Amish skaters

Honest to goodness laughter punctuated
the snowy night air, easily drowning out
the steady hum of the gasoline generator
that powered the incandescent necklace
arched over the frozen pond, illuminating
the slick surface where skaters frolicked.

Bruce Stambaugh
Jan. 7, 2011


Start the year with a bucket list

Cathedral Rock by Bruce Stambaugh
Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ

By Bruce Stambaugh

Instead of resolutions, I’m starting this new year by making a bucket list. As popularized by the recent movie of the same name, a bucket list is a compilation of activities you want to accomplish before you “kick the bucket.”

I’m not anticipating knocking on the pearly gates anytime soon. But then again that’s not always in our hands. I set these dreamy accomplishments to paper as a more determined effort to prioritize ambitions not yet achieved.

Obviously, a bucket list is personal, and varies according to any given individual’s interests and ambitions. The items need not be lofty, fancy, outrageous or flamboyant, just ideas and ideals unfulfilled. As one item is accomplished, another can be added.

What’s on my bucket list? Here’s a peek at some of the activities.

I want to write a book, maybe two. With my many interests, I certainly have gathered enough material. Now I need to pick a subject and get busy.

Shoshone Point, Grand Canyon, AZ by Bruce Stambaugh
Shoshone Point, Grand Canyon, AZ.

I want to visit all 50 states. I have been working on this one all my life. I have seven states to go, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

I want to see a game in every major league baseball park. On this, too, I already have a head start. But I have dallied enough that some of the parks have long been torn down. I need to get moving before Wrigley Field and Fenway Park disappear.

I want to work with other relatives to develop a family tree. I know bits and pieces have already been compiled by extended family members. I want to help fill in some of the blank spaces if I can. Family is important to me and I enjoy history.

I would love to walk where James Herriot lived and worked in Yorkshire, England. A veterinarian by trade, Herriot made his intriguing life come alive for children and adults alike in his many books. He so eloquently intertwined the characters he met, the animals he treated, and the lovely rural Yorkshire countryside into fascinating tales.

Near San Marcos, Honduras by Bruce Stambaugh
The little church we helped build near San Marcos, Honduras.

I want to learn Spanish, at least enough to make my simplest inquiries known to those with whom I work and share when I visit Honduras. I figure it’s the least I can do.

I also want to read and reread the many good books that are gathering dust on my shelves. Like all the other items on my bucket list, they, too, have a lot to teach me. And above all else, I love to learn.

I also want to spend time hosting family and friends more than my wife and I already do. They always manage to teach me so much, especially the grandchildren. The grandkids keep me young in spirit even if they physically tire me out at times.

This laundry list of wannadoes is all well and good. But it is, like the Hollywood movie, a tad self-serving. A better bucket list should be even more inclusive and considerate of others.

Working side by side with folks, whether near or far, would be a more humanitarian item for a bucket list. Donating blood, volunteering at a hospital, serving food at a homeless shelter all would be appropriate additions to anyone’s bucket list.

You and I both might be stunningly surprised at how far such a practical, selfless implementation of service would take us. Perhaps we would go further than we ever thought we could accomplish.

That would be a bucket list worth creating.

Oceans and the weather

Gulf storm clouds by Bruce Stambaugh
Storm clouds gather at sunrise near Port Aransas, TX.

By Bruce Stambaugh

If it weren’t for the oceans of the world, the earth probably wouldn’t have weather as we know it. The landmasses then bear the brunt of nature’s bad weather and embrace her best. Considering that more than half of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of an ocean, their importance in weather making cannot be overstated.

Earth’s oceans occupy 71 percent of the world’s surface, and contain more than 97 percent of all the water contained on the globe. That huge volume of water helps create the weather that arrives on the planet’s landmasses.

Surprisingly, it is not so much the amount of water in the oceans that affects the weather as it is the temperature of the water. Just a degree or two warmer or cooler, and the oceans can have a dramatic effect on the weather experienced from season to season.

Oceans have an incredible ability to absorb, store and release heat into the atmosphere. It is this characteristic alone that affects the weather received around the world, even far inland.

Shelf cloud by Bruce Stambaugh
A shelf cloud of a severe thunderstorm moved over Ohio's Amish country.

This quality of ocean water also has the most dramatic affect on both climate and weather. Consider that the first 10 feet of ocean surface contains more heat than the earth’s entire atmosphere.

Major climate events, such as El Nino, result from ocean temperature changes. These temperature changes then impact weather events like hurricanes, typhoons, floods and droughts. Of course, those disasters directly relate to the success or failure of crops, and greatly affect the price of fruits, vegetables and grains, for example.

Just as the atmosphere is divided into layers, so are the oceans. The surface layer, the Epipelagic Zone, is also called the sunlight zone and extends from the surface to 660 feet deep. It is here that most of the visible light exists.

