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Thank you, Mr. Stahler! A Legendary Teacher Inspires a Generation of Students
By Carol Myers Cacchione
E FasRtheEwind Only from a Deer Stand Local Flour Rises to Any Occasion From Wellsboro to West Point
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Volume 16 Issue 11
16 Mother Earth
Thank You, Mr. Stahler!
By Gayle Morrow Editing Neal.
By Carol Myers Cacchione A legendary teacher inspires a generation of students.
18 Only from a Deer Stand By Roger Kingsley
When perspective is the better part of wisdom.
20 Feet on the Ground By Kerry Gyekis
The land and the hunters many of us are.
6 From Wellsboro to West Point
28 Over the River and
Through the Woods
By Lilace Mellin Guignard Captain Jacqueline Thompson says the Army is looking for a few good women.
By Maggie Barnes
When tradition’s a force to be reckoned with.
30 Give Us This Day Our
By Karey Solomon
Locally milled flour helps create amazing loaves that rise to any occasion.
14 On a Roll and Nothing Can Stop Her
34 Back of the Mountain By Linda Stager Early dark.
Cover by Gwen Button. Cover photo of Brian Stahler by Caleb Williams,Heritage Portrait Studio. This page (top) Mr. Brian Sthaler, by Caleb Williams,Heritage Portrait Studio; (middle) Captain Jacqueline Thompson, courtesy Jacqueline Thompson; (bottom) Roz Thompson takes aim, by Christy Pratt.
By Lilace Mellin Guignard Roz Thompson hunts for her best life.
w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Editors & Publishers Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publisher George Bochetto, Esq. D i r e c t o r o f O pe r a t i o n s Gwen Button Managing Editor Gayle Morrow Interim Managing Editor Karey Solomon S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e s Shelly Moore Circulation Director Michael Banik Accounting Amy Packard Cover Design Gwen Button Contributing Writers Maggie Barnes, Carol Myers Cacchione, Mike Cutillo, Lilace Mellin Guignard, Carrie Hagen, Roger Kingsley, Don Knaus, Dave Milano, Brendan O’Meara, Linda Roller, Karey Solomon C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Bernadette Chiaramonte, Peter Rutt, Kathleen Schnell, Debbie Stafford, Linda Stager, Sherri Stager, Curt Weinhold, Caleb Williams, Danyale Zinck
D i s t r i b u t i o n T eam Brian Button, Grapevine Distribution, Linda Roller T h e B ea g l e Nano Cosmo (1996-2014) • Yogi (2004-2018) ABOUT US: Mountain Home is the award-winning regional magazine of PA and NY with more than 100,000 readers. The magazine has been published monthly, since 2005, by Beagle Media, LLC, 39 Water Street, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, 16901, and online at www.mountainhomemag.com. Copyright © 2021 Beagle Media, LLC. All rights reserved. E-mail story ideas to editorial@mountainhomemag. com, or call (570) 724-3838. TO ADVERTISE: E-mail email@example.com, or call us at (570) 724-3838. AWARDS: Mountain Home has won over 100 international and statewide journalism awards from the International Regional Magazine Association and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association for excellence in writing, photography, and design. DISTRIBUTION: Mountain Home is available “Free as the Wind” at hundreds of locations in Tioga, Potter, Bradford, Lycoming, Union, and Clinton counties in PA and Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Tioga, and Ontario counties in NY. SUBSCRIPTIONS: For a one-year subscription (12 issues), send $24.95, payable to Beagle Media LLC, 39 Water Street, Wellsboro, PA 16901 or visit www.mountainhomemag.com.
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Thank You, Mr. Stahler! A Legendary Teacher Inspires a Generation of Students By Carol Myers Cacchione Spectacular accomplishments define legends. Think George Washington, the Founding Father of our country. Consider Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and Neil Armstrong, the first human being to leave his footprints on the moon. Now add Brian Stahler to that list. Sisters, Amy (Bennett) Barker (left), class of 1995 and Michelle Sampson, class of 1988 were both students of Mr. Stahler (center). 6
See Stahler on page 8
Courtesy Brian Stahler
Stahler continued from page 6
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ait, what—? Does a smalltown, high school English teacher have the right stuff to be considered a legend? Ask any student who attended Wellsboro Senior High School from 1963 through 1997 which teacher they revere most. The likely answer—Mr. Stahler. That’s a pretty astonishing accomplishment in anyone’s book. Brian Stahler was no mere Mr. Nice Guy in front of the blackboard. He earned cred from his students the hard way. His reputation as a no-nonsense taskmaster and homework assigner preceded him. Those of us, myself included, who had older siblings, learned from them how demanding a teacher he was. Heaven forbid our sisters or brothers performed poorly in any of his classes! We’d have to work all that much harder to make up for the deficit and gain his respect. But with diligence came a lifetime’s useful knowledge. We know beyond doubt, for example, up is different from down—not different than. ”Different from, different from, different from from FROM, not different than!” It’s the way Mr. Stahler said it and drummed it into our heads so we’d remember it. We use there and their, its and it’s, who’s, whose, and whom correctly in sentences. We keep our well-thumbed and annotated copies of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style on our bookshelves within easy reach, so we can refer to the slim volume for correct grammatical usage and sentence construction whenever we put pen to paper or fingers to keys. We will be forever incapable of reading a paragraph without looking for run-on sentences, dangling participles, split infinitives, and trite phrases. We can recite Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy on demand. We understand what that scarlet letter A represented on Hester Prynne’s dress, and we can—at least, hypothetically—harpoon a whale, strip it of its blubber, and render it into lamp oil from having read Moby-Dick. We earned our grammatical chops and our literary bragging rights, thanks to Mr. Stahler. No small feat, and we’re all inordinately proud of having been his students. Amy Walsh Wilson took both junior
See Stahler on page 10
Courtesy Carol Cacchione
Memorable mentor: Brian Stahler never left a participle dangling. Pictured above in the 1973 Nessmuk (Wellsboro yearbook) and (below) with his wife, Anne.
