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What We're Used To
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Winter has moved in on us. Temperatures are falling to the single digits at night, ensuring that the half foot of snow we had last week won't be going anywhere soon. The car is ice-locked so Mary and I have begun to dine on our winter stores. I suppose the squirrels outside must be doing the same, not that I've seen any. It's too cold even for squirrels to be out. How would you like to try racing out through bare, wind blown tree limbs when it's twelve degrees?

I'm not particularly fond of the countryside in winter but I'm used to it. I never did become acclimated to New York City when I went to school there back in the stone tablet days. (Or what seems like that long ago) We all cope best with what's familiar to us. The hayseeds touring New York City appear foolish to the locals but so do the city slickers visiting the scenic sticks.

Years ago I was hiking in a Pennsylvania state park on a trail with gorgeous views, seven miles along a series of waterfalls. It's a strenuous walk, mostly uphill on narrow paths, little more than muddy ruts, made treacherous by mossy stones and slick roots. One of the waterfalls is higher than Niagara, albeit a mere ribbon of water. The landscape remains wild. I saw several red spotted newts on the wet rocks at the pathside.

About two thirds of the way to the end I passed a woman who was obviously out of her element. She was dressed more for a stroll down Fifth Avenue than a hiking trail. She was wearing some sort of dress shoes instead of hiking boots, not quite high heels but close. She was limping along wearily and as I went by she asked, "How far to the end?"

"Oh," I said probably less than two miles."

She looked at me uncomprehendingly for a moment then asked in a petulant tone, "Yes. But I mean, how many blocks?"

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