Saturday, October 31, 2009


This year’s breathtaking fall colors are Nature’s last fling before settling in for the Arctic blast of winter’s turn on our calendar.

Days are shortening. Temperatures are frigid and, now, the vivid autumn palette has largely fluttered Earthward to nature’s composting renewal on the floor of the woods.

But, how and why does this happen? Scientists have worked for years to understand these autumnal changes and have found there are three factors that influence autumn leaf coloring; 1) leaf pigments, 2) length of night and 3) weather.

The timing of leaf color change is primarily regulated by the length of night. None of the other influences are as unvarying as that seasonal change.

As nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the leaf begin to paint our wooded landscapes.

The green leaves of summer are that color because of chlorophyll, an ingredient necessary for photosynthesis which enables trees to use sunlight to manufacture sugars for their food.

Two other pigments involved in fall’s changing colors are carotenoids and anthocyanins. The former produce the yellow, orange and browns while the latter produce the rest of the autumnal palette.

During the growing season, chlorophyll dominates and leaves appear green. As night lengthens in the fall, chlorophyll production slows down, then stops altogether. That’s when the other two are unmasked and show their brilliant colors.

The amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling. Temperature and moisture are the main influences.

A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays.

The amount of moisture in the soil also affects autumn colors. Like the weather, soil moisture varies greatly from year to year. The countless combinations of these two highly variable factors assure that no two autumns can be exactly alike.

The composting mentioned earlier is the result of the fallen leaves and needles decomposing and restocking the soil with nutrients which become the food for soil organisms vital to the forest ecosystem—thus closing Nature’s marvelous cycle of death and renewal.

THE ABOVE PHOTO was taken October 21st while looking skyward along the west trail of my woods.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The woods are ablaze in Nature's Fall spectacle!

Crimson pigment of deciduous trees across the pond dominates the green coloration of the pines in this late-Fall telephoto view. Please stop by Saturday when Fogeyisms will take a peek at the vibrant, eye-candy of Nature's Autumnal palette--and why it happens.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maxine Coleman Hollenbeck Hudson

February 24, 1922

August 25, 2009

Steve Hollenbeck and Suzanne (Hollenbeck) Rosell

Memorial Service
Trinity Lutheran Church
Crestline, Ohio
October 17, 2009
Pastor Diana Seaman

Good Bye, Aunt Maxine

Saturday, October 24, 2009



A personal experience

We punished our way through the dark woods of Camp Mowana that recent night with our path lit only by the feeble glow of an oil lantern. Here and there in the distant woods a campfire simmered.

And there was occasional shouting. And screaming. And gunshots.

We were a small group of runaway slaves from the country’s sordid past struggling to walk to Canada—with its promise of freedom.

We pretended to be a church choir on our way to Shelby for the next morning’s services being guided by friendly locals from haven to haven along this short segment of our trek.

We were terrorized by bounty hunters seeking a reward for quashing our dreams and returning us to the slavery of the Deep South.

We met an old preacher, Dr. James Cosby (above) who warned us of the slave-owner sympathizers who were likely to horribly mutilate the men of our group or resell their wives and daughters into even more sordid conditions.

A sympathetic landowner was helping us when the abusive matron of the property threatened our very existence. One of our number lay “dead” in a freshly dug grave—a ruse to deflect the matron’s deadly challenge.

We hid in a tiny compartment of a barn while bounty hunters screamed at another sympathetic soul who really was hiding us—the commotion muted by the thick barn walls—until we were forced to run to the safety of a nearby wood’s darkness.

Soon, on another black trail we had stumbled upon, another bounty hunter’s vicious dog lunged and snarled at us with extreme realism. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as we disappeared deeper into the woods.

We stumbled over roots and rocks. We were assaulted by low hanging branches. We tried to stay with a lame elder in our midst regardless of being previously warned to sacrifice any stragglers for the good of the group.

Then, in the deepest of night, we were met by a wagoner who helped us squash ourselves like cordwood into his tarp covered, horse-drawn antique from the period where we rode, and trundled and bounced, being sworn to absolute silence while our limbs became numb with compressed posture and cold.

