Saturday, December 04, 2004


Chief Black Cat and two younger chiefs come to Fort Mandan to visit with the captains. During the visit it becomes evident to the captain that their interpreter, Jusseume, is discontent with his position with the Corps of Discovery.



The Norfolk Island pine has grown in popularity as a live indoor Christmas tree. Its lush green twigs of soft needles provide a lovely backdrop for festive holiday ornaments. Greenscape Gardens has an assortment, ranging from compact desktop plants to large floor plants rivaling a traditional holiday tree!

Unlike most pines that are familiar in the St. Louis area, the Norfolk Island pine is far too tender to plant outdoors in our climate. But the good news is that it makes an elegant houseplant when given proper care. The ideal indoor climate for this species is cool and bright, responding well to daytime temperatures ranging from 60-70 F and slightly cooler at night. Although the Norfolk Island pine will adapt to bright indirect light, the plant will look its best with a couple of hours of direct sunlight daily. If the light source is coming from just one direction, you'll want to rotate the plant a quarter turn weekly to keep it from tilting toward one side.

When the plant is actively growing, feed it with a fertilizer formulated for indoor foliage plants. It is not unusual for the plant to be in a period of rest during the winter months, at which time there is no need to fertilize.

Water the plant when the top inch or so of the soil in the pot feels dry. Use enough water to allow a little excess to escape through the bottom drainage holes. Discard remaining drained water after about 15 minutes.

What is most challenging for the typical home gardener is giving this plant the high relative humidity it needs. Norfolk Island pine thrives at 50 percent relative humidity, yet it is not unusual for the average house to drop to 15 percent during the winter heating season, unless steps are taken to increase moisture in the air. Running a humidifier will increase both people and plant comfort and is the most effective way to adequately raise the humidity.

It is not unusual for a few needles on the lowest branches to turn brown and drop. If this happens slowly over time, it's likely just normal aging of the branches or possibly from lower light availability. However, if many needles are browning, or if the problem appears more widely distributed among the branches, look to problems of either too much or too little water or too little relative humidity.



Try saying that title three times or better yet, read this article about adding purple to the landscape and garden. Purple is all the rage among gardeners and Mother Nature’s palette is well endowed with shades of purple flowers, fruit and foliage.

Looking for perennials with purple flowers? Consider Bear’s britches (Acanthus), Agapanthus, Ornamental onion (Allium), Columbine (Aquilegia), Aster, Astilbe, Baptisia, Swan river daisy (Brachycome), Siberian bugloss (Brunnera), Bellflower (Campanula), Delphinium, Foxglove (Digitalis), Coneflower (Echinacea), Joep Pye weed (Eupatorium), Hosta, Iris, Lavender, Liatris, Flax (Linum), Purple toadflax (Linaria), Bluebells (Mertensia), Catmint (Nepeta), Russian sage (Perovskia), Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium), Lungwort (Pulmonaria), Salvia, Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia), Meadow rue (Thalictrum), Thyme and Veronica.

There are only a small handful of hardy shrubs with purple or blue flowers, including Beautyberry (Callicarpa), Bluebeard (Caryopteris), Smokebush (Cotinus), Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus), Rhododendron and Lilac. Those with purple fruit include Chokeberry (Aronia), Beautyberry (Callicarpa), and Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum).

Although green foliage provides a great backdrop for flowers and fruit, a little purple foliage can perk up your garden design. Plants sporting purple leaves look showy throughout the growing season, even when nothing is in bloom. When you consider that most flowering shrubs and perennials are only in flower for a few weeks, colorful foliage can provide a more consistent contrast to green foliage.

Perennials and ground covers with selected cultivars of purple foliage include Bugleweed (Ajuga), Canna, Black snakeroot (Cimicifuga), Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium), Alumroot (Heuchera) and Penstemmon ‘Husker Red.’ Shrubs or small trees that feature at least some cultivars with purple foliage include Smokebush (Cotinus), Japanese maple, Elderberry (Sambucus) and Weigela.



In the past five years, the number of American homes that display real Christmas trees has dropped 33 percent, to just 23.4 million. About twice that many have fake trees. Ba Humbug!

The single busiest shopping hour of the holiday season is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Avoid the Christmas rush at Greenscape Gardens and buy a gift certificate for your special gardener. Sorry, we'll already be closed for Christmas Eve.

The average American family throws away 14 percent of its food. But one in nine American households go from day to day without being sure they'll have enough to eat.

The Quakertown, PA., Optimists Club is disbanding for lack of interest. The 35 year old club used to draw 70 people to its events, but club president Bernard Kensky siad only four or five now showed up. "I don't know why people stopped getting involved," Kensky said. "I feel sad."


Joke of the day

A man was helping one of his cows give birth, when he noticed his 4-year-old son standing wide-eyed at the fence, soaking in the whole event.

The man thought, "Great...he's 4 and I'm gonna have to start explaining the birds and bees. No need to jump the gun - I'll just let him ask, and I'll answer."

After everything was over, the man walked over to his son and said, "Well son, do you have any questions?"

"Just one." gasped the still wide-eyed lad. "How fast was that calf going when he hit that cow?"

Friday, December 03, 2004


The father of the Mandan who was killed in the hunting party incident visits Fort Mandan. He gives the captains some dried squash and pemmican, probably in gratitude for their willingness to avenge his son's death. The captains return the favor by offering presents to the man, who seems very happy with the recognition.



Gardeners need to put their gardens to bed for winter. Flowers and vegetables whose foliage has begun to brown and shrivel should generally be removed before winter. Removing the spent foliage is an excellent way to reduce the chance for fungi and insect pests to over winter.

Herbaceous perennials should be cut back to just above the crown of the plant, the place where the stems join the roots. Annual plants should be completely removed from the garden. Plant refuse can be composted to recycle into organic matter to add to the garden soil next year.

Ornamental grasses provide winter interest in their dried state. In areas where the soil is prone to erosion by wind or water, leaving the dead stems can help hold soil in place. In these cases, plants can be left until later winter or early spring. Make sure to cut back the dead stems before the new foliage comes up.

Pruning of trees and shrubs is generally best left until late winter or spring for most plants. Pruning in fall will leave the cut stems vulnerable to further dieback at the cuts, and, in some years, may encourage buds to sprout during mild weather. Dead or damaged limbs can be removed any time.

