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Winter Edition, Issue 03

An extremely local literary magazine for Northwestern Pennsylvania

Prose Personal essays and short stories by Peggy Zortman, author of the Chase the Shelter Dog series, and John Pozza from the Quality Early Learning Show.

Images Featuring photographer Kevin Kaltenbaugh, co-owner of Gallery in the Forest. Enjoy a full-page photograph on page 23!

Poetry Poems by Wayne Swanger and Deborah Sarbin, both previously published in the Bridge Literary Arts Journal.

FEATURED WRITER: Diana Farley is a local author and member of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Her poignant memoir, The Road Back to Hell, tells her story of finding hope in the midst of tragedy.

Submit your work, find resources, and get involved:

From the Editors Winter is a good time for reflection. At Christmastime children are encouraged to evaluate their abilities to conform to adult expectations throughout the previous year, writing recommendations for Santa in regards to their overall status as “naughty” or “nice”. Adults indulge in the excess of holiday traditions, feasting and revelry, only to spend the first day of the New Year making earnest pledges to not do all the things they did just days earlier with great enthusiasm. Maybe it’s the cold, dreary weather that make us so self-aware, no longer able to lose ourselves in the distractions of summer swimming pools, spring flower-picking or the fall harvest. Maybe it’s the sense of ending that we have when we look around to see barren trees and the forest animals scrambling to gather enough food to survive. But winter has a way of making us look at ourselves, remember our past. For some of us, nostalgia, with all rose-colored truths and untruths, sets in so that all we can remember is the beauty of simpler times and all we can feel is the discontent with current times. Others will zero in on one delicious memory, savoring the sights, sounds and feeling of a day, an hour, a moment that is imprinted in our minds in vivid color. Sometimes we feel through these memories in search of something--something as unknowable as all the “what-ifs” in our lives. Winter, with all its opportunity for introspection, often inspires great literary work. For this edition of The Watershed Journal, we encouraged our submitters to send in work, both writing and photography, that references the season. What we found was that the writers, photographers and storytellers of Northwestern Pennsylvania are already inclined towards a connection to the natural world with all of its tumultuous variations. As you read on, you will find a collection of work that represents the stories perfect for long winter evenings.

As always, thank you for supporting regional storytelling.

Table of Contents 4 5 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 17 18 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

Clarion Call by Patricia Thrushart The Milking by Wayne Swanger Ginny Goes to School by Diana Farley cookie cutter by Lauren Kocher John's World by John Pozza An Elk Encounter by Paul Staniszewski Nature's Book by David Tobin Eyes, Lost & Found by Joe Taylor Hygge by Girard Tournesol The Laboratory by Deborah Burghardt One Tree by Rebecca Hoff Seasons by Cindy Scully Billy the Christmas Bulb by David Rotsch Combat Zone by Patti Susko Full page photo by Kaltenbaugh Photography Fallen by Wayne Swanger Bazaar by Davy Allin Geography of Absence by Deborah Sarbin Enter Winter by Laurie Barrett Grandma's Autograph Book by Kathy Myers In the Dead of Winter by W. Hill Snowballs by Kirke Wise Patterns of Rain by Rose James Stringing the Backyard Lines by Darlene Edmonds I Was Covered in Snow by Peggy Zortman The Winter Within by Judy Schwab Never Mind by Rachel Robinson Photography credit is specifically listed on each page unless the author is also the photographer.

photo by Kaltenbaugh Photography

I hear the Clarion River call, She sings me wild. From deep within her rocky shoals, Smoothed by fast and weedy waters, Fed by snowmelt from the hills Of ancient AppalachiaShe sings me wild. A fierce snow pelts her icy skin, Her hemlocks stand serene, Impervious to cold and howl Of wind trapped in the hollows. Turgid trout wait out the frost, Dug in the muddy bottom. No bird cries now, no child shouts to mask her call-the Clarion call: She sings the winter wild.

Clarion Call by Patricia Thrushart


photo by Jo Scheier Bugay

The Milking by Wayne Swanger

photo by Greg Clary

Leaning in deep, With ease he assumes his work As one might put on a suit of clothes: Casually, unconsciously, capably. Adjusting the stool He presses his head to the Ayrshire’s flank, Reaches beneath her bovine bulk, Seizes two teats Suspended from her swollen udder And commences the symbiotic ritual Performed in this old barn For generations. The galvanized pail Set below her hindquarters And between his knees Fills steadily As his sinewy hands, powerful and sure, Pump like pistons. The muffled murmur of flowing milk Soothes milker and milked alike; Their eyes open and close languidly As they relieve one another of their burdens.


Ginny Goes to School by Diana Farley In 2015, I fulfilled a life-long dream by writing my memoir, "The Road Back to Hell". It is a bittersweet story of growing up in an extremely dysfunctional family in the 1950's and 1960's. I spent almost five years doing family research, getting together with my sisters to record their memories of the 'tough' years, talking with other family members, taking writing classes at Chautauqua Institute, pouring over family photos and setting-up my timeline. By the time, I finished my book; I was sixty-five years old and felt I did not have the time or the fortitude to pursue a publisher. Instead, I self-published, which meant that all of the publicity, promoting, public speaking engagements and social media responsibilities were up to me. On January 10, 2016, I began writing a weekly blog. Last February, I posted the following blog to explain to my loyal followers how I was feeling about my writing future― The month of October is National Cancer Awareness Month, and in 2017, I dedicated my weekly blogs to sharing the personal stories of a few of my closest friends who were dealing with cancer. One of those friends lost her nine-year battle in December. Another dear friend was diagnosed with lung cancer in late November. A former classmate who lives in Jamestown, New York was facing the pain of watching her two-year-old grandson undergo treatments for leukemia. I spent a great deal of time talking with them and recording their stories. When the project ended, I was emotionally and mentally drained, and found myself spiraling down into a deep, dark funk.

come to my house to make Christmas cookies and decorate the tree were over. My excitement was revived when my thirteen-yearold grandson, Truman asked me when we were going to decorate the tree. Thrilled that he had even considered it, I quickly answered, "How about Monday? You're off from school that day." He readily agreed. Monday, November 27th was an unusually warm and sunny day. I considered calling and changing the date, but feared our schedules would not coincide again, so I picked him up as planned. As soon as he got in the car, he began telling me the latest statistics about the Steelers and their rivals on the other teams. He sounded like a sportscaster, backing up his facts with pictures on one of his electronic devices. When we walked into my house, I immediately turned on some Christmas music, hoping it would put us both in the mood. It did not. After about forty-five minutes, Truman looked at me and said, "You know, Nonny, it isn't the same is it?" Sadly, I agreed. We decided to call it quits for the day and I dropped him off at the school where he would join his friends in a game of basketball. The rest of the Christmas season followed suit. I ran around like a chicken with my head cut-off trying to buy special presents for everyone in my family. Years ago, my husband Jim solved this problem by giving them what they want most― money. However, I still insisted on buying gifts that they could open when they came to our house to celebrate Christmas Eve. Often times, many of these gifts were returned.

I was also floundering about whether or not I would be capable of writing another book. For over two years, I had been promoting, pushing, blogging and actively pursuing my Facebook page. My desire to write a second book was waning. I was hopeful that attending Bookbaby's Conference for Independent Writer's in Philadelphia would invigorate me. Although I met many great people there, learned so much more about the writing and publishing industry, and finally met my former mentor, Brooke Warner of She Writes Press, it was not enough. I could not rekindle the fire.

My son Todd and his family live in Maryland, and I spent a good deal of time trying to co-ordinate a date that would work for our annual get-together after Christmas. In the past, Todd, his wife Shawna and their sons, Matt & Dane, all came together to celebrate at our house. Now that my grandsons are adults, everything has changed. We ended up having three separate celebrations and I started to consider saying, "Bah-humbug" to Christmas next year. In retrospect, I realized I was desperately trying to recreate Christmases of the past to help pull me out of my 'funk'.

At that time, I decided to put my writing on hold and enjoy the Christmas holidays with my family and friends. Of course, anyone who has grown children and grandchildren knows that the memories of Christmases past cannot be recreated. I felt that the days of having my grandchildren Elliot, Sophie and Truman

In late December, something unexpected happened! I was invited to speak to a group of at risk teens at Keystone High School. Stephanie White, a social worker with Intermediate Unit 6, sent me the following message-


photo by Anthony Mangino

I wanted to update you on the girls group to whom I am reading your book. The girls LOVE IT! One student even went home and bought it after the first chapter. You asked me how I would use your book and the following is what we have covered so far: We have been able to cover a multitude of topics with your book as a segue, such as prioritizing worry, powers of positive thinking, understanding those around us, postpartum depression, parentification, and the ripple effect. Most recently, your story was able to tie into the 'Me Too' movement that has been happening, and the girls were able to discuss standing up to sexual harassment! I hope all is well. Still looking forward to you meeting the kids once, we have completed your story! My heart filled with joy as I realized that Stephanie wanted me to reach out and share with these students! I could almost feel the dark clouds that had surrounded me the last few months, slowly begin to lift. For the first time in a while, I was truly excited about something! I readily accepted the invitation. A week later, Stephanie contacted me -and we set the date for my visit in late January.

Jamestown. The shelves were lined with Ginny dolls and beautiful Ginny outfits. After selecting the Ginny I wanted and selecting the perfect outfit for her, we left the store and returned home. When I took that little eight-inch doll to bed with me that night, she became my best friend, my pretend sister and my confidant. Each night I whispered all of my secrets into her ear. Years later, while my husband, Jim and I were antiquing, we came discovered a book entitled "Ginny's First Secret" by Lee Kingman. I had never heard of the book and could not wait to get home and read it. Sharing Ginny's Secret with this group was a perfect ending for my presentation! When I arrived at Keystone High School on January 31, Stephanie and teacher's aide, Kathy Wise, welcomed me into the classroom and introduced me to the students. I was a little surprised to see a few young boys there, but knew I could tailor my talk to meet their needs, too. After telling them a little bit about my life, why I wanted to write and reading them my epilogue, I opened it to questions from the students. Each of the girls was prepared with their own special question. Soon the boys became equally involved. I loved the interaction with these young adults, and I did my best to answer their questions and offer them positive steps that may help them change the courses of their lives. I encouraged each of them to write down their feelings in a journal, a spiral notebook or on scrap paper whenever possible. I explained the therapeutic benefits of releasing their anxieties through writing. The hour flew by quickly and it was time to wrap up my talk. I lifted my Ginny and introduced her to the class. I asked them what special doll or toy they had loved when they were younger. The girls had fond memories of their dolls, while the boys related to stuffed bears and action figures. When they finished sharing their stories, I distributed typed papers with Ginny's Secret written on them. Then I read them Ginny's Secret-

"Open your Heart — Open your Mind — Look for the Best, and that's what you'll Find"

Of all of the steps in the writing and publishing process, the thing I have enjoyed the most is public speaking. There is nothing that brings me more peace and joy than to look out at my audience and openly share the pain, heartache, joys and successes I have experienced over the years. I find this rewarding because I know that almost every person in the room has experienced some of these same feelings. It is always my hope that some of them can take away at least one positive message that will help them deal with their own demons. Before any speaking engagement, I always prepare my presentation to meet the needs and goals of my audience. In this particular case, I knew I would be talking to a group of teenage girls who had experienced dysfunctional upbringings. As I was pondering what to take to the school that they could all relate to, I spotted one of my Ginny dolls sitting on a shelf. "Perfect!" I said to myself. "Every girl loves dolls!" I vividly remember the day when I got my first Ginny doll. I was five years-old when my parents took me into a tiny, toy store in

"Open your Heart- Open your MindLook for the Best, and that's what you'll Find" As I walked out of the school that day, I realized my heavy heart had lightened and my future looked much brighter! My funk had lifted and drifted off into the sky. I will be forever thankful to those two wonderful teachers and that amazing group of students.


cookie cutter

We traded in The wind in our hair, Nights under the stars And the Earth against our feet

by Lauren Kocher


For the 9-5, Manicured lawns, And cookie-cutter lives And this is what we call Living the dream. photography by Anthony Mangino photo by Byron Hoot

