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Saturday, April 29, 2017

OK, I get it

I know, I know. I’ve whinged on endlessly about the shattering ugliness of the road (route 22) between the Pittsburgh airport and my father’s small college town, 75 miles away.

It doesn’t help matters to see the area in the dim watery light of Western Pennsylvania’s always rainy Fridays. Even worse, seeing this end of the world when the trees aren’t wearing their magnificent spring and summer colors. I always forget the incredible wealth of tall old trees around here.
When Europeans first explored the eastern shores of North America, trees covered more than 90 percent of Pennsylvania's 28,692,480 acres. (source)
Can you imagine?! Pennsylvania’s no minikin Rhode Island – this is a big, damn state – and it used to be one mammoth forest.
The most recent USDA Forest Service forest inventory report offers data from 2009, the latest available. The report indicates that the amount of forest cover hovers at about 59 percent of total land area, or about 16.7 million acres. (source)
 Ya see, this is what totally blew me away yesterday. I didn’t recognize our normally depressing road trip through Seedy Land (big box christianist/republican indoctrination centers followed closely  by gun shops and windowless, sleazoid porn shops and strip clubs). The giant oaks, maples and elms camouflaged the nasty ass wretched grifter emporiums as well all the falling down vinyl sided shacks and house trailers. AND the sun was out. ON A FRIDAY!!!!!

It was a mind bogglingly gorgeous day. So much so that, with all that brilliant green around us, we didn’t mind (much) being stuck in rush hour traffic.

Way back when I was nearing the end of my college career here, mia madre tried hard to get me to stick around – go on for an MFA. I HAD to get out though. Indiana, PA was a Podunk backwater, a zillion miles from the closet interesting, urban art filled center. I knew, despite my own horrific high school years in this town, that it wasn’t a bad place. For young adult couples who’d won tenure track teaching gigs at the college, it could be a sweet deal. Pastoral, wooded, rolling hills – beauty but with all the bennies that a large-ish college can bring. I saw Dave Brubeck here. Daddy saw Dylan. There were a couple cool pubs and a few independent booksellers. Also, if you’re mobile Pittsburgh, really isn’t all that far away.

I understand the appeal – more so now after seeing the place in sun and full bloom. Pity about the lack of ocean and all the damn Trump voters though.

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