CLIFFORD TOWNSHIP PA–A very special place continues to come alive in Clifford Township. Since last spring, the Clifford Township Historical Society (CTHS) has been working tirelessly to raise funds, to collect designs and ideas, to build, install, and plant to literally ‘grow’ the group’s newest and most unique project: a Children’s Garden.

“It’s an ongoing and wonderful project that involves so many people,” said CTHS President Sandy Wilmot. “All summer long, everyone has been coming together so supportively to turn the Children’s Garden into a reality for Clifford. Since the beginning, lots of local children have been especially helpful and very hands-on involved to move this project forward. They’re not bashful either, as they’re always coming up with new, fun, and very imaginative ideas to make their garden extra special.”

The concept for Clifford’s Children’s Garden was initially developed to create a safe and interactiveplace for children to play and was modeled after the Ithaca Children’s Garden. Looking beyond mere swings and slides, the CTHS offered a way in which children can play while also learning about nature, the area’s own rich history, and its inherent ecology. With the enthusiastic support of the township supervisors, the one-acre site next to the Community Center has literally been growing throughout the summer months, as countless volunteers have shared their time and lent their helping hands to turn a fun-filled idea into an expressive reality. Funding for the project has been provided through grants and donations.

“The Historical Society received a $4,000 mini-grant from the Endless Mountains Heritage Region to initially help construct the garden,” Wilmot said. “It required a 100 percent cash match, which we’ve happily surpassed through the amazing donations that have generously come from so many area folks.”
“Clifford’s Children’s Garden is unusual in that it’s a different and very unique way to engage kids in fun and creative play, and all within a safe environment,” added Annette Schultz, Executive Director of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region. “And with the teaching elements of history involved to help visitors better understand the background, the people, and the lives of those who were here before us … well, that’s a definite added asset.

“I visited the Children’s Garden site a few months ago and could see the remarkable things that were happening in Clifford,” Schultz continued. “There’s so much imagination and creativity involved, it’s really amazing. But looking beyond the garden itself, this project has some great potential to become an asset to all of the four counties of our region. Over time, it could perhaps serve as a pilot for other towns throughout the region to help jumpstart new and developing ideas of their own. I can’t wait to see the garden’s completion and to help promote Clifford’s idea to other towns throughout the region.”

Working toward that completion, about a dozen children aged 2-15, along with their parents and friends, gathered on a recent fall weekend to paint the four doors of history, install sign posts, plant the 180-foot willow tunnel, hand-shovel dirt and carry unwanted sticks to a clean-up pile, erect standards for a musical mountain, create a human-sized checkerboard, hand built a giant dinosaur’s nest, and so much more. They also ‘seeded’ a self-created mine shaft that replicates the old Clifford Shaft, which was the area’s northernmost end of the anthracite coal vein. “It was an amazing work weekend,” Wilmot said. “We made great progress. The kids went home tired and dirty – it was great!!! There’s still much more to do, but seeing everyone come together like this was absolutely motivating. I hope to schedule two or three more such events before winter.”

Among some of the jobs still to be done, Wilmot said, “We need to plant several donated berry bushes, finish building the log cabin and lean-to barn, install the concrete horses, turn an old farm wagon into a covered wagon, and install a bathroom in the house. Throughout the winter, some of the older kids plan to do some of the research for the signage and story boards that will be located throughout the garden. Then in the spring, we’ll build the Indian village with its long house and sister garden. It’s definitely an ongoing project, but one that will be enjoyed and shared for generations to come.”
For additional information about the CTHS or to share and participate in the Children’s Garden and their various activities, contact them at 570-679-2723, or at Known locally as “the little society that does big things,” Wilmot believes that the Children’s Garden will be another project that will make the Society, the youth involved, and the entire community proud.


Conrad, Christine, and Ava Depew of Clifford have fun gathering cornstalks to sell as a fundraiser for the Clifford Children’s Garden.

Conrad, Christine, and Ava Depew of Clifford have fun gathering cornstalks to sell as a fundraiser for the Clifford Children’s Garden.

Gage (age 4) and Ryker (age 2) Mead of Clifford busily paint the human-sized checkerboard for the Clifford Children’s Garden.
Gage (age 4) and Ryker (age 2) Mead of Clifford busily paint the human-sized checkerboard for the Clifford Children’s Garden.


Written by Union Dale freelance feature writer Karen Bernhardt Toolan for the Clifford Township Historical Society, with thanks to the Susquehanna County Room Tax Grant Fund through the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau.