John's World by John Pozza

It’s just a bicycle. Not a ticket to your dreams. Not a romantic poem, or an immortalized black and white photograph. It doesn’t notice if you’re suffering nobly through wind and rain, or care if your ride is epic enough. But it does leap forward when you push the pedals. It gives back exactly what you put in. And, of course, it can make you feel really damn awesome. My special place to visit, pause and take solace on a bike is a natural vista along the Redbank Valley Trail in Baxter. It reminds me of “Christina’s World,” one of the best known American paintings of the 20th century, by Pennsylvania’s own Andrew Wyeth. The painting is on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Wyeth depicts a woman lying on the ground in a treeless field of hay, looking up at a gray house on the horizon,

looking up at a gray house on the horizon, and a barn and various small outbuildings. I see a similar landscape that changes with the seasons. It is sometimes filled with hay, wheat or sprouts of corn. In winter, it is barren of anything other than drifts of snow. However, off in the distance above the horizon, there is no house or outbuilding, only a small island of trees set apart from anything nearby. Those trees bring a spirit of never-ending life and hope for every tomorrow. This is “John’s World.” No, cycling isn’t a hobby for me — it’s my inner peace. As former Italian pro cyclist Mario Cippolini said, “The bicycle has a soul. If you succeed to love it, it will give you emotions that you will never forget.”


An Elk Encounter in Benezette by Paul Staniszewski On a Sunday in early December, I traveled to Benezette with the intention of photographing elk. It was the worst possible conditions for photographing because of the darkness, fog, and rain. I was searching for a small herd of elusive elk that were rumored to be inhabiting the area. I was fortunate to locate the group consisting of six huge bulls bedded in the woods. After positioning myself in the middle of the group I began to take photographs. A half hour later and over 200 camera shutter actuations, I was satisfied and felt that this was probably the best photographing experience that I have ever had. And these are my favorite photos from that day.


Nature's Book

by David Tobin

photo by Sandi Bell

Nature’s Book Compelled to look Maybe a mountain nook A babbling brook Sparkling stream, no longer a dream Daily strife to banish Silent soul to nourish Watchfulness, I pull off several deer ticks Nevertheless, I confess! A lick better than endless politics. Put it behind Heal the mind Transcend city containment This ain’t entertainment Transformative spiritual attainment It’s a Shag Bark tree that sets me free. 11

Eyes, Lost and Found by Joe Taylor I'm scanning the faces of thirtysomething women milling about this seaside coastal town's green, looking for your eyes. Wondering if you stored away a memory of being here, in this place with your mother and me. You, in a stroller babbling happily, content. Your mother and I holding hands, still starry-eyed, dreaming of an imagined lifetime of flower boxes on cottage windows. Then I remember, you are here. You and your husband and your baby who is just about the same age that you were so many summers ago. You've gone off to see the wharf, the 12

sailboats, sights that you hope your little son will remember. And I sit here, reflecting back through all of my hollow summers. What if I had stopped trying when doors were slammed in my face? When birthday cards went unacknowledged? When my crushed heart told me to move on, but wise women said, keep trying? Would you be here today? Would you have somehow remembered this place and those times before you knew time? Would you be looking for my eyes?

photo by Anthony Mangino

To envelope ourselves, others in comfort only winter can bring To rejoice for no apparent reason To taste the snow, toast fates, sing songs Winter brings us an overdue gift To hug ourselves and to often hug others To forgive the unforgivable in the face of the unforgiving To ask forgiveness expecting none To boldly bless against a storm of curses To touch the shamelessly “untouchable� To be the indefinable being And to warm against the cold


(Nordic: pronounced hoo-guh. No English translation. Undefined.)

by Girard Tournesol

photo by Kaltenbaugh Photography


Dad worked as a metallurgist at Kennametal, Incorporated. Every day he experimented to discover the most robust carbide in the world for snowplow blades and diamond-tipped tools. A paycheck rewarded him, but he was also out to “beat the MIT boys.” Whoever those boys were, they didn’t go to our church. Every night Dad mused about inventing something for personal profit. I pretended to understand his references to “free enterprise” and “competitive margins.” Usually, I’d smile and shake my head in support of his often short-lived entrepreneurial schemes. Then, one evening at supper, while Dad scraped his Le Seur peas into his French’s instant mashed, he announced his plan to turn our cellar into a laboratory. I quit kicking my little sister under the table. As a ten-year-old, I imagined a laboratory lit by flickering bulbs, a cavern full of foul smells that emanated from bubbling brews in beakers, set next to wildly-wired contraptions that sizzled lightning bolts. Walls of crooked shelves hung laden with dusty test tubes and jars of bat blood, eye-ofnewt, and human hair. Kids would envy me having a laboratory—the perfect place for a Halloween haunted house. 14

A few days after the announcement, I followed Dad to the cellar. We descended the creaking stairs, crept past the furnace— a metal monstrosity with four huge air duct arms—and stopped in front of the Maytag washer and dryer set. To our left, the doors of the paint can cupboard hung open. Hammers, screwdrivers, and miscellaneous nails and screws in baby food jars littered Dad’s workbench. To the right, a lumpy three-cushioned couch crouched. “Abracadabra!” Dad said as he waved a paint stick over a blanket-covered lump I thought to be dirty laundry. He snapped the once electrified blanket back to reveal a plastic bowl, poster paints, a hunk of rubber, and a sack of Plaster of Paris. My shoulders drooped. My racing heart slowed to a slog. “I thought you were building a laboratory.” “This is a laboratory,” he said. “We’re going to experiment with plaster casting. Once we perfect our design, we’ll sell our products and be as rich as the Rockefellers.” My dreams dribbled away toward the clogged floor drain. Plaster powder sprayed into the air when we opened the sack. We mixed it with water,

photo by Rose James

whipped it to the consistency of pancake batter, and poured it into a rubber mold. Dad had chosen the head of an Indian Chief in full headdress. I was more of a Barbie girl. The next evening, when we removed the hardened Chief, he was covered in tiny hollows that resembled chicken pox scars. I wanted to quit right then, but Dad said we needed to adjust our method. Next time, we slowed the pour, and sure enough, no more pox. I painted the stoic Chief. He looked crosseyed. His smeary striped headdress bore a lot of resemblance to Dad’s pajamas. No one would buy a product that had seen too many moons. I didn't think we could give them away. Dad appraised my artistic abilities. He didn’t criticize me or point out I didn’t inherit my grandmother's and mother’s talents. Instead, he said what we needed was inspiration.

On our next visit to the laboratory, Dad snapped the blanket back again, this time to unveil a professionally-produced eagle, gold with a 25-inch wingspan. It clutched three arrows and a Union shield in its talons. He placed the bird in my hands, wrapped his arm around my shoulders and squeezed. “One day, Deborah, we’ll pour an eagle.” The laboratory returned to use as a workshop and laundry. I went on to earn a few bucks from hosting a haunted house there after raiding the kitchen—spaghetti for brains and ketchup for blood. Dad hung the eagle above the dining room doorway, a compliment to our colonial décor. I may be the only one left, who knows why the eagle flew above the doorway—that once there was a father who set up a laboratory so his daughter could discover her creative gifts, realize despair only gathers dust, and remember that bubbling in the brew of her failures was hope and vision. 15

One Tree

by Rebeca Ho

One copper maple Sheds its old, rusting ballgown Onto the blue waves. Disintegrating Down the cliffside in slow-mo, A beautiful death. This October dusk Sears like a Viking's last pyre, Incendiary, Becoming tribute, A sincere imitation Of one tree's grandeur.


