Stabat Mater

Fragment of a larger piece yet to be written.

The mother was beside herself
with grief–that’s all we know.
My gaze shifts from one to the other:
the original an image of no-nonsense domesticity
& self-possession, & then the one in black
with the blurred edges flickering
like a candle in the wind. She must
lose her composure, to say the least:
the classical distances between each feature
collapse, or are warped by discord.
Tears will have made a gray muddle
of eye shadow (kohl) & carved gullies
into the foundation on her cheeks, & at first
she trembled so violently, no single embrace
could possibly have absorbed the shock.
I would have had to brace myself against
the nearest wall, which might have seemed
solid enough, held up as it was
by so many others, & behind them,
all the so-called laws of physics.
Or that seeming tree that the soldiers planted
after they bulldozed the groves of ancient olives
where terrorists hid–I might have wedged
one sandal against its base. But think
back to your time in the Far East:
the apartment building would start to sway
in the middle of some innocuous conversation
about the weather, the wine would dance
in the glasses & everyone would grab
onto the table with both hands, as if that
would help. The throat goes dry, &
you begin to pray almost automatically
because words offer at least a semblance
of escape–an Indian rope trick
leading out of that void in the abdomen
where wisdom is supposed to take root.
And I can still picture the big one
that rocked us awake one morning
around 4:00, & we all ran out into the street
& watched the lampposts bowing to nobody
& heard the sound of glass shattering
& before it even hit the sidewalk, the sirens going off
one after another. You wouldn’t call that
a wail, would you–though our ears
insist on an anthropomorphic world.
You wouldn’t say unearthly, ungodly,
as if they meant the same thing.
The mother still stands.
You would keep your distance.

Found object

What is a “blog”? In this paper, I will show that this is a question which is less easy to answer than many people think, at least those people who know what “blogs” are, which isn’t everybody. Most people think “blogging” is something that only started with the World-Wide Web, but Webster’s Dictionary tells a slightley different story.

Blog n [ME blaugh, fr. OF blaugget, doppelganger; chalk; a lead weight used to measure chalk] 1 : a chewy substance of emetic and expectorant properties, derived from a mixture of matzo, manioc, and diatomaceous earth 2 a : gases emitted by a swamp, bog, fen, or other stagnant wetland b : any similarly potent gaseous emission — blogacious, blogatile adj
vb blogged; blogging vi : to produce blog < who blogged? > vt : to subject a person or matter of topical interest to fresh blog < decided to ~ it>

So as you can see the word has been around the block for a while. Alot of places on the Web talk about “blog” comeing from “weblog”, but you can’t believe everything on line because people can put whatever they want to and their are no editorials. Also, it is a circular reason, if you think about it. The first people who stated “we blog” on computers, got the idea for that verb from somewhere else. Probably the dictionary. “Blog” cannot come from “we blog”, the Web pages that say that are irroneous.

Today you can see alot of “blogs” more than ten million, which is more than the wetlands that exist in America. But your average “blog” has onely two posts (post is what they call pages in a “blog”, which come down from the top of the page in the order posted). And no links except Google News and Link me. Links are how you find “blogs”, except for “blogs” that the owner does not want you to find, besides “Next Blog” on Blogger, if you click on it. They have names that are like the titles of books that you want to look into because the cover makes you think it will be cool, for example, Green Eggs and Spam. The authors write about their daily life and opinions, such as Tristam Shandy, only less wordy and with smileys.

Smileys are important to show the emotions, like when you say something sarcastic or just-kidding. They are not just the ones with a smile, but winks and angry too, besides alot more other ones. When people write comments they use smileys, that way if they don’t know each other its O.K. Comments go back and forth at the bottom of posts and is maybe the reason why they thought about “blog” comeing from we blog. But some “blogs” don’t allow comments, either.

Some “blogs” only write about politics and think they are reporters, in their underwear they say. Political “blogs” for the most part are concerned about Snark, like Lewis Carroll wrote about how it disappears when you get to close:

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away — –
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

Daily Kos and Boing-boing and Michelle Markin are the most popular “blogs” sites right now. Also Istapundit.

In conclusion, if you think you know what “blog” is, you can find a “blog” that is something else. MySpace and Live Journal, that some say isn’t “blogging” comes under the influence of Chat rooms and bulletin boards, but many “blogs” just have links and plagiarism from others, and you can’t see any smileys there. You should try it.

Here there be Squirrels

Monday, 4:40 a.m. I should know better than to try and get started on laundry before daybreak. As I carry the clothesbasket out through the breezeway, I hear a fluttering of wings, and when I open the laundry room door and snap on the light, suddenly something is trying to perch in my hair, which is still wet from the shower, and beating its little wings against the back of my head. Something else is madly circling the tiny room. Carolina wren fledglings! I watched them take their first, do-or-die flights from their natal nest in the eaves just last week. They’ve made it about as far from home as I have.

While the one manages to extract its feet from my hair and flutter over to the window, the other bird falls down behind the dryer. And I no sooner set the basket down than the first one is clinging to the back of my head again. I haven’t had a haircut in about six months, and I guess it makes sense that a terrified and disoriented young wren would seek refuge in the only brown thing in the room. I reach back and shoo it off, and it flies over to the hot water heater and gets tangled up with the pipes.

Neither bird seems likely to go back outside until dawn. The dumber of the two is still fluttering madly in the corner behind the dryer. I could go ahead and start the wash, but the noise and rocking of the machine would probably scare the crap out of them – what crap remains. This has been a real shit storm, did I mention that? I back slowly out of the room, leaving the door open, and snap off the light.

I examine myself in the bathroom mirror. My quilted shirt seems to have taken most of the damage. There’s bird shit on my sleeve and bird shit down my back, but my hair looks O.K. Did St. Francis have days like this? Did he ever just tell the birds to bugger off?


Tuesday, 5:45 a.m. While I drink my coffee and listen to the dawn chorus, I’m watching the smaller of the two porcupines that lives in the crawlspace under the house eat my elm tree. The poor thing looks sparser every year, but what the hell – if the porkies don’t get it, Dutch elm disease will.

By the way, did you ever notice how many weird things we blame on the Dutch? Dutch oven. Dutch courage. Double Dutch. Dutch uncle. What is it with the fucking Dutch? I could go on, but I’d better stop out of respect for my ancestors – who were, I’m sure, quite normal, albeit Dutch.

The porcupine waddles out along a small branch and stands on its hind legs, freeing its forepaws to grab and stuff nearby twigs into its mouth. This reminds of the way the Baltimore oriole that I photographed two weeks ago used one foot to pull leaves in range of its bill. Unlike the porcupine, though, it was interested only in what was on the leaves, not the leaves themselves.

As I watch the porcupine, I find myself imagining in great detail what might happen if it fell. This is not unheard of, and evolutionary biologists hypothesize that the danger of impaling itself is high enough to account for the presence of an antiseptic chemical in the porcupine’s quills. There’s a lesson there, I think: if you write with a poison pen, make sure you have the antidote. There’s nothing that bothers me more than someone who can’t take what they dish out.


Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. Here there be Squirrels. One of them keeps looking in the kitchen window at me while I write; it has to hang upside-down off the drainpipe in order to do so. Every time I hear it rattling against the screen, I whirl around and stare back. Call me paranoid, but I can’t help thinking it’s looking for nesting material. I feel its beady little eyes boring into the back of my head.

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After the rain

The sky clears toward sunset, and the wood thrushes, which have been singing all day long in the dim light, fall silent. The raincrow peers at the sun-flooded world with red-rimmed eyes,

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the trees steam,

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and raindrops glisten on the matted locks of a dandelion gone to seed,

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while up in the woods, pink lady’s slipper orchids stand like strippers in a spotlight,

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more forlorn than seductive,

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and the wings of a tiger swallowtail lie scattered among the forest litter, as if left behind in some final metamorphosis beyond the reach of sunlight or imagination.

