Sunday, August 11, 2019

Prayer in Public School

Often I see well meaning Facebook friends sharing meme's asking for prayer to be returned to our public schools.  The first question that pops to mind is, what prayer?  Are we speaking of Christian prayer?  If so should it a prayer suitable to Protestants, or to Catholics?  If it is to be appropriate to protestants which denomination should it most favor or should it be a prayer that all Christians would find acceptable?

As if the Christian question isn't difficult enough we must consider other religions for our country host a diverse mix of all the worlds religions.  What prayers should be taught in our public schools?  Should it be Christian only or should we also include others such as Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. etc.  I have read that there are approximately 4000 different religions in the world today, so which should our government promote?

Thankfully our founding fathers answered all of these question in one simple phrase contained in the first amendment to the constitution of the United States

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

If someones tells you the founders of our nation established it as a Christian nation they telling you an absolute lie.  The first amendment is very clear.

Faith training belongs in the home, in the church, and without government interference as our founding fathers intended. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Meadow Grounds Lake Remembered

Yesterday morning I visited the former Meadow Grounds Lake site.The dam remains much as it has been the past 50 plus years although the lake is empty now.

Six years ago the lake was drawn down to the current level due to deficiencies in the dam and spillway.  Some of the fish were relocated while many were disposed of in a large pit dug in the side of the mountain.

Visiting the Meadow Grounds is for me much like visiting our local cemeteries.  As I wander among the tomb stones I see names of family and friends who have passed on. 

I recall times spent with them and how knowing them enriched my life while the pain of their loss is indelibly etched in my mind.  The preachers tell us that the day is coming when the dead will rise and live again, giving us hope that this life and death is not permanent, for better times and a better place is in store for our future.

And the same can be said of the Meadow Grounds Lake.

The earliest photo I have in my collection was taken in the summer of 1964 when the lake was very new.

I enjoyed many a day fishing the lake

And my wife enjoyed riding along.  Many evenings we would pick up hoagies at Harr's Store in Big Cove Tannery and have a Fulton County Dinner Cruise.

Wildlife abounded along the lake's shoreline

Ospreys frequented the skies overhead

Waterfowl such as this pied-billed grebe hunted its food rich waters

Each spring seen a number of common loons stopping in during their long northward migration

Spatterdock in the shallows provided cover for small fish and larger ones alike

Our niece Brittany from Florida joined us one evening for some outstanding sunfish spawning action

Nice size largemouth bass frequented the shallows

And would put up a great fight on ultra-lite gear

Whether one had a fancy bass boat with all the latest gadgets or a simple jon boat the Meadow Grounds was a place that all could enjoy a quiet time with nature.


 When I loaded the boat for the last time in 2012 I had no idea that the next year would bring such change.  When the weather warmed in 2013 the draw down was well underway and by early April the lake level was too low for me to launch.  Early June seen the completion of the draw down.

We are told that the lake will rise again.  The local community raised over the $100,000 that the politicians requested.  We are told that the project is well underway with the design having been completed and the funding approved long ago. Currently the project is being held up by DEP,  Dam Safety permitting.  

As we await the resurrection we have only our faith and our memories to give us strength.  That seems to be the case both with our own life, death and hope of an afterlife as well as our hope that the Meadow Grounds Lake will again rise.  We must remain hopeful for without hope; life is futile, however as the years drag on the dream of seeing our lake return remains out of reach.  As spring fades into summer the chances of construction starting this year has faded as well. 

While we know it doesn't require an act of God to rebuild the lake, at this time it certainly seems so!         

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Florida Fotos; Early May Visit

My wife Brenda and I took a road trip to visit our Florida family in early May.  While the primary focus of our adventure was spending time with family, no trip to this bird paradise is complete without at least a little time spent behind the camera.  This collection of images were captured during two mornings along Joe Overstreet Road, Kenansville FL.

A Little Blue Heron displays incredible concentration while hunting

The phrase, light as a feather, popped to mind as I photographed this Purple Gallinule walking across the lily pads. 

Joe Overstreet Landing is a popular place to photograph the endangered Florida Snail Kite.
The Snail Kite eats only Apple Snails as seen here clutched in its talons.