Clean up of fallen tree leaves may be needed, especially around mature, large-leaved trees, such as maple, oak and sycamore. But autumn leaves can easily be turned into valuable, soil-enhancing organic matter. Dry leaves can be plowed or tilled under in the vegetable or annual flower beds, in fall, to provide a source of organic matter. Shredding the leaves first will speed the breakdown, so that the leaves will not be visible by spring. Be sure to mix the leaves into the soil, rather than leaving them on top through the winter, to avoid keeping the soil too cold and wet to work in the spring. Tree leaves can be recycled directly on the lawn. Use your power mower or shredder/vacuum to break dry leaves up into smaller pieces. A mulching blade on the mower will speed this process, but even a standard blade will do an adequate job. For large leaves like maple and sycamore, it may take several passes to get a finely shredded product. Once the leaves are pulverized, they will break down quickly. A fall application of nitrogen fertilizer (about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet) will help speed decomposition of the leaves and also will benefit the grass plants.

Fall leaves also make great composting ingredients, especially when mixed with green trimmings and grass clippings. Again, the smaller the pieces, the faster they'll break down, so shred or chop dry leaves before adding them to the compost pile. If you don't have green trimmings or grass clippings, add a source of nitrogen to the leaves, such as commercial fertilizer or dry cow, horse, sheep or poultry manure.

Last, but not least, shredded leaves can be used as a winter mulch to protect tender perennials through the coming harsh weather. Shredding the leaves will help prevent them from packing down as they get wet and smothering the plants that they are supposed to protect. To provide winter protection, apply a 3-6 inch layer of shredded leaves over the top of tender perennials after several hard freezes. The goal of winter mulch is to keep plants dormant through the winter, so it must be applied after the ground is cold and plants are fully dormant. The timing of application will vary from year to year with the weather, but generally will be appropriate sometime between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.



Christmas cacti is an alternative holiday gift plant. There appears to be much confusion about these unique tropical cacti regarding care, maintenance and, especially, on how to get them to re-bloom.

We typically think of cacti as being heat tolerant, but Christmas cacti will keep their blossoms longer in cooler temperatures. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from drafts from heat vents, fireplaces or other sources of hot air. Drafts and temperature extremes can cause the flower buds to drop from the plant before they have a chance to open.

Christmas cactus is a tropical plant and is not drought tolerant as its desert relatives. The Christmas cactus may drop flower buds if the soil gets too dry. The plants will wilt when under drought stress. Water thoroughly when the top inch or so of soil feels dry to the touch. The length of time between waterings will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity.

The plant does not need fertilization while in bloom, but most gardeners enjoy the challenge of keeping the plant after the holidays for re-bloom the next year. While plants are actively growing, use a blooming houseplant-type fertilizer and follow the label directions for how much and how often to feed. While the Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to more light intensity. Keep your plants in a sunny location indoors. Plants can be moved outdoors in summer, but keep them in a shady or semi-shady location. Leaves may start to turn a bit red if exposed to excessive light. Too much direct sunlight can actually burn the leaves or may cause them to become limp. When it's time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, slowly adjust the plants to life indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.

If your plant tends to dry out and/or wilt frequently, it may be time to repot the plant into a slightly larger container. Well-drained soil is a must for Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged potting mix for succulent plants or mix your own by combining two parts plain potting soil with one part clean sand or vermiculite.

Pruning your Christmas cactus after blooming will encourage the plant to branch out. Remove a few sections of each stem by pinching them off with your fingers or cutting with a sharp knife. These sections can be rooted in moist vermiculite to propagate new plants.

Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 hours each night. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. You can place the plants in a dark closet from about 8 P.M. - 8 A.M. each night for 6-8 weeks or until you see buds forming. Christmas cacti will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 degrees F, eliminating the need for the dark treatments. Plants should be blooming for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November.

Other species of holiday cactus bloom at different times of the year and have slightly different growth habits. Christmas cacti have scalloped stem segments and bloom at the stem tips. Thanksgiving cacti have 2-4 pointy teeth along the edges of the sections and will bloom earlier than Christmas cactus if left to natural day-length. Easter cacti have rounded teeth along the segments and bloom primarily in the spring but may also periodically re-bloom at other times of year.

We have a great selection of Christmas Cactii available at the garden center to help create an alternative to poinsettias. Come in soon for the best selection.



1. Eat right! Make sure you get your daily dose of fruits and veggies.
2. Take your vitamins and bump up your vitamin C.
3. Get plenty of exercise because exercise helps build your immune system. Walk for at least an hour a day, go for a swim, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
4. Wash your hands often. If you can't wash them, keep a bottle of antibacterial stuff around.
5. Get lots of fresh air. Open windows whenever possible.
6. Get plenty of rest.
7. Try to eliminate as much stress from your life as you can.

OR ... You can take the doctor's office approach.
Think about it, when you go for a shot, what do they do first? Clean your arm with alcohol. Why? Because alcohol kills germs!


1. Walk to the liquor store = exercise.
2. Put a lime in your Corona = fruit.
3. Put some celery in your Bloody Mary = veggies.
4. Drink on the bar patio = fresh air.
5. Get drunk, tell jokes, and laugh = eliminate stress.
6. Pass out = rest!

The way I see it, if you keep your alcohol levels up, any and all of the flu germs can't get you!!!!

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Stressed spelled backwards is DESSERTS!

Spotlight on Rika Bronsther,
plantswoman extraordinaire. A woman as colorful as her plants!

Though you may not yet know her name, you surely know her plants. Rika Bronsther of Hempstead, Long Island has spent the past eight years selecting unique and marketable perennials including the huge, double Japanese Anenome x hybrida 'Party Dress' PP13844 (marketed under the Blooms of Bressingham North America program). She has also recently introduced the new Autumn Crescendo TM Series of colorful hardy Dendranthemas including 'Bolero', a deep gold form, and 'Harmony', a yellow form which takes on pink tones as it ages.

When you meet Rika, you know immediately that her colorful personality matches her plants. One of the reasons she is so successful at making new selections is her extraordinarily keen eye for color and her ability to pick up on the small but meaningful details which separate one plant from a crowd of hundreds. She began with Dendranthema 'Sheffield Pink', her first favorite mum, letting it cross with others in her garden. Five new colors resulted, and many more have arisen from crosses since that time including 'Bolero' and 'Harmony'. Upcoming selections include two new members of the Autumn Crescendo TM Series: 'Samba', a rose-pink form, and 'Rhumba', a multi-petaled coral form. (Note: Although taxonomists have recently changed the genus name back to Chrysanthemum, many will continue to refer to it as Dendranthema, which have composite flowers characteristic of the daisy or aster family.)

In her work, Rika is most interested in making natural selections, allowing Mother Nature to do her thing naturally, rather than artificially crossing plants in a lab environment. That is one of the reasons she is so fond of dendranthemas--they are rather promiscuous in the garden. As a Vassar College graduate with a degree in psychology, Rika takes a unique approach with her plants, literally talking them through long winters and other hardships. She is trained in fine arts as well as in graphic design, as evidenced by her attractive Autumn Crescendo TM Series logo.

