Monday, October 30, 2017
Life in a Northern Town
Amid all the political brouhaha (which, I have a sinking feeling, will only continue if not expand and worsen), the Mister and I took a rare road trip this past weekend...
We drove, on a fine fall Thursday, not to this particular small Pennsylvania city, but to another the remnants of the downtown of which are not too dissimilar. Boudi went to a very nice dog sitter, so we felt unusually unencumbered, and were we not off to a family event, might have a made a nice and leisurely day of it.
But we had promises to keep, and so achieved our destination not long after a quick lunch. You see, one of my brothers has achieved a Significant Local (Regional, even) Civic Position, and we'd been invited for his installation. I realize that over the years, while the topic of My Dear Sister and her sometimes formidable ways have popped up with relative frequency, my two male siblings are shadowier presences. The plain fact is that all of them are a great deal older than I, and since earliest childhood all have been comparatively intermittent facts of life. La mia sorella, given her adventurous nature, was far more likely to pop up in the Sandlands and thereabouts, and in general, because she was herself the oldest by several years, she has long stood in as a kind of surrogate Aunt.
It was particularly interesting, then, to attend an event of some pomp and great circumstance, the whole purpose of which was to laud and celebrate my brother; it turns out he's not only accomplished, but apparently even generally beloved. I turned to the Mister as the August Event drew to a close and said, "I really don't know this person, but he sounds quite marvelous," and that about sums it up. Score one for the men of the family.
A lavish reception followed, at the town's old Good Hotel (still hanging in there, if rather shakily - we stayed the night, and it was, on the whole, Perfectly Fine). The most pleasant surprise (after the open bar, I suppose) was the presence of a genuinely good string quartet, courtesy of the local high school - I had no idea that schools, let alone schools in rural central Pennsylvania, still had serious music programs - but they gave us quite creditable goes at the Water Music and Four Seasons and other such party staples. I chatted for a moment with the school music director, beaming proudly on the sidelines, and she said that if nothing else it keeps them off the drugs. I could only think that she clearly hasn't known some of the musicians I've run across...
In the evening, My Dear Sister and the two of us had a look around the old town. Small cities like this can make me melancholy, thinking of days when Packards and the like lined the streets, and every third storefront wasn't vacant or a woebegone thrift shop or valiant attempt at a craft store of some kind, but this one was better than many. We ended up in a local microbrewery which even latish on a Thursday had a fair number of customers, and while we did nothing to help ensure an early departure on Friday morning, it made for a nice night out.
So that was the highlight of what turned into an extended weekend, with the balance far more routine. It's a shame that the Mister's work schedule doesn't permit more minibreaks (a lovely word introduced to me by Bridget Jones back in her Telegraph column days), but there are in fact prospects of a little adventure in our not-all-that-distant future, so there's that to look forward to.
And tomorrow's Hallowe'en, not that we have much in the way of ghoulish amusement planned. Are you dressing up? The days when I came up with ludicrously complicated inventions (my favorite was going as the Intergalatic Norma Shearer to a party I co-hosted on the theme Hollywood on the Moon, but there were many) may be long gone, but one does enjoy hearing of others' misdoings...