Hello fellow readers,
Last Sunday we visited a favored hiking spot, Big Pocono State Park, which sits atop Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville, PA. I’ve coined it the Top of the World where you can see eastern Pennsylvania and portions of New Jersey and New York. More than that, there’s a serenity and sacredness walking amongst the magnificence of nature’s glorious landscape.
There’s one trail there I particularly seek to meander where Mother Nature’s sense of design is perfection. The soft pink and white blooms of the Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) look like fluffy cream topping above dark shiny leaves that contrast gloriously with a carpet of pale green ferns below. When you look closely at each flower they are etched with narrow pink stripes that point to a starburst center. Ornate, yet delicate. No wonder pollinators are drawn to them.
There are white-barked Paper Birches (Betula papyrifera), resilient to the winds, rising above along with a few Scrub Pines (Pinus virginiana) creating a see-through ceiling in the outdoor room. The ferns edge a grassy path, just wide enough to walk side by side, the ferns tickling your ankles. The Mountain Laurel was just beyond peak as typically Father’s Day is when it’s in full bloom there. Still magnificent, the trek to take in their blooming glory is an annual visit I cherish. In fact, the photo of Miss Ellie and I that The Press uses to head our Garden Dilemmas chats for last six years was taken there. Curt grabbed a new photo of Ellie and me. We’ve both grown since her unexpected arrival. Yes, we’re older and one of us has whiter hair (I’m thankful for highlights). We’re wiser too, I like to think, and for sure happier than when we met nine years ago, both having since healed from a difficult past. How about our matchy-matchy smile?
We made our way back to the parking lot where families were gathered around picnic tables grilling an array of foods, some not familiar. A few folks were afraid of Ellie, afraid of dogs as I once was. We were respectful and maneuvered around them.
How fortunate we are to live where many languages can be spoken, where bountiful food prevails, where we can choose a religion or no religion, and where we can have faith. As we celebrate the Fourth of July—Independence Day, observing when the fathers of our country signed the Declaration of Independence—let us not forget or take for granted our freedoms. Our choices. The beauty of the world around us. Let’s embrace our differences in the spirit of knowing we are all the same – seeking happiness, peace, and taking care of our families. It’s all about love. Happy Birthday United States of America. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com
A side note: I just returned from a volunteer weekend with Comfort Zone Camp, hence why I’m a bit late posting this column. What a privilege to be part of an organization that helps children through their grief journey. The last evening of the camp was a bonfire which included hilarious “do what I do and say what I say” games, delicious s’mores, and wrapped up with a somber circle around the flames, each camper tossing in a message to their loved ones. Prior to the bonfire, the children prepared a bag for the luminarias that lined the path to the bonfire. It is indeed all about love.
I invite you to read about my first time at Comfort Zone Camp in a column titled Flower Power