Northeast Pennsylvania Nostalgia: The Long Road Home


There are two places where I usually go to concentrate and relax: a little place in Marin County north of San Francisco, CA - and my little homestead tucked away in the valleys of Northeastern Pennsylvania where I grew up. I recently took a trip back home to see some family, relax, and concentrate on some writing. My little home, which I lived in for about 5 years before going to college is now "abandoned," save for the occasional trips I take to "get away from it all."

It's a bit bizarre going back. It is so quiet there - almost eerily so - that I can't help but wonder if I was aware that I could hear the sound of my heartbeat when I lived there. And of course it's also bizarre because it brings back so many memories - that seem to have taken place many lifetimes ago, yet in reality is only six, seven years removed from the present state of things.

I took a walk up to the local park above my house. I wish I could say it was because I wanted to get some fresh air, but it was really because I can't get any cell reception for at least a mile from my home. It was rather cold, but enjoyable, especially after passing some "landmarks" - like trees that I recall recording in field notes when I was younger. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I saw some of the trees I helped procure through a community "greening grant" for the local park when I was about 14 years old...All were thriving except for one that seemed to have slumped over like an old man from lack of nutrients...not certain why.

After doing some calls on the phone, I headed back down the hill towards my Northeastern Pennsylvania home...

The windy road home...

A "self-portrait" in a broken mirror. I like the distorted view of the two roads in the mirror and me positioned in the center....It's like a metaphor for where I have come from and the path I've now departed on. The image actually quickly made me think of Van Eyck's painting of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami, and the painting of himself in the reflection of the mirror (below).

Nature's undertakers: How long will it take for this tree to turn into soil? I snapped this picture of some beautiful bracket fungus on my brisk walk home.

Passing by some more bracket fungi. While home, I revisited some of my old field notes and fungi samples I had taken when I was younger.

Looking back over my shoulder, South of my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It's a 0.8 mile walk up a windy hill to the main road. It provided a very good warm-up for those weekend Cross Country practice runs.

The road journeying North from my house, overlooking the local dairy where I would often walk to get a tasty treat.

Looking west from my stoop in Northeastern Pennsylvania. These are the woods and fields I would often explore as a young girl. It was a prime area, especially for a mycology nut.

Looking east from my stoop in Northeastern Pennsylvania: You can't see the stream below, but it is an integral component of the Tunkhannock Creek Watershed. I often would go barefoot in the stream to collect aquatic insects, like stoneflies, mayflies, and damselflies - and transplant them to a waterfall I built in my room to observe their lifecycles. The waterfall was just one of the many "open terrariums" I had to raise all sorts of insects - from assassin bugs to woolly bears (Isabella Tiger Moths) to elder borers.

I later created a partnership with the county's conservation district and my high school's Conservation Biology class to obtain data on the biotic index of the streams to get information on stream water quality. Biotic indexes quantify insect diversity and species types to determine health of streams. Though often overlooked, insects provide valuable information on ecosystem health. There are even some recent studies emerging to determine how global climate change is affecting insect dynamics.

Assassin bugs are named for the way they ambush and kill their prey. With deft accuracy, the insect uses it's proboscis (beak) to stab victims, injecting a toxic anti-coagulant that dissolves the victim's tissues. The Assassin bug then sucks up the liquefied tissues all while the victim is still alive.
Stoneflies are normally a sign of good health in streams. However, when the insect faces oxygen restraints in water, they will often do "push-ups" to keep the flow of water and oxygen moving across their gills.

Elder borers are considered pests to elderberry trees. It's a shame, however, considering their markings are so strikingly beautiful.

Summer Rayne Oakes talks sustainability and style on the radio


Treehugger radio and Air America's EcoTalk: New Year's resolutions

The Lazy Environmentalist on Sirius Satellite Radio: Summer Rayne recaps with host Josh Dorfman on sustainability in the fashion industry in 2006, and forecasts what is in store for 2007 and beyond.

Living on Earth on NPR: Discussions with host Bruce Gellerman on sewage sludge, sustainability, and style.

Summer Rayne Oakes Interviewed on Eco-fashion for NY1


NY1 Interview on Eco-fashion shot during Summer Rayne's photoshoot with Doie Designs. Also features, Levi's Eco and Scott Hahn for Loomstate. Click here to see more images from the Doie Design shoot. To view the Fortune Business Report, click here.

(Speech Topic: Women in Business)

On Tuesday, January 9 2007, Summer Rayne Oakes spoke on a panel to Gettysburg college students at the Penn Club in NYC. Other panel participants included: Danielle Billera (owner of Sushi Samba Restaurants); Anjali Lewis (Associate Publisher of Vanity Fair Magazine); and Shelby Tompkins (Associate Director of Special Projects of Vanity Fair Magazine), followed by a reception with Carson Kressley.

The panel discussion consisted of how creativity (ideas), business (finance/marketing), and execution/delivery (final product/service, sales, and operations) comes into play with each woman's business on a daily basis.

Summer Rayne specifically discussed finding your passion, the value of entrepreneurship, and the challenges and rewards of running your own company:
"When you do your own thing, it forces you to innovate. I started my own business because I couldn't find a company or organization that shared the same vision I had for the future. I felt the need to develop a broad-skilled approach, so I have a tendency to do all sorts of things - consulting, modeling, writing. Most everything I do, however, is centered on sustainability. My passion is for people and the environment. I look at what I do very much as a business as well as an educational awareness campaign. I don't consider it a job or a hobby. I consider it a responsibility, a way of life."
This marks the first discussion/speech for 2007. To find out more topics and information, visit Summer Rayne's School for boys and girls who just don't give a damn (but will after she's through with them).

Vy and Elle recycled-billboard bags shot in the Hamptons.
Photographer: Eric Striffler, w/ fellow model, Jon Mack.


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