Green Ridge: A Reflective Walk On The Railroad Tracks.

It was a cloudy, but somewhat mild morning, here in the Green Ridge section of Hazle Township in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday.  A “balmy” 29 degrees it was. snow covered path in woods

It warmed up into the mid 30’s when I decided to hike on  the railroad tracks near my house in  Green Ridge. Although next to  West Hazleton, it really was a “patch town” when I grew up here. .   I walked down what is left of the old “black road” and through some very old strip mines we called  “doggie dams”.snow covered "doggie dams" in Green Ridge

I spent many a winter day out here as a child. My friends and I played  hockey in the cold with sticks and cans on the frozen surface of the old strip mines. frozen and snow covered pond

It seems some critter was also playing on the ice. Well probably not playing but looking for some food.   Here is a closer look at the tracks. I am guessing maybe a coyote but not real  sure. Feel free to send a comment if you can identify them.possibly coyote tracks in the snow

The “dams”  are now privately owned and the owners are kind enough to allow me to hike out here. I walked past the  “doggie dams” and through the reclamation area that was once a  playground for the kids living  in  Green Ridge.snow covered path in mine reclamation area

We played in the deep strip mines and the coal silt we called the “black sands”. We looked for fossils, played army, camped  and just explored every part of this vast strip mined area.  They were good days. I have written about my experiences in a few  other blog posts that can be found in the archives.mine reclamation area

As I walked through the new growth of the reclamation area I stopped to watch a large flock of some winter residents in our area, the northern junco or “snow bird”. northern juncos in tree

Large numbers of these birds migrate to our warmer winters from their summer homes in northern Canada.northern junco in flight

I soon made my way to the railroad tracks. So much of the woods and strip mines of my youth have been altered over the years. I find great comfort walking on these tracks which remain a real reminder   of the wonderful memories I had growing up in Green Ridge. snow covered railroad tracks

As I had done so many times in my lifetime, I began walking west on the railroad tracks. The large slate and culm bank know as “flat top” and which my friends called  “killer” is gone.snow covered railroad tracks

But not the memories. I would hike up that large hill every New Years Day and take in the view of the homes in my beloved Green Ridge and the City of Hazleton in the distance. I would reflect on the past year of my life and what the new year would bring.  It was a sad year when “killer” was leveled as part of the reclamation project about 10 years ago. bramble thorn

Some familiar items still remain along the tracks, like this old telegraph booth that once stood here. ruins of old telegraph booth on railroad tracks

I walked west and soon came to the “tower lines”.  So many memories out here. Many a cool summer morning  found us out here picking “huckleberries”. We made our way, throughout  the day, over the ridge, past “Kress’s junkyard”, and finishing at the cold waters of “Shiny Creek”. We stopped for a cool drink and searched for crayfish in the fresh waters. Good days they were. pole lines in woods

The old “tower lines”were recently replaced with new pole lines again removing another treasured part  of my youth. pole lines on ridge

I continued my walk on the railroad tracks , crossing the bridge over the Cranberry Creek, or as we called it the “s–t” creek. It’s waters have not flowed for many year now. snow covered railroad tracks

I have been researching the origins of these tracks and it seems they were laid sometime in the early 1880’s. Here is a link to an article I found. covered railroad tracks

I hope to do more research and post an article about the history of the Green Ridge railroads tracks.   On Sunday I continued my hike on the tracks as they curved northward around the ridge. Huge glacial boulders can be seen along the ridge. I explored every one of them over the years. snow covered boulders

I came to the location of where Shiny Creek once flowed under the tracks. I spent many days resting here. However, in the mid 1980’s the creek was  diverted and a beautiful wetland destroyed to build a factory. How those permits were issued still puzzles  me. snow covered railroad tracks

I was now near the Valmont Industrial Park. At the first railroad crossing I decided to  take a shortcut through the park since I wanted to be back to watch the  Philadelphia Eagles football team. railroad crossing in industrial park

