Make any day a good day

osage orange tree
West of Winesburg.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I had driven this route many times in the past. Usually, it started in the early morning twilight and ended in the glare of the afternoon sun, if I didn’t have a meeting after school.

I served as principal at two of the nicest elementary schools anyone could hope for or conjure. I loved my job at Mt. Hope and Winesburg schools.

An emotional funk had overtaken me, and I needed a spiritual pick me up. Those former school days mentally surfaced, so I called the man who had replaced me 17 years ago. Dan was more than happy to show me around the schools where I once whistled my way down the halls. It had been years since I last graced them.

With our impending move to Virginia set for next spring, I knew I needed to start reconnecting with folks and places that had played such important roles in my life, professionally and personally. The schools were on that list.

That’s how I came to retrace the roads I took for 21 years every school day. I knew every turn, hill, and valley.

Amish buggy, autumn
Along the road.
I made Mt. Hope my first stop. Dan greeted me at the front door after I pushed the security buzzer, a necessary addition since the Nickel Mines shooting 10 years ago in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania.

Dan escorted me around the building that I knew so well. Physically, not much had changed. The staff and pupils, however, had. I soon found familiarity and links to the past.

Dan asked the students in each class how many of their parents had gone to Mt. Hope School. I was astonished at how many hands flew up. We went pupil by pupil to see if I could remember their folks.

To my amazement, and theirs as well, I remembered their parents and grandparents, where they lived, and even a few first names. When the school is full of Yoders and Millers, that’s not an easy task.

My reunions with Jerry the librarian, Jim the teacher, and Nettie the cook brought smiles to my face, stirred my soul and filled me with compassion for their career commitments to nurturing children.

My age hit me square in the face when I met the custodian of both schools, Brandon, a former student. He was too busy to talk much, but his handshake spoke volumes. The school sparkled as brightly as his eyes.

Holmes Co. OH
A view around every turn.
More memories resurfaced while driving the five miles between Mt. Hope and Winesburg. There still is no bar or golf course in between. The road was still bumpy, the views still pristine. Corn shocks stood in the same fields they had all those years ago.

At Winesburg, I found the school just as clean and hospitable as Mt. Hope. I was glad to see many of the same staff members I had worked with and hired before I retired. We hugged and shared heartfelt recollections.

The storyline with the students also repeated. The eagerness of the youngsters to name their parents buoyed me. Some I identified by family name just from their physical features. When a student said who her mother was, I said, “Oh, yes. I remember. Carie with one “r.” I’ll never forget the beam on that young face.

This uplifting experience had been a morning to remember for me. All this human interaction freed me from my gloominess. It gave me hope that any day, no matter how trying, can be a good day.

I just had to take the initiative. The children and friends did the rest.

sunrise, Ohio's Amish Country
A new dawn.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Finding peace and joy

Farmers Produce Auction, Mt. Hope OH
Auction in action.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Most folks go there to either buy or sell. I go for peace and joy.

The Farmers Produce Auction west of Mt. Hope, Ohio is heaven on earth for me. Given the size of the crowds and the non-stop activity, I have a feeling I’m not alone in that sentiment.

This little spot of paradise, located dead-center in the prettiest township in Ohio, bustles with business. That’s especially true in fall, the summit of the harvest season.

That it is so raucous this time of year should come as no surprise. The skid loaders, the bins, the baskets, the boxes, the trucks, the wagons, the carts, the pallets overflow with all of Creation’s botanical creativity.

Though they may not look like it, the auction grounds and buildings are the Garden of Eden April to November. Fall is its horn of plenty.

Growers of all delicious fruits and vegetables and eye candy fall flowers gather their goods and come to the auction. As diverse as the produce varieties, attendees represent a microcosm of society. Men, women, children, black, brown, white, young, old and in between, workers, buyers, sellers and admirers harmoniously intermingle.

Once the auctioneers’ voices begin to resound, all eyes and ears swivel to attention. Buyers from small urban markets, major grocery stores, and mom and pop stands along country roads stay glued to the rhythmical cadence of the hucksters.

They want to make sure they’re going to get the best produce for the best possible price. They know what their customers want and what they’ll pay for quality fresh food and flowers. It’s entrepreneurship at its finest.

