By LYNNE IRONS
I seem to have developed a method for column writing. I carry a piece of paper on the truck dashboard during the week and when I see something of interest, I jot down a word or two. Then, on Saturday morning, I somehow throw it together. Finally, I haul out the trusty typewriter and a vat of white correction fluid.
This past week, however, I took a road trip to western Pennsylvania to visit the folks. I thought I would see things along the way that could spark me into a writing jag. Since this is supposed to be about gardening, I can’t imagine you want to hear my take on roadside rest areas, highway eating, or bumper stickers heading into Middle America.
I cannot help myself. I have to share just one non-garden-related observation. While traveling along Route 86 somewhere between Binghamton and Corning, N.Y., there were miles of beautiful old farmhouses and barns, rolling hills and scenic vistas. In one field there was an enormous billboard, easily as big as my house, which read: “Adult Warehouse Thousands of Videos Truckers Welcome.” Honestly, I was struck practically speechless for miles. Right there in Family Values Land.
It got me thinking, finally, about billboards that I have seen over the years. I swear, if I had a big old barn, I would paint a “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” right on the side. Even better, I wish I had the nerve to put up some old Burma Shave poems.
While traveling east last Sunday, it was partly cloudy with occasional sunbeams. They would light up the huge stands of birches in the hills to where they appeared positively otherworldly.
It seemed that there had been quite a bit of showmelt as the various rivers and streams were overflowing their bounds. I noticed great patches of phragmites in the sodden areas. It is a very invasive species, just like here, which crowds out many of the native marsh plants. There are a lot of phragmites on Lagoon Pond Road near Burt’s Boat Yard.
We lost count of the number of dead deer along the highway. They are hit, apparently, as frequently as the skunks are around here. What was surprising was the fact that they are just left there along the road. Hopefully, hawks and crows will take over the job of a road crew.
Another completely subjective observation was that all along that farm country, there seemed to be only corn stubble in the fields. I think it is used for silage as every barn did have one or two silos. There did not seem to be any observable evidence of human food being grown. How sad what with all that tillable land.
We stayed overnight at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. We ate in their dining room and were happy to discover a sustainable foods menu. It featured locally grown and produced ingredients from small farms in the Berkshires and surrounding areas. The menu’s statement of purpose is as follows: “The use of fresh, local products helps secure the economic viability of our region by supporting area farmers and producers who believe in making economic decisions based on ecological soundness and social responsibility, meeting the needs of today while securing a healthy and productive landscape for future generations.”
By the time this hits the paper, I wonder if I will have kept any of my resolutions?