I would often walk to the “mile high” bridges that span the Black Creek about a half mile further north. On Sunday I walked a short distance through the industrial park. crow in flight

It was here I observed some of the only wildlife I encountered on my hike,  few crows flying overhead,blue jay perched on tree top

and this blue jay singing from high atop a tree top. blue jay perched on tree top

I walked along the right of way of  a pole line as it crossed through a portion of the  Valmont Sanctuary Bog. This valuable wetlands is  now owned, and protected, by the North Branch Land Trust. Rare orchids and other plants thrive here. It is a shame folks still ride their all terrain vehicles or quads through these precious wetlands. Here is a link to some more information about the bog.

I now walked on the old right of way of the “third rail” It was an electric trolley line that ran to Wilkes-Barre and built in the 1890’s.  It later became  an active branch of the Lehigh Valley road. I remember watching many a train on these tracks.  The line was abandoned and the tracks removed about twenty years ago. The right of way is now the northern border of my property.trees and trail in snow

I walked the right of way about a quarter of a mile east and came to “Lipper’s Grove”   where we would camp and have cookouts when I was growing up.  I used to sit here for hours enjoying the peace and quiet of these woods. I am so proud and fortunate to now own this land. As I had so many times in the past,  I decided to build a fire on Sunday.campfire in snow

There is nothing as peaceful, comforting and reflective as a wood fire outdoors on a cold day. This year there was no way to avoid thinking about the recent tragedy in my life and how it has affected me. close up of flames in fire

As I watched the blazing fire slowly turn to smouldering ashes I reflected on the loss of my sibling,  and her husband. Such good human beings.  I miss them both. And so many  wonderful memories my sister and I  had of  growing up in Green Ridge that can never be shared together. But sharing them with my family, friends and followers of this blog does provide me with some comfort. burning embers in campfire

I walked the right of way back to West Hazleton.  As I climbed the hill from I came the Babe Ruth field, the Little League field and my alma mata West Hazleton High School. So many memories but that will be for another post. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Green Ridge railroad hike December 17 2017.sun obscured by clouds and fields

“Don’t you wish you could take a single childhood memory and blow it up into a bubble and live inside it forever?” 
― Sarah Addison Allen

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Some June Walks, And A Sunrise In Greenridge.

Spring is coming to an end here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In only a few day  the sun will be  at it’s farthest north and we have our longest day here in the Northern Hemisphere.

We had some summer like weather at the beginning of this past week and I had the chance to take a few walks with my camera and macro lens. 

The warmer weather has brought out more insects but I am still disappointed in the number of bees, wasps and yellow jackets I have seen. To some folks this may be a good thing, but, for all of us, in the long run,  it is not. I suspect the overuse of pesticides is the problem. 

I was able to still find a lot of flies and other insects on my walks. I am always awed by how this common insects, considered pests, look so complex up close. 

As do the commons weeds and leaves on the trees we walk by and take for granted. 

I was hoping to see more dragonflies or a frog, turtle or snake but it was very hot early in  the week and there was not a lot of activity in the heat. I  did find evidence that there still are snakes when I found this snake skin shed by what I believe to be a black snake.

The intricate scales are amazing up close.

And, you do not have to walk far to find  cool stuff in the natural world.  As I returned from one of my walks I found this mass of ants in my front yard. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to my YouTube channel .   And here is a link to  some more photographs from my walk with me macro lens.

 And as  is often the case in June, I was awakened early on Tuesday morning, before 5 a.m., by the singing of the birds outside my window. I usually have a cup of coffee and walk through my neighborhood and cemetery to visit my dad. On Tuesday I decided to walk out the railroad tracks near my house to watch the sunrise. 

I walked on what remains of the “black road” an old road that lead to the deep mines in the area. The area was later strip mined and we spent many days as children exploring those strip mines and slate and culm banks. The area has recently been reclaimed. 

I walked to the railroad tracks and hiked up to what used to be a large slate bank the local called “flat top” and we named “killer” because of the difficulty we had climbing it for the first time. The waning moon was still visible in the west. 

