28 April 2010

familiar faces - meet jude shabrach.

Familiar Faces – Meet Jude Shabrach
By Jennifer Hetrick

After her mother died in 1997, Pike Township resident Jude Shabrach began hiking away her grief and since then has fast-paced herself on thousands of trails across the state, country, and world.

As Shabrach and her mother were especially close, accepting the loss was bound to be difficult.

Shabrach told her husband that she’d either need grief counseling or another alternative—hiking.

She recalled enjoying walks with her daughters when they were young.

“I don’t think there were any other options that occurred to me,” Shabrach said about choosing hiking as her healing.

“Exercise helps with your different hormones levels and emotional state,” she said. “I’m not one to exercise for exercise’s sake.”

For two years, Shabrach hiked with her husband until he took a break following an injury that made taking to the trails more of a struggle for him.

They had stopped for ice cream after visiting each trail.

“It gets to that point where if you don’t get out and go hiking, you really feel glum,” Shabrach explained, equating the feeling she gets from hiking to a runner’s high.

(Jude Shabrach smiles as the rhododendron become more abundant and thick 
near Eckville, PA. Photo credits to Rich Pace.)

Next, Shabrach joined up with members of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Delaware Valley Chapter.

“Some people like to hike along canals, all flat,” she said. “Some people like to hike in the woods.”

“Some people like when there’s an elevation gain,” Shabrach added. “Some people like to make sure they’re by water.”

“You find what kind of hikes you like,” Shabrach reflected.

( The hike continues with more rock scrambling behind the view point.  
Photo credits to Rich Pace.)

Somewhat locally, Shabrach claimed Hamburg’s Pinnacle and the Lehigh Gap as two of her favorite places to hike.

In New York, Shabrach loves to visit the Shawangunk Mountains, or the Gunks.

“I go to rock scramble (rock hop) because at the Gunks are a lot of places where the rocks have tumbled down, and you can climb around in those rocks,” she said. “That’s what I like to do.”

She has boots for different seasons and often spends her three-day weekends hiking.

(Near the end, the thick forest opens up. But the walking is still difficult.  
Photo credits to Rich Pace.)

When she ventures out of town, she stays in hotels, as she prefers it to camping.

“I feel so much better when I’m outside,” Shabrach said. “Sometimes hiking alone is nice because I need the quiet.”

Shabrach averages 350 miles per year in her hikes which are generally 10 miles each.

One item on her bucket list is to hike at every national park, and so far she is at 22 of 58.

Outside of the U.S., Shabrach has hiked in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, and the Galapagos Islands.

“It’s my church,” Shabrach noted, the joy evident in her expression. “I’m often hiking on a Sunday.”

So if you see Jude Shabrach journeying on foot around nearby hiking trails, be sure to say hello to another Familiar Face.

27 April 2010

a fisher mill road treasure: a follow-up on amber hills herbs and gifts.

a few fridays ago, on an evening when the sky padded down hard rain, a friend and i visited what i'm deeming a fisher mill road treasure in oley-- amber hills herbs and gifts.

before the brink of spring (although this has been a very chilly late april !), i penned a story about the shop for the boyertown area times. i gabbed my way through a lengthy interview with the owner, tammy abraham, but hadn't actually had an opportunity to try her handcrafted, quite naturally made soaps due to accidentally leaving my wallet at home when i ventured out to take photos of the place. 

so when i visited the shop again for a longer peruse on that rainy night, i stood at the soap corner sniffing away at many a packaged bar of the herb and essential-oil infused scent-style she had stocked on her shelves.

soaps cost $3.50 each, but if you purchase 5, they add up to a hip-priced $15.00 in sum. after much labor to my olfactory system, i chose lemon verbena, refreshing, blackberry amber, clary sage and vanilla, and eucalyptus and lemon.

my chum of the hour, a mohnton resident, picked be happy, lady lavender, very sexy for men, chamomile and neroli, and butterfly orchid.

i could not believe how alluring the very sexy for men was. blush and a half ! i was partially tempted to buy it for myself to use daily ! 

as i have a habit of gift-giving with many perks i come across in life, i let one of my nieces choose a bar to take home for herself when she visited me weeks ago. she sampled the lemon verbena, which appeared, at least to me, stronger in scent than the lemon and eucalyptus. i absolutely plan to buy another bar of it for myself on a future trip to the shop, especially since i seem to be on a lemon kick this year.

