Book Review: “Confessions of a Farmers Market Romeo”

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James R. Dubbs — the fictional narrator of a new novel by Adams County author James R. Dubbs—led an eventful young life, beginning with his conception in his parents’ van at the end of a day of marketing at the Gettysburg Farmers Market. He was a self-declared persnickety eater who loved a well-prepared, well-marbled piece

The Edge of the Wood: Taking Inventory

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ve learned to talk nice to our lawn mower. My spouse tells me if I am friendly to the machine, it will work better, or at least longer. It makes sense, sort of. The thing is, I’m not a lawn-mowing kind of guy. Grass has been growing and dying and growing back for a very

The Edge of the Wood: Sky sponsored by Exxon

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It’s early morning in Rivendell, a smoke-cloaked fantasyland outside my back door. Hobbits and dwarfs sit with their morning coffee around kitchen tables in stone huts along pathways pressed by millions of footfalls through the forest on the far side of the glen. This close to July, the morning sun should have the air warmed

The Edge of the Wood: The first letter in STEM

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The trial is over in the case of Held v. The State of Montana. The lawyers have performed their roles on the judicial stage. Now we wait, a few weeks probably, several months possibly, for the lone critic to review the material and render a ruling. The question? Is Montana, one of three states in

The Edge of the Wood: Youth seek future in court


For the past several years, I have been among those predicting our youth would have to resolve the problems we oldsters have wrought upon our home. It turns out they’re already at it – and doing more than merely crying out, “OK, Boomer!” when they detect a problem. Monday, a group of young people—ages from

The Edge of the Wood: Profits over science mark SCOTUS decision

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Wetlands— those swampy areas we sometimes encounter as we wander through our forests and other undeveloped acres—may seem like wasted land, but they are hard at work reducing flood risk during heavy rain events and filtering to provide safe drinking water for plants and other critters, including us humans. In a classic case of “he

The Edge of the Wood: A dark and stormy night

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The day started the way a spring Dad-with-13-year-old motorcycling day should start: sunny but not too much heat. It was a post-Navy-retirement run from Norfolk, Virginia, where I had spent the previous eight years, to Maine, where I was raised. Night One was Locust Lake State Park, near Mahanoy City, PA. We filled out tummies

The Edge of the Wood: 540 feet

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From my front yard, I watch the sun creep over the hill behind my shoulder, lighting the street in front of me, beginning from the far end and slowly illuminating the blackness before me like a Mother peeling the blanket from her child’s sleepy head. I live at approximately 540 feet above sea level. Some

Pressure from solar developers, a toboggan ride, and a report card featured at South Mountain Partnership spring meeting

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The changing face of growth has changed the efforts in Franklin County to plan for it while attempting to preserve the county’s mix of characters. “Franklin County has been a target for solar development,” Franklin County Commissioners Chairman David Kelly told a group of South Mountain Partnership (SMP) supporters gathered Friday morning at a pavilion

The Edge of the Wood: When the GPS isn’t helping

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In an online video the other day, a fellow wanderer was making his way through an area with which I am fairly familiar. As I watched him follow his camera along the path, I noticed places I recognized, places I had, in my own wanderings, passed by. I was reminded of an experience several years

Project saves money, supports rainwater conservation


More than two dozen Gettysburg Borough residents attended a water barrel assembly workshop Thursday afternoon at the Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resources Center. The 27 participants each went home with barrels capable of holding 60 gallons of rainwater. “This is free water,” Gettysburg Borough resident John Zaremba commented while installing hose fittings on a

The Edge of the Wood: Road trip through my mind


A recent car-shopping trip with a friend got me thinking about my history with motor vehicles. My first was an English Ford convertible. It was white and cost me $75, which, even in 1967, was not bad. I don’t remember the year or model, but it was old. It had character, which meant some things

DePasquale, in Gettysburg Tuesday, eyes PA Attorney General post


Former state Rep and Former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was in Gettysburg Tuesday, the latest stop on a tour of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, introducing his potential candidacy for Attorney General. “The Attorney General should be the people’s lawyer,” he told a gathering of about two dozen Democrats gathered at the Adams County party headquarters in

Monarch Crusader visits Gettysburg

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About 80 Adams Countians were treated to an entertaining recipe for backyard entertainment and pollination. “Why would anyone plant a tree that isn’t native?” Toronto-based butterfly expert Carol Pasternak asked her audience Saturday afternoon. Pasternak presented a recipe for inviting birds and butterflies to residential gardens and lawns — the latter which she decried as

Springtime symphony


I can hear them tuning up. So can my spouse, whose cabin fever I’ll put up against any New Englander who thinks winter has been too darn long. My best friend, bless her, has impatiently awaited the assembly of the “garden corral” in the parking lot of the nearby Wal-Mart. As the first concrete blocks

It lives!