I enjoyed watching the sunrise over West Hazleton, only a few days from when it will reach it northernmost point on the horizon. 

It has been a long time since I was on this ridge this early in the morning, possibly the last time was when I was in elementary school and I was happy to  find a tract of old trees that were not destroyed in the reclamation project. 

I walked a path I had walked so many times as a child, searching for mushrooms, fossils, crystals or just playing games with my friends and our favorite toy, our imagination. We were soldiers, cowboys, superheroes and astronauts in these woods.  Many pleasant memories on this ridge. 

I had to get to work or I could have walked, and reflected all day. I took a slow walk back home enjoying the singing of the birds,

and observing the spiderwebs covered  in the dew

and so many other wonders of the early morning. One thing I learned, there are a lot of snail on the cattail fronds in the morning. Hundreds of them. Should I ever find myself on an episode of Naked and Afraid in Pennsylvania I know a good source of nourishment, escargot.

Of course there were a few red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands near the reclamation area, watching carefully for intruders into their nesting areas. They are very territorial and squawk persistently should you approach, here is a male I saw

and nearby was a female

When I arrived home I found a few deer in my yard enjoying the new day too.  I truly enjoyed my early morning walk and hope to get out in the woods at dawn more often this Summer. It is a wonderful place to be. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.

“Dawn is ever the hope of men.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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This Is For The Birds

Well I decided to make this post about the many beautiful birds I observed in my backyard and on my walks near my house these past work week.  birds feeder -6

I always loved seeing birds in the woods on my walks since I was a child.  My dad thought me the common ones, the robins, blue jays, and sparrows.  And I purchased a field  guide  while in college and learned some new species I encountered on my hikes.birds feeder -2

I have now discovered, with my camera and zoom lens, and the help of some new friends who are birding enthusiasts, how many different birds species  live in our woods here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is truly amazing. birds feeder -4

Often I would hear a bird singing , glance at it and assume it is a sparrow or black capped chickadee. Now, I am learning that it could be any number of beautiful species of birds which live in, or migrate through our area. I have been spending more time trying to find, identify and photograph them.Railroad walk 400mm-27


I have feeders in my yard, when the bear doesn’t take them down or the squirrels find a way to get to them, all year round. But Spring is when they attract the most visitors.  The rose breasted grosbeaks, a Spring favorite,  have left my backyard on their migration, but I was excited to see this beautiful bird, one of my favorites, the indigo bunting, show up at my feeders this past Friday. .birds feeder -11

And I was even more surprised to see this bird share this limb with a house sparrow. I guess sometimes birds don’t have to be of the same feather to flock together. Like the rose breasted grosbeaks,  these birds don’t nest in our area so I will only enjoy them for a few days while they are passing through.birds feeder -13

The Winter visitors are still here,including  the nuthatches, black capped chickadees, titmice, mourning doves,  the noisy and bossy blue jays and the always beautifuls cardinals.birds feeder -19

The downy and hairy woodpeckers, very difficult to distinguish,  are also year round residents, here is a closeup of the downy woodpecker.birds -2

As are the house and chipping sparrows. This is a chipping sparrow.birds -22

And this is a house sparrow.birds -1

The Winter residents are now joined by  many species, such as the brown headed cowbirds, the goldfinches,  many species of sparrows and of course the robins. Here is a mommy with teaching her baby how to find dinner.Railroad walk 400mm-39

I always have a large flock of turkeys in my backyard. They hang out in the woods behind my house all day and spend hours at my feeders, eating the seeds that fall to the ground.  These  two old gobblers are always strutting around, trying to impress the hens and keeping the young jakes away. They are gobbling as I  write this early in the morning.turkeys gobbling -15

Yesterday I was able to get a few photographs of them while they were actually gobbling. I gobble at them and they gobble back. Well a lot of folks called me a big turkey over the years, I guess they were right. Here is a link to more photographs of the turkeys. 2-2

