So here I am now, in Saylorsburg, PA. Where? Yeah, I know. It's sort of south of Stroudsburg, in the Pocono Mountains. I'm only about 75 miles from New York City, but, as "they" say, really a whole world away.
For example, the other night we had an Apocalypse Now-like thunderstorm. The lights flickered on and off, the outdoor furniture was tossed around kind of like those cows in the movie "Twister," and the lightning felt like it was going to strike me down right in my family room. As soon as it passed, I saw a man on my porch peering into the house through the sliding-glass doors, which in my previous urban life would have been cause for some degree of alarm for a single gal like myself. Here in Saylorsburg, however, it was actually just the neighbor checking in on me to make sure I was okay. Yes, they do that here. They also help you do your yard work out of the goodness of their hearts. I had no idea such humanity still existed.
But no matter where I've lived, like most runners, I've found that the absolute best way to get familiar with new surroundings is by foot. This philosophy has proven useful once again, as I've settled in here. What I've seen while running is very telling so far--a vast array of all walks of life exist here in Saylorsburg--people live in run-down huts, as well as full-on mansions, and everything in between. As far as the local culture, here's a little taste of what I've experienced so far:
1. Some folks are territorial. And really like firearms. A woman who runs a flower market in "town" (believe me when I say, I'm using that term loosely), posted a sign: "Beware of Owner: She has PMS. And a Gun." I also run by a driveway every morning displaying a sign: "No Trespassing. Violators will be Prosecuted. Or Shot." I would've taken a picture of it, but I sort of feared for my life.
2. The local Citgo station convenience store sells a Star Spangled Ice Cream line, from a company that apparently gives 10 percent of its profits to "conservative causes." Flavors include Iraqi Road, I Hate the French Vanilla, and my, um, personal favorite, Gun Nut. According to the Web site, the ice cream is "...NOT Kosher certified. It is manufactured by a small producer, so nutritional information is not available." Is it pathetic that I'm yearning to be friends with the people with the Obama sign in their yard, about a tenth of a mile away from the gas station?
3. The wildlife is unlike that of Central Park or the National Mall. I have been chased by deer while training. Twice. Forget aggressive dogs, I just want to know when exactly deer started to attack?
4. Men driving pick-up trucks don't like sharing the road with small women running. They yell things like, "Get out of the way." I view this as a healthy way to hold on to my cynicism, so that all my overly nice neighbors don't make me too soft this summer. After all, I have reputation to uphold, and a journalism career to worry about, which requires a fair amount of skepticism. I give thanks to all those guys with mullets who try to run me down in their 4x4's. Really, I do.
Everyday is an adventure. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings...