Pennsylvania


Over the years, my husband and I have found that both of us and both of our children find great serenity while immersed in nature.  It is the thing that centers us and renews us.  And, to that end, we decided that it is of greatest importance that we spend some time in nature every weekend.  The daily stresses and sensory overload that we encounter during the school/work week dissolve as we step into nature.

Last weekend, we used our nature escape to say goodbye to summer and to welcome autumn. It was a very warm day for the end of September, but the breeze was delicious and the morning sun was beautiful filtering through the treetops.

 

Our plan was to hike all morning and stop at 10:49am to say goodbye to summer and to welcome autumn.  This wasn’t my idea.  This wasn’t my husband’s idea.  The two kids.  It was all them.

But as we hiked, we encountered some very cool wildlife and sights.  The first was an eastern box turtle, quickly identified by my fabulous husband.  He loves all things reptilian.

 

When we stopped hiking at 10:47am to say goodbye to summer, we were in a dried creek bed, exploring what might be found in such a spot.  Here we came upon a little frog.  If you look closely at the back end of the frog (is it a pickerel frog?), there is a small orange-red protrusion.  We assumed it was an egg sac, but as we were unsure, please feel free to comment the correct answer, if you know!  WE would love to know.  Another amazing hiking find.

At this moment, our children each took a turn saying a tearful goodbye to summer, one blowing a kiss and one giving an air-hug.  It’s always said that we can learn so much from our children.  Living in the moment is one of the greatest of these lessons.  And there it was again as they cheered a welcome to fall.

And we continued on our hike.  My favorite nature find that day, although kind of gross, was this owl pellet.  For anyone who doesn’t already know, when an owl eats, it digests what it can of the creature it has eaten and then throws up the bones, fur and whatever else it cannot digest.  These are known as owl pellets.  We had never discovered one on our own, so this was pretty exciting for us!

 

It was an amazing day.  One I won’t soon forget.  We hiked for TWO HOURS with a nine-year old and a six-year old!!  I witnessed my children’s intense sentimentality, and we all came away from it centered, contented and ready to face the week.  What an amazing escape.

 

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Here we are.  Summer is over and school has begun.

But I am not happy about it.  Sure, the cooler weather is refreshing and I love those crisply blue autumn skies that greet us most days.  And who can’t deny the joy of crunching toasty brown leaves beneath her feet?  You would think I’d be ecstatic.

The truth of the matter is that I’m devastated.  We sent our youngest daughter to kindergarten this year.  Yes, I know it’s “only a half-day” and I hear those who echo “think of all you’ll get done”.  But all of that is irrelevant to me.  This is the year that begins the hurtling through childhood.  Because, one day my house will be spotless.  Everything done in a timely manner.  But those relaxed, laid-back days of early childhood are saying goodbye, never to return.  Those days of picking up and heading to a playground at our leisure…gone.  Or picking strawberries or apples mid-week to avoid the weekend rush…gone.  Upon us are the days of rushing here and there….to school to drop off….to school to pick up….to ballet….to the dentist.  And I hate that.

But the one thing of it all is that I am grateful that I stayed home with both of my children through this early part of their childhood.  Grateful that I didn’t miss all of their firsts.  Grateful that mine were the arms that picked them up when they fell and hugged them tightly.  Grateful that I was the one who sat with them to enjoy breakfast and lunch.  Grateful that my husband and I have always shared the same vision of our children growing up with a parent at home.  Grateful to that same amazing husband who made it happen.  It was a tough road for many years but well worth the struggles.

And so as we send our daughters off to the same school for the first time ever, my heart alternatively aches and soars.  Aches for the end of one era and soars for the littlest, as she finds her way to the next.

I know I’ve already talked about how much I love our Landis market.  Each time I shop there, I’m reminded how truly remarkable small-town living is.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything…except maybe a few acres we could homestead.  But that’s another post.

Yesterday, I stopped at Landis with the kids just to pick up a few things.  As we were checking out, the cashier, a kind older gentleman, smiled at the kids and asked “How would you like to see some bubbles?”  I don’t think any of us could have anticipated what he was going to do, but he pulled out a small bottle of bubbles from his apron and began blowing them for the kids!  So as he was ringing up our groceries, the kids were laughing and popping bubbles with such joy.  Such an unexpected simple pleasure from our local grocery store.  That wouldn’t happen at any of the bigger chain supermarkets or “super” center department stores.

I love it.

I like to think we live in “the country”.  We’re surrounded by farms and very gently rolling hills.  I really should post some photos of the bucolic countryside.  Living in the country provides us with the wonderful opportunity to truly “buy local”.

One of my favorite places to shop is Bolton’s Turkey Farm.  And we do go there on a fairly regular basis.  Oh, how good it smelled in there…just like Thanksgiving!  Mmmmmm.

Today I stopped for a roasting chicken.  Bolton’s roasting chickens are delicious.  I wish I could share with you virtually how wonderful it smelled in my oven.  The fresh garlic cloves I sliced and placed in its cavity permeated every inch of the chicken.  It was spectacularly delicious.  I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy one of their tasty turkeys!

When my husband and I first moved to this area nearly nine years ago, it took us quite some time to find our way around and figure our where the local treasures were.  For a while, we drove an extra ten to fifteen minutes to a grocery store.  Then I learned about Landis.

I remember my first trip there rather well.  Admittedly, I’m not a very religious person and I found myself quite taken aback by the Landis supermarket’s tagline….”Faithfully Serving You” and was curious what a store with such a tagline might be like.  But I fell in love with it.  Yes.  LOVE.  How many supermarkets do you think get that kind of affection?

I walked in and it just felt different.  Homey.  Comfortable.  Warm.  I felt welcome.  You might think those odd statements about a supermarket but I tell you with absolute honesty and certainty that this was how I felt.  How I still feel when I walk in those doors.  Landis employees seem happy to be there.  I promise.  They seem a family.  Whether that is indeed true, I don’t know.

But it’s not just the warm feel, it’s also the welcoming appetite-whetting smells…bacon frying, rotisserie chicken roasting.  And the tastes.  “Free Samples” at the counter in the back.  My kids are always excited to see what the offering of the day will be.  Mmmmm.  But the bakery is what Landis is probably best known for.  Black bottom cake.  Sour cream coffee cakes.  Pumpkin bread.  Hard tack cake.  Shoo fly pie.  Such delicious Pennsylvania Dutch goodness.

We have grown quite attached to our Landis supermarket over the last almost-nine years.  Even my husband enjoys shopping there.  Really.  And we’ve always appreciated and respected the fact that Landis closed its doors on Sundays.  So we found it a sad statement that Landis feels the need to change its long-standing tradition and open those doors beginning Sunday, May 2, 2010.  Competition has become too fierce.  The big ones are taking over….Costco, BJs, Target, Giant and (coming in the next year) Wal-Mart Supercenter.  We will continue to shop at and support Landis.