Time to stalk the beautiful maidenhair fern again….

It’s almost time to hike the Goeringer Preserve again. It was about this time last year I found this beautiful maidenhair fern there, and the shores are covered with enough wild cranberries to feed an army.

This is a piece I wrote for the Citizens’ Voice when I first explored the preserve.maidenhair fern

By Bob Quarteroni
It is so beautiful around here that we are the only valley in the nation to have a state named after us.
That’s right, the state of Wyoming is named for the Wyoming Valley. U.S. Representative James Ashley of Ohio proposed the name in 1865, having been born in Pennsylvania and familiar with our Valley with A Heart.
Its beauty has been praised everywhere. In 1904, Henry William Elson in the “History of the United States of America,” had this to say.
“In northern Pennsylvania, there lies a beautiful valley, nestled between two mountain ranges that rise high on either side, as if nature had chosen to guard the lovely spot from the outer world. This valley of Wyoming, watered by the sparkling Susquehanna that winds among the hills like a belt of silver, seems from a distant view like a dream of Eden…..”
So we are blessed with beauty, both in the Valley proper and in the emerald lands that surround it on all sides. Our bounty of beauty doesn’t stop at the valley’s hills, but blesses our entire region.
We are also blessed with a surprising number of nature preserves and retreats that are not all that well known to the public.
To correct that deficiency, a series on our preserves and sanctuaries will appear in the Citizens’ Voice on an intermittent basis. We hope you enjoy the trip.
One of our hidden gems is the Harry and Mary Goeringer Preserve, off Hollenback Road near Penn Lake
It’s 390 acres of oak heath forest, characterized by well-drained, acidic soils, lots of oaks and plants of the heath family: huckleberry, heath, heather, trailing arbutus, etc
The preserve hosts a globally rare, endangered plant – not named here to insure its protection — and bird species such as scarlet tanagers, hermit thrush and rose breasted grosbeak.
The preserve is open to the public for passive outdoor recreation such as hiking, birdwatching and photography. Hunting is also allowed. The Nature Conservancy does not allow trapping at this preserve.
Fishing is also allowed on one of the jewels of the preserve, Wright Creek.
According to the Nature Conservancy, Wright Creek is “An exceptional stream, along which one can find atypical vernal pools which serve as nurseries for frogs and salamanders.” It also contains a fair population of wild brook trout.
To reach the Preserve, access Hollenback Road from Bear Creek Road at the second entrance to Penn Lake, traveling toward White Haven.
Proceed on the road until the houses stop and the paving ends. In about a mile you’ll see a small parking area on the left and a signboard. To reach the start of the trail, you need to walk up the road a few hundreds yards to the trailhead on the left.
There you will find a flattish hiking/ biking trail following an old railroad bed. An isolated lake – surrounded by enormous mats of wild cranberry — is one of the highlights of the trail. It crosses the preserve’s border and stops approximately one-quarter mile from the Black Diamond Trail. The land between the two is private and heavily posted.
The Black Diamond Trail is a 10- mile stretch from Middleburg Road near White Haven to Route 437 just below Glen Summit in Mountain Top.
the land comprising the preserve was originally used as an “ice lake” for sending blocks of ice to Philadelphia. Today, it connects with parcels owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, the Natural Lands Trust, and the Wildlands Conservancy to extend a corridor of protected lands from Nescopeck State Park all the way to 6,400 acres protected at Bear Creek.
The Preserve is named for Harry and Mary Goeringer, who established the surrounding community of Penn Lake Park in the late 1930’s. The Goeringers’ daughter, Carolyn Goeringer Basler, sold much of the remaining undeveloped lands to The Nature Conservancy at what was termed “a bargain price” in 2012.
At its 2013 dedication, Ellen Lott, a project manager at The Nature Conservancy, said, “Because Mrs. Basler sold it at half the market value, we are naming it in honor of her parents.

From suicide to sorrel….

sorHarrisburg printed my suicide piece today so I can move on from that.Hope it gets people thinking.

Now back to simpler things: yellow wood sorrel, been blooming since spring and will continue right up to the frost. Love these little guys and how clear the air was the day I took the pic and allowed it to be SO sharp and crisp.


Yellow wood sorrel flowers are buttery yellow in color and relatively small, measuring 1.5 cm. in width. This radially symmetrical flower has five petals that surround ten stamens and a singular, erect central pistil. Flowers are widely spaced and moderate in number per plant.


The small, capsule-like fruit is positioned at a sharp angle atop the terminal shoot of a straight or ascending stalk.


