The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

July 15, 2012

Magic summer batting 1.000

I deserve a magical summer.

Summers 2010 and ’11 really “Hoovered” (or, more expensively, “Orecked” or “Dysoned”).

Both summers I spent every minute in the hospital, or rehab, or recovering from cataract or kidney surgeries. Yecchhhh!

I’ve enjoyed magic summers before. Usually, nature signals that something rare and exceptional is headed our way.

In 1968, my friend Sharon and I cruised up Route 56 at

8 p.m. on Good Friday. The bank thermometer reported 68 degrees. 68 on an early April night, windows down, summer clothes … magic!

The first time I ever had to cut grass before Daylight Saving Time was in 1987.

That year, we delighted in another “non-winter,” much like the one we just had.

Abundant grass and flowers foretold a hot, humid summer full of fun and adventure, and for me, good fortune.

Let me confess … to the “mind-bogglement” of my friends, I love heat and humidity. I suspect I was a lizard in another life.

So here we are, summer 2012, and Mother Nature is frantically flagging me … a summer of wonder and enchantment has arrived. An ultra-mild winter brought a super-early spring. My crocuses cautiously peeped out in March. The lilacs bloomed in April.

I don’t ever recall such lush foliage, brilliant flowers and seemingly everything flourishing.

Don’t believe me? Drive up (or down) Floyd Street in Southmont. It’ll leave you breathless!

Birds seem more abundant, too, and more vocal. Perhaps they have more to sing about.

That can wear thin, though.

On Sunday, one monotone bird droned his single note for nearly three hours. It’s a wonder he didn’t turn blue and fall off his perch.

Lightning bugs have thrived, too. I’ve seen 75-watt lightning bugs with the wingspans of  commuter planes frolicking in my yard. I love it!

To add to the revelry, thus far summer has been almost “skunk-less” (maybe the lightning bugs ate them). I haven’t detected one nasty sniff.

My gladiolus (apparently a skunk delicacy) sighed in relief.

I suspect wood nymphs driving a Greyhound bus transported the little stinkers to a mountaintop somewhere to give us homeowners a rest.

Alas, as I write this, skunk orgies are probably producing hordes of “skunklets” to invade us next summer!

I understand the bat population has swollen, too. Many folks are having problems with these “nonrenters” moving in.

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Michele Bender
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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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