On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

I am writing this column on the first day of summer 2015, my favorite day of the year. Favorite? Yes, the summer solstice has the longest hours of daylight for the year. June 21, 2015 had 15 hours and 7 minutes of daylight. Sunset was at 8:39 p. m. and sunrise came at 5:31 a. m.

I like to go to bed early on the long days of the year. When the sun sets and dusk descends sending the birds to silence for the night at 9:13 p. m. I am ready for the dawn near 5 a. m.

I know they are just times and numbers but this time of year seems to energize me for the daily walk, time tending the garden and just sitting out on my porch watching the birds and listening to the sounds of nature or the neighborhood.

This year the tree canopy has been eaten by the gypsy moths so there is plenty of sunshine nourishing the lawn and vegetable garden. All of the cycles of nature contribute a different element to the earth. Rain, sunshine, and wind—each gives us a different experience on any given day. The quarter moon in the clear early evening sky was an unexpected pleasure on what had been forecast cloudy.

Last week I golfed at Mountain Laurel on a day full of heavy mist and threatening rain. The ball did not travel far through the air and once on the green the putts were sloshing through water. My partner and I gave it our all and we came up a few strokes on the upside for the afternoon. It wasn’t a picture perfect day for us, but we enjoyed each other’s company and got lots of extra steps in with the cart path only restriction. My FitBit registered 21,000 steps for the day.

US OPEN

I watched the US Open Golf Tournament last weekend at Chambers Bay west of Tacoma, Washington not far from Mount Rainier next to Puget Sound. I had never heard of the course before it was prominently featured for the tournament. The Pacific Northwest is known for its misty rainy weather, but this year Chambers Bay looks like a municipal desert course in Arizona.

The pros struggled with the dry conditions and some complained that the course was not PGA standard. Several years ago when Chambers Bay won the bid to host the US Open before five years of west coast drought, the course was probably greener and had the look of a traditional golf course. The players at the top of the leader board said nothing and shot their best. Jordan Spieth became one of only six professional golfers to win the US Open and another major, the Masters, in the same year in the 115-year history of the tournament. All of the pros struggled, but they are pros and that is part of playing though all conditions.

The PGA golfers are on their last few holes as I write this column. Many are young and thrilled to play in the US Open no matter what the conditions. They are the positive ones. The negative complainers are not winners. They did not see their names at the top of the rankings at tournament’s end.

Pink & Blue Golf Still on the golf theme The 5th

Annual Blue Ridge Trail Pink & Blue Golf Tournament was last weekend. I have been one of the tournament organizers from the beginning and it is amazing to see the event come together with the combined efforts of so many enthusiastic volunteers and golfers.

The tournament started in 2011 with 64 golfers and this year the field had 128. The theme is cancer awareness and financial support for the local charity Prescription Assistance Fund of the Oncology Associates of Kingston. Cancer drugs are often expensive and the fund subsidizes the financial needs of patients who are under insured or waiting for insurance approvals for their drugs.

Every year the tournament support and participation grows with additional hole sponsors and gift donations to support the tournament’s raffle. I love to approach everybody at the tournament banquet to sell him or her that special raffle ticket for the special prizes. Actually we sell the tickets when the golfers arrive and I take on the second wave before we give away the prizes during dinner. It is charged effort to maximize the efforts of the team.

Like a marathon, horse race or other physically stretching event, when the last putt is struck, tournament prizes are awarded and everybody leaves happy, the organizers kick back and rejoice that our event went well. We are still adding in revenues and expenses so the final tally is not yet known. For another year the Pink & Blue is history.

Garden Update My vegetable garden is on its way

this year with good germination and rapid growth. The 3.65” of rain in Mountaintop last week stimulated the plants and the areas I had not covered with newspaper mulch. A couple of hours scratching up the weeds from the fluffy moist soil and a new application of weed screen should keep my rows tidy and the harvest on track.

I see lots of wildlife in the yard including the occasional deer. A spotted fawn gingerly crossed the back yard recently. The mother was probably in the woods. So far no deer have eaten the vegetables or ornamentals. There is plenty of vegetation in the woods.

The gypsy moth caterpillars are molting into moths this week. Take a look at your trees and you can see the pupa transformation. Luzerne County Manager Bob Lawton has promised intervention in planning for a 2016 infestation. Be sure to call Luzerne County’s coordinator Keri Skvarla of the County’s Division of Operational Services at 570-820-6347 to get your property on the list.