Courtesy Brian Stahler
and senior English literature classes from him in the mid-1970s. “Mr. Stahler was a very demanding teacher, but in a good way. A grade of ‘B’ from him was like an ‘A� from anyone else. You had to rise to his level or sink, and he didn’t accept much sinking,” she says. She spent twenty career years in the United States Air Force, ten years raising her daughter, then another nine years as an administrative support technician for the Twelfth Flying Training Wing in San Antonio, Texas. “Mr. Stahler was, hands down, the best teacher I ever had, even through college and graduate school,” Amy says. “He taught me how to write, and since both my jobs required lots of editing, I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as I was.” “He held you to a higher standard,” says Tony Driebelbies, class of ’83. He is particularly appreciative of Mr. Stahler’s organization in the classroom. Tony understood the feedback and critiques Mr. Stahler gave were meant in a good way to improve students’ reading, writing, and comprehension skills. Tony was a student in Mr. Stahler’s eleventh grade English and advanced composition classes. He was awed by Mr. Stahler’s passion for teaching. “He drew you into the writings of Shakespeare and brought the subject to life.” Most of all, Tony says, he learned perseverance from Mr. Stahler, who motivated him to work hard and make steady improvements that benefited him in his college years and beyond. Tony became a special education instructor, teaching English to students with learning disabilities, and is currently working as a school counselor. “There is no doubt that the skills and work ethic that Mr. Stahler instilled in me as a high school student gave me the confidence and inspiration to be successful in college and in my career as an educator,” he says. Sally Kentch took speech and English lit classes from him in 1971. “Mr. Stahler respected all students and exhibited enthusiasm for his subject,” she notes. “He wanted us to learn, he enjoyed teaching, and he had charisma.” She shares the experience she had when Mr. Stahler assigned her a speech about the pros of tobacco use. She did not agree with that point of view, and was uncertain how to craft an effective argument. “Mr. Stahler encouraged us to make our presentations as creative as possible, even to the point of taking risks. I chewed tobacco so I could speak to the experience.” The lessons she learned about public speaking and risk-taking in Mr. Stahler’s classes served her well in her career as a social worker and an environmental educator, she concludes. Mr. Stahler’s work ethic is one of the first things that came to mind for Dorothy Hemenway Carter. She admits she didn’t do homework in high school for every teacher, sometimes because she didn’t see the point, and sometimes because she didn’t appreciate the teacher. “But for Mr. Stahler, I did it,” she says now. “Not because he said anything to those who didn’t, but the look he gave when he went around to collect homework and it wasn’t done was enough to motivate me. I didn’t want my peers to see him look at me like that.” She loved reading, and he captivated her interest with his often weighty and demanding reading lists. Each summer she read the books he assigned for his advanced classes. Ms. Carter became a public school English teacher. “I loved my job,” she says, “and yes, Mr. Stahler was my role model. I wanted to be for my students
WELLSBORO Stahler continued from page 9
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what he had been for me. I wanted to expect my students to work, as he did—and my students did work. I am so fortunate to have had Mr. Stahler as a teacher.” Although she would not have termed herself a stellar high school student, she shone brightly in college, going on to achieve an MFA in writing and graduating with high honors. “Brian Stahler enriched my life,” Dorothy says. According to Rick Dale, “Mr. Stahler’s passion combined with his unorthodox teaching techniques made learning memorable. I learned how to write, pure and simple. When I took first year English composition in college, I found the writing assignments so basic, I’d complete them way before anyone else. The teacher looked at what I’d written and excused me from taking the remainder of the course.” Rick became a teacher himself, and attained the rank of tenured associate professor of special education at the University of Maine in Farmington. “I learned from Brian how to be passionate in front of the classroom, to use my voice for emphasis, and not to be afraid to set high expectations for myself or for others,” he says. He looks back to the many long evenings during high school when he spent hours on homework just for Mr. Stahler’s class. “At the time, I didn’t appreciate his rigor, but now I do. And I’ve told him so.” Rick recommends thanking teachers who have had a big influence on one’s life. Terry Resotko Galler, class of ’81, created a Facebook group page in 2011 for just that purpose. Its name, appropriately, is “Thank you, Mr. Stahler.” By way of introducing her page, she writes, “It is rare to find such a dedicated teacher that continued to inspire students for more than thirty years. Mr. Stahler blessed his students in a small, rural Pennsylvania town with his love of great literature and well-crafted writing…He gave us the skills to express ourselves in the world and make our own mark. And in the process, he has impacted not only our lives, but the lives of countless others as well.” Terry eloquently stated what Mr. Stahler’s former students and admirers have long known—he’s a legend in his own time. The stories of his teaching skills are being passed down to the next and future generations, in true legendary fashion. For instance, Galler recalls her amazement at watching her teacher seemingly morph into the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth as he recited the “Double, double, toil and trouble” lines for her class. “I know many of us have shared these stories with our children, much to their delight,” she says. As for Mr. Stahler’s humble reaction to the Facebook page, he says simply, “I’m honored.” The posts and shares on Terry’s page honoring Mr. Stahler have slowed. Not because his students ran out of words to praise him, but because Mr. Stahler started his own eponymous Facebook page. Here, he continues to be showered with accolades and heartfelt thanks. Every legend has a compelling backstory. While Mr. Stahler didn’t chop down a cherry tree or split logs for fence rails as a boy, he did grow up during the early 1940s in a household in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country where English was not the spoken or written language. He was a menopause baby. Both his parents were in their fifties when he was born, and his three siblings were already adults. His father was a blacksmith and a dry goods store owner in New Ringgold, in Schuylkill County. The family home, See Stahler on page 12
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Stahler continued from page 10