An ethereal blanket of translucent maroon — the color of shrubs in transition from the blah gray of the past few months to the green cloaking that soon will block the view of even large rocks more than about 50 feet distant — seems to flow like an incoming fog across the forest floor.. The

The Edge of the Wood: Landmarks


I found myself this week looking back a few years when, well … “I used to use that as a landmark. Something’s got to go back up there,” Ariste Reno of New York, formerly of Chicago, told me when I visited the World Trade Center site on the first anniversary of its destruction. I thought

The Edge of the Wood: Never Ending Story

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Through rain, sleet, snow, and drought, Silverstone the Younger watches over the South Mountains, as she has done for at least hundreds of thousands of years — before, certainly, humans arrived in what one day would be called south-central Pennsylvania. We met one day as I wandered in Michaux State Forest in the Commonwealth of

The Edge of the Wood: The paradox


I sit looking out my upstairs window at four trees poking through mostly lawn. Last year, we planted a 4×16-foot wildflower plot on a piece of that lawn. This year the strip will be 4×100, roughly — a divider between our suburban lot and the one next to ours and, we hope, a larger magnet for butterflies.

The Edge of the Wood: The trouble with green

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March wind waves the blossoming red leaves of the maple, bluebirds, and cardinals clinging to the branches as they try to overpower the blossoming red leaves with their own raiment. It’s not yet Easter, but many critters are eager to show off their colors. Grabbing seeds from the grass, diminutive Dark-eyed Juncos in their white

The Edge of the Wood: Half-full, but leaking badly


There is continuous discussion among us concerning whether the glass of our continued inhabitance upon this planet be half empty or half full. I choose to believe the latter, although plenty of us are hard at work draining what is left. Our forests will never look as they looked at the end of the last

The Edge of the Wood: Every body gotta eat

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Outside my window, birds and squirrels and a presumable variety of other critters are pairing up in my backyard — bluebirds and house sparrows have commenced their annual fight over the bluebird houses that, if history is prognosticator, will soon be home to a clutch of sparrow chicks. House Sparrows are the definition of “backyard

The Edge of the Wood


Cure for cabin fever Cabin Fever is that ailment that forces one, eventually, to either leave the house or kill everyone too slow to escape. I opted for the former action. “Where are you going?” She Who Must Be Loved queried. A Hairy woodpecker has made progress disassembling a decomposing Gray birch tree. (John Messeder

The Edge of the Wood


Welcome to Emanon The thing about development is it never seems to work out as well as it was planned – except for the developers. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not opposed to growth. I enjoy, for instance, trees large enough to make shade on a summer afternoon and creeks wide enough to have pools

Only the past is pristine


There is much discussion in conservation circles about, on the one hand, species disappearing from sight, sound, and memory and, on the other hand, species newly rooting in places they have not always been. As I wandered along a deer trail through a section of otherwise pristine woodland and discovered a rock wall with no

Preparing for rebirth

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Spring is nigh upon us. At least it seems that way. The forecasted “one-to-three inches” of snow this week was gone the next day. ’Tis nearing the season for taking a youngster fishing. Some fishing is allowed now; check out the PA Fish and Boat website for specifics on which species are fishable and where

Name that tree

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As a youngster, I spent most of my time afield by myself. I had a brother and a sister, and later a second sister, but there was something about wandering in the forest that appealed to me in ways it never did to the others. I tended, when not involved in the daily chores of

Tammy Myers announces Adams Controller bid

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A well-known Republican and Gettysburg businesswoman announced her bid Friday morning to become Adams County’s next controller. Tammy Myers, of Littlestown, would like to replace incumbent Controller John S. Phillips when he retires at the end of December. Some 50 Adams County Republicans and business leaders gathered at the Dobbin House on Steinwehr Avenue to