Finer still is the paint pallet of colors of the gourds, squash, pumpkins, mums, watermelon, tomatoes, plums, apples and cucumbers. Together they create a biological masterpiece.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

I wander through the grounds absorbing this end of the rainbow experience. The raw aromas of the fruits and veggies mingle with those of the resting horses and the scrumptious offerings of the beckoning lunch stand.

As if this ever-changing live landscape painting weren’t enough, the singsong crackle of the auctioneers’ voices over the loudspeakers lead the melody of the moment. The hum of the electric loaders, the dozens of sidebar conversations, and the hailing of one person to another across the way sing in harmony.

I glide through as those around me keep to their appointed tasks of loading and unloading, of buying and selling. I am unhindered as I zigzag my way up and down the aisles careful not to interfere or offend.

When I stop and admire the artistry in the earthiness of the individual brush strokes of this organic collage, I come alive. I am at peace. I find joy in the natural patterns of the speckled, striped, plump, oblong, elongated brightness nestled in this temporary harvest home.

The scene could be a Monet or a Rockwell with one exception. It’s real, and it’s all around me, intoxicating all who partake.

Once the bidding ends, a patented rush begins in two directions. One is to quickly but carefully load the delivery trucks to ensure freshness to the awaiting customers miles away. The other is to the food stand, where the chefs are generous with their portions and their geniality.

From still life to landscape to abstract renderings, this produce market offers much more than edibles. In the course of the procurement, peace and joy surreptitiously enrich the colorful treats.

Farmers Produce Auction, Mt. Hope OH
Full view.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

The secret to great ice cream is no secret at all

d&bburgersbybrucestambaugh
One of the food trailers from which Dan and Anna Bowman serve their delicious ice cream. The Bowmans are Amish, so no pictures were taken of them.

By Bruce Stambaugh

When Dan and Anna Bowman crank up their ice cream machine each year in June, it doesn’t take long for a line to form. Their ice cream is that good.

The Bowman’s operate under the business name of D and B Burgers, Fredericksburg, Ohio. Don’t let the name deceive you. They serve up lots more than tasty burgers. Their menu includes offerings for breakfast and lunch, and of course, fresh and delicious soft serve ice cream.

When asked what the secret was to their yummy ice cream, Dan didn’t hesitate to answer, though what he said may come as a surprise. His modest answer reflected his daily demeanor.

“We use the same commercial ice cream mix as several others in the area,” Dan said. “Fresh and clean is a very good combination for good tasting ice cream.” By that he meant that he keeps the soft serve ice cream machine cleaned on a regular basis.

“You can’t keep ice cream mix in too long,” Dan said. “You can only go about two days before you have to sanitize the machine.”

twistandshoutbybrucestambaugh
The twist soft serve ice cream cone is a hit with the Bowman’s customers.
Dan said that if the ice cream sits in the well of the machine too long it gets gritty and sour. To ensure freshness, he even cleans off the dispenser to eliminate any chance of anything less than fresh being dispensed.

To keep it clean, he and Anna completely take the machine apart to clean, a process that takes an hour. The machine gets thoroughly cleaned with the manufacturer’s recommended cleanser, rinsed, dried, and reassembled.

Dan and Anna sell three flavors of soft serve ice cream, chocolate, vanilla and twist. They serve their ice cream in cake cones, cups and sundaes.

“The raspberry sundae is the favorite of customers,” Dan said. Of course, the topping is homemade by Anna.

Again, they said there is no secret to that success. Freshness makes the difference here, too.

“I just add a little sugar to the berries and turn on the blender,” she said. They offer red, black and purple raspberry.

Dan said there are four or five ice cream mixes that he could choose from in the area.

delicioussundaebybrucestambaugh
Anna’s homemade raspberry sundae topping is very popular with customers.

“I use a mix from a local dairy for consistency and freshness there, too,” Dan said. He buys the mix through the Country Mart in Mt. Hope, Ohio. The mix is a liquid that is poured into the vat of the tabletop ice cream galvanized machine.

“We have people tell us that our ice cream tastes better than others,” said Anna. “But we use a commercial mix just like the others.”

Dan said censors on the machine tell him when the ice cream is getting low.

“That’s why we never run out of ice cream,” Dan said. “It only takes about five to 10 minutes before the ice cream is ready to be served.”