a double house, was tucked alongside the store in the center of the town. Everyone spoke Pennsylvania Dutch in his home and in the store except young Brian. His sister Evelyn, largely responsible for caring for him while their parents worked in the store, lived in the other half of the double house. She insisted he speak English. “She didn’t want me to be at a disadvantage when I started school,” Mr. Stahler explains. “I could understand Dutch, because all the people in the store would speak it with Dad. But I was never allowed to speak it.” He started waiting on customers when he was barely tall enough to see over the counter. A precocious child, he began reading at age three. The first book he read on his own, The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, was given to him by his older sister. “LaRue handed it to me and said she thought I’d like it. She told me to write down any word I didn’t understand and she’d help me with it. I read it in a night and a day. I loved that book,” Mr. Stahler says. “It started my passion for reading.” Perhaps reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in the second grade sparked his love for chemistry, which he discovered in high school. He was also a standout in German classes. It was an easier subject for him than English. His brother John, twenty-two years his senior and an accomplished surgeon, encouraged him to go to medical school. But Brian wanted to teach. Given a choice between the two state colleges at the time which offered majors in both chemistry and German—Millersville and Mansfield—he chose Mansfield because it was farther away from home. He met the fellow who was destined to become his best friend and the best man at his wedding within a quarter hour of his arrival on campus. That was Bill Davis. His room was across the corridor from Brian’s in the South Hall men’s dormitory. On their way to North Hall to have dinner, Brian and Bill ran into Anne Steehler, a stunning redhead in a black dress, also on her way to the dining hall. It was love at first sight. “I called home that night and told my sister Evelyn I’d met the woman I was going to marry,” Mr. Stahler said. True to his prediction, they married right after graduation. Chemistry and its math requirements didn’t agree with Mr. Stahler in his freshman year of college. Surprising everyone, he switched his majors to English and German. English had been his hardest subject in grade school, so he took it on as a challenge. German was his fallback, in case his English studies didn’t pan out. Fortunately, they did. When it came to his student teaching requirement, “I was really lucky,” he says gratefully. “I was assigned to Betty Morrow at the Wellsboro Junior High School. Talk about winning the lottery!” He remembers Betty as the best teaching mentor he could have. Among her lasting words of wisdom was the advice, “You have to be as sharp in your last class of the day as you are in your first class.” This and other suggestions for effective teaching stuck with him throughout his teaching career. Mr. Stahler was hired in 1963 to teach high school English in the Wellsboro Area School District. He briefly flirted with the idea of teaching at the college level after receiving his master’s degree from Penn State in the early 1970s, but he remained at his post in Wellsboro until retiring in 1997. Along the way, he and his wife Anne, an elementary school teacher, purchased a two acre lot on
Courtesy Amy Barker
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the outskirts of Mansfield, built a house on it, planted a lot of trees, and had two sons, Rick and Terry. The trees and their sons grew up together. The boys are now in their fifties. Anne died on January 6, 2007, from cancer. Mr. Stahler said he never expected a monumental event to share that fateful date until the Capitol insurrection occurred on January 6, 2021. Still, the most unforgettable event of his own life was the day he met Anne. He’s already pre-planned his own funeral, written his obituary, and had his name carved into the headstone he’ll share with her. All that’s missing is the final date. Not to worry. Mr. Stahler’s not ready to check out yet. Reading Shakespeare, and anything nonfiction about the Elizabethan and Victorian ages, keeps him going. “I’m addicted to Richard III,” he says. “I could read it over and over. Also, any books by Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. Les Miserables was a terrific book, and a wonderful Broadway play!” When time permitted, he would take his AP English class students to New York City to see it on stage after they studied it in class. Musical theater and bus trips have since become pleasant pastimes. His long-haired, piebald dachshund, Tyson, is the current love of his life. Tyson lives up to his name in sheer bravado, if not in stature. He’s protective of his human dad and never allows Mr. Stahler out of his sight for long. Every year when September appears on the calendar and the school buses start rolling, Mr. Stahler says he feels a twinge of sadness. “I’d love to be back teaching. I miss every minute of it,” he admits. His day-to-day health and advancing age, however, preclude it. He knows realistically he might be unable to withstand the rigors of the classroom. But he can always dream. “I will never believe I could have loved another job as much as I have loved teaching.” Carol Cacchione, a former student of Mr. Stahler, strongly advises learning to recite Hamlet’s soliloquy rather than harpooning a whale. Thanks to his memorable teaching, she could do both.
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High performance: Captain Jacqueline Thompson stands in front of the mountains in Afghanistan.
From Wellsboro to West Point
Captain Jacqueline Thompson Says the Army Is Looking for a Few Good Women By Lilace Mellin Guignard
aptain Jacqueline Thompson grew up in Tioga County but has traveled all over, including Afghanistan and Korea. She has served her country, earning many awards and decorations including the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Action Badge for honorable service in a combat zone. This fall she began teaching as an instructor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, putting her only four hours away from Wellsboro, the place she calls home. “Soldiers from Pennsylvania have been some of the toughest I’ve worked with, both physically and mentally,” she says. “We take care of each other and do our part—and that’s what community is. Wherever I serve, I represent our community. I’m proud of our resilience, grit, and work ethic.” After graduating from Elkland Area High School in 2007, Jacqueline attended Mansfield University where she studied Business Management, working full-time
while taking honors classes. In her junior year, she met students attending on the GI bill and heard their stories of service in Iraq. She was inspired to use her leadership skills in the Army. Eight days after graduating, she left for basic combat training, and then Officer Candidate School. “I chose the transportation branch so I could use my business degree in supply chain management,” she explains. As a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps, she was stationed at Fort Drum, and assigned as a distribution platoon leader in the First Brigade Combat Team, Tenth Mountain Division (Light Infantry). Within six months, she was deployed to Afghanistan. “Things were suddenly real,” she says. In 2013, she led more than sixty logistical patrols across eastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Most of the soldiers stayed on base training Afghan soldiers, while Jacqueline drove equipment and supplies across eastern
Afghanistan almost daily. “I planned our missions and executed them alongside my soldiers, sharing the risk.” In 2015, during her second deployment to Afghanistan, she heard the Secretary of Defense announce that all combat jobs in all military branches would be open to women. “Like many women, I had already served in combat zones, even though our positions were classified as support. Whether you are trained in infantry or something else, it’s a 360-degree combat zone. It’s not a linear fight, and it hasn’t been for some time.” Jacqueline completed the Combined Logistics Captains’ Career Course (CLC3) and was assigned to the Eighty-Second Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, where she jumped out of airplanes for a while. She assumed command of Headquarters Support Company, Eighty-Second Combat Aviation Brigade in January 2017. Her responsibility included the readiness of 180 soldiers assigned as the Global Response
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Force, capable of deploying worldwide in seventy-two hours or less. For two years she was always on call. In July 2018, Jacqueline served as an Exercise Planning Officer in the Eighth Army in Korea, during the time President Trump was attempting peace talks. There she met Major Kyle Burns, from Kentucky, whom she married two years ago. She believes the military is heading in the right direction regarding equal rights and equal opportunity. “When I joined in 2011, they removed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and there was more acceptance. It doesn’t make sense to have barriers that keep a good soldier from serving.” She had the privilege of working with Deputy Commanding General Diana Holland, the first woman in many of her positions, who became Jacqueline’s mentor. “She was always authentic and very intelligent,” Jacqueline recalls. “It matters that young women see women in leadership positions so they don’t limit the goals they set for their future.” She does not feel she had to work harder than men or meet different standards, though she knows women are often told this when thinking of joining the military. “I was at the top of my class. Even when deployed in combat I was evaluated as the top lieutenant out of twenty. I was outperforming the men and we were measured by actual performance—physical and mental. Gender had nothing to do with it.” Her high level of performance is why the Army paid for her to get her master’s degree in social organizational psychology at Columbia University. She then applied to become a West Point instructor, and she’s enjoying being in the classroom. “The students are so smart! Many were valedictorians, speak several languages, and are great athletes.” At thirty-two, she’s younger than many of the professors but explains mid-level officers are valued for their recent combat experience. In three years, she’ll rejoin the deployable ranks, leading the cadets she’s teaching today. “The military is not a last option,” Jacqueline emphasizes. “It’s top-notch education and training in very technical areas. The Army is not looking for numbers, we are looking to create experts.” This Veterans Day, Jacqueline will visit her mother and sister in Wellsboro, stroll down Main Street, shop at small businesses, and eat at the Penn Wells Hotel. “Veterans struggle when their community doesn’t understand and embrace their sacrifices,” she says, referring to the high suicide rate among veterans. “We’re lucky ours does more than most.” Dawn Pletcher, who runs Goodies for Our Troops in Wellsboro, sent boxes of donations for hundreds of soldiers in Afghanistan during her deployments, which meant a lot. Jacqueline encourages us to not just thank a veteran for their service, but to also ask questions, ask for stories. Connect. For Jacqueline, life in the military has been about building relationships, with other American soldiers and with people in Afghanistan and Korea. “I left pieces of my heart with all of them,” she admits. She’s passionate about inspiring and empowering young women and hopes more will think about a career in the military. They can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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Editing Neal By Gayle Morrow
ne of the last email conversations I had with Cornelius O’Donnell was about British TV shows. Neal had mentioned that he liked such programs as Midsomer Murders and Vicar of Dibley. I recommended he watch Pie in the Sky—I thought it would be his cuppa, so to speak, as the premise was a trying-hard-to-be-retired British detective whose desire to leave policing and focus on his newly opened restaurant (and a menu including his otherworldly steak and kidney pie) was constantly being foiled by his superiors. I hope Neal had the opportunity to enjoy an episode or two—we didn’t talk about Pie in the Sky again, so I don’t know. We talked occasionally about other things, but never once about how I edited his columns. Sometimes there isn’t much love lost between writers and editors; that didn’t seem to be the case with us. As a writer, you hope that whoever edits your “stuff” takes what you turned in and makes it better. Writers hate to think that an
editor is making changes just for the sake of making changes. Some do. I had an editor once who admitted that “I had to change something…” when I asked why a passage had been altered; when I’m wearing my editor hat, I don’t have the time or inclination to play that game. As an editor, correcting grammar and punctuation should be easy peasy, do-it-withone-hand-tied-behind-your-back kind of work. It’s the subtleties that can be confounding. What did he mean by that? Is that really what he wanted to say? When I first started editing Neal’s columns, I asked myself those questions often. But after a while, I found that I knew. I knew the point he was trying to make. I could fill in a missing word or adjust sentence construction in Neal’s voice. I could kind of channel him. I only met Neal face to face a couple of times—once when he came to Wellsboro to write a story about West End Market Café (I was working there at the time), and once when he was a chili judge at Second Chance Animal
Sanctuaries’ annual chili cook-off/fundraiser (I was helping out as a volunteer/board member) at Rockwell’s Feed, Farm and Pet Supply. Some months ago, I mentioned to him in an email that I would be passing through Corning/ Horseheads on such and such a date. I should stop and see him, he said, and he proceeded to give me directions. “I’m as easy as pie to find,” he assured me. His directions were somewhat convoluted, however, not as straightforward as the recipes he shared with us, and I confess that I did not take the time to figure out where he was and how to get there. I regret that now. I imagine it would have been a “most genial respite” (isn’t that a Nealism?), probably with good food and wine (fresh and local, of course, as Neal was a proponent of both), likely served on or in something made by Corning, and accompanied by interesting conversation. My loss. Easy as pie, pie in the sky…I know where to find you these days, Neal.
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Courtesy Roger Kingsley What a view: Ronald Kingsley (Roger's brother) patiently sits in his tree stand waiting for the perfect opportunity to bag the big one.