photo by Anthony Mangino

Seasons by Cindy Scully

Sunshine Protrudes Radiating In Never ending Grandeur

Satin Umbrellas raise to Mellow Melodious Echoes of Rain

Flamboyant Arrays of Lavish Leaves

Winds Icy cold Nipping at Toes Eerie whistles Round each corner

photos by Rodger Guy Yetzer


photo by Jessica Weible

Billy the Christmas bulb was wrapped up tightly with all his brothers and sisters. On the shelf, with all the other Bulb families, Billy dreamed of his first Christmas. He had heard all the wonderful stories of kids seeing their reflections in the bulbs’ shiny colors. Billy couldn’t wait to hear and see the children opening their presents on Christmas morning at his new house. He hummed Christmas carols all day, daydreaming about his very near future. Late one night there was a rumble and a loud boom. Billy felt like he was falling. Indeed he was! A worker had knocked over the shelf with all the Christmas bulbs and the boxes of bulbs were flying everywhere. His box opened on the way down and Billy felt himself falling fast. "Oh no!" Billy thought as he fell, "If I hit too hard I’ll break!" Worse yet, he’d never have a Christmas. Billy hit the floor hard, but did not break; he bounced and rolled under a nearby shelf. Billy screamed out for help, but no one heard him under the dark shelf. Billy called out to his brothers and sisters, but he couldn’t hear them either. Billy began to cry. All night Billy cried, until he fell asleep sad and lonely under the shelf.


Billy woke the next day to see that the mess from the night before had been cleaned up. Nobody found Billy yet and that made him sadder. Billy called out for hours, but no one heard him. Eventually Billy lost his voice. Alone, he sat and listened to the footsteps passing him by. As he wondered if anyone would ever find him, Billy fell asleep again, alone and sad. Billy again woke up under the shelf, but he was very hopeful. Today was Christmas Eve and he just knew that someone would find him. Billy called out for a while, but had no luck. Billy got an idea. If he could wiggle, shake, rock and roll hard enough… maybe he could get out from under the shelf. Billy was no quitter, he was tough. He fell on the floor and didn’t break; he knew he could do this. Billy put all his strength into his plan and he shook. He rolled, he rocked and he wiggled most of the day. Billy only made it a few inches, but he never gave up. Billy kept going, until his muscles hurt. Close to the end of the day, Billy had finally made it to the edge of the shelf. It was getting late and there were less and less customers and Billy began to get sad again. Just as Billy was about to give up hope, he felt himself being picked up. Billy looked up and saw a little boy smiling down at him. His hands were warm and soft

and he could already feel the love growing between him and his new friend.

the bulbs in a bag and completed the sale.

David and his Dad thanked the nice girl and “David, what is that?” asked his new friend’s walked towards their car. It was chilly outside, Dad. David looked up and showed his Dad his but David was aglow. He had rescued that newest treasure. David explained how he little bulb and now he and his Dad were on found the bulb on the floor under the shelf their way home to show their family their and wanted to know if he could keep him. beautiful Christmas bulbs. In the bag, Billy David’s Dad told him that they would have to began to cry again. This time it wasn’t because take it to the lost and found at the front he was sad, it was because he was happy. Billy counter. So hand in was back with his family hand, David his Dad and and he had a new friend. Christmas was Billy went to the front Christmas was tomorrow; counter. At the front all his dreams were tomorrow; all his dreams desk, David and his Dad coming true. waited patiently for some were coming true. help. At home, David rushed in the house. He A pretty counter girl named Lindsay showed his brother and sister his box of bulbs introduced herself and asked if she could do and asked them to help put them on the tree. something. David held up his little bulb and Eagerly they decorated the tree and soon they told her his story. Lindsay smiled and said were done. They all called out for their that there was an accident a few nights ago and parents to come and see their wonderful tree. this bulb must belong in this box. Lindsay the David’s Mom and Dad walked in and were counter girl held up the box with Billy’s speechless. The kids had done a wonderful brothers and sisters in it; there was one open job. “The tree is perfect!” they cheered. space. Billy was so excited to see his brothers and sisters were all safe and they were glad to David’s parents gathered the kids for one last see him too. David gave the bulb to Lindsay Christmas Eve hug and told them it was time and she put him away, safe and sound. David for bed. David looked long and hard at his pulled on his Dad’s hand and before he said a new friend Billy and smiled brightly. He said word, his Dad told the counter girl, that they good night to his little bulb and went to bed. would be buying that box. Lindsay placed 19

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Winter Edition, Issue 03  

The third edition of our extremely local literary magazine, The Watershed Journal, debuted January 15, 2019. Enjoy poems, short stories, ess...

Winter Edition, Issue 03  

The third edition of our extremely local literary magazine, The Watershed Journal, debuted January 15, 2019. Enjoy poems, short stories, ess...