the spirit of the tradition, using the few basic tools Native Americans used through the ages and which would no doubt be recognizable to them today, though flintknappers now have the advantage of modern materials which keep tips sharper longer, and breakage to a minimum. The primary tool is the Ishi stick (of which Kevin uses three

different lengths—it applies pressure to flake the material), as well and to lesser extents a notching tool, a grinding stone, and not much else. The agate, the jasper, the obsidian, the stone is slowly chinked and chiseled with the Ishi stick and notching tool in a process called pressure flaking, which looks simple but is deceptively complicated, involving varying amounts of precise pressure and angling, involving, at base, a touch that requires a lot of practice, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of time to achieve. The work is painstaking and slow, and not at all for one who suffers from impatience or is given easily to bouts of exasperation: chink, chisel, flick; chink, chisel, flick, little bits and chips at a time until eventually the blade reveals itself in the stone,

(4) Brian Halton No stone left unchinked: (clockwise from left) Forming a blade edge with a grinding stone; finished knife with dacite blade and dyed and stabilized ash burl handle; initial flaking with an Ishi stick; mookaite jasper arrowhead necklace.

or, to paraphrase Michelangelo, until all that’s not art is taken away.

As much time (and often more) is spent on the handles. This is sometimes dependent on the availability of extraneous materials like turquoise or scrimshaw (as well the receptivity of the material being worked), carefully inlaying the handles with the turquoise or scrimshaw, dressing them up so to speak, giving them a splash of panache, making them, well, sexy.

Kevin’s source for most bones and antlers is from local hunters, though on occasion when the need (or whim, or vision) arises he will order what might be termed “exotics” from elsewhere: antlers, bones, or horns from as far away as Alaska. His sources for stone are from rock and gem purveyors nationwide. He is a shrewd and thrifty shopper as the stuff is certainly not given away, and some of it is prohibitively expensive. Kevin buys moderately and wisely in order to keep his prices down and within reason—this for his customers, both the new ones and the repeat regulars. (Prices range from $80 to $100.)

Kevin has recently expanded his repertoire to include arrowhead necklaces, all made with the same care and craftsmanship, all elegant, cool, and, not weirdly, kind of sexy.

A lifer here in what’s called The Valley—Athens, Sayre, Waverly—Kevin has long had a fascination and interest in Native American culture, history, and life (discovering that his blood is 16 percent Native American might account for some of that), and owns a wealth of knowledge about such. He was first introduced to flintknapping at a powwow down in Trout Run some thirteen years ago where he became a bit mesmerized watching a flintknapper at work, and finally got up the nerve to ask if he could try his hand at it. And that was pretty much that: he was hooked. And hooked rightly and well, though it took three more years of practice and work to feel accomplished enough to try to peddle his wares. Which he does now, this at local shows (like this month’s Maple Fest in Troy), and powwows region-wide like the popular one in Forksville in June. Kevin qualifies the term “powwow,” saying that the term gaining preference now is Gathering, much as the term “tribe” has been mostly replaced by Nation, as in the aptly named big event in Coopers Plains, New York, each summer known as The Gathering of Nations. These Gatherings are free, and the public is welcomed, in fact encouraged, to come and learn more about local Native American culture, history, and lives once lived.

In the past ten years, Kevin has sold over 5,000 knives, and has knives now in the UK, Russia, Australia, and Canada. His extensive catalogue of knives and necklaces can be seen on his Facebook page, Stronghorse Flintknapping, and is worth a look if only to have the mind boggled a bit. Perhaps you’ll conclude, as this writer did driving home after first seeing him and his work: the guy is nuts. Nuts or not, the finished work is real and it’s there and probably for a long, long time, which is exactly what Kevin wants. He wants a legacy to leave his children, something tangible to remember their knife-making father by, and then a nod, a salute, to Native Americans, of lives once lived that not only endured but prevailed—quietly, peaceably, purposefully, sanely for centuries, a perpetuation.