What can we expect next from Rika Bronsther? Keep an eye out for her late summer and fall flowering perennials. We're sure her upcoming selections will be as colorful as she is!

Many of the above mentioned perennials will be available at Greenscape Gardens in the Spring of 2005.



Dear Sir,

I am one of America's soldiers who received a copy of "A Soldier's Christmas" over the internet, and I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for giving some of my friends and family an opportune way to say 'thanks.' It meant a lot to me.
I have not been stationed in the US since 1995, and the nature of my job will keep me overseas throughout my career. Although I am not always viewed as that soldier with "dusty boots," I know all too well what it is like to be away from home for so long -- especially during the holidays.

I would like, however, to take this opportunity to thank you, and America, for being the fine, grand, noble Nation that makes each and every one of us out here serving in the military extremely proud of the country and the people we protect.

You don't necessarily have to pray for us soldiers, as we have chosen this life....and we will sacrifice our life for OUR people and OUR country. No, do not pray for us this holiday season.....Pray for OUR Nation and Her people......for only then will the life we 'chose' be worthwhile.

Yes, I do pray for peace on Earth...always. But, "there will be wars, and rumors of wars," so, in the meantime; maybe, just maybe, this year you can put out a suggestion to OUR American people......

We tend to fly our flag on 4th of July, we tend to fly our flag on Veteran's Day......maybe this year, through your web-site, you could maybe "ask" the American people to put a small American Flag on their Christmas Tree, amongst their ornaments, (or within their own religious ceremony/custom) just to "remember." A small reminder that "we" are free to celebrate whatever holiday, however we please, because of that flag and what She represents.

Sir, I have volunteered to protect ALL Americans....Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, even is my proud honor to do so.... and all I ask is that maybe, during this "holiday" season (whether one believes in it or not) is your help in asking "America" to wave Her flag in Unity and be thankful for our Grand Nation. It would mean a lot to us out here, wherever we are......

"Santa don't cry, this life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
My life is my God, my country and my corps."
and with all due respects to the Major, I add.....

America, my country-men,
Our flag is our life.....
We've accepted your ancestors
Through struggle, through strife...

We've come a long way,
Yes, a long way to go....
But we're out here defending,
The life that you know.

What you believe,
Is not my concern,
I carry my weapon.....
American learns....

I'm proud to serve you,
Wherever I'm sent,
For you are Americans...
From Allah to Lent....

And so my dear county-men,
I ask of you this...
Display Our flag,
And remember our bliss....

For I am out "here"
On this Christmas Day....
And I want you proud...
.......LONG MAY SHE WAVE.....

thank you,
a service member.....



A man was in his front yard mowing grass when his attractive female neighbor came out of the house and went straight to
the mail box. She opened it then slammed it shut stormed back in the house.

A little later she came out of her house again went to the mail box and again opened it, slammed it shut again. Angrily, back into the house she went.

As the man was getting ready to edge the lawn, here she came out again, marched to the mail box, opened it and then slammed it closed harder than ever.

Puzzled by her actions the man asked her,
Is something wrong?"
To which she replied, "
There certainly is!"

My stupid computer keeps saying,


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

It's hard to believe its December already but a reality check is evident when you turn the leaf of the calendar to last month of 2004.

Tonight a great jounalist signed off for the last time. Tom Brokaw said his farewell after four decades of broadcasting. Telling his audience "we've been through a lot together," Tom Brokaw bid farewell as anchor of the "NBC Nightly News".

"We've been through a lot together," Brokaw told viewers at the end of his final broadcast in the hot seat. "Through dark days and nights and seasons of hope and joy. Whatever the story I had only one objective -- to get it right."

"When I failed it was personally painful," he added.

"The enduring lessons through the decades are these: It's not the questions that get us in trouble, it's the answers. And just as important no one person has all the answers," he said.

Brokaw, 64, began his career on a local station in Nebraska to covering the White House during the Watergate scandal. First as co-anchor in 1982 and then taking over as sole "Nightly News" anchor from John Chancellor in 1983, the no-nonsense South Dakotan with a flat accent won all of broadcast journalism's top awards including several Emmys.

But it was a work of history that Brokaw said he was most proud of: his book "The Greatest Generation," based on hundreds of letters and interviews with survivors of the D-Day landings in 1944 in northwest France.

Brokaw has signed a 10-year contract keeping him with the network as a documentary producer and host through 2014, but he said he expects to spend more time fishing and enjoying his grandchildren in the years ahead.

Signing off at the end of the evening news, he kept his composure: "You'll see Brian Williams here tomorrow night, and I'll see you along the way."

The Mandans have received runners from an approaching party of Cheyennes who are coming to trade. The Cheyennes are at peace with the Sioux which causes the Mandans to be uneasy about the imminent danger. Lewis & Clark advise the Mandans to proceed with their peaceful trading with the Cheyenne.


Extend the season into winter with evergreen perennials!
It's December, and here in St. Louis most of the perennials in the garden look terrible. Alas, all is not lost! This is the time of year when evergreen perennials really start to strut their stuff, thumbing their proverbial noses at the frost and laughing off freezing temperatures. Here are a few reasons why you should grow evergreen perennials:

• Evergreen perennials retain their shape all year long
• Provide continous interest even during the winter
• Hide dying bulb foliage and summer-dormant perennials
• Come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and bloom times
• Many are shade tolerant
• Many can be used as a low-maintenance ground cover

Helleborous x hybridus is an evergreen perennials and the 2005 Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year. One of the most popular cultivars is the Royal Heritage™ Strain, selected by John Elsley. It includes a dynamic range of flower colors including purple, near-black, red, rose-pink, yellow, pale green, and white. Some are attractively spotted or brushed with a contrasting color. Each blossom has overlapping petals, forming a cup shape about two inches in length. The evergreen, leathery, serrated leaves form an umbrella-like covering which sometimes coddles the nodding flowers. Attractive seed pods create additional interest after the plants are finished blooming. These hybrids typically grow 18-24 inches tall, bloom in early to mid-spring, and are hardy in zones 4-9. They will be available in the spring of 2005 at Greenscape Gardens.

Here's a list of evergreen perennials:
Phlox subulata
Sedum (some, mostly low-growing ground cover types)

Newspapers have comics.......The Green Blog has the bloopers

These are actual bloopers from church bulletins...

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Thursday night Potluck Supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
Tuesday at 4 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

The Lutheran Men's group will meet at 6 PM. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.

