Sunday, December 2

In Them Thar Hills

Every so often the subject of my parents' home town in Pennsylvania comes up. People ask me what it's near, because naturally they are trying to get their bearings and place it. It is at this point that it gets complicated because, you see, it isn't near anything. It's not even on the way to someplace. It's up IN the mountains ... not along side, or at the base of, or with a mountain in the distance. God spread some of the Alleghenies apart and plopped the town down right there. Well it's old enough that it could have been done that way. It is a wide spot between mountains, with only 2-lane mountain roads to access it.

Exhibit 1 ... a 2-lane mountain road. The mountain has actually been carved away some in this spot, otherwise it would likely be a 1-line mountain road. And that would be fine until some fool came around the curve in said mountain road going the wrong way.

And to your right ... we'll call this Exhibit 2, alongside a 2-lane mountain road. Please forgive me the power lines. Would that I had the PhotoShop skills to get rid of them. It's a picture, isn't it? This is a small slice of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River which eons and millenia ago forged its way between the mountains and likely helped create the wide spot that became the town.

These two, above, were taken from my aunt's house. Now, this is not the town proper. This is what in more urban areas would be referred to as the 'burbs. See the stone bridge in the left hand picture? It crosses one of many cricks (we don't call them creeks in these parts, that's flatlander talk) that trickle down from the mountains. Up in the hills these little communities are referred to as "runs." This one is known as Brewery Run, and my mother assures me that way back in history there was in fact a brewery somewhere up the road. Back in those same eons and millenia that created the river these various cricks were likely much deeper and wider. Deep and wide enough to carve out enough flat land for a few houses and a road.

My father grew up in a neighboring community, in fact just up the main road, one creek over from this one, called Drury's Run. I have no idea who Drury was. Dad's community was slightly larger (read wider) and boasted a small general store when I was a kid. It was complete with a front porch and glass fronted counter for storing penny candy. Considering how many kids pressed their hands and noses up against that glass, it amazes me that they were able to keep it clean. It's gone now. Some years back, when I was still a kid, Hurricane Agnes hit these mountains pretty hard, flooding the river and the creekbeds. Some of the houses were high enough or far enough back from the flow to survive. The store - and the owners lived above it - was I think too close to the mountain and, already really old and run down, suffered too much damage to remain livable. But I've still got the memory of creaky old floor boards and lighting just not quite bright enough. And penny candy.

I took all these pictures on a recent weekend trip when mom and I went up to "visit" family. And it feels, oddly, much like a visit. My uncle, my mom's older brother (that's both of them to your left) kept referring to the lanes between as roads and alleys. As in, "Now so and so is just up this road. Go past here and make a left at this alley."

Now the whole idea of visiting cemeteries can sound a bit morbid, I admit. But you have to admit that if you have to have a final resting place, you can't beat these views.


me said...

My grandfather said "crick" when referring to creeks. He was from Philly.

Beauitful. I drive through those mountains, or some like them, when I visit my family in Philly.

Robin said...

Beautiful resting place. Even the pictures give peace and comfort.