Monday, January 20, 2014

For Better Or Worse in PA

I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and love it, at least most of the time.  Spring is a glorious season of soft rains, green grass, and sprouting daffodils.  It's when I get excited about my gardening projects of the new year.  I map out what veggies are going to be planted in a certain area, which flowers are going to be included to draw useful insects for pollination, and what fencing repairs are needed before anything can be done. I test the soil for pH balance and add whatever is lacking. I aerate the ground by digging it up and sprinkling it with peat moss. I research seed catalogues and the local greenhouses to find the best hybrid selections that resist harmful insects and disease. I choose wisely, and finally, I plant my choices and wait.  All the above describes what's better about PA in the Spring.

Now for what's worse. As soon as the new plants poke their heads out of the ground, the deer arrive as if I'd sent them invitations. They stick their heads over the fence and nibble everything to a nub. Their cohorts, the groundhogs defy the fencing by coming in via the underground tunnels they've constructed.  Between the two, plus the usual aphid infestation and mold proliferation, I'm lucky if I harvest at least half of what could have been!

PA in the summer is awesome! In Pittsburgh, Point State Park where the three rivers come together, is just one of the places families always enjoy. The annual Arts Festival is a special attraction that draws people from all over the country. The beautiful creations, the food, the music, and the crowd gatherings are certainly worthwhile. What could be better?

But, what's worse is that during this two week plus event, it usually rains at least 8-10 days, and sometimes the storms can be so strong they send vendor tents flying.

Autumn is perhaps the most wonderful season of all in PA.  The weather is still warm, but the best part is the changing of the leaves.  If you've never seen its beauty, take the time to ride through the hills of PA in mid-October.  The marvelous plethora of color will LEAVE you breathless.  No pun intended. The fruit stands along the way are filled with freshly-picked apples, cider, and homemade apple pies.  I can smell them even now.  For me, Autumn is the BEST of PA, surpassing better by a long shot.

The worst thing about Autumn in PA is that it goes by too fast leaving the door wide open for Old Man Winter.

Now, don't get me wrong, winter in PA certainly has its good points, too.  I love to take a brisk walk around the neighborhood dressed in hat, coat and gloves.  I eagerly anticipate the first snowfall. Looking out my window at night and seeing the white flakes silently falling can actually be a spiritual experience.  My grandchildren living in Charlotte call me quite often to find out if we have snow. They lament the fact that they hardly if ever get snow at their house and want to know when they can visit. And when they do come up, we sled ride, build snow people, and have snowball wars with gusto.  They'd stay here till Spring if they could.  Oh dear, what a scary thought!

The worse part of winter in PA is that the snow keeps coming, and coming, and coming.  Which means we keep shoveling, and shoveling, and shoveling.  As you can image, it gets old after a while.
Or maybe, its that we are getting older and shoveling just isn't our thing anymore.

So there you have it. The good and the not so good of Pennsylvania.  But folks, we were born, raised, and will live here until we kick the bucket, for BETTER OR WORSE!