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Penn’s Creek riddles

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Last Friday, I accompanied my brother on a quest for the Appalachian tiger beetle (Cicindela ancocisconensis), which inhabits sandy river banks of wilderness-quality creeks and rivers, and is thus rare throughout its range, though locally common. We went to Penn’s Creek, a world-famous trout stream that winds through the Seven Mountains north of State College, Pennsylvania. It’s one of the few places in the state where C. ancocisconensis has been collected. We found one beetle within the first half-hour of searching, but it eluded Steve’s insect net. We spent the next hour and a half clambering over slippery rocks and around huge hemlock trees to search the few, small beaches in the Penn’s Creek canyon in the vicinity of Poe Paddy State Park.

While Steve concentrated on his quarry, I found myself composing riddles in my head about everything I saw. I don’t think these are especially difficult. I’ll post the answers tomorrow in the form of an update to this post Answers are at the end of the post.


A dark waterfall of fur
slipping down the rocks at
the river’s edge, soft yoke
no neck will ever wear.


Though green, I am no plant.
Two kingdoms live in me, but no ruler.
I’m a colonist of places
where nothing else can survive.


Death comes to the hemlock trees
in grayish white clots the size of pinheads.


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We combed the banks of a rocky peninsula formed by a sinuous loop of the creek. The water was muddy from the rains the day before, and few fishermen were willing to try their luck in it, so we had the creek mostly to ourselves. The flowering dogwood appeared especially brilliant against the dark hemlocks, and wild geraniums, Virginia bluebells and white wood anemones bloomed among the rocks. Unfortunately, I knew we didn’t have the time or the proper vehicle to drive the rough road up to the view of the gorge, which is quite spectacular.


I have lived for two years, but this
is my first full day. I have a mouth,
but no stomach. I will die before dark.


Condemned to live outside
my true element, I curl up & hide
until the urge to hunt stretches me
to my full length, & I curve
into the current like an arrow
crossed with a bow.


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The roof of one large fishing camp at Poe Paddy makes room for a tree in a manner reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece Fallingwater.

Temporary fishing camps were rising on poles at the state park campground, as well. Solemn-faced men got in and out of pickup trucks, or stood around in small knots by the shore, staring at the turbid water.


Rubber udders, two long nipples each,
for the cow called Land to offer its milk of men to the creek.


Nymph on a silk leash,
creature of knots,
deadly desire given angelic form.


Grain routed through fire, water & air
lands at last on ice: two temporary containers for light
resting in a third, which was once a handful of sand
but now offers smooth resistance to the fingers
& culminates in a screw where lip meets lip.


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At last, Steve caught a single specimen in the front yard of the fishing camp pictured above, near where we parked. One of the owners of the camp, who was relaxing on a bench by the water, gave us permission to collect the beetle. Some better pictures of C. ancocisconensis are here. And by the way, in case you’re wondering about the Latin, Steve told me its intended meaning is a complete mystery.


Answers: a wild mink; a green lichen (see here for factoids about lichens); hemlock woolly adelgid; mayfly (see “Ephemeral” at Chronicles from Hurricane Country); northern water snake; hip waders; an angler’s fly; whiskey in a jar (what the old fellow at the fishing camp appeared to be drinking)

On Target

CLOSED TEMPORALLY, says the sign on the door of an Abercromie & Fitch – “a prime example of how the wrong word can sometimes be so absolutely right,” Karrie Higgins notes.

But sometimes the right words can be wrong. Trying to leave a Target store the other day, I was confused by the set of doors marked ENTER | DO NOT ENTER. A little unintended koan, it probably captures the feelings many people have about shopping in big box stores. Or, heck, about shopping in general, mixed messages being so much a part of mass marketing culture. Drink beer – be athletic. Lose weight – feel good about yourself. Feel secure – buy a new burglar alarm system. Be uniquely yourself – or risk total unhipness. Like, whatever, you know?