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My Spirit Animal

There’s More to Small-Stream Fishing Than the Fish

One of the rewards of fishing remote mountain trout streams is the wildlife you see. I frequently run across great blue herons, even on relatively small headwater streams where you wouldn’t expect to find them.

In certain Native American cultures, a “spirit animal” refers to an animal which helps guide or protect a person on a journey and whose characteristics that person shares or admires. Obviously, I like to fish, as does the heron, and although I don’t need to fish in order to survive, I wouldn’t want to live without fishing. Great blue herons are cool-looking, in a prehistoric kind of way, like pterosaurs from Jurassic Park. I admire, but do not necessarily emulate, the patience of the heron as he stands perfectly still, sometimes for hours, waiting for his prey to swim within reach before striking.

Many fishermen despise the heron as “trout killers.” Yes, he will wreak havoc

on an unprotected trout hatchery raceway where there is no cover for the trout. But I don’t begrudge him his meals on the stream, in part because I know he is probably more likely to catch a small chub or sucker in the shallows than a wary wild trout. Plus, he will spear a fish-eating water snake, given the opportunity. Even his trout predation is part of the natural cycle that ensures survival of the fittest.

Nevertheless, it is annoying to walk several miles into a remote trout stream, enjoy excellent trout fishing for a time, only for the fish to stop striking for no readily apparent reason. You know from experience that you are probably behind another fisherman, a circumstance you tried to avoid with the long hike. Sure enough, you round the bend and spot, way off in the distance, the lengthy six-foot wings of a great blue heron as he flaps slowly away, low over the stream, spooking every trout down into his hidey-hole, before

settling somewhere out of sight to start fishing again. The fish remain hidden for an indeterminate amount of time, definitely longer than I am willing to wait, and even when they do venture out their guard is up.

So, you work your way up the now-barren stream, only to catch another glimpse, if you’re lucky (their hearing is also very acute), of the great bird flying away yet again, further up the stream. Sometimes I’ve come across their fresh, four-pronged tracks on streamside rocks, still dripping, as the only sign that there is a heron ahead of me. You have to go way around the big bird to get to undisturbed water, which often entails a lengthy and strenuous bushwhack.

I don’t think herons are happy to see me on the stream, either. They are naturally cautious, and have learned to be suspicious of humans carrying a long stick in their hand, which makes it all the more remarkable how

Sticking its neck out: The great blue heron, photographed here at Heron Cove on Lake Chillisquaque in the Montour Preserve, is beautiful but not a helpful wingman if a fisherman wants to catch more than photos.
See Spirit on page 24
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Spirit continued from page 22 often I see them.

One time on Larry’s Creek (a tributary of the West Branch of the Susquehanna in Lycoming County), above the Water Company (enjoyed by many anglers for decades but now unfortunately closed to fishing, like many of our favorite haunts), I clambered out of the steep gorge to bypass a heron—no easy task, especially while carrying a long fly rod. I walked for ten minutes along a logging road before deciding that I must have passed him. I scrabbled down the steep hillside and made my way along the top of a high stream bank, looking for a place to get back on the stream. The unseen heron came rushing out, loudly croaking, from an undercut, nearly causing me to soil my britches. He flew ponderously up the mountain, away from the stream. After composing myself, I was glad to have driven him off. The fishing instantly picked up and was good for a while, until I saw the heron again in front of me. He must have circled back. I decided to quit fishing and let him have the stream to himself.

I remember fishing the upper reaches of the lovely Little Hoosic River in southeastern New York. I was taking a break, sitting on a big log that lay across the stream, watching cedar waxwings flit about catching mayflies. I glanced upstream and spotted a pair of great blues gliding side by side down the stream channel, coming right at me. I sat still as an owl. My earth tone fishing gear must have blended in, because they didn’t detect me until they were within twenty feet, slamming on the brakes, finally hovering in mid-air a rod length away. I looked into their steely yellow eyes and could feel the breeze and hear the flapping of their cupped wings, before they slowly pivoted and fled back up the stream.

