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Ugly Tree

There was such an ugly Christmas tree in Reading that residents actually complained and petitioned to have to it put down. I saw pictures of it but didn’t think it was so bad. It was small and skinny and had a lighted pretzel on top (as it’s in an area with a ton of bakeries) but I thought it looked okay. Obviously these complainers either a) have nothing better to do with their time or b) really have their Christmas spirit affected by ugly trees. I’m not quite sure which option is more acceptable.

So the next step apparently is that a group has started to raise money to purchase a better one and then decorate it themselves. So let’s see what happens with that!

Summer Things To Do with Kids in Harrisburg PA

appalachian_trailLooking through the calendar for cool things to do with kids in Harrisburg this summer, I came across some great ideas. The first thing I saw might not have been perfect for my older kids, but for sure my younger kids and I enjoyed “Music at the Mill.” Carroll Swam of the Bluestone band came along to help out the informal jam session. We got to see the mill that dates back all the way to the 19th century and we hung out, jamming to the music. The best part was it was free (although they were collecting donations to benefit the Friends of Wallace-Cross Mill).

Another cool activity for my kids in Harrisburg was Nixon’s Park Turtle program, presented by the York County Department of Parks and Recreation. We learned about this turtle species which was pretty interesting actually, this time, more so for my older boys.

A couple of weeks ago I went with my girlfriend on the 10 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail that started on the Shippensburg Road South and ended up at the Caledonia State Park. It was pretty scary actually since most of it was downhill, but I had to pretend I was doing fine as that for sure wouldn’t have impressed the girlfriend! We went across two small streams and it really was a great way to enjoy nature.

Overall so far – both with and without the kids – we’ve had a great summer in Harrisburg. Long may it continue!

Harrisburg Celebrates the Peace Garden

Following over two decades of work between Harrisburg-Hershey chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the city of Harrisburg, a Peace Garden has been constructed.  It is right by the Susquehanna River. The PSR has been in charge of design and plantation of the Garden while the city is responsible for routine maintenance.  Non-routine maintenance is a combined effort.

I really like it.  It’s large, comfortable and extraordinarily peaceful even though apparently the whole community is using it.  Given the fact that so much of my day is taken up by doing city-like things (work, travel, etc.), I really appreciate all that the PSR has done.  It is a voluntary organization that has apparently put tens of thousands of dollars into this project and I for one, applaud its efforts.

Harrisburg Hiking with Dani

Since Dani and I have now been on quite a few dates, I figured it might be time to do the hiking date.  It was suggested to me by my other friends who are dating, that hiking should be reserved for at least the fourth date as it could get a little intimate. So I figured – since Dani told me I’m her boyfriend – the timing was perfect.

We went to Bridal Veil Falls State Park.  It was my choice.  I have learned how important it is that I take initiative and so I’m trying to arrange as many of our dates as possible.  Dani seems to like that too.  So I packed us a nice picnic (one of the things Joanne and I never used when we were married was a lovely picnic hamper) and off we went.

It was absolutely stunning. There’s a lovely waterfall and a great view of the Columbia River that we took in before we set out on the hike.  We both decided we wanted to do a bit of a walk since that was really what this was all about – getting in some fresh air and exercise.  There were a few rocky spots along the way but that enabled me to hold Dani’s hand – she put it out for me – and I feel that created some intimacy that, so far, has been somewhat amiss in our romance.

Once we had walked a while and seen what we wanted to see, we sat down and started on the picnic.  When I had picked up Dani she said she had put something else into the hamper for me, and to my delight, it was a lovely chilled bottle of one of my favorite white wines – perfect for our picnic, hiking day out.

Getting Back to Nature with the Kids

So, the time finally arrived for the 96th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.  The kids had been talking about it for a while, especially as Zach, the little one, was going to be performing.  I knew I would have fun, if only for the fact that it’s time I get to spend with my kids.  I missed them last weekend.  Well, truthfully I always miss them.

I really got a taste of agriculture here.  We were there first thing in the morning (it opened at 8am) and stayed the whole day.  We wanted to get there on the first day, because Zach was playing and anyway  I’m often at a loss for things to do on a Saturday with them that they can all enjoy.  And they really did.  Adam and Jake were also extremely proud of their younger brother.

Apart from the performance, Zach LOVED the animals – there were more than 6,000 of them! I enjoyed the exhibitions and Adam got such a laugh out of the huge butter sculpture!  Can you imagine that?  It used close to a thousand pounds of butter.  Everyone wanted to take a look at that, but, I parked myself in a good location as we got there so early. A guy called Jim Victor of Conshohocken constructed it; he started the project a couple of weeks ago!  He does cheese and chocolate sculptures too; now that might be something I could really get my teeth into!

Let’s just hope all weekends with the kids are like this.  It truly was a lot of fun and everyone felt good at the end of the day.