The clover-shaped leaves of the yellow wood sorrel are relatively small, measuring approximately 1.5-2 cm. in width. Leaves are palmately divided into three distinct lobes and have a mildly sour taste. These leaves open at dawn and close at dusk or when exposed to environmental stresses.Each plant holds several leaves, creating a dense, carpet-like growth form.


The yellow wood sorrel grows best in open field, along roadways, and around waste areas.

Fun Facts:

Yellow wood sorrel is also known as sour grass because its leaves have a mildly sour taste. In fact, every part o this flower, including the leaves, flowers, and seed pods, are edible. Sorrel is a common addition to salads, soups, and sauces and can be used to make tea.

It contains high levels of vitamin C, potassium oxalate, and oxalic acid, the last two of which can be potentially hazardous to people with kidney disease, arthritis, or gout.

Medicinally, in moderate dosages, wood sorrel is cooling (refrigerant, febrifuge), diuretic, stomachic (soothing to the stomach, relieves indigestion), astringent, and catalytic. It’s also attributed with blood cleansing properties and is sometimes taken by cancer patients.

The whole plant produces an orange to yellow dye.

My suicide piece on PennLive.com today:

When my time comes, I want the right to make the final call on my exit …

3 hours ago – By Bob Quarteroni. Albert Camus said suicide was the only real question of interest, philosophically. For me, at age 70, it’s the only question, …

‘not even the rain has such small hands,’ ee cummings

A soothing rain fell on Frances Slocum yesterday, a whispering lullaby.

“A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring.” — Thoreaupond

Death and white snakeroot

seaBefore I post today’s flower, just a bit of an update on my piece on suicide, now on my editor’s desk.

I hoped it would provide fodder for a lively debate and on Facebook it certainly did. Perhaps 20 or so comments, all well-thought-out and reasonable. Here’s one such.

Wow, what a great treatise. I loved the May Times article about rational suicide and I feel exactly like you so perfectly expressed. You appreciate and love your life, but you want to be able to choose your own end when your life no longer has meaning for you. We should have the right to choose our end with dignity. Until that time comes, I hope you continue to live your life your way, for many more years!
Happy to know I have such decent folk as friends who can discuss such a sensitive topic as reasonable people.
And now….

A veritable sea of invasive and poisonous white snake root. Went out to Frances Slocum in a light, steady rain. Those who restrict their nature visits to sunny, warm days miss a whole different side of nature, the difference in the hushed, glistening world, the crystalline air, the minute details standing out, the silence, and the peace.

White snakeroot is herbaceous plant that belongs to the family of daisies. It originates from eastern parts of North America. White snakeroot can be found in forests, wooded pastures and thickets. It grows on fertile, moist soil, exposed to direct sunlight or in the partial shade. White snakeroot is poisonous plant that can induce death of humans and domestic animals. Man-made variety of white snakeroot, known as “chocolate” is often cultivated in ornamental purposes because of its decorative, large, dark brown leaves.

Interesting White snakeroot Facts:White snakeroot has erect, slender, roundish stem with numerous branches. It can reach 1 to 5 feet in height.
White snakeroot has fibrous and coarse root that grows close to the surface of the ground.
White snakeroot produces large (7 inches long), broadly ovate leaves. They are toothed on the edges and end with pointed tips (morphologically very similar to leaves of nettle). Leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem.
Flowers of white snakeroot are gathered in dense, rounded clusters that can be seen at the end of the branches and on top of the stem. Individual flowers are small, white-colored and fuzzy, due to centrally positioned hairy protrusions.
White snakeroot blooms from August to September. Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs. They are able to perform self-pollination in the case that butterflies (main pollinators of this plant) are not available.
Fruit of white snakeroot is miniature, seed-like achene covered with white bristles. Seed is black in color.
Hairs on the surface of seed facilitate dispersal by wind.
White snakeroot propagates via seed and cuttings.
Tremetol is toxic substance found in the stem and leaves of white snakeroot. Even the small doses of this substance can be deadly for cows, sheep, goats and horses.
Consumption of milk obtained from cows whose diet was based on white snakeroot can induce disorder known as milk sickness (tremetol poisoning) in humans. Typical signs of intoxication include vomiting, constipation and weakness. Milk sickness may end up fatally.
At the beginning of the 19th century, thousands of people died as a result of milk sickness on the American Midwest. Mother of Abraham Lincoln is one the people who died after consumption of the intoxicated milk.
Calves and lambs can also die after consumption of intoxicated milk even though adult animals (cows and sheep) do not show typical signs of intoxication.
White snakeroot is equally deadly in the fresh and dry form. Tremetol does not undergo process of degradation after wilting of the plant.
White snakeroot is used in folk medicine in treatment of fever, diarrhea and kidney stones. Poultices made of root can be used as first aid for the snakebites.
White snakeroot is perennial plant, which means that it can survive more than 2 years in the wild.