That image will be in my mind’s eye forever. Whenever I want to be on a trout stream, all I have to do is close my eyes and recall that encounter. Yes, the great blue heron is my spirit animal.

Kevin McJunkin is a retired Environmental Planner for Lycoming County. He is “Secretary for Life” for the Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Babb Creek Watershed Association. He lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Fran.

J. Michael Wiley Spirits heron earth: This heron comes in for a landing, ready to ruin the day for some fish, and maybe some fishermen.
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Under the (Book) Covers

Corning Group Gives Pre-Loved Tomes a Sequel

Anyone would think Nancy Doutt, Anne Foster, and Bev Stevens get together regularly simply because they enjoy one another’s company. They most often meet at the Southeast Steuben County Public Library (300 Nasser Civic Center Plaza), and although lively conversation and laughter punctuate their meetings, their usual agenda is work. They’re Friends of the Library, organizing several well-attended annual book sales, as well as finding non-traditional ways to get books into the hands of eager readers. It all raises tens of thousands of dollars for their beloved library each year.

Nancy, an active nonagenarian, has been involved with the library sales since 1984, chairing many of them. She has records of the events that go back to the group’s first sale in 1958. Back then, hopeful fundraisers brought three card tables of books to Market Street. To their dismay (but perhaps also their delight), they sold out before the sale officially began. Undaunted volunteers sped home to ransack their own bookshelves. That

first sale netted $696.56. During the time Nancy’s been involved, she’s seen more than one million dollars raised—$1,281,000 to be precise. After paying for the rented space, advertising, and trucking fees, the group regularly donates $35,000 to $40,000 annually to the library. “We take this sale very seriously,” Nancy says, adding that “Bev is the idea lady.”

Bev, president of the Friends’ board, turns the compliment to Anne, saying, “Her bookmarks and postcards advertising the sale get collected because she makes them so pretty.”

The orchestration for each sale begins almost immediately after the previous sale concludes. The group has several book dropoff sites, including one at the library. There’s a garage attached to the library, and the three bibliophiles gather armloads of recently-donated books and carry them there for sorting.

A series of boxes for sorting fiction genres are spread across a work table—that’s where Bev and Anne begin. Behind them,

high open shelving holds categories of nonfiction. Set apart is a huge bin of “maybes.” These aren’t in good condition or they’re unwanted series like encyclopedias, dictionaries, Bibles, and Time Life volumes. Still, “No book gets thrown away!” Nancy insists. This reject bin is her domain.

She carefully inspects each book, setting aside a few for library art projects. A dedicated genealogist, she takes Bibles home, examines the family trees inscribed in many, then tries to reunite them with their families. Several years ago, she found $500 tucked into a grungy book. The money sat unclaimed in the library office for a year, then was added into the library budget. Anne once found a high school diploma in a book.

When the book sorters are done for the day, another volunteer will come to box and label the sorted contents. “It’s a book mountain,” Nancy says, pointing to the ceiling-high collection of hundreds, perhaps thousands of boxes.

See Covers on page 28
The best sort: Friends of the Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning hold a huge booksale every fall in Union Hall; book bundles are made by wrapping ones with similar themes and introducing an element of adventure to buyers; the best sort of sorters a book sale could have, (left to right) Bev Stevens, Nancy Doutt, and Anne Foster are the dream team that helps raise an impressive amount for the library. (2) Anne Foster Karey Solomon
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Covers continued from page 26

Some books, particularly children’s books, are pulled out before the sale to be diverted to “Red Book Shelf” locations—health care facilities, schools, and other public places where children might be waiting, perhaps impatiently, with their parents. These free books are given out to encourage reading. Library volunteers also make “book bundles”—small stacks of beautifully gift-wrapped books, often on a theme like birthdays, mysteries, classic literature, or romance. Holidays like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day are also honored with wrapped bundles tied with ribbon. The buyer knows the theme but not specifically what’s inside the bundle. What a great gift—the element of surprise for that person who has everything.