Fern Hall Inn New Fall Menu!

Fern Hall Inn New Fall Menu!


Butternut Bisque 5 Cup / 8 Bowl

Parsnip Bacon Chowder 5 Cup / 8 Bowl

Lobster Bisque 6 Cup / 9 Bowl


Fern Hall Autumn Salad 9 Dinner / 5 Side

Spinach, roasted butternut squash, toasted walnuts, roasted red peppers, apple cider vinaigrette


Caesar Salad 8 Dinner / 5 Side

Romaine Hearts, hand torn croutons, fresh Parmigiano, Parmesan tuilles, house made dressing


House Salad 6 Dinner / 4 Side

Cucumbers, red onion, grape tomatoes, carrots, house made vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad 9 Dinner / 5 Side

Arugula, roasted beets, creamy chevre cheese, crispy bacon


To Any Salad – Add Chicken 8 Add Salmon 10


Stuffed Acorn Squash 9

Zucchini, yellow squash, ricotta cheese, crispy parmesan, sun dried tomato pesto cream

Bourbon Parmesan Mushroom Crostini 8

Trio of mushrooms, garlic crostini


Maryland Crab Cakes 11

Jumbo lump crab meat, zesty remoulade


Classic Coquilles St. Jacques 11

Deep sea scallops, white wine cream sauce, a touch of mushrooms & bread crumbs, browned to perfection

Charcuterie Platter for Two 15

Assorted cheeses, olives, smoked meats, crostini


Fall Flatbreads

Pear, Goat Cheese & Balsamic Reduction 8

Bourbon Glazed Sausage & Peppers, Smoked Gouda 9

Pagash – Potato, Onion, Bacon Crumbles & Cheese 8


Fern Hall Signature Ribeye 26

Sweet potato puree, garlic haricot vert, red wine demi-glace


Pan Roasted Duck Breast 24

Spaghetti squash, caramelized brussel sprouts, cranberry gastrique


Bone-In Pork Chop 23

Mashed potatoes, sautéed shallot and garlic broccoli, apple chutney


Hunter’s Chicken 20

Leg and thigh, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes in a Hunter’s sauce, mashed potatoes


Roasted Lamb Rack 29

Mushroom risotto, grilled asparagus, apple cider reduction


Fall Ravioli Chef’s Choice of the Day

Ask server for details


Pan Seared Salmon 23

Cauliflower and parsnip puree, seasonal root vegetables


Herb Roasted Free-Range Chicken 23

French cut chicken, spaghetti squash, seasonal root vegetables


Fresh Catch of the Day

Ask server for details

Fern Hall Fall Craft Cocktails

Cherry Vanilla Chai Tea
Vanilla vodka, Amaretto, Chai tea, Simple Syrup, Half and half

Caramel Apple Martini
, Apple Pucker, Butterscotch Schnapps 

Crab Apple
Crown Royal Apple, Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, Splash of Cranberry

Cinnamon Toast
Hot Apple Cider
, Captain Morgan, Cinnamon, Sugar

Pear of Desire

Citrus Vodka, Licor 43, Pear Juice, Gingerale

Elderflower Bellini

Elderflower Liquor, Champagne, Pomegranate Juice

Moscow Mule

Vodka, Fresh Ginger, Ginger Beer

Fern Hall Fall Manhattan

Served with House Brandied Cherries

Rare Old Fashioned

Whiskey or Bourbon, Bitters, Sugar, Orange, Cherries

Nuts & Berries

Frangelico, Raspberry Liquor, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Half & Half

**Tastes just like a milkshake!!!**

Cabo Wabo Martini

Cabo Wabo Tequila, Cointreau, Cranberry Juice, Lime

Fern Hall

Delectable Desserts

Fern Hall Apple Turnover

served with Vanilla Ice Cream

Pumpkin Mousse Parfait

topped with Pecans and Whipped Cream

Crème Brulee topped with Fresh Berries

Mixed Berry Pie served with Whipped Cream

Chocolate Lava Cake

Marmota Monax


The Marmota monax pictured above enjoying some evening fruit, recently began frequenting the pear tree in the back yard.

I’ve always felt a bit of a soft spot in my heart for these beings, as they seem to be reviled by most other creatures. Cows can twist or break a leg in a groundhog hole, farmers hate them because of this, and feel no remorse in dispatching them.