I had stopped in to use the bathroom and get a drink at the water fountain. I was looking for a pay phone, too, but the near-ubiquity of cell phones has virtually eliminated phone booths from the American landscape. Given the new, inexplicable popularity of bottled water – often more contaminated than tap water – can public water fountains be far behind?

THERE IS NOTHING HERE WORTH YOUR LIFE, says the sign on a derelict building in an almost-ghost town in western Utah. Would these words seem as appropriate on the front door of a still-thriving Target store? Clearly, somebody’s life is at stake. Who’s wearing the bull’s-eye?

There is nothing here… With our thinking so conditioned by decades of mass marketing, such straightforward assertions sound hopelessly outdated, derelict. I used to smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes, a once-popular brand with a red-and-white bull’s-eye logo virtually identical to Target’s and a slogan that betrayed its dinosaur status: “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.” The problem with that kind of claim is that it’s too easy to disprove – though perhaps if delivered with the appropriate level of apparent conviction, it might qualify as truthiness. From what I hear, none of the more sophisticated tricks of the marketer’s trade hit the mark anymore; nothing short of product placement seems to work with the youngest and most desirable demographic. So maybe advertising should follow the lead of political discourse and return to its origins in the bald-faced lie. It might have a certain retro chic.

People always tell pollsters they want straight-talking politicians, but then people never tell pollsters what they really think, only what they think they should think. Because in fact the rare political candidate who speaks the truth pleases no one. Who wants to be told that they can’t eat their cake and have it too? We want to hear that there will be enough of everything for everyone forever.

Truth is like water: necessary, yes, but bland, and nearly impossible to over-indulge in. A marketing challenge! And you know that the marketers are winning when you start to find discarded water bottles floating in the creek. True, the water in the creek probably isn’t safe to drink anyway. It’s most likely aswarm with giardia cysts, thanks to our favorite hoofed consumers of the forest. “Deer Park,” says the label on the bottle. Indeed.

O monks, there are two paths which seekers of Truth should not follow. One is the path of habitual devotion to passion and sensual pleasures, which is base, ordinary, leading to rebirth, ignoble and unprofitable. The other is the path of self-mortification and extreme asceticism which is also painful, ignoble and unprofitable. Thus the first words of the Buddha’s first sermon at the Deer Park in Varanasi. “Unprofitable”? Hardly!

Have Deer Park Brand Natural Spring Water delivered to your door from about $1 a day! IT’S NEVER BEEN EASIER! Thus the home page of the Deer Park Brand Natural Spring Water website. Believe that, and I have a municipal water privatization scheme to sell you. Change the shape of what kids drink… with the all new Aquapod bottle! It’s not just water, it’s differently shaped water.

What would a marketing campaign for truth look like? Not truthiness, but real, virtually tasteless, hard-to-get-a-handle-on truth. Could a crack marketing team make it palatable again? Given its current scarcity, creating demand shouldn’t be a problem. I’m guessing the words “pure” and/or “natural” would have to be featured; images of happy, healthy white people would be optional. Would this truth be “unvarnished”? Probably not. But whatever, you know?

Because with truth, you can have it your way. Truth: whatever works! Unknowable… naturally. Temporally closed.


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White crab spider on Dutchman’s breeches, clearly trying to disguise itself as just another blossom in order to net an unsuspecting pollinator. See here for an even better photo of a white crab spider, on a different kind of white flower, with a bee actually in its grip.

At last, comment spammers who don’t insult my intelligence!

Those of you who don’t blog may be surprised to learn that such a thing as comment spam exists. Can it really be worthwhile to leave comments at obscure, low-traffic blogs like this one, just on the off-chance that a few readers might click on the link to the website? It wouldn’t be worth it if real, live people were leaving the comments, but it’s all done automatically, by spam bots.