Finally, our hour and a half, 2 mile slice of slave-like reality came to a successful conclusion beside a warming campfire while the creator of this stunning dose of painful history, the Reverend Paul Lintern, congratulated us on our newly achieved freedom.

It is estimated as many as 100,000 runaway slaves gained their independence using the Underground Railroad through this area.

Congratulations to those local citizens of the time who truly understood the meaning of the phrase “...all men are created equal.”

Sparks streak skyward from a roaring fire while an apparition-like cast member of Follow the Drinking Gourd regales participants with stories of runaway slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad through Richland County in the middle 1850s.

Editor’s note: This two-night, live reality event was conducted in mid-October and was a startling peek at slave life in the US just 150 years ago. There were at least 18 “stations” of the Underground RR established in Richland County; the most obvious of which stands today on the east side of Lexington Springmill Rd., just north of the intersection with Hanley Rd. It is a large farmhouse with a sandstone retaining wall along the road and a large yellow barn on the opposite side of the road.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This musician's hand coaxes a guitar melody to life by a campfire while below a group of participants is mesmerized by the reality of a recent program on the history of the Underground Railroad in Richland County. A stunningly realistic "Follow the Drinking Gourd" was presented at Camp Mowana over two recent evenings.

The program's cover screamed, REWARD! for a black woman runaway named Eliza, 17 years of age, well grown, black color, has a whining voice. She took with her one dark calico and one blue and white dress, a red corded, gingham bonnet; a white striped shawl and slippers.

I will pay the above reward if taken near the Ohio River on the Kentucky side, or THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS, if taken in the state of Ohio and delivered to me near Lewisburg, Mason County KY. Signed Tho's. H. Williams, August 4, 1853.

Please stop by Saturday while Fogeyisms shares this story.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brothers George and Ted Kmet glide under SR 36 at Howard, OH while riding the Kokosing Gap bike trail between Mt. Vernon and Danville. In the small photo, lower right, George lends a hand to a lady with an uncooperative chain on her bike. The brothers in silhouette below suggest the melancholy we felt with autumn morphing toward winter.


The bike ride that recent day could have been the last scheduled one of our season.

The brisk morning stiffened the skin after a cold front and the daylight shortened like someone was drawing the shades.

Nature’s woodsy pallet began to smile with fall color as we rode 28 miles into the gently warming day while the Kokosing River sometimes ran in formation with us as if celebrating the changing seasons too.

It was one of those bike rides that felt like it was downhill in both directions.

But, even our chatter was somewhat subdued.

Friend Ted has headed home to Florida while his brother George and I would soon be confining ourselves to more indoor pleasures as winter prepares to pound on Ohio’s door.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Three very muscular, 275 horsepower outboards will propel this coast guard vessel with an inflatable hull (foreground) at nearly 46 knots in its law enforcement and search and rescue duties with the US Coast Guard station in Marblehead, OH.

...and lots of service memories

Pleasure bombards the soul when good memories are rekindled.

I had that thrill recently when I visited a US Coast Guard facility for the first time since my discharge from active duty nearly 50 years ago.

During life time seems to dissolve. It was apparent that morning at the Marblehead Coast Guard station when the young guardsman who met Sue and me at the door asked when I started my service. “1958,” I admitted casually.

His startled look turned into a knowing smile when he admitted that was 50 years before he joined.

My trip through nautical nostalgia that day actually began a year or so ago when a few of us coast guard veterans assembled ourselves and formed a body that grew to be known as the Buckeye Coasties.

On a recent weekend we and our ladies reassembled ourselves—almost 40 strong—in Port Clinton where nostalgia was trumped only by laughter from an occasional tall tale.

After a Friday night mixer at the motel the meat of the visit began with a guided tour of the Marblehead Lighthouse that next morning. It is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes and has guided sailors safely along the rocky shores of Marblehead Peninsula since 1822.

From there it was on to Coast Guard Station Marblehead, a very modern facility built in 1981, which traces its history to being one of the first 7 ever built on the Great Lakes in 1876.