I also got to see a lot of birds on my walks in some wetlands near my house. I  ran into a pair of mallard ducks that I believe are nesting there . They flew out in unison a few days ago as shown in the photograph above.Railroad walk 400mm-5

And I scared them again yesterday.  This drake is doing a count Dracula pose as he takes off of the pond.   Here is a link to some more photographs of the mallards. -19

I was surprised to find this bird wading on one of the ponds. It is a solitary sandpiper. I only saw my first one at the PPL Wetlands last week, and never knew they lived  this close to my house. They are beautiful birds. I am not sure what he/she is eating but kind of looks like a leech or tadpole.Railroad walk 400mm-17

The red winged blackbirds have returned and many of them live in the reeds and thickets near the wetlands. This is a male.Railroad walk 400mm-33

And this a female.Railroad walk 400mm-34

And the chatty and constantly moving catbirds, have also returned to our area. these birds really do sound like a cat and can be seen fluttering from from tree to tree searching for food.Railroad walk 400mm-37

On my way home from one of my walks I heard what I thought was a catbird. In the past I would have kept walking but this time  I decided to have a look and discovered it was a great crested crested flycatcher. crested flycatcher green ridge -14

I wondered how many times I would just walk by many other birds just assuming they were common species I already knew.Great crested flycatcher green ridge -12

I am really enjoying this birding hobby, almost as much as my love for searching for, and eating wild  mushrooms. Well almost but not quite, mushrooming is still my favorite and I will be looking for some oyster mushrooms soon. But I’ll probably take my camera along, and look for birds too. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw in my backyard and near my home this past week. walk 400mm-29


“There is an unreasonable joy to be had from the observation of small birds going about their bright, oblivious business”
Grant Hutchison,Railroad walk 400mm-35













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Feeding Frenzy At The Feeders

I haven’t had a chance to get any posts up  the past few days so I thought I’d upload some photographs I  took at my backyard bird feeders this afternoon. Backyard feeders -18

I had to replace one the feeders, since it looks like the bear that lives in my woods is back and took one down yesterday. I just finished hanging it from a tree limb when  this black capped chickadee wasted no time helping himself to some thistle seeds. Backyard feeders -4

It was overcast so the photographs I took weren’t the best, but you can tell that the birds sure had an appetite . Backyard feeders -10

Most of the birds were still the year round residents. the chickadees, sparrows, titmice and nuthatches. Backyard feeders -14

The songbirds haven’t arrived yet but there were a few  newly arrived cowbirds at the feeders.Backyard feeders -9

I could spend hours watching my feathered friends at my feeders and I’m hoping to attract a number of different species this summer.  Backyard feeders -20

And, as I was taking these photographs my turkeys made their appearance, led by this tom .   He has been gobbling  and strutting almost everyday day now, to attract the attention of a hen and to keep the other jakes away. Backyard feeders -3

Well, time to check out the quarter moon and listen to the chorus of the spring peepers. I love the Spring in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs I took at the feeders. feeders -4


“Poor indeed is the garden in which birds find no homes.”Backyard feeders -2
–  Abram L. Urban

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Spring Is Making An Appearance, And It Sure Is Welcome

Well , so glad to have my blog website working again.i couldn’t upload photographs for over a week now.   It’s Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and that always means plenty of beautiful happenings in the natural world. And, after the months of the  browns, grays and whites of Winter even the lowy dandelion looks beautiful .spring flowers  1-1

And even even more beautiful up close.

spring flowers -2

I took a short walk around my neighborhood to capture some of the early signs of Spring.  The crocuses are in full bloom now  and there were plenty to be found in a wide variety of colors.spring flowers -24

And like he dandelion they are even more beautiful, and exotic, up close.spring flowers -11

The daffodils are beginning to bloom too. I love watching these delicate flowers nodding in the wind. spring flowers -21

And there are signs of more to come, like this budding rose bush.  There will be beautiful flowers on this tiny bud in a few months. spring flowers -17

And, in may these buds, from a lilac bush, will fill the air with a magnificent perfume as well as a beautiful flower. spring flowers -20

And all sorts of weeds and wild plants are pushing forth their first leave. Sorry you cold weather lover, there is no way Winter can compete with the beautiful colors of Spring. i hope to share many more in the coming months. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my walk this afternoon.

spring flowers -14

Spring dances with joy in every flower and in every bud letting us know that changes are beautiful and an inevitable law of life.”
Debasish Mridha

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A Walk Through Green Ridge After A Snowstorm.

