Martha, my beloved diehard desert dweller, was in Pennsylvania this week—Nazareth, Bethlehem, Easton—on business. As a high-powered accountant for the company where she works, she had the high-powered task of observing the counting of inventory at the Nazareth storage yard: thousands of pieces-parts that make up forms for pouring cement. Can you say high-powered glamorousness?
While the job part was a bummer, she told me all about some really nifty things she saw:
1. Hills! You know, the kind where you start at the bottom, climb a grade, reach the apex, and then descend on the other side. On the way back you do the same exact thing, only backward.
2. Trees! BIG old trees (oaks? maples? chestnuts?) that make beautiful canopies over two-lane byways. A lot of HUGE evergreens too.
3. Green! See number 2, plus add lawns, parks, ivy and other climbers, bushes, hedges, and weeds. Green doesn’t apply to desert dirt, which is pretty close to Crayola color #2,356, "dirt."
4. Rain! She woke up around two a.m. to a pounding rainstorm, something that occurs in the desert about twice a year and for three minutes or less in duration. She laid there listening and loving it until the rhythm lulled her back to sleep.
5. Fog! What fun, driving through thick mist while looking for street signs and landmarks that no longer existed which would lead her to the work site she’d never been to.
6. Wal-Mart! An emergency stop between the Allentown airport and the hotel in Easton upon her arrival. The temperature was somewhat below 95°, so she was frozen to the bone and needed a jacket with a hood. She never took it off until she arrived back in Phoenix where she could finally warm up.
Geographic shock: noticing things that the residents of northeast PA take for granted because they see them every day. Like established neighborhoods. Houses with covered porches for sitting and rocking. Houses that have more than one story. No cheap-ass stucco. Streetlights. The little things.
Martha doesn’t want to live there—one winterish day would do her in—but because she was told New Jersey was just six miles to the east of Easton.