There are various ways to screen out spam bots. Haloscan – the independent outfit that provided the commenting service I used when Via Negativa was at Blogspot – seemed practically immune. So when I moved to the present location, I was taken aback by the volume of spam that began to pour in, following the incoming links. So far, it’s not been much trouble to screen it out by requiring all comments by first-time commenters to go wait for approval.

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I saw this species of spider in a number of different places this spring – enough to persuade me that the web here, on the inflorescence of a smooth rock cress, is merely fortuitious.

But the thing that really annoyed me about the spam that began flooding in was the language it employed – a mixture of crude flattery and awkward English. How could anyone clever enough to unleash an army of spam bots not have the sense to at least comb through the English-language blogosphere and plagiarize some real comments? Instead, they employed lines such as “Your site is very cognitive. Thanks for author!” and “Best site I see! I make link, come back often, continue like that.” I’ve seen hundreds of variations on these, and worse.

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The pink lady’s slipper orchid depends on bumblebees for pollination, but gives them nothing but frustration in return. The bees are lured in by the delicious aroma, but find no nectar. The shape of the flower forces them to exit through the top, preventing self-pollination.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I find 17 posts waiting for moderation that actually force me to pause and study whether they were made by human or robot-with-typewriter. The giveaway was that they all originated from the same website, despite having all different (presumably fictional) email addresses. But the messages were, well, cute. “William Safire has just been picked on by a blog with a name that keeps changing. Not too harshly, though. The comment is William Safire, you annoy me.” First out of the block, a meta-comment! “Frivolous bastardisation of our punctuation is one of the key witnesses to the current decline of our wonderful nation,” writes another. And that nation would be Great Britain, I’m guessing.

“God save the Sex Pistols
One means it, subjects
We love our boys
God bless”
A punk poem, employing irony! Nice to see some recently graduated English major gainfully employed, isn’t it? In my favorite non sequitor from the overnight crop, “EBONY” asks, “I wonder what the society for the advancement of formal structures would make of this site about natural language parsing?” This was a comment to my May Day post.

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Oak apple gall on a red oak. Worldwide, over 700 different species of insects – most of them small wasps, as with the apple gall – have learned how to manipulate oaks into growing them a brood chamber from their own tissues.


In this morning’s email, someone who has just linked to Via Negativa had what I thought was a slightly unusual request: not for a direct reciprocal link on my Reciprocal Links page, but for a link to another, related site. “In this way we both get a one-way link which is better than a reciprocal link as far as search engine ratings go,” he wrote. Since both sites were non-commercial (and seemed to reflect quite lofty idealism), I was happy enough to comply. But in my response, I did include a brief and (I hope) friendly rant about the quest for search engine rankings.

Personally (I wrote), I’m not too concerned about search engine rankings, since I feel that traffic volume is not a real guarantee of attentive readers. The site statistics for my old blog seemed to bear this out. A couple hundred unique page views a day courtesy of the search engines had no perceptible impact on the 40 or so people (not counting subscribers to the feed) who stopped in every day or two for five minutes or more. In my view, the best way to find and retain the sort of readers I’m looking for is by leaving comments on other blogs, or by reading their comments and following the links back to their own blogs. Not that that’s my primary motivation in leaving a comment, though. When I read something that moves me, it’s wonderful to be able to respond and know that the author and other readers will see it, and can respond in turn if they so choose. It’s this kind of inter-linking – the building of real human relationships – that interests me.

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Woolsower gall on scrub oak. Who is fleecing whom?

On re-reading my reply, though, I’m afraid it makes it sound as if my motives are more altruistic than they are. For me, it’s still all about the writing – though amateur photography has turned out to be a fun and complementary avocation. Read SB’s post about how and why she writes poetry (linked also from the Smorgasblog) if you want to know my own feelings about writing, too. “A poem is my way of discovering (dis-covering) what I feel; sometimes, what I think.” Precisely. And sometimes it’s galling what the world makes of us, what strange winged creatures ultimately emerge.