The snow ended late yesterday leaving us here in the Green Ridge section  of Hazle Township in Northeast Pennsylvania  with almost twenty inches of snow on the ground. It was clear and a frigid 9 degrees when I left for my daily two mile morning  hike.Green Ridge snowstorm  (2 of 58)

The roads were plowed and passable as I walked under the crystal clear, deep blue skies. There were a lot of folks out shoveling and snow throwing the deep powdery snow.Green Ridge snowstorm  (7 of 58)

The section of Hazle Township called  Green Ridge actually refers not only to my area in Hazle Township but also to the western portion of West Hazleton. I walked by  my parent’s house and up to North Street, and passed  the homes of middle class folks, and also  the historic Pulaski Club, established by Polish coal miners in 1915.  This area was once almost all of Slavic , and mainly Polish heritage , but is now home to a mixture of nationalities.Green Ridge snowstorm  (18 of 58)

I usually crawl through a fence in the Mountain View Cemetery and walk through this peaceful tree lined place to visit my dad’s grave.  Not today, the hole in the fence was covered with snow so I walked along the cemetery and into West Hazleton.Green Ridge snowstorm  (19 of 58)

Again I ran into a lot of folks digging out from the snow as I walked the streets of this quiet town. I headed east along Ridge Ave, observing the beauty of the snow drifts created by the storm.Green Ridge snowstorm  (14 of 58)

I walked to Broad Street, the border of the Green Ridge section and headed back west walking past my church, formerly known as Transfiguration. Lot of memories on these streets.Green Ridge snowstorm  (41 of 58)

I walked back to the entrance of the Mountain View Cemetery and trudged through the heavy snow and into a winter wonderland. The gravestones and bare trees  contrasted with the deep blue skies and the pure white snow.Mountain View Cemetery  (11 of 20)

I made my way to my dad’s grave and spent a few moments reflecting on the many good times we enjoyed together during the many snow storms we shared over the years. I find much peace out here. This is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the cemetery  Mountain View Cemetery  (12 of 20)

I trudged back through the deep snow and back to the streets of West Hazleton.  I walked past my old alma mater, West Hazleton High School, now used as an elementary school. I walked the streets back to my home. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk through the streets of Green Ridge, Green Ridge snowstorm  (46 of 58)

After warming up, and  a  few cup of coffee, I headed back out to the woods on my property behind my house. It wasn’t easy going but the deep blue skies and white snow once again made for a Winter wonderland . And of course I had to built a fire to keep warm. There is something so comforting about a fire crackling in the snow on a frigid January day.  After warming up by the fire I trudged my way back home. I am not a snow or Winter fan but I will have to admit it was a pleasant morning, even with almost two feet of snow on the ground.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the woods. Green Ridge hike  (10 of 15)

When snow falls, nature listens – Antoinette van KleeffGreen Ridge hike  (12 of 15)


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Mountain View Cemetery, A Winter Wonderland in Spring.