Dan said they average about 25 gallons of ice cream per day during the peek time of June to October. Dan and Anna’s stand, which he affectionately refers to as the wiener wagon, can be found at the Mt. Hope Auction during special events like horse sales. They also do some special sales and auctions.

pouiringthemixbybrucestambaugh
The ice cream mix gets poured into the machine, vanilla on one side, chocolate on the other.

The best chance to catch Dan and Anna is at the Farmers Produce Market on State Route 241 a mile west of Mt. Hope June through October when ice cream is served beginning at 10 a.m. The stand, however, opens around 8 a.m. when buyers and sellers start to arrive. D and B Burgers serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches, side dishes, donuts, cookies, candy and hot and cold drinks.

The produce market is affiliated with the Mt. Hope Auction, and Dan and Anna provide food there February to November. During the summer months, the auction runs four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

“We are very thankful to Steve and Jim Mullet for allowing us to operate at their sales,” Dan said. “My business would not be without the Mullets.”

D and B Burgers operation has been operating for 13 years. They now use two food wagons. One is stationed at the produce market most of the year.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

More delicious reasons to visit Ohio’s Amish country

Strawberry pie and ice cream by Bruce Stambaugh
The delicious homemade strawberry pie and ice cream will again be offered free to all those who attend Homestead Furniture’s Strawberry Summer Fest, June 14-16 at Mt. Hope, OH.

By Bruce Stambaugh

People visit the world’s largest Amish population for many reasons. Nostalgia for the way things used to be, the friendly, plain folks, the delicious, affordable food, and the neat, quilt-patch farm fields often top the list.

Free pie and ice cream by Bruce Stambaugh
This youngster was pretty pleased with his free homemade strawberry pie and ice cream.

On June 14, 15, and 16, two more reasons will emerge. Visitors can enjoy free homemade strawberry pie and ice cream made on the spot at Homestead Furniture in Mt. Hope, Ohio.

The expansive furniture store, which specializes in customizing hardwood and upholstered furniture, will hold its 12th annual Strawberry Summer Fest on those three days. On average, the store serves up 350 pies and 150 gallons of machine-cranked ice cream over the three-day gathering, which draws hundreds of people from several states.
Strawberry pie by Bruce Stambaugh
The Strawberry Summer Fest is held each year to help welcome in summer. According to Homestead Furniture’s sales manager Todd Reese, the store chose strawberry pie and ice cream as symbols of the season to share with customers old and new.

Cortona dining table by Bruce Stambaugh
The Cortona dining room table is just one example the exquisite furniture design and built by the craftsmen at Homestead Furniture.
Besides the free food, Homestead Furniture will also hold a drawing for gift cards to the store. Prizes total $1,750. Of course, Homestead Furniture will offer special sales prices on all of its hardwood, upholstered, and leather furniture, excluding custom orders. Their only other sale is in October.

In fact, the Mt. Hope merchant’s annual Sundown Sale will be held on Friday, June 15. Most businesses in town, from the hardware store to the fabric store, will be open until 8 p.m. The merchants also have a special drawing.

Homestead Furniture by Bruce Stambaugh
Homestead Furniture, Mt. Hope, OH is a busy place during its annual Strawberry Summer Fest.

Homestead Furniture will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 14 and 15, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 16. The store is located at 8233 SR 241, just north of Mt. Hope.

Mt. Hope is located 35 miles southwest of Canton, 50 miles south of Akron, and 75 miles south of Cleveland in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country.

Ice cream by Bruce Stambaugh
Employees at Homestead Furniture in Mt. Hope, OH make homemade ice cream five gallons at a time over the three day event.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

The trellises worked: A tomato success story

Brandywine tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
Red Brandywines ripening in the shade of the tomato trellis.
Tomatoes ripening on the vine by Bruce Stambaugh
Tomatoes ripening on the vine.

How did our tomatoes grow this year? They did quite well, thank you very much, and little thanks to me. My wife did most of the work. I just took the pictures and enjoyed the bounty.

As you may recall, we tried something different this year. Tired of the weighty tomatoes collapsing the stakes and metal cages we “secured” them with, my wife found a plan for tomato trellises. Our son, who has become quite the food guru, lives in a loft in Wooster, Ohio, 16 miles north of us. He and his wife have no outdoor space for growing the vegetables and herbs that he loves to use for his gourmet cooking. (See the May 27, 2010 post entitled “A beautiful morning well spent.”)