Don't let worry kill you, let the church help.

This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

Thursday at 5:00 pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All wishing to become little mothers, please see the minister in his study.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.

Announcement in the church bulletin for a National PRAYER & FASTING Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals."

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again" giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Next Sunday is the family hay ride and bonfire at the Fowlers'. Bring your own hot dogs and guns. Friends are welcome! Everyone come for a fun time.

During the absence of our Pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

This evening at 7 P.M. there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

"Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands."

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


A Walk in the Appalachian Woods

The adventure started out as simply reading “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. A Walk in the Woods completely immersed my sense of adventure and I mistakenly told Mike Kidd about the book. He subsequently read my copy of the book and was hooked also. The domino effect was already at work when he lent the book to Bill Knittle(Mike’s farm neighbor in Seton (close to Rolla). John Wiethop was going to be the fourth member of the expedition until he read the passage about snakes. In the meantime another friend of Mike’s from Seton, Bob, became interested in the expedition.

Now we had to decide where this grand adventure would take us. Dave Volk had hiked the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park with 3 other friends, so I relied on his trail experience. Dave stated that the Shenandoah Park area was picturesque and he recommended the Loft Mountain to Thornton Gap stretch of about 54 miles. He hiked this section in May with three other friends. The place was set and the date was decided upon as Labor Day Weekend.

Being a novice at hiking, I read several backpacking magazines, inquired at the different sporting goods stores, checked the Internet, for equipment for this daring undertaking. Subsequently bought a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, mess gear, hiking socks, and food. Everything necessary to be an experienced hiker.....well I looked like an experienced hiker. Mike and Bill were even practicing by hiking with backpacks beforehand. I was way too busy at the time and why should I use all my energy up beforehand, I was going to save it for the hike.

My intentions were to back light. Right. Forty-two pounds of equipment and food, I thought it was a good weight but I didn’t include the drinking water in this calculation. I had no intentions to be Stephen Katz on Springier Mountain. This refers to Bill Bryson’s hiking partner who threw away quite a bit of his hiking equipment on the first day of their hike due to the weight factor. Bryson jokingly stated, “a person could completely outfit themselves from the equipment abandoned on Springer Mountain” (the southern starting point of the Appalachian Trail).

Well the grand adventure started with the guys picking me up Saturday at six in the morning for our drive along Interstate 64 through Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia and finally to a motel at Waynesboro, Virginia. The entrance to Shenandoah National Park was less than ten miles away at Rockfish Gap which is the southern end of Shenandoah. After riding in a car all day and the anticipation of what laid ahead, I found it difficult to fall asleep.


A great day to start hiking the Appalachian Trail. Got up before dawn, actually the sun must have had second thoughts about rising. We never did see the sun since the fog limited visibility to less than fifty feet. But nothing gets you going better than the wonders which we were going to experience, actually it was the Krispy Kreme donuts and chocolate milk which got me going. As we entered Shenandoah National Park the fog completely enveloped us and reduced our pace to less than 20 miles an hour. The fog (actually cloud cover) would open occasionally and reveal the majestic woods all around us. We barely entered the park when we spotted a black bear scrambling across the road in front of the van. The wildlife was plentiful and if the fog was not so thick, we would have seen countless wildlife along the road at this early time of the day. Rockfish Gap to Loft Mountain was only 27 miles but it took forever because of the fog.

Upon reaching Loft Mountain, we took all the backpacking equipment out of the van. I had made plans to meet a local guide (Bob Jenkins 540-743-3214) at our northern terminus at 8. Less than one mile after leaving Loft Mountain it started raining which cleared the fog away. I preceded on Skyline Drive to Highway 33 and went north to Luray and met Jenkins at Panorama Parking Lot at Thornton Gap. I left Bill’s van at the parking lot next to the maintenance garage where Jenkins said it would be okay.

How do you describe a character? Two words.....Bob Jenkins. He lived his entire life in the Appalachian’s except for military service. This mountain gentleman talked non-stop, he seldom came up for air between sentences. He spoke of the mountain folklore, the town of Luray (his birthplace and home), the National Parks Service, but mainly about his love for the mountains and its people. During the course of (his) conversation, he stated that his predecessors had lived in the Shenandoah’s and a landmark is Jenkins Gap his great grandfathers homestead. When a person speaks nonstop the time flies and before I knew it we were back at Loft Mountain. I introduced everyone to Jenkins in the rain and he soon departed.

It was getting close to 10 am and the rain was really coming down. The spigot was turned wide open without any chance of letting up. We all saddled up however and the park ranger was kind enough to take our picture in front of the ranger station. Let the great adventure begin. After a thorough examination of the map we took off for the Appalachian Trail via the Frazier Discovery Trail. Our second mistake, (the first mistake was starting in the rain), we actually should have gone a little past Loft Mountain campground to start the Appalachian Trail. Frazier Discovery Trail went straight uphill, steeper than a mountain goat would have attempted and then it backtracked on us. In spite of the fact I was wearing rain gear, I was thoroughly soaked within fifteen minutes of starting. The perspiration and the deluge of rainfall instantly soaked my clothing plus the backpack immediately weighed an additional five or ten pounds.

The serenity of the woods was overwhelming. The rain was even more overwhelming. The trail was well marked with white blazes on trees, boulders, and rock outcrops. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Conference (PATC) maintains the trail through Shenandoah National Park and this group does an extraordinary service. Progress was slow, since the trail was slippery and I’m not as young as I used to be. Deer were abundant but the only sound was the rain and then the sound got louder and even louder. It sounded like a waterfall was nearby. Wrong tenderfoot. It was Ivy Creek and the water was about knee deep and no bridge. After some procrastination (actually I was trying to get a breather)I took off my wet boots and socks (so they wouldn’t get wetter) and proceeded across the 10 feet wide (usually dry) creek. The rest of the guys followed in similar fashion. The rain was finally starting to subside a bit, now it was simply a slow drizzle. The woods became alive with more deer. Bob and Bill stretched it out and got to our first nights stop at Pinefield Hut. We had hiked what had seemed all day and accomplished a whooping 5 miles!!!

I prefer to think that I’m in halfway decent shape but I was tired. The site of that rest stop looked extremely pleasing even though the accommodations were not even Motel 6 but my leg and back muscles were shot. Pinefield Hut was maintained by PATC and it basically consisted of a roof over a 3 sided enclosure. A picnic table and fireplace was in front of the hut. The sleeping configuration consisted of a raise platform and a bunk area for placing your sleeping bag. A bear pole was placed about 30 feet away from the hut to secure your food overnight. A latrine was across a small creek about 100 feet away. The Ritz it wasn’t. We all were famished and quickly devoured our trail food.