Only from a Deer Stand When Perspective Is the Better Part of Wisdom By Roger Kingsley
hen archery season opened one year, Darryl Maynard had a particular deer on his mind—a ten-pointer he had seen numerous times. Darryl spent many days bow-hunting the buck. But although he greatly wanted to tag it, he didn’t let his obsession get ahead of something even more important—sharing the hunting experience as a mentor. One day when he decided to go hunting, he took three other people with him; his eleven-year-old daughter, his six-year-old nephew, and his two-year-old grandson. Darryl loaded them into his Polaris Ranger and drove to a ground blind where they all crawled inside. After some enjoyable family time in the blind, Darryl caught a whiff of something that didn’t smell like buck lure. He eyed his grandson. Did you poop? No, came the reply. When the air quality did not improve, he checked. 18
Then they all retreated to the house where Grandma saved the day with a fresh diaper. Back to the blind they went, the door was zipped shut, and the circus inside resumed. Coloring books kept the kids occupied along with talking, laughing, eating, pushing, and shoving when suddenly that one particular buck flooding Darryl’s mind stepped out of the brush to stare at the blind. By the time Darryl shushed the three kids and pointed, the beautiful buck had raised his white flag goodbye, wanting no part of the festivities. Despite having missed out on a shot at the buck of a lifetime, Darryl had no regrets. There would be plenty of other days to pursue that deer on his own terms. Instead, those kids not only got to go hunting, they had a ball, and topped it off with a timely sighting of a monster buck. As hunters, our duty to the animals is to make the most humane kills possible. Sadly,
unfortunate circumstances dictate that there will be ifs and unknowns riding on a certain percentage of shots. Kirsten Feusner told me that as a sixteen-year-old, she was the most impatient, complaining hunting partner anyone could have. Still, she was hooked on deer hunting for its moments of sheer excitement. Once, while on a stand with her mother, Denise, a number of deer were giving them fits about presenting the perfect shot. They were either sky lined, in brush, too small, out of range, or in line with distant buildings. Finally, with her impatient bubble about to burst, Kirsten got her chance and fired at a fourteen-point non-typical. The bullet flattened the big buck. Then he scrambled to his feet and ran, offering no other shots. Denise—a veteran hunter—contemplated the situation. While Kirsten was overwhelmed with the buck’s recovery, Denise concluded
welcome to they should give it a couple hours before pursuit. The chase eventually turned dismal when it became a struggle to find any signs of the wounded animal. Denise still believed the shot was lethal. So they searched day after day after day. Finally, on the fourth day, they discovered the days-old carcass in a nasty thicket of thorn bushes. Thanks to Denise’s steadfast commitment to recover that buck, her daughter Kirsten learned valuable tracking lessons she’ll never forget. Recovering the non-typical after they had worked so hard combing the area was a genuine thrill—one that certainly fit Kirsten’s sense of wonder and excitement. It was a Friday in November when Anthony Ventello loaded his car, waved goodbye to Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York where he was a student, and drove six hours to spend a single day bow hunting in Pennsylvania. Anthony got to his stand before daylight, but sat there till 4 p.m. before a shooter buck walked by—a Record Book qualifier, by the way. Whack! End of hunt? End of story? Not so fast. Teachers commonly use the letters ABCDF for grading, right? A college kid driving six hours each way for one day’s hunting might win the grade “W” for waste of time. But think about it. Anthony wasn’t there solely for the kill. His time was spent studying entomology, as he dealt with the variety of insects that pester hunters during the warm days in the early season. He learned about meteorology, the science of weather, particularly the wind direction and speed requiring constant monitoring to control human scent dispersal. Biology and biophysics factored in too. Were the oak trees in the distance producing acorns this year? When would this year’s whitetail breeding cycle peak? Anthony only had one day to arrive at a reasonable hypothesis. Unbeknownst to his professors, Anthony was studying agronomy while he waited, calculating the rate of clover seed application per acre in a new food plot. He was estimating the amount of lime needed to raise the pH of that soil for the clover. No hunter would argue that Anthony wasn’t studying the technological advancements in precision engineering built into the Mathews bow he had been practicing with. This is well known to hunters as the School of Hard Nocks—nock an arrow and shoot it, nock another arrow and shoot it, and so on, because practice makes perfect. While Anthony waited, he considered the trigonometry of arrow velocity based on shaft weight, the kinetic energies on the target, and the precise range between two major points. I’d be willing to bet he could also challenge any professor on the field-judging and math skills necessary to quickly estimate a gross sum from his own Boone & Crockett scoring system studies. And because the death of an animal did occur, well, he just opened the book titled The Art of Forensic Science. Sounds like BS? Maybe. But in my school of thought, all these courses are right in front of us when we, as hunters, enter the fields and woods each year. An imaginary sign saying “Welcome to deer season” hangs above us. Each year we study in depth how deer will feed, breed, and bleed. And the best school to get this education is only at a deer stand. An award-winning writer, Roger Kingsley’s articles and photographs have appeared in several nationally known publications.