“People are delighted,” Nancy says, as her son was when he unwrapped a bundle of plays.

After all the sorting, the books are taken to the sale destination a week in advance, distributed to areas of the space by category, and set out for sale. About a hundred volunteers are involved.

“People know our sale is a good one, and a clean one, where things will be displayed properly,” Nancy says. “Local history is popular, especially if it’s good. Children’s and young adult book areas are very, very busy. We have jigsaw puzzles, cookbooks, crafts, classics. Then we have four tables of higher-priced books, first editions, or special interest books, like out-of-print books. Those will be half of what they’re sold for on eBay. There’s a buyer for every book if it’s priced right.”

When the big sales were suspended during covid, “The pandemic forced us to be creative,” Bev says. There’s always a cart of books and a shelf of puzzles for sale at the library. A volunteer takes a booth at each Farmer’s Market (Riverside Park, every Thursday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from June through August) to give away books.

“We’re returning the community’s generosity,” Bev explains. GlassFest and several other festivals also see volunteers manning a sale booth from the library. The group also has a second large book sale each autumn. It will be September 21 through 28 in the Union Hall next door to the library.

The spring sale begins Saturday, April 13, at 9 a.m. and runs daily through Saturday, April 20, at the East Corning Fire Hall, 11873 East Corning Road. The first day of this year’s sale is for members of Friends of the Library, but interested non-member buyers can join (it’s just five bucks for an individual, ten for a family), then go inside. At the close of the week, some books are retained for the next event, large print books are sent to area nursing homes, and the residue might go to a wholesaler.

In addition to helping the library, the book sale also funds “Books for Babies,” new children’s books given to new mothers, and “Books Sandwiched In” at the library, a well-attended series in which an expert or celebrity presents a book related to their area of expertise. At a recent program, a curator from the Rockwell Museum talked both about Michael Finkel’s The Art Thief and an actual art thief who wrought havoc at several European museums.

Get sale hours and updates at or call (607) 936-3713, ext. 502.

Karey Solomon is the author of a poetry chapbook,Voices Like the Sound of Water, a book on frugal living (now out of print), and more than thirty-five needlework books. Her work has also appeared in several fiction and nonfiction anthologies.

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Mother Earth

The River Hymn

…You can ride on it or drink it

Poison it or dam it

Fish in it and wash in it

Swim in it and you can die in it

Run, you river, run…

The Distinctive Divide in God’s Country

We are a divided country. Some of those divides we can do something about, but the others, well, they’re geography, pretty big geography (continents, mountain ranges, rivers, massive watersheds, and such), and we really shouldn’t be messing with them.

We have one such geographical feature right in our own backyard. No, no, it’s not the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon—granted, that is an extraordinary geographic formation, and I love it, but it is kind of right there, in your face. You can’t miss it. The one I’m thinking of is somewhat more subtle. It’s on private property, and if it weren’t for the sign, you might not know it’s there. It’s the northern terminus of the Eastern Continental Divide, and it starts in our own Potter County, in Ulysses Township, at an altitude of 2,523 feet. The view is classic Potter County—a mix of mountains, woods, and old farm fields. And it’s an extra-special spot, in

part because Potter County is, indeed, God’s Country, and because it is the Triple Divide, the only Triple Divide east of the Mississippi.

Right here—there’s a sign on Route 449 at the corner of Rooks Road, near Gold—are the headwaters of three rivers and their watersheds, which go in three different directions: the Allegheny, the Genesee, and Pine Creek/ West Branch of the Susquehanna. Pine Creek and the West Branch drain into the Atlantic Ocean; the Genesee, a tributary of Lake Ontario, drains into the Gulf of St. Lawrence; the Allegheny joins the Ohio River, flows into the Mississippi, and ultimately empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

If, for some sad reason, you happen to spill a portion of your Innerstoic cider or craft beer here at the Triple Divide, it has options as to where it will end up.

