These mysterious words were uttered by a relative the day before we entered Pennsylvania, and at the time they were funny. Now I will take them in a rather more serious light, after having taken a slight excursion into a small place called Loganton, PA. Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone passing down 1-80 do the same–getting tired and hungry for lunch and needing to stop somewhere, venture off the freeway and down a little road for miles until you are in a strangely timeless little valley. . .DON’T DO IT. Why? Well, either because you are a jerk outsider who will find it boring and probably somehow ruin the serenity to of that little town by merely being there, or because, like ourselves, you are a jerk outsider who will be tempted to stay. Forever.
Slowly passing a buggy pulled by a sweaty chestnut horse on the main road, or, as we sat parked by a creek eating lunch, giving a nod hello to another buggy’s driver passing us, his bay horse crunching along on the gravel at a steady, quick trot– strange memories. For someone who hates cars in general (for a myriad of reasons), and enjoys horses in general (for another myriad of reasons), these are images which will be indelibly burned into my brain.
The long lines of laundry drying in the sun. The well-tended chickens roaming about in their yard outside; the young beef cows peering mournfully from the shadows of a huge grey barn as we walked by. The milk cows out on the pasture, bony and baggy all at once. The thin young man, maybe 15 years old, hitching up two massive belgian horses to a large flatbed wagon and driving them across the yard as he stands over them on the drivers platform–like some character from a myth. Two tons of animal placid under his hands, their very size and the size of the wagon making him look more childlike. And the quiet of it all.
There were other people besides the Amish Logantonians, ordinary people with their lawn-mowing tractors and kitschy yard decorations, and they were very nice too and said hello and smiled at us. One women was out front of her house with some children. They were homeschoolers, like us, and we stood around and talked for a while. They showed us a baby bird they had found (and which Ci promptly tried to eat), and their big, fat, floppy-eared rabbit (which Ci could not reach, but probably would have tried to eat too), and their smaller dwarf rabbit (which Ci did not notice for some reason, perhaps invloving their ginormous golden retriever, who had waddled over to bark loudly at us from the other side of the fence). There was a “glue factory” there too, which smelled nasty, and a wood mill which smelled nicely of pine and oak. There was a small store where we bought sticky fly tape for the van, having been invaded by a small swarm as we ate our lunch. Most of the gravel parking area was shadowed by a sign over a wide hitching post, which read, “NO CARS. Horses only”.
We took a long walk into the countryside, ate our lunch, and left in the midst of a sudden gulleywashing thunderstorm. It was short. By the time we were back to the 1-80 it was almost over and the sun was illuminating each drop of water like a spray of diamonds. It felt wrong to leave, but not quite right to stay either. New York lay close before us.