THOMAS T. TABER
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Courtesy Kerry Gyekis
Feet on the Ground
The Land and the Hunters Many of Us Are By Kerry Gyekis
stood before a group of timberland owners. They’d asked me to do a timber sale for them and I had. What I saw while walking and driving through their vast holdings amazed me. Deer, often five to ten at a time, unafraid of humans, stood in home driveways eating flowers and shrubs. Were these whitetails? They looked like miniatures from an exotic game farm. The forests were mainly mature oak…nice red oak. The forest floor was completely open. There was no reproduction at all. No hunting was allowed on these 1,700 acres—not even controlled bow hunting. Someone asked why I only marked three to four trees per acre for harvesting when there were more mature, harvestable trees. I told them there would be no reproduction of their oak forest. It would
all be eaten by deer. Once these oak trees were cut, there would be no more oak trees. Then I thought, what the hell, I’ll lighten the mood here. I said, “You know, where I come from, we eat deer.” No one laughed. Most of these folks were from large East Coast cities or their close environs. I spoke to the forester of the mill that had been the high bidder on the timber. He clearly didn’t want to be there. One of the property owners complained about other logging activity across from his house. Loggers left limbs on the ground. He wanted a park. It was a lesson for me. I thought these folks read the information I’d given them. I assumed they had read the contract—and knew what it meant to own second homes in a large wooded area. We seem to have an ever-larger segment
of the population completely out of touch with fields and forests. Some time ago, after a meeting about pig barns in our area, I asked a farmer who had also attended what he thought of the whole affair. He answered, “Their feet go from carpet to cement to carpet.” Apt. More than forty years ago I ran outdoor programs for delinquent kids from Pittsburgh. While we roped our way across a stream, one of the kids pointed at the boulders and yelled, “Look at those big bricks!” I’ll never forget that. Another asked me if they turned the water off at night. The kicker came when I was kidding around with them, as is my nature, and pointed to a metal arrowhead stuck in a tree, and said, “Indians!” Immediately three or four of See The Land on page 23
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The Land continued from page 20
the kids started to run down the trail. They were older teenagers then—they’re middle-aged adults now. Chances are their kids are even more removed. Where we live, we have had events to get adults and kids living in the towns to visit farms to touch, feel, and taste. Maybe we need to broaden that education to our fields and forests? If we wish to preserve our lifestyle, we must encourage visitors as well as our local population to appreciate the fields and forests near us. If we help landowners to learn about the plants and animals that actually inhabit their lands, they’ll know more about those fields and forests. What makes good deer and grouse habitat? What cover do songbirds need? What’s a high quality stream area? What does a blue heron rookery look like? In another job as the Tioga County planner, just about every development proposed in the county came across my desk. I saw many older farmers selling off their land. Sometimes large acreage changed hands for hunting, a seasonal cabin, and other forms of outdoor recreation. But as time passed, that was increasingly not the case. Instead, the land would be subdivided into small lots or sold to owners who would forbid hunting or trapping. Most of us have heard these stories. Many planned developments felt disheartening. I have met many people at different times of my life. I’ve lived with stone-age men in the jungles of Malaysia, experienced Western ranch culture, and helped indigenous Americans harvest timber on their land. I’ve traveled through South Vietnam, staying on U.S. Army bases and talking to G.I.s. I more recently found my lost family in a former Communist state and helped family members find their origins in yet another place. In short, the experience of a variety of places and lifestyles showed me what we have right here is pretty special. I know people who are traditional hunters. I am close to folks who do not hunt or even eat any meat. Among my friends are those who advocate complete preservation as well as some who are pro-development. Most of my friends are as I am—somewhere in the vast middle. Most of the people I know, or whom I’ve met through the years, care about the land whether they were born and raised here or are refugees like me. The land is the common denominator. Many who stayed did so because of the land—and the quality of life it offers us. It is a great common denominator. I believe that now, more than at any other time in our recent history, our society of hunters needs to find the common bonds. I’ve seen it work. Wouldn’t it be fun to see hardcore hunters and trappers tagging along with little old ladies in tennis shoes who don’t eat meat and wouldn’t kill a flea? Or maybe with a kid who has never been around someone who actually kills and eats game, but thinks nothing of pigging out on Mickey D’s burgers? One thing I do know—it will produce bonds. That can only help Kerry began his forestry career in the early ’60s fighting fire in the American West. Later in the ’60s he was a Peace Corps forester, doing a jungle timber survey for the Malaysian government. He has also been a federal forester for the Bureaus of Land Management and Indian Affairs, as well as a private consultant forester for about thirty-six years and still going strong.
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Lilace Mellin Guignard
Now you see her: Roz Thompson in camo, ready for the deer stand.
On a Roll and Nothing Can Stop Her Roz Thompson Hunts for Her Best Life By Lilace Mellin Guignard
ozaline Thompson was born in Wellsboro in 1991, but she doesn’t remember much about her early years because she moved to Florida when she was four. By the time she was twentyone and moved back, things were different. Tioga County was different, certainly, but the biggest change was that Roz was now in a wheelchair. When Roz was fourteen and trying to snooze in the backseat of a moving car, another vehicle crashed into the car door right where her head was. Thankfully, she escaped brain injury—but she was paralyzed from the chest down. “I’m a C5/ C6 quadriplegic,” she says. “All four limbs were affected. I have no use of my legs or individual fingers.” Her smile is a big one and can make it hard to take in what she’s saying.
Roz turns thirty this month, and she recently hit some milestones. She got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work—earning honors both times. She got her driver’s license, her own apartment, and a van. And she has started hunting—a lifelong dream. The journey to this point has not been easy or quick, but now, Roz says, barriers are falling faster and faster. After the accident, Roz spent four months in the hospital. “I felt like my life was over at the age of fifteen,” she says. “I lost all my friends, well, I thought they were my friends.” Roz thinks they shied away because they didn’t know how to handle her disability. Things she once loved doing—camping, fishing, fourwheeling, jet-skiing—were in the past. For a few years, depression took hold. “Then I changed my mindset. No more feeling
sorry for myself.” Just when Roz decided to apply to college and had been awarded a National ChairScholars Scholarship for people with serious physical disabilities, she and her mother moved back to Pennsylvania. Luckily, Mansfield University accepted the scholarship. “I was really worried about being accepted at college, but everyone was so friendly! Classmates would call out ‘Hey, Hot Wheels.’” Roz says the hilly campus could be difficult in the winter. Once, when she was coming down the hill from Butler Hall, she started sliding in the snow. “Out of nowhere this guy came running and grabbed my chair and saved me.” Roz majored in social work and joined two honor societies, continuing to do volunteer work through them and church. See Roz on page 26
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Roz continued from page 24
Helping people comes naturally. During an internship at Soldiers + Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro, Roz discovered she loved being a medical social worker. Also, because everything at the hospital is accessible, Roz had greater autonomy. There she helped patients and families plan for life after being discharged and advocated for them. She knew what it felt like to lie in a hospital bed wondering how you were going to keep going. Dr. Tiffany Welch, her professor, says, “The nurses and patients raved about the light Roz brought to their day.” After graduating, Roz got her master’s in social work from Edinboro University. Getting a job after college presented more challenges for Roz. Until then, she’d either been driven by her mother or rode the EMTA bus, but the bus wouldn’t take Roz out of Tioga County. So Roz, who has PTSD from her car accident, determined to learn how to drive. Her van has a ramp she rides up, locking her wheelchair into place behind the steering wheel. She works special controls with her hands and head. None of this comes easily, but now she’s gained enough independence to live on her own. Two years ago, Roz began working at Wellspring Community Support Services in Mansfield as a psychiatric rehabilitation worker. One day Mick Morgan, a co-worker, asked if she’d tried hunting. “It was something I’d always wanted to do,” Roz says, “but I didn’t know if I could without the full use of my hands.” Mick knew Rose Moore, archery expert and owner of Moore’s Sport Center in Wellsboro, who was excited to help Roz try a crossbow. They met at the store’s indoor archery range. Once Rose realized that Roz is right-handed but left-eye dominant, Rose set the crossbow on Roz’s left shoulder. With the front end propped on a table, Roz hooked her right pointer finger on the trigger. Instead of squeezing the trigger, Roz has to pull her hand back. There is a video on Rose’s YouTube channel showing Roz wondering where her shot went. Nothing is sticking out of the foam bear target—at least not the front of it. Rose turns it around, showing the arrow has gone right through the bullseye. Last year Roz went hunting a few times with friends. Carl Knapp, her mom’s boyfriend, has a large tree stand on his land. He carried Roz’s wheelchair up the steps, and then carried her. They saw deer that were out of range. Though she hopes to have better luck this season, Roz says, “I enjoy just getting out there. It’s tranquil.” She has started fishing again. She doesn’t bait or cast, but she’s learned how to reel in her catch. She would like to try kayaking next, and go camping. She’s studying to get her social work license in Pennsylvania and New York. These days, Roz has a great circle of friends and lots of support. She shares some of her own challenges with her clients, who know about her accident. “I tell them, ‘You still have the ability to experience life and love. Even though things are tough they can get better.’” Roz’s message is clear: put yourself out there and hunt for the life you want. Lilace Mellin Guignard raises her kids in Wellsboro where she plays outdoors, gets wild with community theater, and shakes things up at Sunday school. She’s the author of When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild: Being a Woman Outdoors in America.