We were just finishing eating when a young hiker, Corn Dog came striding into the campground. Corn Dog was 18, about 6’2” and possessed a quiet demeanor. He graduated from high school in Late May and started hiking from Maine on June 1st. This kid had a stride which was twice my pace. He implemented hiking sticks and averaged 20+ miles daily. He was the first hiker we had an opportunity to talk with and we grilled him with a million questions. Corn Dog was a thru hiker meaning he was hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain Georgia which is 2,160 miles. We also received our introduction to Yogiing which is the fine art of food panhandling. Its derived from Yogi Bear always begging for food handouts. He consumed close to ten pounds of our food because he had eyes which looked hungry. We later found that he had lost over 50 pounds of weight hiking the Trail. The other indoctrination was body odor.....he majorily reeked. Bob offered to let Corn Dog use his solar water shower but Corn Dog replied, “I’ll just stink again tomorrow, thanks anyway!” Bob made the offer for our benefit not Corn Dog’s. We were all impressed with Corn Dog and he autographed my Walk in the Woods with this quotation: “There’s a top to every mountain. They don’t last forever. Corn Dog ME to GA

An hour later, two guys from Washington D.C. with their Dalmatian Dogs came into camp. They ate with us but elected to put up their tents up the draw from the campsite. The next morning the D.C. guys said we had company last night, they saw a bear behind the hut but the dogs chased it away. Even though the accommodations were not Five Stars, I slept contently under thousands of stars that night.


Awakening at dawn is like second nature to me and nothing is more rewarding than the great outdoors. The air was distinctly fresh, the small creek rippled a faint good morning call. What a day to take a walk in the woods!! The only problem was,...... everything was still soaking wet since it rained again during the night.

Nothing like a power bar and a granola bar to give you a rush to wander along the Appalachian Trail. Our destination today was to parts unknown (to us). Lewis and Clark would have been proud of our explorer instincts. Actually Meriwether Lewis was born and raised less than 15 miles from the Appalachian Trail in Charlottesville, Virginia.

We hit the trail by eight, said our good-byes to Corn Dog who planned on hiking 32 miles. We immediately crossed Skyline Drive which was 200 yards removed from Pinefield Hut. Although we were that close to the roadway, I never heard any road traffic during our overnight stay. The dew was extremely heavy and the trail was still dangerously slick but that never stopped seasoned hikers like us. We had 5 miles of experience under our belts now. Once again the wildlife (deer) was everywhere but any panoramic views of the landscape was extremely limited, actually it didn’t exist because we were hiking in a “green tunnel”. We were completely enveloped in a tree canopy. The woods completely surrounded you. You could only see maybe 100 feet to your left and right but in front of you.....lots of footsteps. During one stretch that morning we had a large doe pace us for approximately 15 minutes about 50 feet in front. The PATC volunteers maintain the trail with diligence and the second best worker along the trail is probably the deer. The deer heavily browse the underbrush along the trail keeping the vegetation in check except for the briar patches.

Once again Bill and Bob stretched it out and were ahead of Mike and myself. There is a strong tendency to keep your eyes riveted approximately five paces in front of you. I constantly reminded myself to soak in the surrounding nature and was justly rewarded with countless deer sightings, and small clearings where you could envision settlers 200 years ago living in the wilds. These small clearings indicated earlier dwellings because the old narly apple trees. How could a family ever eeck an existence on top of these mountains is impossible to comprehend. About a mile past Pinefield Hut, we had our first panoramic view of the mountains. A large outcropping facing the east revealed a never ending series of valleys below. Weaver Mountain was definitely a Kodak moment. But the most exhilarating feeling was heaving a rain soaked pair of shorts down the mountainside. Further revelations proved I wasn’t the first and definitely not the last to discard an unwanted item in this fashion. The granite outcropping absorbed the sun and became nature’s clothing dryer. I scattered several items in hopes of reducing some of the wet weight. Bill and Bob were anxious to move on but Mike and I elected to soak in the sights a few minutes longer.

After a thirty minute rest, we reassembled our backpacks and continued our grand adventure. Bill inquired our whereabouts on the two way radio, soon after we got going. Mike replied, “Sorry Bill, but we’re still at the overlook sunning ourselves, 2 gorgeous blondes are rubbing suntan lotion on us”. An immediate response shot back over the radio from an unknown person, “Where are you?”.

After the lookout, we descended to Simmons Gap and immediately ascended another 1000 feet of another unnamed mountain. Two miles up and just when you get to the top you descend another 1.5 miles to Powell Gap. We already had accumulated six miles for the day and it was only eleven. What laid ahead was Hightop Mountain. A climb of approximately 1500 feet to an elevation of 3500 feet. Now this mountain was nonstop uphill. Numerous switchbacks reduced the severe steepness in areas. I felt like “The Little Engine that Could”, but the damn mountain wouldn’t stop. The rest stops were numerous, yet never long enough. The insides of my legs were getting chaffed from the constant friction of endless hiking and the heavy moisture accumulation didn’t help. I felt miserable but being macho you can’t let the others see the fatigue. Bull. Wimp.

Mike must have felt the same way. Mike was definitely feeling like Katz at the moment. He removed his tent from his backpack and threw it 30 feet into the woods. Anything to reduce the damn weight factor. Later he remarked he should have put a note on the tent stating, “If found please return to Mike Kidd at............”

Even though my legs were galled raw, the final galling was when we encountered two PATC volunteers who were maintaining the trail. These two gentlemen were in their eighties. They each had a day pack on. They had hiked to the summit of Hightop and were proceeding back to their car at Smith Roach Gap. I was winded, dead tired, galled and here are two spry men twice my age, appearing as if they were teenagers. We inquired as to the whereabouts of Hightop Hut and they said it was less than a half mile. It was the longest half mile I ever encountered. During this half mile trek, Mike lightened his load numerous times. Throwing seemingly useless items into the woods including water. Finally he sat down exhausted. Mike said, “I’m sorry but I can’t go any farther”. I was bone tired also, but the thought of the hut just ahead was paramount on achieving. I took a small tote bag of Mike’s to lighten his load and told him to follow when he was ready. Oh what a site when the Hightop Hut came into sight. Relieve. I had just accomplished a blistering, whooping 8 miles. In perspective, Corn Dog was going to hike 32 miles in the opposite direction. Okay he was more than half my age. About 15 minutes, Mike came wandering into camp.