The LPN believes in being firm. Her daughter is five, and she doesn’t allow her to meet her gaze; she always stares back until the daughter looks away. Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile, she likes to say.


The woman in the next bed
moans all night: Help me, help me,
somebody, nurse.
The nurse steals in on stockinged feet.


When her four-year-old son was an infant, she would sit on him, straddling his tiny torso while her husband changed the diaper. They’re never too young to learn to lie still, she said.


In the woods behind the hospital,
trilliums bob in the sun, a white mirage.
The moss cracks open from lack of rain.


The 88-year-old great-grandmother looks on with an aching heart. Her mild suggestions carry little weight with her daughter or son-in-law, with her grandson or his wife the nurse. “They all talk to me like a child,” she tells us. “You’re the first people I’ve had an adult conversation with in months.”


Those clouds could be anything:
dogwood, hawthorn,
some wild cherry wrapped in caterpillar webs.


Expected to look after her great-grandchildren half the week, she tries to make them understand that love need not be accompanied by threats or a smothering embrace. When the four-year-old kicks her, much to his outraged surprise, she hits back.


On the abandoned farm, a lawn chair
still sits out under the apple tree.
Petals drift down between the slats.


Back in Pennsylvania for a rare visit, she apologizes for not doing a better job of staying in touch. “I’ve been so exhausted. I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep.”


we might fall forever if not
for that net of roots.


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Though flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a New World tree, a widespread Appalachian legend links it with the crucifixion. The dogwood was once as tall as the oak, they say, but its wood was used to make the cross that Jesus was crucified on, and forever after it has grown small and crooked, and each of the four, white bracts surrounding the flower is stained with a drop of blood. Farther south, its blooming usually coincides with Easter.

The wood is uncommonly hard, and is still harvested to make spindles for weaving. In the past, it was favored for bearings and wagon wheels, and some people with the time to make things right still like to fashion tool handles from dogwood. One can see how the crucifixion legend got started: nothing but the best for our Lord and Savior! It didn’t hurt that the “flowers” were white and cross-shaped, and that the cluster of true flowers vaguely resembles a crown of thorns.

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According to the new (and excellent) Trees of Pennsylvania: A Complete Reference Guide, by Ann Fowler Rhoads and Timothy A. Black (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), flowering dogwood

was used by Native Americans to treat children for worms and diarrhea, to counteract poisons, and as an antiseptic and astringent. The roots were also used as a tonic and the twigs were chewed as a sort of early toothbrush. The bark of dogwood roots was sold in apothecary shops in Philadelphia in the mid-1700s as a substitute for quinine for treating ague (malaria). […] Native Americans are reported to have relied on the appearance of the flowers of dogwood to signal the time to plant corn.

I think I like that last piece of folklore much better than crucifixion legend – for one thing, it’s much more likely to be true. Blooming times of native trees and wildflowers are excellent indicators of when to plant.

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Besides, dogwood anthracnose is the real curse afflicting this species. I hear that flowering dogwoods have been virtually eliminated from many more southern forests as a result of this disease, which first appeared in North America in the early 1970s. Its origins are unknown, but chances are good that humans–not a vengeful deity–were responsible for its introduction.

Dogwood berries are sought out by many species of birds and mammals, which inadvertently spread the seeds throughout the woods. Rhoads and Black say that spring azure and red-spotted purple butterflies use dogwood as a source of nectar, but those are just two of many species one can fine on the flowers. But when I took my camera for a walk the other day, I found various species of bees, several small flower scarabs, and some kind of hemipteran (true bug), a pale-green creature that I never would have noticed if I hadn’t been intent on photographing the bower of joined bracts surrounding it.

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This has been the best year for dogwood blossoms in many years. Someday, if and when the anthracnose has reduced our population to a few, widely scattered individuals as botanists predict, I’ll try and remember the spring of 2006, when clouds of dogwood blossoms dotted the hillsides, and each blossom was a revelation, distinct and irreducible.