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Over the River and Through the Woods When Tradition’s a Force to be Reckoned With By Maggie Barnes
om wants to do Thanksgiving this year.” I paused in my losing battle with the leaf pile to squint through autumn sunlight at my husband on the deck. “She does? I’m surprised, but it’s okay with me.” It was the first holiday season since the death of my father-in-law, and I didn’t anticipate Mom wanting to tackle the biggest meal of the year. But Rosalie was nothing if not sure of her own ability, so I didn’t see a problem. Until Bob went on. “It will have to be later than usual. Eric and Angie both have to work.” Ah, there’s the problem. Like most folks of her generation, Mom could be a bit…set in her ways. Like a flagpole in cement. For my husband’s entire life, Thanksgiving was one of those stalwart traditions you could set your
watch by. The men went out early for hunting, came back in for a feast at 2 p.m., then caught the last of the daylight for another attempt in the woods. It had never been any other way. Asking for dinner to be, say, four hours later, was like requesting the Statue of Liberty to shift the torch to her other hand. The change was mandated by another aspect of life that Mom simply did not agree with—the undeniable fact her grandchildren were growing up. Two of our three kids were in the workforce now and, being the new person, pulled the holiday shift. I’d suspected Mom was digging in her heels on this concept earlier in the year at Angie’s birthday. Grandmother insisted on making her cake and it was lovely, an elaborate creation with a Barbie doll in the center and the doll’s skirt made of cake with swirling pink frosting.
Minor problem—it was Angie’s sixteenth birthday. Forget Barbie’s dream house—she wanted the convertible. Now, we were facing one of the true milepost markers on the calendar and asking her to adapt to a new timetable. Trepidation began buzzing in the back of my brain, as we drove to Mom’s in the dark of Thanksgiving evening. David, our youngest at twelve, was chirping away in the backseat like a happy robin, anticipating his favorite meal of the year. “You all better take your mashed potatoes first,” he laughed, “because I’m gonna clean out the bowl!” No idle threat—I had seen the kid inhale a mountain of spuds before. My mother-inlaw was an excellent cook and everything from the rolls to the cherry pie would be memorable. We barely got in the door when Mom
hustled us to the table. Platters of food were shuttled out of the kitchen and the first sign of trouble was the turkey. When I tried to spear a slice, it disintegrated. Just broke apart like plaster. My husband and I locked eyes across the table. As the bowls circulated around the table, the kids’ chatter began to quiet. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched David use his spoon to push the hardened mashed potatoes off the ladle. He opened his mouth, but I gave him a stern look to stay silent. Eric moved the gravy boat in circles, peering into it as though trying to determine whether it was a liquid or a solid. Choking erupted from Angie when she sampled the dressing, and her brothers pounded her back with the enthusiasm natural to siblings. Our little group was realizing Grandma hadn’t adjusted her timetable to accommodate latecomers. Dinner, as always, was ready at 2 p.m. Too bad for us we weren’t there. When Mom set the cherry pie in the center of the table, I covered my eyes. Normally, her pies were things of beauty, bursting with luscious fruit encased in a cookbook-worthy golden crust. What stood before us bore a shape that could be described as concave. The crust, dark brown and brittle, sloped down inside the tin to a depth of maybe a half inch. David looked sadly at the dehydrated tart where his cherished pie was supposed to be. “Good grief, Grandma!” he erupted. “Did you use more than four cherries?” The cork was out of the bottle and the kids rewound the tape on the entire meal. “Was that gravy or creamed corn?” “Save me a roll in case I ever have to break a window.” “Who needs paste when you have those potatoes?” Mom was undisturbed as laughter bounced around the room and we practically tumbled out of our chairs. She knew the dinner had been beautiful at dinnertime. Bob suddenly developed a twitch and I chewed on the inside of my cheek to keep from joining in the hilarity. Angie leaned over and wrapped her arms around her grandmother. “It’s okay, Grandma, we still love you,” she grinned. Chin in the air and her dignity very much intact, my motherin-law turned and glared at her son. “Six o’clock is not a decent hour for Thanksgiving dinner!” She was right, the rest of the world was wrong, and that was that. Still giggling, we took care of the dishes, then dug out a frozen pizza when we got home. For our family, Thanksgiving stayed a moveable feast whose timing fluctuated with work schedules and other commitments. Never mind when it was scheduled, Mom always arrived at the “proper” time—1 p.m.—regardless of when we were eating. It was just her way. David makes awesome mashed potatoes these days—his secret ingredient is ranch dressing; and Angie has blossomed into quite a baker. They take after their grandmother. And every year, we recount that memorable Thanksgiving and renew our love for a lady who believed in tradition at any price—including indigestion. Maggie Barnes has won several IRMAs and Keystone Press Awards. She lives in Waverly, New York.