Bill and Bob arrived at the campsite probably an hour before my arrival. They had already cleaned up and ate. I immediately realized that the best measure of relief would be a hot shower. Okay I was brain dead at the time, the facilities were identical to Pinefield except that the water (spring) was 200 yards down a hill. With soap and a towel, I immediately trudged to the spring. Talk about invigorating. A cold spring water wash off stood my hair at attention. I never felt anything as cold as this, a quick brisk splash down brought monstrous goosebumps to my skin. But the feeling of elation on being fresh was overwhelming.

The campsite quickly filled up for the evening. The majority being thru hikers. A journal of the hikers is in the hut and made for interesting reading. I even spied Corn Dog’s entry from the previous day when he stopped here for lunch. It appeared that two different age groups were thru hikers. Young hikers (18 - 24 years of age) and seniors (60+). The D.C. hikers with the Dalmatians pulled into camp about three hours after our arrival. They were approximately 40 years of age and were section hiking the trail. Section hiking is when you segment the trail, hiking 3 days to a week. In comparison to a day hiker, who walks one day at a time with limited backpack provisions. At sunset a thru hiker, Can Do, a cranky 65 year old man started complaining about the Dalmatians. The D.C. guys promptly set up their tent behind the Hut.

Eleven people would be staying overnight in the hut. Overcrowded but livable by my tired standards. I decided to take the high bunk for the night (less crowded). As the sun was setting, it started to rain again. Tin roofs and rain create an intolerable racket, the only saving grace was I was completely exhausted and quickly zonked out. In the middle of the night, Mother Nature beckoned, my bladder was swollen. But how do you get down with eight sleeping people directly below you. Thank God, Mike’s bladder was awakened at the same time. I instantly sprung down into his vacated sleeping area. Mike queried me about all the racket, and I said the rain on the roof was quite noisy. Mike immediately replied, “That’s not rain, that’s rats!”


The next morning everyone was stirring at sunrise. Bill awoke with a 6 inch diameter hole in his pants where the critters had rummaged for and evidently retrieved some morsels of food. Thank God, he wasn’t wearing the pants at the time. Bob remarked that he was batting them away all night. Bob was reading A Walk in the Woods and spied the passage when Katz and Bryson stayed overnight at Hightop, one of the hikers killed 32 critters. Evidently their off spring have been fruitful and multiplied. Once again breakfast consisted of a couple of power bars and a granola bar. A quick walk down to the spring to replenish our water supply for the day was in order. Everything back into the backpacks and off for another exciting day in the woods.

Upon resuming our hike we traversed about a half mile to the crest of Hightop Mountain at an elevation of 3,587 feet. The view was outstanding. This was only the second vista after hiking for over two days. The trek down Hightop was treacherous since it was strewn with slick granite rocks and countless tree roots. A small stream meandered alongside the trail in sections. This section was rather steep and the deer were sparse. We came out of the woods at Swift Run Gap and crossed Highway 33.

The Saddleback Mountains with an elevation of 3,375 feet was our next objective. The hike from Hightop Hut, through the Saddleback Mountains and to South River area was uneventful. Once again the vistas were nonexistent. We were completely engulfed within the “Green Tunnel”. This section was exceptionally level, instead of going over the mountains we were traversing the valleys between the mountains. Clearings and apple tree grooves reminded me of the early settlers of the 1700’s who originally inhabited these mountains.

I was actually getting my hiking legs and we hiked together for the eight miles from Hightop. No one really said anything during these eight miles until we stopped for a break. The accommodations from the previous night was on everyone’s mind and another night of rain and rats was inconceivable. We realized if we maintained this pace we would be getting to the next hut around noon time. We decided that a hot shower, a dry bed and a warm meal would be the best. Only 12 miles ahead was the comfort of Big Meadows Lodge. Our pace became youthful with the tangling of this reward ahead.

We also made an adjustment in our hiking logic, when we inadvertently misread one of the trail blazes and intersected Skyline Drive just North of the South River Picnic Grounds. Twelve miles of Appalachian Trail going up and down steep embankments without any scenery or the Skyline Drive with magnificent vistas. It was unanimous. We’ll “white line” it. Hiking jargon for walking the road. We were making some incredible time on the road. Clocking in at over 3 miles per hour. But the hard surface started taking its toll on the others in the form of blisters. I was lucky, somehow my $25 work boots with Dr. Schole inserts were better than the expensive hiking boots of my friends.

I hiked several miles with Bob along the road and we conversed at length. I realized that this man was ten years older than me but was in excellent shape in spite of a near death illness less than two years ago. He had just completed a thousand mile bike ride along the eastern seaboard. He biked about 75 miles daily on this trip. He gave of his time in numerous community programs since his early retirement from Bussman. Plus he built his own home of 6,000 sq. ft. in Seton since his retirement. He and his wife had lived in a tent during the winter since they sold their home in St. Louis. An amazing individual.

The miles really started to click off, the traffic on the road was light and the views were incredible. The overlooks were all facing to the West and your vision was unimpeded for 50 miles. The haze had lifted and the temperatures were in the low 70’s. Just perfect. We made brief stops at several of the overlooks. Mike and Bill stopped at one overlook to adjust their backpacks but I kept on walking, simply remarking, “I’ve got the pace, can’t stop now”. Bob was about 100 yards in front of me and I was determined to maintain his pace the rest of the trek. My resolve was impossible to keep, Bob kept getting further and further ahead plus Mike and Bill were nowhere to be seen. The miles kept racking up, Big Meadows was definitely achievable. Except for one small problem, I was completely out of water and felt terrible dehydrated, no problemo!

The Appalachian Trail crosses at Miriam Gap and Bill (who had my maps) previously stated that the AT would be a short cut to Big Meadows, less than 2 miles. Off Skyline Drive and back on the Appalachian Trail, once again a true AT hiker. The area was heavily wooded with abundant undergrowth. I surmise that this valley was once an early homestead fields since there was few mature trees. Grooves of apple trees were plentiful but the deer had harvested all the apples within their extended grasps. The backpack kept getting heavier and my mouth was dryer than cotton. Two elderly women approached from the opposite direction and I inquired about the distance to Big Meadows and they said it was less than a mile (liars). Puddles of water were everywhere, but not a drop in my water bottles. Imagine spotting a lunatic heaving a water bottle at an apple tree in the middle of nowhere. Well that lunatic was me and I needed some moisture relief desperately. Finally after countless attempts, two worm infested apples lost their grip and fell by my feet. Adam would not have been tempted in the Garden of Eden if these apples had fallen at his feet but I was desperate.

A well maintained gravel road intersected the trail and the trail immediately traversed through an old cemetery but several recent burials were evident. Another mile brought me to Lewis Spring where I immediately quenched my thirst with fresh (unfiltered) water.