What is more natural than ashes to ashes, dust to dust?

Writing this column for Harrisburg. 70 is the Biblical span of life, “three score and 10,” so it’s a good time to look back and think ahead. I know it’s a subject of tremendous debate but this piece, good, bad or indifferent, is what I believe with all my heart.cemetery


By Bob Quarteroni

Albert Camus said suicide was the only real question of interest, philosophically.

For me, at age 70, it’s the only question, period.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to send out an intervention squad, no action on my part – at least as far as I know — is imminent.

But in the future?

I am a loner, sans peer. While I’ve lived a normal social life my “true” life is when I’m alone, doing what I want to do, on my clock and in my way.

I’ve always valued my independence above just about everything else and that’s colored my social connections my entire life. Lovers and friends always know that I’m going to be difficult to pin down, to get to join in any group event, to ever truly enjoy socializing or crowd activities.

Surprisingly, they accept me this way and know that I’m always going to be the lurker in the shadows. I can’t tell you how many times some iteration of “It’s only Bob” has been uttered to explain my absence/and or weird behavior.

This type of independence depends on being healthy and hale enough to carry it off. And, with the accumulation of so many years, I’m being assaulted physically in ways large and small – chronic lower back and leg pain, arthritis, vision issues, hearing issues, tinnitus and on and on.

Hell, on one hand alone, the left, I have arthritis in all my fingers, Dupuytren’s contracture (look it up) in my little finger, turning it into a hook and something jocularly called “trigger finger” (ditto) in my index finger requiring soft splints. What fun.

When Robert Browning wrote, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,” they should have locked him up in a loony bin.

Anyhow, I’m lucky in that in despite all the crap I have none of it is debilitating or limiting enough to stop me from doing what I want. I still work out at the Y three times a week and the other days are often three or four-hour sojourns in the woods covering up to 7 or 8 miles.

But the steady drip, drip of body disintegration are stark reminders that “the time” is closing in, the time when something – a stroke, a terrible accident, dementia, cancer, whatever — is going to try and put an end to the free-roaming days of Mr. Bob.

And I simply CANNOT abide that. I’ve always been high strung and I just can’t sit and not do anything.

When I had to be hospitalized five years ago for two days for a hernia operation – the first time I’d been in a hospital in 58 years – I could no just lay there. I was crawling the walls. I walked around so much they reported me to my doctor who lectured me on the damage I was doing. I kept doing it anyhow.

For me, the vilest word in the English language is “relax.” Sitting and doing nothing is almost physically painful for me. I HAVE to move.

For me, it simply wouldn’t be worth living if I were confined to a bed or wheelchair or, horror of horrors, be unable to control my bodily functions.

I lay all this pipe because I have increasingly been moving from thinking about what to do when “the time” comes calling to actively planning for it.

And for me, the time may well before I’m considered terminally ill. My criteria will be the quality of my life going forward. If it’s not up to a standard I can live with, well, I’ll have to live without it.

I’m an atheist and convinced the universe is indifferent and uncaring. As philosopher David Hume said in the 18th century, “The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster….”

Unlike the religious, I don’t have to worry about offending some non-existent god.

And since my universe, by definition, is absurd and without meaning or any concept of morality, there is no question as to whether I have a “right” to take my life. Meaningless yes, but also liberating.

And I’ve long come to terms with the eternal nothingness that awaits me after I reach room temperature. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to the purple hum of the eternal no, so peaceful after so much inner struggle.

Of course, such “non-terminal” suicides are controversial, to say the least. But I simply feel that since it’s my body, I should have the right to decide what to do with it.

And more and more people are feeling the same way, as an article in the New York Times about “rational suicide” pointed out.

Dena Davis, a bioethicist at Lehigh University, who has written about what she calls “pre-emptive suicide,” mirrors my thinking beautifully.

“Perhaps you feel your life is on a downhill course. You’ve completed the things you wanted to do. You see life’s satisfactions getting smaller and the burdens getting larger — that’s true for a lot of us as our bodies start breaking down.”

Exactly, it’s inexorably downhill. The question is HOW far down do you go before you decide enough is enough.