Racist weeds in a conservationist garden

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Most of the men – and they were mostly men – I looked up to back in the day have turned out to be racist. Or misogynistic. Or both. George Washington, for instance, was the Father of Our Country, though I was suspicious even then of the story about him being unable to lie. I

Happy New Year! The future is just over the horizon

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Time is merely a construct to aid cataloging significant events. As a kid, time began when I was about 12-years old. That was the year we built the big house. As I look back through my anthology of stories from that era, building the house was not significant because it meant heating with oil (no

Christmas by any name

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It’s almost time. In a few hours, the Jolly Old Elf will be sliding down chimneys, decorating trees that so far haven’t been, and leaving gifts for girls and boys. Well, a lot of girls and boys, anyway. So here’s to the church groups and offices and motorcycle groups and numerous others I couldn’t know

They don’t make winter like they used to

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I have not yet pulled out our snow thrower. I am counting on the natural snow fence at the western side of the county to save me from enriching Exxon. I learned about snow fences as a kid. Farmers would stretch what looked like rows of slatted window blinds turned sideways across their roadside fields.

Sparkling diamond dust and summer sausage

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The moon the past few nights, when we could see it at all, has been amazingly bright, like a humongous spotlight angling through the trees, casting stick shadows across my desk. The grass between my home and the woods is sparkling, as though a troop of elves has danced across the greensward scattering powdered diamonds.

The Good, The Bad and The Zucky

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There are piles of books in the Messeder residence, as the Resident Home Decorator often reminds me, especially when she enters my atelier – which is a French word for “studio,” itself a fancified substitute for “office,” which, to me, sounds too darned, well, officious. I’d much rather sit in my studio with a drink

On Being Thankful

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“Here we go again,” Granddaughter Kass said one Thanksgiving mealtime as I prepared to “say Grace.” She knew I didn’t normally subscribe to the pre-formatted version of my childhood: “Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, amen.” Past are the days

Dogs Who Have Owned Me

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One thing I’ve learned about dogs is, “don’t buy one.” The first dog to occupy my life was my mom’s, an English Setter named Devil, short for JAM’s Devil Dog (a story that is a dog for another bone.) I was about 12 when Devil came into my life. We romped and swam, and on

The Edge of the Wood – We’re not alone

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It was like standing on the edge of a pool, watching the trees change color as the a river of fog flowed over the far ridge, filling the valley in front of me, flowing up the slope to gently, silently wrap itself around me. The fog condensed on the leaves of pines and Scarlet oaks,

Trust the experts

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During the debate last week that included Republican incumbent Dan Moul and Democrat challenger Marty Qually, a question was asked about the state’s response to Covid. Qually pointed out the challenge of getting everyone to believe the science. “We’ve got to get to a point where we believe the people who are specialists in these

Deer Baiting and Chronic Wasting Disease

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It’s fall in Adams County and the South Mountains of South Central Pennsylvania. A variety of native trees, like an artist’s brushes, color the land in oranges, yellows, and reds as though they had been spilled on an artist’s palette. As I stood talking with Pa. Forest Ranger Scott Greevy, acorns fell from the surrounding

District 91 debate features school choice, women’s rights and “free and fair elections

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Nearly 100 men and women gathered Wednesday evening in Gettysburg College’s Mara Hall to hear three candidates vying for the District 91 seat in the state House of Representatives. The event was sponsored by the Gettysburg Connection and Gettysburg College. Moderated by Gettysburg Connection editor Alex Hayes, the debate panel featured first-time candidate Neil Belliveau,

“False Social Reality” Hides Strong Support

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Most people think they are in the minority in wanting to do something to slow, if not stop, climate warming and to protect our land, air, and water. Most people are wrong. The journal Nature Communications in August, quoting a recently released study, reported a “false social reality” in which about 80 percent of Americans support climate

Caution: contagious colors

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The Connection is pleased to share this column from the blog of Gettysburg resident John Messeder, an award-winning ecology columnist and social anthropologist. More of John’s stories as well as his photography are available at his website, He may be contacted at When I was many years younger, I cut wood in summer, pulled it

Adams County Dems welcome Shapiro


Gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Josh Shapiro visited Gettysburg Saturday afternoon to rally county Democrats for his campaign to win governorship of Pennsylvania in November. More than 150 supporters filled the new county committee headquarters at 52 Chambersburg Street. Outside the venue, a handful of so-called MAGA supporters mounted a mini demonstration touting State Senator Doug