Another trail bisected the AT and for a brief moment I became disoriented and walked the wrong trail for several hundred yards before I realized there were blue blazes marking the trail instead of the AT white blazes. Double back to the AT and started a strenuous uphill section of the trail. Traffic and voices could be heard in the distance but I started doubting myself when the noises ceased and I was going deeper into the woods. Then to my right, I barely glimpsed site of a building. It had to be the Lodge, so I trailblazed a new path towards the building which turns out to be the Waste Water Treatment Plant for Big Meadows. The building was locked and no one was around, but a paved road was a welcome site. Unknown to me at the time, if I would have kept on the Appalachian Trail another 400 yards, I would have been at the Lodge.

The paved roadway intersected with a main roadway and I decided to go to my right and within 800 yards or approximately 2400 little steps, I was at the Big Meadows Wayside which conveniently closed 15 minutes earlier. I removed my backpack for the first time in six hours and almost fell flat on my face. The unexpected weight off my back threw me off balance. I realized, if I would have gone to the left I would have been at Big Meadows Lodge, now it was one mile in the opposite direction. Seriously thought about just dropping my backpack behind the Wayside and crawl to the Lodge. After several attempts, I finally was able to procure a ride with a lady who was returning to the campground. She was kind enough to take me to the Lodge. Total mileage for the day was twenty something miles. Its hard to being certain with all the backtracking.

As the jeep pulled up to the Lodge, Mike came out the door. Oh what a site. He immediately snapped up the backpack for me. He said that they were worried about me since it was getting dark. Then he told the story of how Bob had waved a $20 bill in the Lodge’s parking lot in an attempt to attract a ride. A waitress from the Lodge obliged and drove about 3 miles from the Lodge on Skyline Drive before spotting Mike and Bill.

Mike said he thought it was an illusion when he saw Bob yelling from the back of the pickup truck to get in. When Bob said “Get in, Damn it”, he realized it wasn’t a mirage. They figured I had taken the shortcut on the Appalachian Trail. Some shortcut that was.

The body odor stench was overwhelming, I doubt that Corn Dog smelled as bad as I did at the time. A warm shower was the first matter of business. The muscles cried with exaltation as the warm water cascaded and the soap cut through 20 miles of perspiration. After coming out of the shower, the stench returned. No its impossible, more deodorant, no thankfully it was the days clothing which was immediately escorted outside. Another fatality in the sake of excessive weight reduction was the removal of my mustache which I had come accustomed to for over 25 years. A person can do extreme measures.

The guys were in the restaurant at the Lodge and I consumed the greatest Fried Chicken in my life that night. Actually, anything would have been the greatest meal of my life even liver and onions. Our waitress was Mike and Bill’s savior, she saved them a couple hours earlier on Skyline Drive. Called home that evening to say HI to the family and then I don’t even recall hitting the pillow because I was totally exhausted.


My body was coming back to life, awoke in the morning but had no intention to continue on the Appalachian Trail. The sites along Skyline Drive far exceeded anything on the AT. Breakfast at the Lodge brought additional fluids and substience to me. The truly rude awakening was the weather. The temperatures had plummeted to 38 that evening. Now last night’s bed and shower was truly appreciated. I hadn’t prepared for the cold, imagine being in a hut awakening to that chill and no additional warm clothing. In my case the gift’s shop warm apparel was quickly acquired. Our only problem was we still had 20 miles between us and Bill’s van patiently waiting at Panorama. Bill contemplated hiking along Skyline with a daypack and retrieve the van but without wheels and no ambition to hike anymore, we would have lost a day of potential sightseeing.

Mike and I inquired about anyone going north and fortunately the stone mason who was doing some minor masonry repairs at the Lodge was leaving early since the cold weather inhibited his mortar from drying. Once again we were in luck, this Englishman lived in Elkton at the base of the Shenandoah Mountain Range. We didn’t realize it at the time but he normally went the opposite direction to go home, he actually went an hour out of his way to take us to Panorama. The mountains must bring out the best in these people. We brought the van back to Big Meadows Lodge.

We lunched at Big Meadows Wayside. Burgers and frys. Three thru hikers were sunning/relaxing just outside the store. We struck up a conversation with the guys, who were southbounders. We mentioned Corn Dog and they saw him at Harpers Ferry the previous week. He was a walking legend amongst the thru hikers. We conversed about our little adventures and some of the stories we had heard. Mike was spinning the tale that we heard at Hightop how numerous and tame the deer were along the AT. How one guy had his socks stolen off the clothes line and he ran after the deer attempting to retrieve his socks but that the deer only would turn around and mock the hiker. The thru hikers said it was a great story, one of the hikers was strumming a trail guitar started laughing out load. They were the victims of the incident.

That afternoon we traveled over 60 miles of Skyline Drive and marveled at the truly incredible views. We picked up a “white lining” hiker and he rode with us from just north of Rockfish Gap to Big Meadows. The young man’s trail name was Locomotion. He had graduated from college the previous year and had thru hiked from Georgia to Maine, losing 35 pounds in the endeavor. Now he had a job and was attempting some section hikes of the Trail. The most upsetting view is the massive tree destruction in the Shenandoah’s. Gypsy moth ravished the area and the final blow was a severe winter ice storm several years ago which snapped and uprooted mature pines and hardwoods. That evening we walked down to Dark Hollow Falls just outside Big Meadows. The falls were approximately 100 to 150 feet high but the fallen trees obliterated the once majestic falls. Once again dinner at Big Meadows Lodge.


Time to think about getting back home. We visited the Byrd Visitor Center which chronicled Shenandoah National Park. I personally found it appalling the way the Federal Government evicted the landowners in the early 1920/30’s to create the park. The National Park Service should be good stewards of this magnificent area but they have stumbled in their programs and resolves. The deer population is overwhelming and numerous deer/vehicle accidents occur. Trees are dead throughout but NPS prohibits cutting or removing as firewood. All firewood is brought in from outside the park. Bureaucrats.

I have never created a journal anytime in my life. Evidently the Appalachian Trail hit a nerve. Note: Meriwether Lewis never compiled his journals upon completion of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I did.

Covering a whopping distance of 33 miles in three days, I classify myself as an Appalachian Thru hiker, actually I’m all through hiking.

January 5, 2001

Editors note: If you are interested in undertaking this incredible experience contact me at


Which side of the right side?
Behind every someone's ignorance.


A messenger reports that a Mandan hunting party was attacked by the Sioux and Arikara. Further reports indicate that one is dead and two are wounded plus nine horses are taken. Clark and 23 men go to Mitutanka and tells the chiefs to gather their warriors and together they will fight their adversaries. After brief discussion, the chiefs reply that they see the captains sincerity in helping their tribe but they decide to wait until spring to retaliate. Clark marches the Corps back home in formation in the snow.