Amish farm Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
The Amish farm on which our home is built.

Our house is built on an Amish farm four miles southwest of Mt. Hope and four miles northwest of Berlin, the unofficial capital of Ohio’s largest Amish population. In other words, we’re out in the country with Amish neighbors and farms all around. Since our son drives right by us every workday, he asked to join us in our limited gardening. After the drought of 1988, we gave up most gardening. My wife turned to flower gardening, which adds a multitude of color to our little acre and a half each growing season.

Wildflower garden by Bruce Stambaugh
The backyard wildflowers are only some of the beautiful flowers my wife cultivates each year.

The tomato trellis plans called for plenty of space, which required me to dig out more yard along the bricked garage wall at the south end of our home where we annually grow the tomatoes. We have discovered that the tomatoes seemed to thrive on the extra heat radiated by the bricks.

I dug out the grass by a couple of more feet, spaded the ground and added some horse manure the neighbor supplied when he fertilized the fields adjacent to our home. Our son, my wife and I erected a pair of the trellises on May 15. My wife purchased and planted a dozen heirloom tomato plants. Varieties included Hillbilly, Striped Zebra, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifters, Red Brandywine, Roma’s, and Old German. A friend from church also gave us an unknown variety. And several Yellow Pear tomato plants volunteered from last year’s crop.

Driving tomato stakes by Bruce Stambaugh
Our son drove 7 ft. stakes into the ground to form the support of the trellis.

We purchased seven foot oak stakes at a local nursery. The original plans called for eight-foot stakes, but the sevens were the best we could find without having some special ordered at a much-increased price. The main stakes were pounded into the ground, and the lateral ones were spaced and tied with garden twine.

The plants seemed to grow slowly the first month. But once the summer heat and humidity really kicked in, the tomato plants boomed. My wife repeatedly tied the ever-increasing shoots as best she could. Still, the end result looked like a jungle.

The plants are still producing, but with the peak of the season behind us, the plants production has slowed considerably. We did have to fight a bit of blight throughout the summer, but the plants continued to thrive. And we enjoyed their abundant production.

Green Zebra tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
Green Zebra tomatoes growing on the vine.

I especially enjoyed the Green Zebras and the Hillbilly. They were sweet and low on acid. Sprinkled with a little sea salt, they made many summer lunches on the back porch tasty and enjoyable.

My wife also made delectable tomato salads with slices and chunks of the different varieties offered on the same plate, sprinkled with fresh mozzarella cheese and virgin olive oil. Cuttings of fresh basil perfectly seasoned the offering.

Mixed tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
A plate of colorful heirloom tomatoes.
Sliced heirloom tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
Heirloom tomatoes ready to eat.
Canned tomato products by Bruce Stambaugh
Just some of the beautiful and delicious handy work of my wife.

Of course my industrious wife also canned whole tomatoes as well as chunked tomatoes, made tomato soup, and peach salsa. I did persuade her to reveal her delicious tomato soup recipe, which is as follows:

Tomato Soup

Group 1
14 qts. cut up tomatoes (preferably Roma’s)
14 stems of celery cut up
14 bay leaves
27 whole cloves
1 green pepper diced

Cook the above until all vegetables are soft. I use a roaster. Then put through a strainer. I let the initial liquid drain off before cranking the strainer handle. I can this for juice. Keep hot until ready to add group 2.

Group 2 (Note that any recipe with dairy products like butter and cream should be properly pressure canned.)
12 Tbsp. flour
1 # butter
6 tsp. salt
1 cup cream
16 Tbsp. sugar

Slowly cook group 2 to make a paste.

In a kettle/roaster bring the strained group 1 to a boil and add group 2. Stir often. Bring back to a slow boil. This is not a thick soup.

Put in jars, makes approx. 17 pints. Process in a water bath 30 min.

When ready to use put 1 jar in kettle with ½ jar milk and heat thoroughly.

Neva Stambaugh

Of course I tried to document the progress of the tomato growing and harvesting throughout the summer. Following is a sequence of how our tomatoes grew following the May 15, 2010 installation of the trellises.

Tomatoes mid-June by Bruce Stambaugh
Tomatoes mid-June by Bruce Stambaugh
Tomatoes mid-July by Bruce Stambaugh
Tomatoes mid-July.
Tomatoes mid-August by Bruce Stambaugh
Tomatoes mid-August.
Tomatoes mid-Sept. by Bruce Stambaugh
Tomatoes mid-Sept., beginning to die out.
Tomato blossoms by Bruce Stambaugh
Tomatoes in blossom.
Green tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
Green tomatoes on the vine.
Ripe tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
Ready to pick.

By the way, after the first frost, the plan is to disassemble the trellises and store them for the winter. We also plan on extending the growing area yet again to allow more room to maneuver between the garage and the trellises.

We found several advantages to using the trellises. They were much more effective in cutting the loss of tomatoes to dry rot. Varmints, especially the four-legged variety, caused less damage, and the tomatoes were much easier to pick.

If you used trellises or have other options and suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please leave a message with your successes, ideas and lessons learned.

Enjoy your tomatoes while they last.

Bruce Stambaugh
Sept. 29, 2010

Roma tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
Roma tomatoes awaiting the canner.
Picked tomatoes by Bruce Stambaugh
A variety of heirloom tomatoes.

Gloria Yoder embodies the spirit of community

By Bruce Stambaugh

Gloria Yoder, 61, never ventured far from where her ancestors settled in Holmes County in the early 19th century. That’s just fine by her.

Based on what she has done and continues to do, the community is the better for it, too. In this case, the residents in and around the little town of Mt. Hope are the beneficiaries.

Yoder grew up on the family homestead on McClure Hill just west of Mt. Hope. McClure was her maiden name. Eli, her husband, was raised on a neighboring farm. They have been married 42 years.

The Yoder’s operate two popular area businesses. Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen in Mt. Hope is noted for its hardy breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. Yoder’s Amish Home near Trail, where they live, is a noted destination for tourists. She also operates the restaurant at the Mt. Hope Auction March through October.

Gloria Yoder by Bruce Stambaugh
As she normally does, Gloria Yoder bought several animals at the Holmes County Junior Livestock Auction.

Gloria has a keen sense of combining business with community service. She sees a commitment to community at the Holmes County Fair. She annually purchases prized and award winning animals at the fair’s Junior Livestock Auction.

“I like to help out the kids who work so hard with their animals,” she said while waiting to bid at this year’s fair sale. Of course, Gloria has a personal stake in the event. She was a 4-H’er herself and served 20 years as the advisor for two different 4-H clubs.

This year Gloria purchased the grand champion pen of three hens, the grand champion market turkey, a lamb, three hogs and several rabbits. That alone helped a number of 4-H participants. But Yoder doesn’t stop there.

Each year, Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen offers a special fair buffet featuring the animals she has purchased. The buffet will be this Wednesday, September 29 from 3 to 8 p.m.

“We have people who come from as far as Cincinnati for our buffets,” Yoder said. She also calls a list of people who live out of town, and some out of state, to tell them when the buffet will be offered.

This year’s fair buffet will feature barbecued rabbit, roasted leg of lamb, smoked turkey, pan-fried chicken and beef tenderloin. Yoder said she expects about 500 customers for the buffet.

But Gloria’s life ranges far beyond the confines of her restaurant. She spends much of her time assisting with and organizing for community activities.

Besides supporting the 4-H program, she faithfully serves in the small United Methodist congregation in Mt. Hope. That includes organizing and recruiting help for the annual pancake and sausage meal held each April.

Gloria helps with the egg hunt each spring, and orchestrates the parade and live nativity scene each Christmas season. Local school children enjoy playing the different parts of the sacred story. Over the years, she said group singing was added, and last year the community held a special fundraiser for a local family in need.

“Our young people are our future,” she said plainly but sincerely. “Whatever little bit I can do to help, I will.”

As a leader in the Mt. Hope Merchants Association, she also helps make the annual July Sundown Sale successful and purposeful. This year, for example, a dollar from every meal sold along with money from the volleyball teams were donated to needy families in the Mt. Hope area.

Gloria has some very personal reasons for being so involved in the community. Only months after her only child, Trent, was born in 1972, Gloria spent three months in the hospital in Columbus.