As we toured, my memory drifted those 50 years to the old, wooden lifeboat station in Charlevoix, Michigan where I began my service.

I remember standing in the watch tower up there as the search and rescue operation for the oar boat Carl D. Bradley played out in the constant squawk of radio traffic. She was 630 feet long and broke in half—and sank—in a monstrous storm just 12 miles southwest of nearby South Fox Island.

I watched the morbid process of bodies being delivered to the temporary morgue in our station’s garage as I manned that radio and kept the official log of the horrific event.

That was just days after my arrival there from boot camp and a prompt lesson in the power of the sea and the mission of my service’s sometimes somber duty.

The names of the two survivors out of the 35 man crew of that oar boat are forever burned in my memory; Elmer Fleming and Frank Mays. I hope their lives have treated them kindly ever since.

I remembered standing on the heaving deck of the CG buoy tender White Lupine as we pounded our way through storms on Lake Ontario to provide maintenance service to its giant buoys.

I remembered ice on the interior bulkheads of our berthing compartment when we were frozen to the dock in the long winters of Ogdensburg, NY on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

I remembered taking the Jeep from my duty station in Oswego, NY where I was serving as the group’s yeoman and searching the shoreline toward Sodus Point for a barge that had broken from its tow in a storm the previous night on that same lake—and finding it, complete with its surviving crewmember who was really happy to see me as his ride beat itself against the shoreline rocks in the cold morning’s light.

Thanks Buckeye Coasties. And, thanks to you modern coasties for your service to our country. May you one day enjoy the warm fuzzies of your very own-even sometimes tragic-memories.
A self-righting, 47 foot cutter of 40,000 pounds displacement is pictured to the right rear in the lead photo. It is the primary vessel for the overall mission of the Marblehead CG station and is well adapted to heavy weather operations common on this shallow lake.

In the small photo a 20’ airboat is pictured at the ready in the station’s boat house. It is handy in the marshes of the station’s operating area and was the boat used in the ice-floe rescue of several hundred folks drifting off shore near Oak Harbor in February 2009.

The group photo shows some of the nearly 40 coast guard veterans and ladies of the Buckeye Coasties organization on tour at the Marblehead CG Station with three very professional station personnel flanking the group in blue uniform, jump suits.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We concluded our Appalachian Trail hiking adventure with a visit to the Luray Caverns where companions Lynn Rush (left above) and Dot Morrison ponder the cave’s geology. In the large photo below Lynn, (from left) Noelle Silk, Ted Kmet and Dot enjoy meandering through a passageway.


The Luray Caverns of Virginia began their formation about 600 million years ago when the continents drifted and collided around the Earth. That created a broad shallow depression we now know as the Shenandoah Valley which for 400 million years was covered by an ancient sea.

In more recent times--yet still spanning millions of years—a fairly shallow layer of limestone, formed by that ancient sea, began to dissolve by the action of surface water percolating through that layer. The entire cavern is confined to a zone only about 100 feet thick top to bottom.

The small, hollowed-out or dissolved areas eventually were filled by water creating more dissolving and enlargement of the existing crevices. Run-off soon descends into lower levels of the Earth leaving the huge limestone chambers visitors enjoy today.

As those initial volumes of water subside to slow seepage, nature’s decorating process begins. A solution of calcium carbonate allows precipitation of lime to form deposits that grow slowly from the top of the cave called stalactites.

As that dripping falls to the floor of the cave similar deposits grow upward from the floor called stalagmites. When they eventually grow together a column is formed.

Do not expect to watch that process happen. While water drips constantly new deposits accumulate at the rate of one cubic inch in 120 years.

Today, a visit to the cave involves an hour-long meander through a stunning and nicely illuminated collection of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flowstone which forms draperies, frozen waterfalls, and veils throughout the cave.

All colors seen in the cave are naturally created.

My favorite cave feature was the Stalacpipe Organ. Located in a large underground room festooned with “frozen” limestone and known as the Cathedral, the organ electronically taps nearly 3 ½ acres of stalactites which produces tones of symphonic quality.