At that point, “it might be rational to end your life,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, in the world we currently live in, if you don’t take control of life’s end, it’s likely to go in ways that are inimical to your wishes.”

Exactly. Davis herself cared for her mother as she lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She said she intends to avoid a similar death, a decision she has discussed with her son, her friends and her doctor.

And I’ve started doing the same, as well as gathering all financial papers, tidying up my affairs and even starting to investigate the ways and means to pull down the final curtain when the time comes.

Hell, I may live another 25 years. I might get hit by a truck tomorrow. I might die in bed tonight. I might suddenly get religion. I might, might, might.

But I might not. One terrible night I might find myself on the very brink of the void, with all hope gone and very few options., none of them good. If I get to that point I want to be the one to make the decision how and when it’s time to turn out the light for good, not some doctor or social worker or family member.

I’ve lived my life the way I’ve wanted to, and it’s been a good, rich fulfilling life. I’ve been a very lucky man. I’ve done things I could never have imagined and sampled impossible highs and indescribable lows. But it was my life and I did it my way.

I will not have it cheapened by senseless efforts to keep a failing body alive, or functioning at a near-zombie state, just because it is possible.

My life – and my death – are mine.



Put more water in the soup, the 90-degree days appear over!!!

Hide the children and pass thecarey Glenfiddich!  The heat finally broke and it was in the 70s. Still somewhat humid but after the relentless 90s, felt fine.

Went to Frances S. and saw so much — took so many pics — I think I covered maybe one-third of a mile in 2.5 hours, which flew by, as the do when there’s so much to look at, investigate, photo.

If I hadn’t stepped into a mud hole over the top of my boots would have been a perfect day.  Can’t have everything, right. Here’s the first thing I saw.

Carey’s knotweed — or smartweed — named after Mr. Carey I assume — was, literally at my car door, I stepped on it.

There are several species of weedy smartweeds. Some are aquatic and all prefer moist sites. Polygonum arifolium and P. sagittatum are called halbard and arrow-leaved tear thumb respectively because of the sharp spines on the stem. Water smartweed (P. amphibium) grows equally well in water and on dry ground. P. aviculare and P. erectum are called knotweed. The first is a serious pest in lawns. Carey’s smartweed (P. careyi) is characterized by long drooping clusters of flowers and is often seen in blueberry fields in the Pemberton area. P. convolvulus is a vine type and is called black bindweed. P. scandens is also a vine and both are serious weed problems where found. Japanese knotweed or Mexican bamboo (P. cuspidatum), is a tall growing, perennial weed which is almost impossible to control. P. sahalinense is similar but much more robust. Pennsylvania smartweed (P. pensylvanicum) is one which grows well on rich, well drained soils and so is a weed problem in crops



Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea #)#)@)@ culpa, thanks to Mr. Acer

coarl berry twoSigh. For the second time since I’ve owned it the Acer that I am desperately trying to retire but having trouble not only with it but the NEW Asus whose touchpad isn’t working right, soooo.

Anyhow, the Acer started its “plugged in, not charging” routine and I spent most of the morning trying to figure that out. Important cause I have lots of files to transfer.

Disgusted, I just threw it in a corner and, of course, it started charging. That was this morning and I’m leaving it along hoping it charges fully to give me enough time to transfer all.

Anyhow, back to the refreshingly simple world of flowers. Autumn colors coming on and first among them is coralberry. I know of only one stand of them so I guard the location, but they are beauties.

Here’s the introduction to a piece I wrote on late fall/winter colors:


“Always maintain a kind of summer even in the middle of winter,” Henry David Thoreau said, and there are some local plants that are happy to oblige, by brightening the monochromatic landscape of winter with their brilliant color and finery. Here’s a look at a few.

CORAL BERRY: Also known as Indian Currant, this beauty turns brilliant red when other plants are losing their leaves, and it brightens the understory with its cluster of pinkish purple fruit all winter long. Cut branches make wonderful displays in the house during winter.

The berries are eaten primarily by overwintering robins and it is a favorite food plant of white-tailed deer.

And as every wild plant I’ve ever run across, it has medicinal uses. A decoction (boiling in water to extract the flavor or active component) of the inner bark or leaves has been used as a wash in the treatment of weak, inflamed or sore eyes. A cold decoction of the root bark has been used as an eye wash to treat sore eyes.

Coral berry can be grown as a hedge or informal screen. It is very tolerant of trimming. Plants have an extensive root system and, since they also sucker freely, they can be used for soil stabilization.