Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country

2013/05/01 Food, Travel No comments

The central Pennsylvania countryside is already a sensory delight in the springtime, enlivened with blooming fruit trees, secret woodland wildflowers, and the first shoots of crops greening the wide swaths of farm fields. Add to that the allure of the region’s famed chocolatiers paired with the growing number of award-winning winemakers and May seems just the month to celebrate the senses.

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Cultivating presence

2013/03/15 Fitness No comments

I freely admit it, I stink at meditation. Sitting down on the floor with my legs crossed, attempting to achieve some state of inner peace usually means my feet fall asleep, my mind wanders off to my day’s to-do list, and I keep opening my eyes to check to see if I can be done yet.

For me, maybe it’s the the uncomfortableness of trying to sit in a prescribed way that just doesn’t feel right in my body yet. Maybe it’s the uncomfortableness of sitting still when the day’s list is long and overwhelming, and I feel like feebly trying to meditate is just wasting time. Maybe it’s the way my mind can be so easily distracted: jumping from hearing the sound of a car driving by to wondering if it’s time to get mine serviced to thinking I should wash it to wondering if I should start a load of laundry to remembering I needed to hem my daughter’s skirt to thinking she’s growing up too fast to thinking that I need to slow down and spend more meaningful moments with her to the sound of the furnace kicking on to wondering how much longer winter will last to wondering when I should plant the spinach and kale seeds to wondering if I want to plant enough tomatoes to freeze to trying to remember to ask my friend for her tomato soup recipe to…well, you get the picture.

Thankfully, meditation is a practice. Which means I can try again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Goodness knows I could use the stress relief it provides, not to mention all of the other health benefits and creativity boost. Read the rest of this entry »

Open to Love

2013/02/13 Fitness No comments

In yoga classes, we talk about heart-opening poses. Physically, it’s a way to open up chests that become collapsed in our modern society as we hunch over our computers, our cell phones, even our meals at the dinner table. In the wintertime, this posture is even more prevalent as we huddle against the cold, protecting our essential warmth.

But it is this collapsed posture that also closes us off from each other, often creating the emotional “winter blues” as we shut down and withdraw.

Perhaps this is why Valentine’s Day arrives in such a timely way. Certainly it may have roots in nature as the bird’s wedding day when some species are driven to find mates. But I like to think that it serves as a reminder to love when we may be least inclined to do so.

Ideas of romantic love might get all the commercial airtime and merchandizing attention, but to me, Valentine’s Day is a nudge to tell all of those we care for how much they mean to us.

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Indiana County’s Underground Railroad

2013/02/01 Travel No comments

The mountains and waterways of Indiana County, Pa. are certainly picturesque, but this bucolic region also boasts a heroic history of helping self-emancipated men and women journey to freedom. Like many areas in Pennsylvania, this county celebrates its role in helping slaves and supporting the civil rights movement, offering visitors a glimpse into the roads less traveled by.

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Following Lincoln in Gettysburg

2012/11/01 Travel No comments

November can be a solemn time of remembrance in Gettysburg, Pa. as the town honors soldiers slain here during the Civil War and reenacts Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech delivered in the National Cemetery.

During the Battle of Gettysburg, which occurred July 1-3, 1863, Union and Confederate troops clashed in the farmland surrounding this small town, resulting in 51,000 casualties and a community ravaged by war. President Lincoln’s subsequent visit to dedicate the cemetery where slain Union soldiers were buried began a process of healing.

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Fall for the Mountains

2012/11/01 Travel No comments

November in Garrett County, Md. reveals a quiet side to this active resort destination. The multi-hued leaves have fallen, creating a cushioned carpet path through the expansive woods. Boats are stored for the winter, docks pulled onto the shores, offering Deep Creek Lake in all of its placid beauty through mystical fog-shrouded mornings and sun-sparkled days.

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Splendor of the trees

2012/09/13 Garden No comments

It’s the season for trees. Now, when they begin to shed their summer cloaks of green, revealing the shimmer of crimson and saffron underneath, they become the jewels of our landscape.
Rapt as we are, we head out to buy these statuesque features, perhaps unaware that unlike an impulse flat of annuals, trees deserve a more measured, considered approach.
“Even professional landscapers sometimes don’t think about the full spread of a tree when it grows up,” says Michael Gebhard Sr. of Gebhard Tree Service in Manheim. “They might look good closer together or next to a house when they’re small, but after 20-25 years when they grow up, they become a problem.”
Tree trimmers like Gebhard are quite familiar with the problem of wrong tree, wrong place. It’s what keeps them in business.
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Made in York County: A factory-tour mecca

2012/06/13 Travel No comments

In York County, Pa. they make stuff: pretzels and pottery, motorcycles and milk, wallpaper and wine.

When you bill yourself as The Factory Tour Capital of the World, you’ve got to deliver. And York County does in grand style this month with its Made in America event from June 20-23, where 17 factories open their floors to allow visitors to see the inner workings, in many cases, for free.

Sparks fly as the frames of Harley-Davidson motorcycles are welded together. Cream centers are enrobed in chocolate at the Wolfgang Candy Company. Potatoes are transformed into warm, salty, crispy chips at Martin’s and Utz. Dough is shaped and twisted in pretzels at Snyder’s and Revonah. Oils and herbs are combined into fragrant cleaners at Sunrise Soap Company. Alpacas are shorn and their wool turns to yarn at Painted Spring Farm. Cows are milked and then ice cream is churned at Perrydell Farm Dairy and Sweet Willows Creamery.

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Diamonds and Roses in Hershey

2012/05/13 Garden, Travel No comments

In Hershey, everything’s coming up roses, just as it has for 75 years.

It’s the diamond anniversary for the 23-acre Hershey Gardens, with bountiful blooms and breathtaking butterflies heralding the celebration.

As they have since the garden’s inception, the intense display of thousands of rose bushes take center stage, blooming in 275 varieties of scent, color, and shape.Milton S. Hershey developed the gardens as a way to offer beauty to his community, originally creating a 3.5 acre garden filled with more than 12,000 rose bushes.

“The beds are exactly the same as when he created them,” says Jamie Shiffer, garden operations manager. “When we study the historic photographs, the layout is identical. I would say 80 percent of the roses are actually in the same spots.”

Over the years, some newer varieties have replaced more disease-prone ones. But the garden remains a sampling of all that is possible in this species: from delicate pale hues to vibrant, knock-your-socks-off color; from petite miniatures to soaring shrubs;  from old-fashioned simple blossoms to decadent, many petaled profusions.

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What’s Up Dog? The playfulness of children’s yoga

2012/05/13 Fitness No comments

Any yogi may be familiar with Warrior III, a pose with one leg grounded on the earth, the other extending behind, and arms reaching forward.

But in Michelle Newman’s yoga classes, the pose magically turns into a giraffe, lunging for leaves, in a pure expression of expansion.

Newman, who leads children’s yoga classes throughout the county, joyfully creates a menagerie of creatures who leap, lunge, and lengthen.

As she ignites the imagination of the children in her classes, she takes them through the familiar classical sequences their parents may practice. The result is the same: an attention to breath, employing meditation to find a sense of calm, and the delight in stretching their limbs.

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