Continental divides are drainage divides, meaning that water on one side— precipitation, streams, rivers, and their

watersheds—flows into one ocean or sea, and water on the other side flows into another ocean or sea. The divide could also be endorheic (yeah, I had to look it up, too), meaning that particular drainage system is a loop and not connected to an ocean or sea. Every continent except Antarctica has at least one divide. North America has six. One is entirely in Canada; the other five are all or partially in the United States.

The Continental Divide of the Americas, a.k.a. the Great Divide (If you’re crossing it, The Band also has a song for that!), is probably the most famous, as divides go. It separates the watersheds of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans. It starts in Alaska, at the Seward Peninsula, takes a jog through western Canada, then runs south along the Rockies and on into Mexico, Central America, and down to the tip of South America, where it ends at the Strait of Magellan. What

See Divide on page 32
Wade Spencer
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a road trip that would be.

The others are the Laurentian or Northern Divide separating the watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean and Hudson Bay; the St. Lawrence River Divide, separating the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence watersheds from the Atlantic Ocean; and the Great Basin Divide, a group of contiguous endorheic watersheds in several western states.

Ours is not the only triple divide in the US—others include Triple Peak Divide in Glacier National Park, the Hill of Three Waters in Minnesota, and Triple Peak Divide in Tulare County, California.

So what’s a continental divide, triple or otherwise, without watersheds and rivers? Not much, really—just a spot on a mountain, waiting for something to happen. Perhaps you’ve never wondered about watersheds—what they are or how they function—and you’re probably not alone. What a watershed is, is a network of moving water that drains the surface of the land. It starts with a trickle, somewhere at a relatively high elevation, with water bubbling up from a spring or maybe just groundwater that has

found its way out and down. It just needs a bit of a slope, and gravity does the rest. The trickle turns into a rivulet or a brook, then, given the right conditions, something bigger—a creek or a stream, all the while gaining momentum and volume from precipitation, springs, and tributaries feeding into it. It typically ends up going to a river somewhere which in turn goes into an ocean, or maybe it empties into a lake, wetland, or swamp.

The largest watershed in the world is the Amazon. The largest in the United States is the Mississippi River watershed. It drains 1.15 million square miles from all or parts of thirty-one states and two Canadian provinces. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is an estuary, meaning it is a mix of fresh and salt water. It drains 64,000 square miles from six states—Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia—and the entire District of Columbia. Our Triple Divide waters are part of the latter two. Go us, right?

If you like maps, take a look at some showing the divides. Wikipedia, the USGS,’s-watersheds, and

gorgeous-river-watershed-maps are a few places you can find maps. The ones that show the watersheds, especially if they’re in color, are like looking at the circulatory system of a living thing. Which is really what you are looking at.

We celebrate fish with this issue, but we can’t celebrate fish without celebrating water. Of all the things we can do to a river, on a river, in a river, with a river, it’s imperative that we think about what we can do for a river. Honor it. Keep it clean. Value it.

The last lines of “The River Hymn” go like this:

“The whole congregation was standing on the banks of the river We are gathered here to give a little thanks thanks”

If you make a trek to the Triple Divide, give a little thanks to the Allegheny, the Genesee, and Pine Creek. Maybe pour a bit of liquid—water or adult beverage (but just a smidgeon—no point in wasting it)—on the ground, think about its journey, and consider the wonder of this splendid place we call home.

Divide continued from page 30
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Make Way for Spring

One April morning on Pine Creek, I saw a female common merganser swimming on the other side of a sandbar. As I watched her, all of these tiny babies started following her into the stream. To my delight, several hopped a ride on her back, and I laughed out loud when the first little one started talking to her. We can only guess what they were saying to each other!


Je ery Gilbert, DO Cardiology

Je ery Gilbert, DO, is welcoming new cardiology patients in Wellsboro and Mansfield. He completed his medical degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and was trained at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Gilbert is board certified in cardiovascular disease, nuclear cardiology, and echocardiography.

To schedule an appointment, call 570-321-2800.

S. Main St. 15 Meade St., Suite U4 Mansfield Wellsboro

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