Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Stranger in My Homeland
My sister lives in the township of Pocopson outside of Philadelphia. It's a small country community between the much more famous Chadds Ford (home of the Wyeth family) and and the world renown Longwood Gardens. Pocopson has no town, only a post office, and yet some of the farms date back to the 1700s. Sunday was the annual Founders' Day Celebration complete with music, pony rides, food, petting zoo, contests, booths selling local items, hayrides...you get the drift. This is the kind of slice-of-life event I love.
I stopped by on my way to visit my parents hoping to find some fun things to take to my mother. Sure enough, a local farm wife was selling little pumpkins and colorful gourds, and another booth offered honey and honey candy. I had my camera and as I moved from booth to booth purchasing their wares, donating to animal rescue organizations and admiring community projects, I took pictures. It wasn't until I got to the last table lined with raffle baskets and tried to engaged the young woman in conversation that I realized I was no longer a Yankee. My friendly questions made her uncomfortable and she wanted me to buy my tickets and go my way. I couldn't help but be disappointed.
Unlike a Texas town fair, nobody asked me where I was from or how I found my way to their little bit of heaven. No one suggested I check out the petting zoo, try the hamburgers or told me the history of the township or its Founders. The few words required to accomplish a transaction ("I don't have any bags.") or a curt "Thanks" for a donation weren't meant to be rude, but I sorely missed the invitation to adopt one of the puppies playing in a pen or just a "Hi, how are you?" that's the standard greeting everywhere in the South. It was a lovely celebration, I'm sure, and the locals certainly had a grand time. But I was an outsider, however, and sorely missed the warm and cheery welcome of the small towns of Texas.