We went to Lancaster PA for a couple of days while on vacation last week, and if ever there was a tonic for the soul, it's that part of the world. Lancaster (say "LANG-kister" if you want to fit in) is in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country, and what fine people live there!
Instead of the usual sounds of gunfire and contumacious disputes that Baltimoreans have for the soundtrack of their lives, up there one hears the gentle klip-klop of horses and buggies rolling by. Instead of the stank of air pollution, one smells farm smells - freshly mown hay, produce hauled to a roadside stand. And the locals and most of the visitors that we meet are only too glad to chat, offer directions, hints on good places to try, that sort of thing.
We wanted to try the smorgasbord that my friend Fran, the noted locksmith and food expert, recommended, so we headed off from our motel room to the town of East Earl. And to get there, one leaves the town of Bird in Hand and drives through a town called Weavertown. To a place with a 160' buffet line.
I would have walked, to tell you the truth, but we took the SUV. Good thing we took my cell, because I had to crank up the GPS to find our way home. For one thing, they don't just decide to cut a road through up there, and leave the farmers to deal with a property that looks like a pizza cut up in random fashion. The roads follow the property lines of the farms, and the twists and turns can be trickier than following the logic in a Michelle Bachmann speech. So the female who speaks to me from GPS Headquarters, barking out the "turn here!" instructions like some sort of car boss, really had to stay on her toes, lest I miss the turn at Zeltenreich Rd off Musser School Rd.
And it was then that I figured out why it must be heavenly to live up there, a scant ninety minutes from crime-ridden Baltimore. It's dark up there. And there are no mercury vapor lights to dispel the Stygian darkness along those serpentine roads. And the people don't have to put up stadium-style banks of lights to light up their back yards, the better to see the invading hordes coming to plunder and pillage their sheds.
Big cities spend a fortune lighting up the night, to make it easier for the police to see the crime scene when they arrive. Small towns have no need to, as Wynn Stewart sang years ago in a song called "The Tourist," live "where lights make night as bright as day, and day as bright as night."
There was a crime written up in the paper up there. The one-man police department in one of the next towns over was now short one man, so they had to hire a temp. The officer they had is suffering from being prone to temporary blackouts, so when he heard a call for a hit-and-run auto accident, he scooted right over, and the female in the victim car told him that it was he who had hit her and taken off. They called in the State Police, and the officer allowed that if she were hit by a town police car, he must have been at fault, because there is only one town police car.
Why we don't all move up there tomorrow, I can't tell you. She wasn't injured, no big deal, and the food at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord is something to write home about, so I did!