Archive for February, 2019

A Pennsylvania Guy

February 20th, 2019
The other morning I overheard an Uber driving pouring his heart out to the barista at the local coffee shop about the horrible weather in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, I had just driven in from the Johnstown/ Somerset weather and thought to myself, “Man, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” But this is where I have to come clean. I love the seasons, love the weather here, and hardly ever complain about it. One of my mentor/ friends once told me that some of us are just about “place.” We’re essentially in the place where we’re supposed to be.
 
Now, who can say if he was right, but my life has been a little like a deer. OK, deer stay within about a 25-mile radius of their home, and my circle has been about 50 miles, but for whatever reason, I’m a Pennsylvania guy.
 
I’ve spent the last 10 years traveling around between New Jersey, Chicago, Indiana, Florida, and California – mainly California and Florida – and I have to say I still prefer Pennsylvania. I’m tied here because of family, history, comfort, but also because I love the seasons.
 
My son lived in Vermont, and that was waaaay too extreme for me. Florida and California felt like Groundhog Day, perfect every day, and well, places like Seattle and Oregon were too much like England and Scotland for me. Yeah, yeah, I know there are hundreds of you who are mentally crying out, “What’s wrong with this guy?” But it is what it is, and I’m OK with that.
 
One of my oft-repeated sayings is that Western PA and Seattle residents purchase more sunglasses than any other populations in the United States because the sun comes out so rarely that we forget where we left them.
 
That’s probably true, but there’s nothing like driving from the airport, through the Ft. Pitt tunnel and seeing the amazing skyline of the lights of Pittsburgh. It’s the only city that actually has an entrance.
 
Just like that first breath of spring when the sun shines, the birds chirp, and the first flowers begin to blossom. Each season has special challenges, special quirks, special gifts, and special entrances for me.
 
Celebrating Christmas in Florida, Arizona, and California is like playing my trumpet with a mute in it. Something is just missing when you see a palm tree with holiday lights or cactus with a Santa sleigh. It’s borderline pathetic.
 
It’s also sad to watch the folks in those warm climates wearing down-filled jackets and boots when the temperature drops to 64. Give me the seasons. Let me appreciate the frigid nights and in the summer, the hot days. Let me live a life without the constant threat of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and mosquitoes carrying post-climate change diseases.
 
Let me have four seasons of clothes that vary as widely as those seasons. Let me enjoy a warm fireplace, a cup of hot chocolate, a great pair of gloves, or flip flops and shorts. It’s all about change, lack of predictability and unending variation.
I like a good storm that doesn’t drown and kill people. Throw in crisp fall evenings, amazing firefly-filled skies in early summer, campfires, falling autumn leaves crackling under my boots, and horribly treacherous drives on fog-covered, ice-covered mountains.
 
Maybe I’m a traditionalist, an adrenaline junkie, or just some kind of a nomadic homebody, but this is where I was born and where I want to return to stardust.
 
Give me five days, not six or seven, at a beach. Give me three days in the Rockies, and I’ll take a warm long weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, but that’s it. Seriously, Goldilocks has nothing on me. I’m the original “not too hot, not too cold, just right” kinda guy.
 
God Bless the rest of you as you long for the traffic, crime, drought, or horrendous humidity of those eternally perfect-boring places. I’m good with Western Pennsylvania.
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