Take your jacket for your visit. While average temperatures can vary you can expect a relatively cool reading in the upper 50s Farenheit.

Since its discovery in 1878 the cave has become the most popular one in Eastern America.

More than 500,000 visitors each year attest to that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Appalachian Trail hiking friend Lynn Rush is dwarfed by this curtained column in the Luray Caverns of Virginia. A cavern visit was the last event on a recent week-long tent camping and hiking adventure in the Shenandoah National Park. Please stop by Thursday and Fogeyisms will tell you the story of our cave visit.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hiking companion Lynn Rush sheds her day pack and prepares to enjoy a snack break along the Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia (above) and reads entries in a trail hut, guest register (small photo below).

With some blisters, some bears and some poop

We had a luxurious rest in the mountain sunshine that day as we explored one of the more than 250 huts along the Appalachian Trail (AT); this one pictured above in the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia.

The huts are scattered all along the AT and, like this one, are usually three sided with a roof covering some arrangement of permanently installed sleeping platforms with a nearby privy—pretty Spartan accommodations by civilized standards, but a welcome relief to weary hikers faced with an overnight stay in a cold, wet woods.

That may sound like a lot of huts but this trail of over 2,000 mountainous miles stretches from Maine to Georgia and all of the trail’s customers are walking.

A delight of our hut visit was reading through the guest register notebook where hikers who stop by pen their often humorous, sometimes soul-searching, thoughts and signed by a “trail name”; a moniker often accumulated by the serious, through hikers.

Here’s a sample: “6/17 In from Big Meadows for a snack and to get out of the crazy rain...I got soaked. Sunny now. On to Skyland for some good eats and a bed.” Signed Spoon-Steen.

This entry was embellished by a caricature of a soggy hiker dreaming of a dry pillow, a blanket and a bed.

On the internet regarding the Pinefield hut, this hiker wrote, “...Path from shelter to outhouse crosses over stream. Makes for tricky midnight trips to answer the call of nature...Two bear poles, both close to shelter...Next water supply travelling north is either from Loft Mt. campground (during season) or Ivy Creek, about 5 miles north. Signed Kncats.

Another hiker noted online: “I stayed there alone 1 night the third week of April this year (06). Hung my food on the pole in back and would’nt you know it a bear came down and nearly tore the pole out of the ground. He growled and snorted for about 10 minutes while I lay silently in a fetal position inside the hut holding a hiking pole and buckknife praying he did not come around the front. He finally gave up and left after about 10 minutes.

I did see a beutiful moon rise over the ridge out side the front of the hut at 3:10 in the a.m. My guns are not as dangerous as Ted Kennedy's car.”
Signed Cannonball

Remember folks, these hikers often are traveling alone and carrying everything they need to survive in a very heavy backpack—food, clothes, shelter; everything—even their garbage.

They may be out there in the wilderness weeks or months at a time.

It could be days between hot showers. It could be weeks between home-style meals. Calls of nature are answered—somehow.

In the next lower photo are “Spoon-Steen’s” musings mentioned above. In the bottom photo it says: “5 meals, 4 blisters, 3 bears, 2 poops, 1 sunset and 32 miles later....” Signed Rufio.

I bet these hikers have lots more stories to tell.

Thursday, October 8, 2009





Without the milkweed plant we have no Monarch butterflies. It is the only plant the Monarch caterpillar eats in that phase of its life cycle.

Around my neck of the woods both the plant and the butterfly are becoming scarce but we certainly found them thriving recently in the mountains along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

The total lifetime of the Monarch spans just 6 to 8 weeks. In that brief period it goes from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly...then death.

It grows inside the egg for about for about 4 days then hatches into the caterpillar stage and munches on its milkweed plant as larvae for about two weeks. Then they suspend themselves from a handy perch by secreting an adhesive from their tail.

There, in the shape of a reverse “J” they cover themselves in a transparent chrysalis as a pupa where, over a period of some 10 days they metamorphose into a butterfly.

Their lives also involve a stunning migration.