A lot of folks, myself included, weren’t happy with the snow storm we got here yesterday. Almost six inches of snow  in my backyard when it ended last night. I wasn’t looking forward to walking in it this morning.  April snow  (24 of 38)

I used to love snow as a kid. I would watch the forecast every night hoping for a big snow storm from November until March.  Besides the obvious benefit of having no school,  my friends and I loved playing in the snow. Snowmen, snow forts and snowballs kept us outdoors on the coldest of days. As we grew older we’d sled down the local hill well into the night, where we’d watch Orion and the other Winter constellations rise in the east. And than it was hockey on the ponds and stippings. We always seemed to have a fire going on hikes in the woods. I really loved the cold and snow. And my love of the Winter continued through high school.  My friends and I would hike into the woods in the surrounding  strip mines out near  White Rock,  or on a culm back we called ‘ flat top” or ‘killer’   or the more distant  Stoney Mountain or Humboldt Reservoir. . We were out   from dawn to dusk on the coldest of days with snow up to our knees in snow . and never minded it a bit.

But, as I grew older and I had to drive in it,and walk in it with the aches and pains caused by an  older body, I began to dread the cold and snow. Winter no longer was fun and I didn’t and don’t like it anymore. I still get out for my hikes and make the best of it but I so look forward to the Spring. April snow  (28 of 38)

So, this morning, as I was saying, I dreaded heading out for my morning walk. Well, all it took was one look at the trees encased in snow and the white blanket that was thrown across the land and I felt like a kid again. I took my usual walk through the Mountain View  Cemetery to visit my dad and what a beautiful winter wonderland awaited me.  It was such a wonderful walk taking in the delicate beauty of the snow covering each and every branch on every tree. Truly a miracle, this gift of frozen water. It brought back memories of how much I loved the snow as a child.   For a few moments,  I made a truce with Winter. It was a nice snow, I will admit.  And the best part of an April snow is it is almost gone already. It was nice but I hope I don’t see anymore until next Christmas Eve,   Took my camera on my walk this morning and here is a link to some more photos from  in the cemetery and in my back yard. snow  (37 of 38)


Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.

Andy Goldsworthy


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Sunset And A Fire, A Great Way to End A Spring Day.

The temperature may have been below normal today , but the abundant sunshine sure felt good. No doubt Spring is here.sunset and fire  (1 of 29)

Decided to hike out  and watch the sunset from the rocks behind my house. Been watching sunsets out here since we first discovered  the “View”, as we named it, when i was  in around second grade. So peaceful out here.

It sure  a welcome sight to see the sun setting in the northern sky again. A  sure sign of Spring. As the sun set, flock after flock of geese flew overhead, under the near quarter moon. A beautiful night, although still very cold for this time of year. Built a fire to warm it up. There is nothing like a camp fire in the woods on a clear night.  The flames dancing in the dark, the smell of smoke and the welcome warmth. Built many a fire out there and brought back many happy memories. A great way to end a Spring day. Took some photos of the sunset and fire and here is the link to the album. and fire  (22 of 29)


To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world.  ~Charles Dudley Warner

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Another Sign Of Spring, The Sun Moving into the Northern Sky.

Here in my backyard in Northeastern Pennsylvania, seeing the sunset is another sure sign Spring is just about here. My house is located on a ridge that runs east to west and my house is on the northern side of the ridge. So, shortly after the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall, I can no longer see the sunset from my back yard.  It sets in the southwest and is not visible from my yard all Winter. . I eagerly await for the day in mid March  when it returns north. . And that day is here.

On Friday at around 6:45 p.m.  the plane of the Earth’s equator passSunset (3 of 20)es the exact centre of the Sun, meaning the planet is neither tilted towards or away from the Sun. It appears to us on Earth that the sun is moving into the Northern Hemisphere.  In non scientific terms it means longer and warmer days, the return of birds, bees, flowers and trees.  A most beautiful time of year, especially after a long and cold Winter like we just had in these parts. And I am not a cold weather lover.    

So, we may get some more snow and cold weather  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  but when  that sun is back in the  northern sky it is Spring!!!

I hiked out to some rocks near my house to watch the sunshine and, even though it is cold, temperatures only in the 30’s here, enjoyed listening to the turkeys gobbling, geese honking overhead as they flew north and the  newly arrived robins.   Here is the link to some more photographs I took of the sunset.  

     You got to love this time of year. I sure doSunset (16 of 20)



“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
–  Charles Dickens 



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