Even posters showing the various hunting regulations seem to be biased: The deer season shows a picture of a noble buck with a large rack, fishing season with a picture of a beautifully colored rainbow trout, and other seasons noting dates, times, and field limits. And then, there’s the black and white picture, more of a mugshot, of a groundhog at once looking a bit shifty and nervous. Under the photo the text: “No closed season – no limit”. Yup, groundhogs, kill as many as you want, whenever you want.

I killed one many years ago as it’s presence in the yard caused dog to become frenzied, nearly choking herself on her collar trying to chase the critter from her yard. It took me several mornings to finally terminate the rodent. I would sneak along the barn with my open sited .22 rifle, clad in my mud shoes and bathrobe. Invariably, the ground hog would see me, and scurry to safety before I could get off a shot. One morning, however, it seemed that he just gave up the struggle, sat there and let me shoot him. Repeatedly.

I carried his carcass, already fattened for the winter, jiggling on the blade of my shovel, quite a ways from the house so the dogs would not roll in it as it decomposed.

When I was very young, a neighbor who had been an admiral in the United States Navy would drive around the neighborhood in his beige Ford Falcon, and take me wood chuck hunting.
Under his guidance, I was learning to shoot so well that I was quickly developing the skill to be able to “drive nails in from 100 yards away” with a high powered rifle and scope. My hands and eyes were young, strong and steady, my skills were sharp, and the rifle was powerful and accurate. After a while, it seemed not much of a sport.

There were seemingly comical times. Once, though certain I had connected on a 200 yard shot, the ground hog stayed sitting upright, tilting slightly one way,  then back the other, until finally, just like in the cartoons, he fell completely over with all paws in the air.

For a very short time, I dabbled in killing rabbits, even though I didn’t eat them. Then one cold day, I shot a rabbit that was sitting a couple of hundred yards from me, and through the rifle scope saw that it’s corpse seemed to be smoking.

I walked up to the little critter, eyes still open, and noted a small smudge of blood behind it’s shoulder where the bullet entered; right where I had aimed. Lifting one of his paws revealed that the bullet expanded on impact, and entirely removed the other side of his body. What I thought was smoke, was actually steam rising from the warm, moist entrails I had caused to be exposed to the frosty air.

When I prepared the shot through the rifle scope, the rabbit seemed to look relaxed, calm, and happy to be eating some of the last grass of the faded summer. I squeezed the trigger, and before the rabbit heard the report of the rifle, he was on his way to whatever reward rabbits enjoy for spending time on this earth.

I continued to practice with the rifle for a while, but only on paper targets. I got to the point where I could pretty much hit anything I wanted within 200 yards. I didn’t eat what I killed, and so, lost interest in developing my marksmanship.

A few years ago, a neighbor called me over to kill a raccoon that was apparently rabid. I felt no remorse sending that critter on his way. I’ve since decided that though some may feel that other beings need to die, it’s no longer my desire to be an instrument of death – I’ll leave that to others.

And the groundhog that’s frequenting the yard? Dog doesn’t seem to be bothered too much by it; pears are so plentiful this year that she doesn’t mind sharing.

I sometimes find myself glancing at the .22 resting along the fireplace mantle, and wonder if, with my older eyes and hands, I could still make the shot to the ground hog at the back of the yard.

For the sake of everyone involved, I’ll just keep wondering.



While driving home late Saturday night, I noticed scurrying at the edge of the light cast by my auto’s headlights.

I moment later, I saw this fellow hurry up a tree as mother and sibling darted into the darkness.

This was the first raccoon spotted this summer. Those beings are pretty shy, and are rarely seen around here during the day.

A nice treat to see this family on one of the last few Summer evenings.




CLIFFORD TOWNSHIP PA – Since early this summer, youth and adults have worked tirelessly to develop a very special place in Clifford Township: A Children’s Garden. Sponsored by the Clifford Township Historical Society (CTHS), a work weekend has been planned for September 26-27th, 1:00-4:00pm to continue these efforts.

Rain or shine, friends and family will be gathering to help put some of the finishing touches on the garden. Volunteers of all ages are welcomed. Bring a paint brush (with your name on it), and there will be something special for you to do.

We will be painting the white pickets for the fence, spreading mulch on the paths, building the flagstone maze, taking the bark off the logs for the log cabin — and starting to build the cabin, designing the music mountain, putting up the four doors of history, raking and seeding the dirt on top of the mine shaft, putting dirt and coal into the mine shaft, starting to set up the play area, installing butterfly houses, making the dinosaur nest out of grapevines, planting grape vines and willow shoots, installing the big blackboard.

