One family in our neighborhood likes BIG pumpkins. Not basketball big, or beach ball big. No, each year their pumpkin in VW bug big. B-I-G. Then, when autumn turns to winter they can't bear to part with their big orange friend so they paint him white, slap a BIG red bow on him and he becomes the most unusual Christmas decoration on the block. But the entire neighborhood waits for it every year because it just wouldn't be autumn (or Christmas) without the BIG pumpkin. Personally, I'm a fan of the mini-pumpkins (or are they gourds?). Probably because, after too many years of squirrels munching on my pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns right on the front porch, I decided to move the orange fellas inside. Smaller fits better on my kitchen table.
Of course pumpkins aren't just for decorating! My daughter came home from a visit to South Africa where apparently pumpkins are served everywhere. All we've got is pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll and pumpkin seeds. Lately pumpkin spice has been making a splash--we're finding it in our coffee, milkshakes and more. But what about actual pumpkin? The Schuylkill County Master Gardeners are hosting a pumpkin bash on Saturday, September 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Ag Center Conference enter (Gordon Nagle Trail). At The Season of the Pumpkin you'll learn how to make pumpkin puree, freeze and can pumpkin and learn a few pumpkin recipes. Not to mention you get all the pumpkin lattes and pumpkin waffles you can eat! OK, maybe not ALL -- this isn't an Atlantic City casino all you can eat buffet.
You have to register by Tuesday, September 6 (cost is $10). Call 570-622-4225 ext. 13. Call now -- seating is limited!
While we're on the subject of pumpkins, it's never too early to get ready for Pumpkin Fest in Frackville. Pick up your wooden pumpkin blank at the Frackville Free Public Library and decorate it for the Art of the Pumpkin contest. Then return it to the library by September 16 for judging. Pumpkins will then be sold to benefit the library. Entry fee is $5 for senior citizens and high school student and $10 for individuals and families.
Not crafty? Doesn't matter if you know a word that rhymes with pumpkin! Enter the Pumpkin Limerick Contest by mailing your limerick (G rated only) to : FBPA, Pumpkin Limerick contest, PO Box 261, Frackville, PA 17931.
It's the first day of school for most students so, even though the weather report is calling for temperatures in the eighties, we all know that autumn has arrived. Before we know it the trees will be donning their fall frocks of red, yellow and orange. Could there be a better time to take a walk in the woods? My family is planning a picnic and a stroll at Locust Lake after work one day this week. If you'd like something a little more off the beaten trail there are plenty of hikes planned for September.
Saturday, September 10 -- Silver Creek Reservoir Hike meets at the Locust Lake State Park parking lot at 10:30 a.m. This 7 mile, challenging hike will be led by naturalist Robin Tracey. Bring a lunch and your dog if he's friendly with other dogs and people.
Sunday, September 11 -- Baber Day will include a walking tour of the Charles Baber Cemetery, Pottsville at 3 p.m. There will also be a baked sale, picnic, basket raffle and music by the Third Brigade Band.
Friday, September 17 -- Fall bird Walk meets at Waterfall parking lot of Sweet Arrow Lake county park at 9 a.m. This walk for new and experienced bird watchers will be led by Denise Donmoyer.
Saturday, September 18 -- Peddler's Grave meets at the Miner's Memorial in Girard Park (next to the diner on the north side of Shenandoah) to carpool to the starting point. This 3 mile, easy hike will be led by John Domalakes and visit the site of the first murder in our area.
High school football starts tonight! I love August football. I'm not forced to wear mittens, drag along a blanket and chug hot chocolate for two hours straight. Do you know that in August the ice cream truck comes to the football games? As a "band mom" I know that it's also a lot easier to make music when you aren't freezing. Of course, one can only enjoy listening to the Notre Dame fight song so many times. If marching band music is your thing you can also stop by Shenandoah for their Parade of Nations on Saturday at 10 a.m. -- plenty of marching bands (not to mention bagpipers). After the parade there'll be more music in Girard Park. Then drop back in for the fireworks at 10 p.m.
Thankfully, there are several other musical events happening off the football field this weekend. On Saturday the Cressona Band will be performing a free concert at St. Mark's Brown's Church, 151 Summerhill Road, Schuylkill Haven from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The church is also having a roast beef/stuffed chicken dinner. Tickets are $10 and you can call 570-345-2343 for a ticket. And they're saving the best for last...homemade ice cream made with a 1924 John Deere hit & miss engine. Sounds like something not to be missed!
Celebrate the last weekend before school starts at Heisler's Cloverleaf Dairy (more ice cream!) and a musical performance by Ann Marie Calabrese from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Or maybe you'd like to celebrate surviving the first week of school with a concert at the Tamaqua Railroad Station on Thursday, September 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This week's group will be Diaspora, classic rock that the whole family will enjoy. Bring your lawn chair or blanket.
