Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eye candy

I'm madly in love with Pennsylvania. It's 300 miles of mountains, steady and true and inexhaustibly surprising, from the Delaware river to the Ohio border. Not even Colorado can claim that. Around every bend in the highway a hillside that could have been sculpted, mutely expressive as the hand on Michelangelo's David. Beyond every hill a gleaming valley, barns and silos and cattle nestled in like a cat curled up in the warmest corner of the house. Even from the interstate the scenery is breathtaking; from a two-lane the views are so pretty my stomach knots up sometimes, the way it does when I surprise a deer, or watch live opera. The two-lanes themselves are stunning, skinny black ribbons plunging down hillsides and zipping around creeks, trees combing each other's tops across them. And always there's the indescribable thrill of encountering an Amish buggy, emissaries from a world we wish we hadn't forgotten. Last year around this time, as a light slush had just finished falling, I saw one "parked" at a hardware store, the horse jacketed and steaming, bookended by cars.

When I taught ESL (now "ESOL" or "ELL" if you want to get fussy) the perpetual struggle was to get students talking, to which end I worked on a list of questions which would force anyone to take a side and defend it with some emotion and elaboration: "Are you a cat person or a dog person?" or "Do you prefer coffee or tea?"

A good one would be "How do you feel about driving across Pennsylvania?"

There are those who hate it as much as I love it, but I've yet to encounter anyone who felt lukewarm. (The "haters" worry me, much like those who claim to have no ear for classical music, or the woman I once dated who told me she didn't like peaches. I didn't think such things were negotiable.)


  1. Did that woman know about Prufrock and "Do I dare to eat a peach?" Non-negotiable peaches. Great.

    I think you know I agree about Pennsylvania. I did a post about the Warren, PA area back in May, including a brief bit about the Amish in NE Ohio (I think the town was Middlefield)--well east of Holmes County, which I knew they inhabited.

  2. a comment @ your September 8th posting-thanks

  3. You've expressed my thoughts so well in this post! All I heard before we moved to Philadelphia was "Oh, driving through Pennsylvania is hell. There's nothing worse than the PA turnpike...", and when we hit it, I was completely agog, and shocked at such judgements. Everywhere you look is an idyllic fantasy...