In 1983, she had a serious car accident in Berlin, and just two years ago Gloria was diagnosed with blood clots in both lungs. She hasn’t forgotten how the community responded to her needs and those of her family.

“I feel very fortunate to be alive,” she said. “God has been watching over me, and evidently still has some purpose for me in life.”

“Once you face death,” Gloria continued, “everything takes on a new meaning. I have felt the community of caring.”

In spite of her busyness, Gloria does find time for herself. She enjoys gardening, and trying new recipes. It’s no wonder, given the fact that she has a collection of 250 cookbooks.

“I enjoy reading them,” she said. “You can tell a lot about a church or community by what they include in their cookbook.” Gloria said that if a recipe includes “a pinch” of a certain ingredient, “You know it’s from an old cook.”

Gloria said she remembers when Mt. Hope resembled a ghost town. But in recent years, thanks to the success of area businesses, the little town is booming. And that is just the way Gloria likes it.

This story first appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter.

In appreciation of Mother Earth

Oat shocks by Bruce Stambaugh
Oat shocks near Mt. Hope, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The deep orange crescent moon sat just above the tree line on the dusky horizon. Fanned out high over its tip, Saturn, Mars and Venus sparkled in the late evening sky.

Lightening flashed suddenly and silently interrupting the cloudless scene. Radar indicated the thunderstorm 120 miles southeast near Parkersburg, West Virginia.

The next morning, this natural display of awe and beauty was enthusiastically discussed among those who know the value of such a free show. They were gathered in the shade of a vendor’s tent at the annual Family Farm Field Day event.

Storm approaches by Bruce Stambaugh
A severe thunderstorm near Mt. Hope, Ohio.

It was more than appropriate and not the least bit ironic that such talk should take place at an educational affair celebrating the goodness of the land. These were people who knew the importance of Mother Earth, who knew how to care for her, appreciate her, and affirm her, even profit from her without rendering her useless or sterile.

The venue was as uplifting as the conversation about the storm. Hundreds of black buggies stood side by side against the woods, their unhitched horses now shaded.

Buggies at a hitching rail in Mt. Hope, Ohio
Buggies lined up at a hitching rail in Mt. Hope, Ohio.

Cars, vans and pickup trucks entered at the east gate. Along the drive, dozens of bicycles leaned against chain link fencing that separated yards from right of way and kept children from wandering into the long, graveled lane.

In between these contrasting parking lots, thousands of people milled beneath several large tents searching for information on how to better care for the earth. The slight bluff on which the action took place created a symbolic subliminal significance of man and land over that of man and mobility.

Though most were dressed in homemade denim with suspenders or pastel dresses with coverings and spoke a language I should have learned long ago, I was both at home and in harmony with them. We were all there for the same reason, to learn more about caring for and nurturing the land that provides us sustenance and shelter.

Jr. Burkholder farm by Bruce Stambaugh
A farmstead in Holmes County, Ohio.

Besides the vendors’ displays, tents for keynote speakers, farmsteads and homemakers were erected in a huge horseshoe pattern around the pastured plateau. Of course, there were food tents, too. I couldn’t decide which I liked best, the sugar and cinnamon hot soft pretzel or the salty sweet kettle corn.

With the hot summer sun beating down, shade was at a premium for those seeking relief. That did not deter them from exploring the inescapable interconnection between humankind and our responsibility of caring for the environment.

To be sure, that is serious business. But it was nice to see it presented in such fun and informative ways for multiple generations. To the point, bird, butterfly and nature walks were filled to overflowing.

A billowing cloud by Bruce Stambaugh
A storm cloud builds.

But what was really special for me was the dialogue on the previous night’s celestial display. Some of us saw what is erroneously called “heat lightening.”

From the backside of the storm, which is always the safest and prettiest angle, others
saw huge, billowing columns sail through the darkening sky. The higher they rose, the more the lightening sizzled in and out of them, brightly illuminating the swelling clouds.

One in the group had actually been under the building storm and arrived home in time to also watch the stunning electrical display. To hear that enthusiasm, plus see the genuine, cross-generational interest in caring for the ecosystem by so many people stirred my soul.

I left thoroughly uplifted, and with one large bag of kettle corn to go.