With so much to do in one weekend, we can use all the help we can get. So please come along and feel free to invite friends and neighbors to share our fun. Kids aged 2 and up are especially invited to help create their special place … there will be jobs for all ages.

We will also be selling fall decorations – small hay bales, lots of gourds, some pumpkins, corn stalks, and garden-fresh vegetables.
There — that should keep everyone busy! In one weekend, the Children’s Garden should really come alive. But YOUR help is needed. Contact Sandy Wilmot at 679-2723 or; or Shirley Granger at with any questions.

Children’s Garden  address:
207 cemetery street Clifford Twp pa 18470

Let the fun begin! And THANK YOU to everyone who shares our fun
– Sandy Wilmot, President Clifford Township Historical Society



A recent morning ramble through the neigborhood took me past fungus, earthworms, hawks, turkey buzzards, lily pads, cat tails, beaver dens, leaves beginning to turn – all under a spectacular September cloudless sky.

The route walked was the same followed usually in an auto, or when jogging. The slower pace of a walk allowed me to notice and savor these critters and plants.

As many of our lives are compelled to a frenetic pace, the abundance that surrounds us is often overlooked. I took the same route I usually follow, but at a much slower pace.

You might want to try something similar, taking a familiar route at an unfamiliar pace, and see if it becomes easier to notice the beauty in which we are immersed, and, of which, we are a part.


From: Wikipedia

“Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi, are among the many groups of fungi that comprise the phylum Basidiomycota. Characteristically, they produce shelf- or bracket-shaped or occasionally circular fruiting bodies called conks that lie in a close planar grouping of separate or interconnected horizontal rows. Brackets can range from only a single row of a few caps, to dozens of rows of caps that can weigh several hundred pounds. They are mainly found on trees (living and dead) and coarse woody debris, and may resemble mushrooms. Some form annual fruiting bodies while others are perennial and grow larger year after year. Bracket fungi are typically tough and sturdy and produce their spores, called basidiospores, within the pores that typically make up the undersurface.”

Pisces Moon



Late last week, the sky was dominated by the first of three “Supermoons” of 2015 so called as they occur when the moon is closest to the earth.

Some posit that extraordinary energies are associated with this, and the next two supermoons of 2015, which will usher in a new era of happiness and unprecedented positive vibrations for the entire human race.

Others believe that the moon is always just wonderful to look at, and worthy of unabashed extended gazing.

If viewing spectacular phenomena provokes feelings of gratitude for such natural beauty in our world, and happens to put you in an extra good mood making it easier to be kind and joyous with  friends, family and others, well that’s just fine.


In North America, we often call the August full moon the Sturgeon Moon, Corn Moon or Grain Moon. The August 2015 full moon is also the first of three full-moon supermoons in 2015. Previously, we had three new moon supermoons in January, February and March, 2015. The full moons on August 29, September 28 and October 27 all enjoy the supermoon designation because the centers of these full moons and the center of Earth are less than 361,836 kilometers (224,834 miles) apart. The closest supermoon of the year comes with the September 28 full moon, presenting a moon that’s only 356,877 kilometers (221,753 miles) from Earth.


Leucistic Buzzard


While driving from Clifford toward Elkdale in the valley through which the east branch of the Tunkhannock Creek flows, I noticed a kettle of turkey buzzards riding a thermal to who knows where.

I did a double take, noticing that one of the birds was nearly completely white. It’s not uncommon to see more than one type of bird riding together on thermals, and figured a hawk of some kind had gotten into the mix.

But, after watching for a while, it was apparent that the white bird was a Turkey Buzzard. It’s flight pattern, with slightly twitching wings was the same as everyone else. Both the top and bottom of the wings were white, as was the entire body. The underside of the wings retained the silver feather pattern as typical buzzards,

Yup, that’s not something you see everyday.

That view was just slightly less impressive than the Blue Heron that was standing in the middle of the road a couple of miles later. That fellow, however, took off to the meadow before I could get a clear picture.

I wish I got a photo of this fellow standing in the middle of the road in all his lanky splendor – it looked like he stood more than 4 feet tall!


Neighbors Laurie Graham and Larry Wilson sent these photos of the white Turkey Buzzard:

White Turkey Vulture 9_6_15 #3 White Turkey Vulture 9_6_15 #2 White Turkey Vulture 9_6_15


How much different can heaven be?