Naturally, with the light comes heating from the sun. This heating is responsible for the wide change in temperature that occurs in this zone seasonally and in latitudes. For example, surface water in the Persian Gulf can be 97 degrees Fahrenheit, while the water at the North Pole is 28 degrees.

Ocean circulations, waves, tides and sea breezes are other aspects of the ocean. Individually and collectively, they all influence the weather to some degree.

This article first appeared in the winter issue Farming Magazine.

An uncomplicated man gets involved

By Bruce Stambaugh

Jim Croskey, of rural Holmesville, Ohio is an uncomplicated man. But don’t let his down home folksiness fool you.

For most of his adult life, Croskey has put his inner spirit into action for the good of others. His productive community interactions reflect the spectrum of his interests and priorities.

Jim Croskey by Bruce Stambaugh
Jim Croskey has been involved in a variety of community activities in and around Holmes County, Ohio.

His philosophy for civic duty is as straightforward as the man himself.

“If you’re not involved,” Croskey said plainly, “you can’t complain.”

He should know. Croskey has been involved in a web of activities that crisscross his most treasured values. Family, farming, church and the environment are all dear to his heart.

After graduating from West Holmes High School in 1980, Croskey said he continued his education in the school of hard knocks. In other words, he worked in the oilfields for four years.

That experience got him both thinking and looking into what he really wanted to do. He married Shirley Schlegel in 1984, and with a common interest in antiques, Croskey began an antique refinishing business.

A year later, he started working for his father-in-law, Roy Schlegel, on DalRoy Farms. He must have found his niche, because Croskey is in his 25th year of farming with the Schlegel’s. Croskey is the farm manager of the 900-acre agricultural business.

“I worked on farms in the summer during high school,” Croskey said. “I saw this as a good opportunity to allow me to get into farming.”

His job is to make sure the day-to-day farm operations happen. Croskey said they focus on raising corn, soybeans and hay, and that is his job to look for the best prices on fertilizers and sprays. He said they no-till farm, meaning they do not plow the cropland.

With conservation ever on his mind, Croskey said they have used rye as a cover crop for harvested cornfields. In the spring, the rye is cut for fodder for their livestock.

Croskey said is it critical for him to stay abreast of the latest innovations by attending workshops and seminars.

Croskey incorporates his agricultural interest into community service by sitting on the Holmes Soil and Water board. He has done so for 10 years.

“I see that service as helping farmers and helping the environment,” Croskey said.

Long prior to his service on Soil and Water, Croskey and his wife served as 4-H advisors for two different clubs for a total of 19 years.

“When we started,” Croskey said, “4-H involved five to six families in the clubs. Now it has grown far beyond that status.” Croskey also served on the county 4-H committee for several years.

Before his 4-H service, Croskey was on the Holmes County Farm Bureau for eight years, including three as president.

“That’s what really got me started on the community service,” he said. “At the time, I was the youngest Farm Bureau president ever.”

Croskey said that changed this year when his son, Jimmy, became the organization’s president at age 25. “So the tradition continues,” he said with a wink.

“I haven’t had very much recliner time,” he chuckled. Indeed he hasn’t. Croskey has also been elected Prairie Township Trustee for three terms.

Croskey has also been very active in the church he attends, Fredericksburg Presbyterian. He served eight years as an elder, a trustee, and is currently chairperson of the outreach committee.

That position lead to another, the Fredericksburg Outreach Committee, which established the Chain Reaction Bicycle Shop.

With the Holmes County Trail ending in Fredericksburg, the three local churches thought it a good idea to offer something practical for local children to safely enjoy the benefits of the trail, according to Croskey. The group sponsors bike trips.

“People come to ride that may not come to church,” Croskey said. “We might as well help them, too.” The shop is now closed for the season.

“Church prepares you for how you go out into the world,” Croskey said. “I simply try to be an example.”

Just in case he is not involved enough, Croskey also serves on the board of the Loudonville Farmer’s Equity, which has 250 members.

After all these years, the Croskey’s still enjoy antiques. The difference is they have furnished their farm home with them, rather than refinish them for others.

With all that he does for the community, Croskey probably wouldn’t have the time anyhow.

A post a day in 2011

I’ve decided I want to blog more. As a commitment, not a hollow resolution, I will make every attempt to post a blog everyday in 2011. I’ll still post my columns and articles, but I want to write more poetry, too. Perhaps I’ll make other observations as well.

I know it will be challenging, and there will be days when I won’t get it done. But it should be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. In so doing, I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help and encourage me along the way. Of course, I will try to encourage others when I can, too.

If you already read my blog, I hope you will encourage me with comments and words of good will along the way. And don’t forget to click the “like” button, too.

Thanks for your support, and Happy New Year!