We’ll join them on their life cycle journey as they hibernate over the winter in Mexico and southern California. Then, in February/March they will reawaken, find a mate then begin the long flight north where they will lay their eggs—and die.

These special Monarchs will have lived about 4 to 5 months through the long winter and migration.

During March/April the first generation of the season is born; egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult. The second generation repeats in May/June. The third generation repeats in July/August.

The fourth generation which we observed and photographed above occurs in September/October—but does not die. It migrates south and lives six to eight months before it starts the next life cycle of these magical and amazing creatures.

Search key words: Monarch butterfly life cycle. Photos by the author except the adult which is from which also contributed to this story and for which we express our gratitude.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Our base camp was at an elevation of some 3,500 feet--not very high by Himalayan standards but more than 2,000 feet above the highest point in Ohio.

We got our tents pitched that arrival night just before a hefty rain storm hit our campground in the Big Meadows area of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The tent rattled and snapped in the wind as I drifted off to sleep hoping for a night of dry comfort in the howling weather with temperatures quickly plummeting to an overnight low of 50.

Dawn arrived as a quiet glow in the tent fabric and I noticed my left hand was dry as it explored a sleepy reach around the air mattress while the rest of me remained buried somewhere in my blanket reinforced sleeping bag.

It’s not fun to get dressed while you can see your breath but the reward of discovering a platoon of whitetail deer munching grass in the fog just outside the tent flap made the discomfort dissolve.

I was glad it wasn’t a platoon of black bear; sightings of which occurred all around us during our week’s visit including one bear romp right through our shower/laundry area.

We were launching ourselves on what turned out to be fairly grueling hikes totaling some 14 miles on the Appalachian Trail (AT) and another 10 or so on intersecting, local trails in this 100 mile long park along the Skyline Drive.

That first day’s stroll was on a local trail to the Blackrock Lookout at 3,721 feet above sea level. From there we endured a steep, rocky descent; down, down and down some more to the Lewis Spring Falls, an 81 foot shower of water in the woods.

This outing took 2.5 hours and covered 3 miles, 1.3 miles of which were on the AT—my first ever!

The following morning we launched out of the Skyland Campground area and climbed to the Stony Man Overlook at an elevation of 4,010 feet with the town of Luray, VA far below. On a later drive into that town we noted a valley temp of 78 degrees which dropped to 61 as we climbed back up the mountain.

The prettiest hike of our visit was to the Dark Hollow Falls; a little over ½ mile long drop of 440 feet along a mountain stream with high rocks and even higher trees—everywhere. It was easy to imagine being sequestered in a primordial forest.

Our most challenging hike slapped us in the legs when we launched on an immediate and hour-long 30 degree climb to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain; at 4050 feet elevation, the highest point in the park.

From there the ridgeline dropped below 3,000 feet before challenging us to ascend another 700 feet on a 6 mile trek back to our base camp.

When I got done with that one I felt like I had walked from Mansfield to Cleveland—twice.

On all of our romps through these heavily forested mountains I was constantly on the lookout for bears; often finding fresh evidence of their being in the trees and munching on acorns.

I never saw a bear.

But, I’m still pondering Lynn’s question, “I wonder how many bears saw us?"
In the small photo above an AT blaze--the white rectangle--is visible on the tree to the right.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


and The Shenandoah National Park

Thank You God

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dark Hollow Falls near the Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoah National Park provided a delightful setting for this picture of our hiking/camping group. Pictured from left are Ted Kmet, Noelle Silk and Dot Morrison, all of Gainesville, FL, yours truly, and Lynn Rush of Mansfield. Ted, who summers in Ohio, Lynn and I spent a week tent camping and hiking in the park. We were joined in our adventure for several days by the Gainesville ladies.

Saturday we will share some photos of the hiking adventure and Tuesday, a story on the hikes themselves. Thursday will feature a story on the metamorphosis of the Monarch butterfly and we will tell you about the "huts" used by overnight hikers along the AT in the following Saturday's story.

A delightful side-bar to our outdoor adventure in the Virginia mountains was a visit to the Luray Caverns. That story will conclude our coverage of this marvelous experience.