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Courtesy Farmer Ground Flour
With the grain: (clockwise from top left) Michelle Russo, Neal Johnston, Benji Knorr, Thor Oechsner, and Greg Russo of Farmer Ground Flour in Trumansburg.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Grind
Locally Milled Flour Helps Create Amazing Loaves That Rise to Any Occasion By Karey Solomon
he siren aromas of fresh-baked bread, the appeal of a crusty, golden loaf, the anticipation of its tasty crunch, and melt-in-your-mouth insides are an enthusiastic “welcome home!” for the senses well before the just-from-the-oven loaf is broken and slathered with butter. During these plague years, home bread-baking rose in popularity faster than proof dough, causing local millers to work harder than ever. The history of bread is the story of human society. When farmers began to cultivate cereal grains, people soon saw the need to cooperate on a larger scale, progressing from tribal groups of hunters to small villages where families could share bake ovens, grinding stones, and the responsibilities of keeping the community nourished. With the passing of centuries and growth of population, as survival skills became more specialized, mills were built to grind more grain faster. Power supplied by water or animals turned heavy stones with grain sandwiched between them until friction and
gravity pulverized the seeds of wheat, rye, barley, corn, and more into smaller bits that could be fermented with yeast and cooked to become the basis of nutritious meals. When Europeans settled in what would become America, every town and hamlet had at least one mill. Fast forward to the agribusiness model of the mid-twentieth century when bread whose ingredients were grown and processed far from its end consumers was more likely to spring from a plastic bag bought in the supermarket than from a home oven—often containing as many synthetic ingredients as its wrapper. Mills became mega-enterprises while smaller local ones were abandoned and mostly disappeared—until many in the generation raised on spongy white bread started to question the integrity of what they were eating. In Trumansburg, organic grain farmer Thor Oechsner joined forces with Greg Russo and Neal Johnston to create Farmer Ground Flour in 2009. Working with eight other local organic farmers, they produce stone-ground
wheat, rye, spelt, corn, and einkorn—this last is a precursor to modern wheat and the first seed planted by farmers 12,000 years ago, used in the first bread baked by humans. Greg says starting the mill was an exercise in historical research. “You could make a great whole wheat flour on a steel mill,” he admits, though he prefers to mill with granite. The friction between grain and grinder creates heat, which could potentially damage the grains’ nutritional value. The thermal mass of mill stones theoretically allows wheat to be milled at a lower temperature, preserving its integrity. Interestingly, mills like Farmer Ground are called “micro” despite producing up to 60,000 pounds of flour each week. A miller needs a larger skill set than the ability to send grain into the mill via a hopper and collect it when it’s turned into flour. Greg and Neal had to master the art of stone dressing for the arduous task of renewing the surface on the grinding stones, a chore needing to be done about once a month. “The real See Grind on page 33
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work is when we pull stones into a special room with a hoist, sharpen, and realign them,” he says. “If you think about how fine flour is, you want the stones to be as close together as possible. The alignment is the craft and the art.” For Greg, learning how to do this meant reading instructional manuals from the seventeenth century. Farmer Ground flour is sold extensively throughout the northeast, including at Wegman’s and in health food stores. Find sources for their flour at farmergroundflour. com. Some of it travels only a mile down the road to Wide Awake Bakery in Trumansburg (wideawakebakery.com), a business owned by Oechsner, Stefan Sender, and Liz Brown. Wide Awake began as Farmer Ground produced their first flour, in the same spirit of celebrating locally grown food in the community. “It makes beautiful bread—a lot of people think it’s transcendent,” Stefan says about using Farmer Ground Flour. “The baking performance is terrific. It requires a
little more attention and a careful, tender hand—but we swear by it!” Taking bread another step back in time, Essential Eating, a milling company whose home office is in Waverly, is the only miller of sprouted grains in the northeast, according to spokesperson Kate Collins. Kate says our ancestors ate sprouted grains because sprouting happened naturally while the harvested bundles of grain waited in fields to be collected. In 2000, Essential Eating’s founder, Janie Quinn, set up the business after being sick, substituting sprouted flour for the conventional stuff and becoming convinced it restored her health. Quinn is the author of Essential Eating Sprouted Baking: With Whole Grain Flours that Digest as Vegetables and two other cookbooks. The milling process is proprietary and happens at several undisclosed locations in Pennsylvania, Kate says. Because industrial milling means storing vast amounts of grain in temperature-controlled silos and sprouting is considered such a potential disaster, technology was developed to detect when
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it happened and grain “went bad.” Today, Essential Eating’s millers use that same tech to know when their grains are ready to mill. “I think in the future all grains we consume will be sprouted,” Kate predicts. “A dried whole grain has the nutrients locked in; but when the sprout cracks the shell, converting it from a starch to a vegetable, the nutrients become bio-available.” The resulting flour is naturally sweeter, with a slightly nutty aroma. “We have bakers who call and ask, ‘What did you put in the flour? It tastes so amazing!’” Kate uses her flour to make bread in a bread machine. Because the flour is sold in bulk to bakers and distributors like Dutch Valley Food Distributors and Shiloh Farms/ Garden Spot Foods who re-package it for sale in consumer quantities, Essential Eating’s considerable output is not found under their label. Learn how to find it at essentialeating. com.
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B A C K O F T H E M O U N TA I N
By Linda Stager
ovember can bring the first snowflakes of the season with a hint of long winter months ahead. The trees are bare and the days are short. Walking Main Street, I saw a solitary person walking ahead of me. A touch of snow on the ground mingled with fallen leaves on the sidewalk. I was struck by the contrast between the snowy dusk and the warm, lighted, inviting businesses we were passing, reminding us of holidays and gatherings ahead.