Even though we're all still squeezing the last bit of fun out of summer, changes are coming. School, cold weather and yes, people getting sick. One way to keep from getting sick is vaccines. Vaccines have change a lot -- even in the years between the birth of my oldest child and my youngest. new ones added, old ones changed, boosters for teenagers. It's enough to make your head spin. If you have questions about vaccines stop by one of two presentations on vaccines for children and adults, when to get them, what they do and -- the question on so many of our minds -- who will pay for them. Vaccination 101 will be held on:
Monday, August 29 at the Mahanoy City Senior Community Center, 138 W. Centre Street at 11 a.m. Call 570-773-0738 for reservations and information.
Tuesday, August 30 at Shenandoah Senior Community Center, 116 N. Main Street at 11 a.m. Call 570-462-1965 for reservations and information.
There's no better way than to talk to the experts who deal every day with the issues you're facing. There will be two opportunities to participate in free "Lunch and Learn" sessions at Luther Ridge, 160 Red Horse Road, Gordon Nagle Trail. The first will address Alzheimer's and dementia on Wednesday, August 24 at noon. The guest speakers will be Ellen Popson and Wendy Rishel of Life Geisinger.
The second session will cover both veterans' affairs and senior services on Wednesday, September 21. The guest speakers will be Brenda Zechman, director of Veterans Affairs, and Georgene Fedoriska, director of the Office of Senior Services.
Please RSVP by contacting Melissa Clarke at Melissa.E.Clarke@consulatehc.com or 570-621-7200.
Family's converging on Schuylkill County this weekend from three different states. Of course, we're doing the traditional trip to Knoebel's but each year we try to find something fun for the non-Schuylkill County's natives to experience. Last trip was the new Yuengling gift shop and tour. This time I'm leaning toward Pioneer Days. This Saturday, August 20 Pioneer Day will be held at the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train in Ashland from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m I've already done the mine tour (school field trip) but it's really an experience for all ages. You can't appreciate what miners do until you've actually gone down in a mine (bring your jacket -- it's always chilly down there).
On Pioneer Day you get a little extra excitement. There will be live musical entertainment, children's activities (petting zoo, face painting, pony rides and games), a display by the Ashland Historical Society, homemade food and goodies. There will be free parking and shuttle service from the Gitman Brothers parking lot at 23rd and Center Streets.
Big doings in Shenandoah. They're throwing a week long party to celebrate their sesquicentennial and everyone's invited! It starts with a parade on Saturday, August 20 and will end with the annual Parade of Nations and fireworks on Saturday, August 27. But those are just the bookends -- they've got things planned all week long. Check out the week's schedule on their Facebook page.
Hope you're hungry! There are lots of yummy and fun events involving food in the upcoming week.
Maybe the most unusual is the Wild Edibles Program at the Sweet Arrow Lake Clubhouse on Wednesday, August 17 at 6 p.m. The first place my mind goes to when I hear "wild edibles" is mushrooms. But it turns out the forest -- and even your own backyard -- is full of possibilities. The free program will be led by naturalist Debbie Naha. A "class" in the clubhouse will be followed by a foraging hike. Naha may also provide a few wild edible recipes. For more information leave a message with your questions at 570-345-8952.
If you haven't had your fill of seafood yet this summer mark the Blue Moon Clambake on your calendar for Saturday, August 20. It will be held at Sweet Arrow Lake at 6 p.m. The $20 per person meal includes: one dozen clams with melted butter, bbq chicken leg, baked potato with butter and sour cream, corn on the cob, coleslaw, watermelon, dessert and drinks. Call Susan at 570-624-3018. Pre-registration is a must. There will be guided walk at 7:15 p.m. as well as the chance for a moonlit float. Bring your own boat (and flashlight) or reserve one for $5 an hour by calling 570-345-8952. Limited availability.
Peach Festivals have returned. Get your fill of peaches, ice cream, baked goods and beverages at St. John's Episcopal Church, 13th and Market Streets, Ashland on Wednesday, August 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. St. John's Lutheran Church, Hamburg will also be holding a peach festival at the Hamburg Fieldhouse on Saturday, August 20 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Music will be provided by Tommy Vollmer & Friends. In addition to peaches and ice cream there will be: baked goods, BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, soup and beverages. Rain or shine!
Something extra... it may not be food related but it's something we can all relate to: stress. "Stress = Dis-Ease: Identifying, Understanding and Handling Life's Challenges" will be held at the Mahanoy City Senior Center, 138 W. Centre Street, Mahanoy City on Tuesday, August 16 at 1 p.m. The presentation will be led by Jeanne Elberfeld, MD, LSW.