Learning About Harrisburg’s Heritage

I’d done so much eating over the last few days that I felt like it was really time to walk off some of the Christmas pudding and mince pies.  I took a long walk today along the Susquehanna River which really was beautiful.  Then I rested and ate a sandwich I’d prepared at home.  And after I did that I did something I’ve wanted to do ever since I moved here – I took the Sailing on the Pride of the Susquehanna riverboat ride. That was really nice and relaxing.  Although, in hindsight, it probably was not exactly what I needed after all the relaxation and sitting around I’ve been doing but it just was too tempting to resist. I’m so glad I did it as I got to see the entire Harrisburg skyline – what a great view.  It’s definitely something I want to do again.

You know, I really was dreading Christmas, but now, looking back on my first Christmas as a divorcee, it’s been pretty good. Let’s hope I see in the New Year like this as well!

A Harrisburg White Christmas?

I woke up really early this morning, looking outside hoping to see snow on my lawn.  My kids just love it when it snows over Christmas (truthfully, what kids don’t?) and given that this is the first year we’re not altogether as a family (first Christmas-divorce), I was hoping that a white Christmas would make things a little better.

I’ve been on top of Accuweather for days.  First of all it looked like there was going to be snow in Harrisburg, then they said it would only be up until Christmas Eve and now it looks like their prediction for a non-white Christmas was correct.

We did enjoy a bit of snow yesterday though.  The kids actually tried to build a snowman but there didn’t seem quite enough white fluffy stuff on the ground yet.  Still, they certainly had a jolly good time trying and, truthfully, this year I even got into it with them.  I think in years past I never did because it always bothered Joanne – now we’re no longer together I can be a kid again.  She hated how they made such a mess of the house when they were done so I always tried to stop them too.  But this year, as the old adage goes, when the cat’s away, the mice will play.  And it seems like these mice are going to be playing for a long time to come.

Here’s to a merry Christmas to all in Harrisburg – white or not!

Which River is Best?

This is a fun thing to do. In the world of chaos in which we live, it’s nice to just sit back and take your mind off everything by selecting the best river in your region!  That’s exactly what residents of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania are being invited to do with the 2012 Pennsylvania River of the Year competition – pick the best river around.  The choice is between the following four rivers: the Kiskiminetas River, Middle Monongahela River, Upper Juniata River or the Stonycreek River.  Last year the Delaware River took home the award.

This marks the second consecutive year that the decision will be made based on the public’s say.  The competition has been in place since 1983.  It is a way of increasing the public’s awareness of rivers in the region.  According to Richard J. Allan (secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources), “we think the spirit of competition rallies community support for our waterways and helps to highlight the many great rivers we are fortunate to have in Pennsylvania.”  To place your vote, visit: http://pawatersheds.org/vote before December 31, 2011.

Rebuilding Harrisburg After Flood

It seems that out of the entire region, it was Harrisburg that suffered the most from the flood in more ways than just financial.  Many of the city’s areas are facing difficult green issues, such as downed trees which don’t seem to be such a priority for the city that really has its plate full with everything else it has to deal with to try and adjust after the flood.

Thankfully however, help is at hand.  A volunteer group will be engaging in a citywide tree restoration plan for the city!  This work has been going on for some time already.  Indeed, one of the volunteers – John First – began work on this back in June, on the task force.  According to a recent news article this was important to First as he realized just how much the houses in the area needed their shade which has disappeared after what has happened to the trees.

Thus the group aims to plant new trees; take care of the ones that are damaged and build a citizen-friendly database which “will allow city planners and citizens alike to know where each tree is located in the city. To know how old it is, has it had any problems.”

Great Plan for Harrisburg

Clearly this volunteer program is showing that every cloud has a silver lining.  True, it’s been terrible how Harrisburg and its residents have taken the toll following the flood.  But this volunteer project is a great new start for the city, and it shows unity and a sense of community spirit, bringing together people who might otherwise not have been involved as they want to see their city recover and improve.  As First notes, “the city’s broke and this is about citizens coming together and working together and that’s what this is all about it’s about bringing together all of the different neighborhoods together.”  There’s a good chance he will be proved correct.

Harrisburg Education System Gets Green Thumbs Up

Instead of just learning the theory behind gardens and plants, a local elementary school in the Harrisburg region is going to be able to actually get their fingers green and take their studying outside into the garden.  As part of the Delta Garden Study program, students from Harrisburg Middle School will be forming an understanding of exactly how plants are grown, through their outdoor science class on a twice weekly basis.

School-Grown Harrisburg Veggies

So the students will be planting a whole slew of different vegetables during their science class, including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage.  As well, they will be responsible for all the necessary maintenance such as the chicken coop.  Clearly this has been working a treat and the kids are really taking it seriously as they have already named the chickens!  It’s likely that the students will take this to the next step and develop healthy eating habits as well.  So while they’re getting an education, at the same time they’re developing healthier eating habits and getting a bit of a physical workout too!  It’s so  much more than play time; it’s a whole new approach to life, learning and exercise.

Harrisburg Middle School is hosting “dig day” on October 14th, where students take part in expanding the garden by two-thirds.