New Enterprise Stone & Lime

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The Tyrone Forge quarry, owned by New Enterprise Stone & Lime, Inc., supplies blacktop, concrete, lime and crushed stone. For us, the quarry is a bit of mixed blessing. Since it’s only a little over a mile away from our houses as the crow flies, we get noise and light pollution from it – though nothing like the folks living right next to it in the villages of Nealmont, Ironville and Tyrone Forge.

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But it’s damned convenient having a source of 2RC gravel so close to the bottom of our lane. “Lane” perhaps fails to convey the reality of a mile-and-a-half-long, one-lane road up a northeast-facing, steep mountain ravine. Road maintenance has been a constant preoccupation for us in the 35 years we’ve lived here. There are always trees to be cleared, rocks to be pitched off, ditches to be dug out, cross-grates to be cleaned (picture half-culvert pipes topped with narrow versions of cattle guards), ruts to be raked out, and potholes to be filled. So they know us pretty well at the quarry. It’s a fairly friendly place, and the state Department of Economic and Community Development has listed New Enterprise as one of the 50 best companies of its size class to work for.

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Up through the 1970s, the quarry was a small, family-owned operation. But when it was bought up by New Enterprise, it began to expand almost overnight, gobbling up hundreds of acres of valuable farmland. Though limestone quarries don’t produce anywhere near the kind of pollution that other forms of mining do, they can still produce a lot of silt runoff, which can have a devastating effect on aquatic life. And the Tyrone Forge quarry sits right on the banks of the Little Juniata River, a high-quality trout stream. According to,

Little Juniata River, located in the Southern region of Central Pennsylvania, is a river that’s making a comeback with help from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and environmental awareness. Throughout the 1960s, raw sewage and pollutants from local mills ran into the Little Juniata from towns above. Cleanup started in the early ’70s and today, the Little Juniata is a large river with large deep pools, moderate water, and prolific hatches supporting the thousands of fingerlings stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission each year. This river is one of the finest in the State of Pennsylvania, running through two counties (Blair and Huntington).

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In March, New Enterprise applied for a permit to expand further–

to deepen the quarry, add additional mining and support area, add an additional sediment pond, add a NPDES discharge point, and change the postmining land use on New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company’s property from forest and cropland to unmanaged natural habitat (251.4 acres) and permanent water impoundment (137.4 acres).

So if this is approved, they will become stewards of a small lake and over 250 acres of “natural” habitat.

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Meanwhile, the parent company continues its active involvement in the permanent destruction and fragmentation of habitat through highway construction. In 2000, New Enterprise was the successful bidder for the construction of a ten-mile stretch of the newly christened Interstate 99 just north of here. Thus, it became the official executioner of a once-beautiful section of Bald Eagle Mountain – the very same ridge we live on – tearing a gash out of its wooded flank that in some places reaches all the way to the ridge crest. The quarry roars through the night to supply the stone and concrete for former Congressman Elmer Greinert “Bud” Shuster’s “Highway to Nowhere.” By sheer coincidence, New Enterprise was always a heavy contributor to Shuster’s campaign chest. (It has continued that pattern with Bud’s son and dynastic successor, Bill Shuster. In the current election cycle, Son of Bud is the second-largest recipient of campaign donations from the building materials industry in the U.S. Congress.)

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Bud Shuster was no stranger to such amazing coincidences during his tenure in power. His highway-building zeal found its fullest expression in his chairmanship of the powerful Congressional Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, during which time he aided and abetted the most expensive road construction boondoggle in U.S. history, Boston’s Big Dig. If you live in Boston and have learned to appreciate the convenience and fine workmanship of this engineering marvel, you can thank his stalwart supporters at New Enterprise Stone & Lime – and you can thank us, the residents of Plummer’s Hollow, for helping to keep them in business. Have a nice day.