On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

It happens twice a year, the autumnal and vernal equinoxes. In 2015, the autumnal equinox was today, September 23 at 4:21 A. M. (ET). In addition to the (approximately) equal hours of daylight and darkness, the equinoxes are times when the Sun’s apparent motion undergoes the most rapid change. Around the time of the equinoxes, variations in the position on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets can be noticed from one day to the next by alert observers. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights. By the time we get to the next big weather day, the Winter Solstice on or near December 21, our days will be at their shortest duration and then we start the march to spring.

Sunday was a 10 in my book. The morning was in the upper 50’s and I didn’t hesitate to go out for an early walk. I walk most days and I know that the days are getting shorter and the opportunities are shrinking by the day. I have a goal of 100 miles per month and 1,000 miles for the year. November, December and January can cut into the totals with shorter walks and some days that I cannot walk at all because of the weather.

Sunrise and sunset times come later in the morning and earlier in the evening. The loss of daylight is about 15 to 17 minutes per week. Today September 23 the sunrise is 6:51 a. m. and the sunset is 6:59 p. m. Gone are the long evenings playing golf past 8 p. m. and gone are the sparkling sunrises before we are stirring. There is a reason for the saying, “Make Hay While the Sun Shines!”

My garden has changed very much in the past four weeks since we returned from our summer adventure in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches and Rocky Mountain National Parks. The sun barely shines on any part of it until noon and then by 6 p. m. it is again in the shadows. The sunflowers were brilliant and healthy only two weeks ago and now many have faded and are ripening their seeds for the ever-present birds. If a tall stalk breaks I have been dragging it outside the garden fence and laying the blooms face up for the birds to find and eat.

Despite the short days some of the plants are still blossoming and putting forth fruit. I picked a large bag of beans last weekend and Charlie found a bag of tomatoes. New squash blossoms offer the promise of yet another fresh green zucchini. The bees still buzz around the begonias I have planted along my walkway and now and then a hummingbird comes by.

I worked at pulling out some groundcover first planted years ago, which took, over far more flowerbed space than I wanted. Actually this was the third weekend I attacked it. Underground vines needed to be pulled out completely if I have any hope of control. The earth is a rich source of nutrients for the plants I enjoy and those that compete (weeds). The fall usually puts forth the best colors of the season with many annuals only to lose their luster with the first frost. Hopefully that won’t happen for another four or five weeks.

I finally saw some leaves scattered along the mountain trail where I walk every day. Yellow, brown, rust so far. The red ones are yet to come. Depending where you live look out at the trees every day and see how the color change is progressing. In Mountaintop that is usually around October 12, the week we moved to Mountaintop 37 years ago. Brilliant sunshine on the changing leaves is a miracle.

Pipech on Nov. 2015 Ballot

Rice Township Supervisor Bob Pipech will be on the November General Election ballot for the seat he was appointed to after Mark Taney resigned at the end of June. Pipech was appointed to the open position by unanimous votes from Chairman Marcia Thomas and Miller Stella on July 7, 2015.

The Luzerne County Election Board ruled that Pipech had to appear on the November ballot because the appointment was made more than 60 days before the general election. Both parties had an opportunity to nominate a candidate for the November election. The winner will serve until December 31, 2019. Pipech is a Democrat and last week was named by the Luzerne County Democratic Committee to appear as their candidate on the ballot. The Republican committee did not name a candidate, missing the close of business deadline on Wednesday September 16, 2015.

So the bottom line is that Bob Pipech is the only candidate on the November ballot for the seat vacated by Mark Taney in June. Democrat Carl Smith will go up against Republican Rick Arnold for the seat currently held by Miller Stella, whose term ends December 31, 2015.

Rice voters will elect Pipech and either Carl Smith or Rick Arnold for 2016. The Pipech term is for four years and the Smith-Arnold seat runs to the end of 2021.

Gypsy Moth Legacy The trees in our yard that were

stripped by this year’s Gypsy Moth infestation grew back smaller leaves. The forest canopy is thin and another stripping next year will further damage the trees. Luzerne County has the applications from property owners requesting help with spraying next year. It’s time to revisit the county coordinator to see where we stand. Luzerne County’s coordinator is Keri Skvarla of the County’s Division of Operational Services at 570-820-6347.

Route 309 Rock Remediation The Eagle has received several

inquiries about the status of the Route 309 Rock Remediation project. Work appears to have stopped at the site, at least from the vantage point of driving north on the single lane roadway. I called PennDot’s publicity spokesman James May last week for an update. He and I were like two people talking a different language to each other. May kept referring to a “dirtpile” and I told him it looked like a huge “rockpile”, which is sitting near the lane that is open behind a Jersey Barrier. It looks to me like the product of further excavation at the rock removal site. I tried my best to convey the PennDot spokesman’s explanation about why the project is not yet finished in my article this week.

May says the project will be finished by “late October to early November”. I don’t know that I would take that information to the bank. Last year PennDot predicted completion by November 1 and they were still working up until New Years Eve. I think something has gone awry, when a 6-month project takes 18 months and totals $7.1 million.

Crestwood Homecoming Crestwood High School will

celebrate Homecoming 2015 this weekend. A parade down South Main Road will feature floats and king and queen candidates in open cars. The 2015 Crestwood Football team is having a challenging year after their blockbuster championship 2014 season. They will play their hearts out and the students, their families and friends, and community members will enjoy the event too.

Be sure to read all of the Homecoming Court biographies and wish them luck if you see them. High school memories last forever.

Ladies Ryder Cup The Blue Ridge Ladies Golf

League finished up their season with the third and final week of their Ryder Cup Tournament. The PGA Ryder Cup commences in Scotland later this week. 28 ladies played Captain and Mate, Alternate Shots and Better Ball emulating the real Ryder Cup. Pairings were based on handicaps and with low handicappers vying against players with similar skills and high handicappers the same. The Red Team won the competition with 12 points to the Blue Team’s 11. Organizer Joyce Tanner’s player management is a testament to the close scoring.

Think about joining the Blue Ridge Ladies Golf League in 2016. Tuesdays are league night from about 3:30 p. m. to 5:15 p. m. beginning in April until September. If you or any of your friends would like to come and join us for the 2016 season call Tony Barletta at Blue Ridge, 570-575-GOLF (4653) and we’ll talk. Like any group or league we need new members every year to keep the play fresh and fun.