Hovering above the aquatic vegetation, the leg bands are clearly visible on this bird.

Airboat rides are a poplar attraction offered at Joe Overstreet Landing.

A Meadow Lark sings from atop a fence post along the roadside.

A cow and calf watch intently as I pass by.  Most of the cattle here are of heat resistant breeds 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Green Heron Exposed!

Green Herons spend most of their time hidden in the heavy foliage along the water's edge.  I was fortunate to encounter this heron walking a floating log in a shallow cove on Raystown Lake.  The bird allowed my boat to approach to within a few feet as I photographed it using a Canon EOS 6D and 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Traveling South, Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

My wife and I recently made a road trip south to visit with family in central Florida.  On the way down we overnighted in Hardeeville South Carolina.  After getting a room and a meal under our belts we took advantage of the remaining daylight to make a quick pass through the Savannah National Wildlife refuge. Alligators were the most conspicuous wildlife.  With cameras at the ready, I returned before dawn for another quick pass through the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive before continuing our journey southward.

 A Grackle greets the dawn

Port cranes of the nearby Ocean Terminal 


 A watchful Alligator rest among the reeds

Bobolink feeding on grass seeds

A picturesque spot on the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Swimming with the Ducks

With a nice day forecast and the boat trailing behind, I headed for a lake early yesterday.  Although a high of 61 was called for, the trucks thermometer indicated 27 degrees Fahrenheit as I arrived at launch ramp with the sun beginning to peak over the eastern horizon.  After an hour or so of nice morning light clouds moved in covering the sky for the duration of my outing.  

Waterfowl was plentiful with a nice variety of species present.  The highlight of the trip was an encounter with a accommodating flock of Bufflehead ducks who allowed me to approach quite closely.  Comparing to my outing last Friday, the Tundra Swans and Greater Scaup had moved on, however Green-winged teal, Lesser Scaup, and Red-breasted Merganser made their appearance.  The numbers of Hooded Merganser and Ring-neck Ducks were lower while the numbers of Gadwall and Horned Grebe, had increased.

When the day turned breezy under dreary cloudy skies I stashed the cameras and broke out a fishing rod to try my luck for the first time this spring.  Four yellow perch and three crappies later it was time to load up and head home.

Male Bufflehead

Bufflehead, two males with a lone female

Bufflehead pair

Ring-necked Ducks

Ring-necked male showing his chestnut neck ring

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebes take flight

There is nothing common about the beauty of the Common Loon

Common Loon

Red-breasted Merganser males, a first for the year

Scaup taking off,
Not sure of the identity but am leaning towards them being of the Lesser variety 

Green-winged Teal exploding from a marshy area

Saturday, March 16, 2019

On The Water with Migrating Waterfowl

With winter loosening its grip and a warm day in store for Thursday, I invited my wife for a daytrip to check out some likely spots to find migrating waterfowl.  My goal was to find migratory waterfowl in a setting where I could photograph them from my boat, something I haven't been able to do seriously since the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission drained our nearby Meadow Grounds Lake.  When we stopped at a state park containing a nice sized lake I knew we had hit paydirt.  Various flocks of waterfowl were scattered about in the open water while half or more of the lake remained ice covered.  Also of interest were at least four bald eagles soaring about causing eruptions of ducks and geese whenever they approached a flock too closely.

The sight of hundreds of waterfowl certainly had my interest so upon returning home I hauled the boat from winter storage, checked it over, and prepped it for a trip to the lake on Friday morning.

Friday morning was exceptionally warm, windy, and spitting rain.  Not to be deterred I arrived at the lake at dawn.  I was surprised to find that nearly all of the ice that had covered the lake the day before had now melted and while the waterfowl wasn't out in the open windy areas vast flocks were taking advantage of the sheltered coves.  The following are some of the better photos I was able to capture during my morning outing.  

Common Merganser


American Coot

Ring-necked Ducks

Wood Ducks 

Bald Eagle with Ring-necked Ducks along the reeds


Canada Goose

Hooded Merganser

Greater Scaup

Tundra Swans

American Wigeon

In addition to the species pictured here I also had sightings of the following; Mallard, Horned Grebe,  and a lone Common Loon.  All in all it was a fabulous morning on the water, something that I want to repeat soon!