Cambrian: Opinion

East has its charms, from maple trees to bucolic farms

I  am currently in the land of  200-year-old old houses, green land and well-fed people. We are also visiting Grampyland, Familyville and Kidtown. I made those three up to describe our trip, but did you know a large percentage of East Coast settlements end in -ville and -town? Cracks me up. Seriously, Kutztown, Shoemakersville … Oh, Virginville! 

I know our California hills are crispy brown, so the comparison is extreme, but boy are the hills in Pennsylvania practically fluorescent! Given the amount of year-round rain and seasonal snowfall, there is water everywhere. Did you know they flush their toilets after each use here? Love of My Life and I are feeling really guilty following the local customs. 

Hey, I ate foreign food — Pennsylvania Dutch. Never thought about it until I had lunch at a huge grocery store in the middle of Amish country. Innocently, I ordered a grilled chicken club sandwich. The small stack that arrived at the table looked like this: thick sliced white bread, yellow from the butter it had been bathed in, a petite piece of chicken breast, one delicate piece of bacon dressed in a small jar of mayonnaise and some mysterious sweet yellow sauce. No green here!

This indoor “farmers market” had a lovely array of local Amish organic produce as well as a peculiarly diverse offering of imported fruits: breadfruit, yucca root, chirimoya (just not in their sandwiches).  They also handed you a map of the seemingly hundred aisles of brightly colored packages of food I cringe at just thinking about. Can you say “inflammation?” I believe the Mennonites eat some of this but, the Amish? No. Judging by the girth of many of the other patrons, well, everyone else around here does.

I felt guilty and tourist-like but I had to sneak in a photo of a rather incongruous scene in the parking lot. You know how there are parking spaces and then stalls for shopping carts? By golly if there wasn’t a paved buggy corral with space to accommodate the horse as well, right across from our Toyota Rav4 and a bunch of carts. Noting the pile of road apples around the parked vehicle, it was regularly used.  

Seriously, the scenery here is just like the Dick and Jane books I grew up on, with bucolic farms and currently a riot of flame-colored maple trees with endless piles of debris blowing about. I feel like such a child jumping in the crunchy masses along the curb! 

My eyes are alternately cooled with the miles of verdant flora and excited by the swaths of flaming orange and gold. 

Some of my favorite comics take place east of the Mississippi, and I am learning to appreciate their geographical references.

The point of the visit was to fall in love with the new granddaughter, love on Ed’s daughters and mom and all the rest and disconnect from the rigors of day-to-day life. I must say in our first week here that has more than been accomplished. Little Abigail is a perfect angel, Ed’s folks are absolute dears, his girls never cease to impress me with their intelligence, his sisters and their families, ditto the above. 

I fall in love with them all more and more and, while I can never imagine leaving the West Coast, this is a wonderful place to come and rest the mind and feed the soul. 

The effort to get here … definitely worthwhile.