Yesterday, my sister Claudia and I went exploring through the area where she lives. While I love visiting cities and urban areas, (after all, I grew up on the outskirts of Manhattan,) I get my peace and sustenance from the rolling hills and beautiful landscapes that I enjoyed when I lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her family is about an hour outside of NYC, and very close to the Pennsylvania border and Buck's County, which is a delightful area we used to enjoy, growing up. We crossed the bridge over the Delaware river, and drove all along the old canal route.
Years ago, barges came along the canals, and they were helped along by mules. Today, what you see are the colorfully-painted mule statues, standing guard near those old canal towpaths.
And today, you're more likely to see people in canoes and inner tubes, relaxing in the cool Delaware river water, in efforts to ward off the intense heat. The little towns in the area are just so charming and quaint, and they're great about maintaining the historical remnants of the past: the old bric-a-brac buildings, the waterside, shops, and parks.
I always remind Claudia that she lives permanently in an area that many people drive miles to see. There really isn't any industry in this area, so it stays rural and lovely. New Jersey isn't that big a state, so people can commute to jobs elsewhere without much trouble. Claudia's fortunate that she has her own consulting company and she works from home, but her husband travels a little distance to work in nearby towns.
While it was scorching hot yesterday, I found myself thinking that it still wasn't as uncomfortable as it would have been in North Carolina, because it wasn't as muggy and humid as North Carolina gets.
Here's Claudia indulging me as I ask her to pose for me with a flag, at a restaurant along a canal. She's great--she never complains!
There are tons of little artsy buildings, B&B's, antique stores, beautiful consignment shops, galleries, ice cream shops, cafes, restaurants, and old-fashioned bookstores in the area.
Many aeons ago, when I was in high school, I was president of our French club, and I organized a trip for us all to New Hope, PA, very close to this area, and we went to a little restaurant called "Chez Odette." I remembered the name of it, because I also remember reading that that was where Jessica Savitch, the news anchor from years ago, was, for dinner, the night that her companion drove her car in the pouring rain into one of the canals, killing her.
We were also in the area where Pearl Buck, the author of The Good Earth, lived for some years on a beautiful farm. (See below) After browsing in the heat, we had to head inside again, and we had ice cream (again!) at a little shop in Lambertville, and then came back to her place to cool off.
We drove through the nearby town where Elizabeth Gilbert, (author of Eat, Pray, Love) lives as well.
Tucker didn't join us on our trip today, since it was so hot, and we wanted to be able to dodge into shops to cool off, so he cuddled up as soon as we returned, happy to see his family again.
I believe he's trying to tell me I'm in "his" favorite spot, here:
It's been great to be with my sister, just relaxing, talking, and eating. (But hey--I'm being good--I'm on weight watchers, remember!)
Here is some information about Pearl Buck. If you never read The Good Earth, you should!: