Monday, December 22, 2008


This year was one of transition for me. My husband was laid off from his job of 23 years last December, and I was laid off from mine of 24 years in August. He had always wanted to move back to Pennsylvania, where he was born and grew up, and I was more than glad to leave California. That is not to say that I don't love California - I lived there since I was five and got to know and love the subtle signs of the seasons there. But the economy there was not good, and I longed to go someplace where external trappings were not so important.

So, less than a week after my last day of work we had cleared out the townhome and gotten it ready to rent, got my car on a trailer behind Steve's truck with both packed with computers and other things we didn't trust to the movers, and were on the road across the country with no place to live and no jobs secured. Actually, he had had a series of very promising interviews, but no job offer yet.

We rented an extended stay apartment in Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, and Steve started his new job in September. I started seriously looking for a job, and ended up with two offers. I took the one that was closer, with fewer responsibilities and with less pay. We found a house to rent about two miles from each of our jobs, and moved at the beginning of October.

At the end of October, I started my new job in a hospital less than three miles from where we are living, which makes a nice commute. The hospital buildings surround "healing gardens" and the office I'm in looks out to one of the gardens.

The house we are renting is in the historic part of Langhorne, an historic borough about two miles from each of our jobs. The city was founded in 1680 at the crossing of two Indian paths, which are the current Maple Street and Bellevue Street. Our house was built in 1920, so it is one of the newer homes. Many of the houses have historic plaques with the date they were built. Homes go back to the 1800's, 1700's and a few from the 1600's. The architectural styles vary from stone colonials to Victorian, Edwardian and many others.

Ours is a Dutch Colonial, which means it is shaped like a barn, and is white with dark green trim. It is two stories, with an attic and a basement. Neither is finished, but they are good for storage. There are three bedrooms and a bath upstairs, and another bedroom and bath, the living room, dining room, kitchen, and an office downstairs. The closet space is limited, but we got an armoire to put in our bedroom so that I could unpack my clothes. We have a huge front yard with four large trees on the edges.

We had weather almost up to 70 degrees last week and today it is 17 for the high. We've had snow, sleet, freezing rain, wind and sunshine. The autumn leaves were beautiful, but are all gone now. We put out 35 bags of leaves last week, and still have maybe 10 bags to fill still.

Matilda, my cat, is quite happy. She has three beds to choose from, and lots of places to hide. She can sit by the front door and look out to keep track of what's going on outside. She got used to sleeping in her carrier when we drove across country. So that makes things easier at night. In fact, she will come and sit in front of us when she's ready for bed.

The borough of Langhorne is small, but very tight-knit. There is a coffee-house a block away that we walked to for breakfast on the weekends, but when the sidewalks are icy, we drive. They had a harvest festival, a scarecrow contest, and a tree-lighting ceremony with Dickensian carolers, free hot cider and chocolate. All of the houses are decorated for whatever the season is.

I absolutely love being here, where they don't regard trees as objects to be pruned into submission, and open space as a challenge for developers. When we came it was still summer, and the trees were lush and green and the air was thick and humid. Then autumn came with the breathtaking array of colors on the trees and carpeting the ground. And now, winter with its own austere beauty. The trees are stripped to their bones and the landscape seems to be in black and white only.

Bucks County, Pennsylvania is beautiful, historic, I feel close to nature, and I experience changes in weather and seasons. I feel happily at home.