A beautiful 18 1/2 foot-tall noble fir from Washington will be the official White House Christmas tree. The Blue Room Christmas tree will be presented to First Lady Laura Bush by John and Carol Tillman, owners of Northwest Plantations Christmas Tree farm in Rochester, Wash. The Tillmans earned the honor by winning a Nat'l. Christmas Tree Assoc. contest. The White House staff
also selected trees for Camp David and the Oval Office during a trip to the Tillmans' farm.


Live Christmas tree purchases have declined the past five years. The popularity of live Christmas trees is declining in the U.S., according to USA Today. Since 1999, the number of households that display live Christmas trees has dropped 33% from 35.4 million to 23.4 million. During the 1990s, the number of households
with fake trees increased nearly 40% from 36.3 million to 50.6 million.

Experts speculate the reasons for the shift in consumer preferences include more attractive and less expensive artificial trees and a perception that live trees are messy. At Greenscape Gardens we take great pride in quality Christmas trees that your family will cherish throughout the season. Come in now for the best selection.

Total Landscape Receives ALCA Award Of Distinction

Nov 30, 2004 12:17 PM
The Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) recently awarded Total Landscape, Inc. of St. Louis with the Award of Distinction in the Residential Design/Build Category for the 35th Annual ALCA Exterior Environmental Improvement Awards Program.

ALCA’s Environmental Improvement Awards program reflects the association’s commitment to creating and preserving the beauty of our landscape. The program is designed to reward landscape contracting professionals who execute quality-landscaping projects and to recognize citizens who underwrite such work. In sponsoring the awards program, ALCA also strives to increase public awareness of environmental improvement through quality landscaping and to encourage the landscape contractor’s consistent use of quality materials and workmanship.

Bob Franey, President of Total Landscape commented on receiving the ALCA Award of Distinction, saying “This is an honor for our company, but I have to give the credit for the award to our outstanding landscape designers and installation crew.” Franey added “the Total Landscape staff really worked hard together as a team on this project, making sure that the installation and final results outdid the creative design and the materials selected to complete the project.”

ALCA represents approximately 2,500 professional exterior and interior landscape maintenance, installation and design/build contractors and suppliers nationwide.

Editors note: Our congratulations to Mr. Bob Franey and the entire crew of Total Landscape. This is one of the quality landscape contractors who frequently buy their landscape material from Greenscape Gardens.

Monday, November 29, 2004


The Corpsman's Christmas Poem

"'Twas the night before Christmas as I flew o'er the Marine Base,
when I spied a young man who seemed out of place.
His eyes showed compassion, his hair a bit long,
but his head was held high and his body was strong.

His air was confident, his uniform smart,
but what impressed me most was the size of his heart.
For he embodied honor, one of this country's best,
and the words U.S. NAVY showed large on his chest.

As I stood there in wonder and gazed into his eyes,
the words that he spoke took me quite by surprise.
"What's wrong Santa, haven't you ever seen a sailor before?"
I sensed something special and longed to know more.

"To be honest, this field thing wasn't part of my plan,
but God didn't give me a boat or tin can."
The words he spoke next surprised me all the more,
"But I'm as proud of my Navy as I am of the Corps!"

"Don't worry Santa, that I'm a sailor you see,
for when a Marine goes down they will still call on me.
They'll forget I'm a sailor, they'll call in my stock.
At the top of their lungs they'll yell ,"Get me the doc!"

"And I'll answer that call, anytime, anywhere.
Though I know I'm a target I really don't care.
I'll face incoming fire as I race cross the land,
and use my very own body to shield a downed man."

"Working long hours and into the night,
my unit's battle is over, but I'm just starting to fight.
For the life of every Marine is sacred to me.
I refuse to surrender them to death, and in that I'll find victory."

"And yet I'll take the time to comfort a dying man,
to sit down by his side, to reach out and hold his hand.
For it takes as much courage to care as to fight.
For just as the poem says, many don't "go gently into that night."

"Santa, it's not any one uniform that makes you a man,
but rather it's those ideals for which you choose to stand.
I draw my line here, it's long and it's plain.
For pain, hurt and suffering are the things I disdain."

I know very well that I may lose my life,
so that a Marine may see an unmet child and young wife.
So Santa, it really doesn't matter if they don't like my hair.
I'm a Navy Corpsman, their Doc, and I'll always be there."

"I follow the brave docs who have come long before,
from Belleau Wood, Iwo, and Lebanon's shore.
As history proudly shows, they all gave their best,
and for those who have died, surely they're blessed."

"At Inchon, the gulf and times during Tet,
our brothers have fallen, but we carry on yet.
For we carry their honor and legacy still."
As I held back my tears it took all of my will.

I had to leave him there for I had other plans,
but I knew in my heart that the Corps is in good hands.
As I flew away I heard his laughter, it rang so loud and clear.
"Hey Santa, how 'bout a nice pair of boots for the 26 miler next year?"

Editors Note:
Greenscape Gardens supports the troops both in the states and far away protecting our freedoms.


The captains invite Larocque, the twenty year old representative of the Northwest Company to a meeting at Fort Mandan. They instruct him not to give medals, flags or other British government related tokens to the Indians. He claims he never gave the Indians any such gifts.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

By Major Bruce W. Lovely

T'was the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
And to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and dreary,
I knew I had found the home of a soldier, one I could see clearly.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he laid sleeping, silent alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home.

His face so gentle, his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I'd just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
Owed their lives to these men who were willing to fight.

Soon 'round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas Day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of soldiers like this one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
"Santa don't cry, this life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

With that he rolled over and drifted off into sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.

So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
And I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
And I put on his T-shirt of gray and black.
With an eagle and an Army patch embroidered on back.

And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
And for a shining moment, I was United States Army inside.
I didn't want to leave him on that cold dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice so pure,
"Carry on Santa, it's Christmas Day, all is secure."
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night.

Editor's note:

Merry Christmas to all the soldiers in far off lands,
And a very special salute to all who have fought,
And perished, to protect our freedom and liberty.
Plus a special Christmas wish to keep our soldier safe in Iraq.
Merry Christmas & God Bless you Josh.


Chief Black Cat visits Fort Mandan to tell the captains that the British traders are giving away their nation's medals and flags. The captains warn him against accepting such items, saying it would displease the "Great American Father." Lewis and Clark give the Chief presents that include an American flag, tobbacco, paint and handkerchiefs. Black Chief states that he will proudly display his American flag during visits from the British traders.