the blackberry amber i am snail-mailing to a good friend on the west coast.

so far, i've only delved into using the refreshing soap, which is inches away from invigorating, in my proverbial book. sadly, my bar of it is dwindling in shape day by day. i expect that but still don't want to see the oval mound shrink ! that just means one more trip to fisher mill road for another day.

soap-maker abraham explained that in the past, she used to shrink-wrap the soaps in their individual packages, but this prevented customers from being able to easily detect the smells of each. so from then on, she covered the bars loosely in plain old plastic wrap from the kitchen drawers.

abraham added that she can identify exactly which ingredients are involved in any bar of her soap, just by smelling the thick rectangles, from the experience of always having her nose nudged near bar after bar and during the soap-making process.

when we last spoke, abraham said she had a few dozen more scent-styles ready to turn into gleaming bars of soap, as much of what she does is an experimentation nose-wise.

i have a lengthy wish list in the works from abraham, including lip balms, essential oils to blend for sunburn remedies, a sinus or possibly sleepy-time bear, and maybe even shower gels, once she figures out the best formula for crafting those.

21 April 2010

familiar faces - meet jake rothermel.

Familiar Faces – Meet Jake Rothermel
By Jennifer Hetrick

Jake Rothermel of Boyertown’s Woodchoppertown region is a man of the trees in the truest sense of such words.

Almost fourteen years ago, Rothermel joined a handful of other outdoorsy types when he took a job with Hopewell Nursery, which is located on Route 562 in Boyertown.

(submitted photo - Rothermel and his 2009-altered thumb)

Rothermel titles himself broadly, a nurseryman, as he is often operating large equipment, digging out and preparing trees to leave the property, or delivering plant materials to homeowners.

Previously, Rothermel served as a foreman for almost 17 years with Ringing Hill Landscaping, which once existed in Gilbertsville.

While still with that company during the early 1990s, Rothermel assisted in the completion of a retaining wall in King of Prussia at a business center visible from the state turnpike.

“Each time I drive by there, I remark to my family that I helped to construct it,” Rothermel said, explaining that he felt proud for his efforts in the project.

“It’s tough,” Rothermel, 62, said about his literally labor-intensive work. “I enjoy what I’m doing, but I also know it’s catching up with me, since it involves a lot of [heavy] lifting.”

Rothermel sometimes gets distracted in conversations with customers about their pets and can certainly be named an appreciator of fur kids.

His daughters Christy and Kelly often let him and his wife Donna of 35 years babysit their Rottweilers and German Shepherd.

In fact, watching the ‘grand-dogs’ is one of the better perks of his life now, he acknowledged.

Two Januarys ago, Rothermel slammed the tailgate of a dump truck into his thumb and lost the top portion.

“I have more trouble tying burlap together than shoelaces,” Rothermel said. “It’s funny how that half inch to an inch of your thumb on the end means a lot.”

Rothermel recalled a time when one of his most cherished memories in the nursery surmised.

A family walked in to select shrubs to plant around their home, and with them, they brought their four-year-old daughter.

“She found a smooth stone and handed it to me, saying I should keep this,” Rothermel said. “Ever since, I consider it my lucky stone and carry it with me wherever I go—even on vacation.”

One of Rothermel’s favorite ornamental trees is a Coral Bark Japanese Maple, with its trunk and branches a bright pinkish red hue until it matures.

(Rothermel's favorite ornamental tree of the moment, a Coral Bark Japanese Maple)

The biggest tree Rothermel has ever moved was an approximately 25 foot tall Red Sunset Maple with a 50 inch root ball and a five inch trunk width at chest-level. 

 (two Redwood trees, but similar in size to the largest Red Sunset Maple Rothermel moved)

At least three people were needed to stand it up while using operating equipment.

At home, Rothermel has a 1934 Ford street rod in addition to a canary yellow 1970 Ford Mustang and would like to visit more car shows in the future.

In the food realm, Rothermel loves sweet and sour chicken, stuffed peppers, and homemade potpie.

When he turns 63 in June, he plans to eat for free at Shady Maple’s smorgasbord and hopes it will fall on either seafood or steak night.

So if you see Jake Rothermel loading trees at Hopewell Nursery, offer a kind hello to another Familiar Face.