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Tapping to Western Pennsylvania By Kayla Mae Anderson December 2010 (DANCE) Most of us own houses with at least four acres of land. The mortgage is paid because that is the first priority. (STOMP, STOP DANCING) Barrow from no one. (DIFFERENT DANCE) We grow our own food. Silver Queen corn, Mr. Stripey Tomatoes, Sugar-Snap peas, all nourished with local manure. Fact: You can keep most pests out of the garden if you wrangle some rat snakes to relocate to your garden. Rabbits, mice and birds will disappear. Fact: (STOMP, STOP TAPPING) If you do wrestle a rat snake, grab her where the spine meets the skull. Look her in the eyes and tell her shhhh. She’ll stop struggling. (DIFFERENT DANCE) In Western Pennsylvania, we take care of our own problems. Like when raccoons are stealing from the trash, Jeff Muehlman slings his Buffalo Classic over his shoulder and perches himself on the lawn chair parallel to the garbage cans. Around that time when the sky is simultaneously pink and gray. (STOMP, STOP TAPPING) He does not have to wait long. 1


(DANCE) In Western Pennsylvania, we never go hungry because squirrels and white tail deer thrive. Fact: I know how to preserve meat so that it will keep for 4 months. (STOMP; BUFFALO) In Western Pennsylvania, we are spanked with the flat of the palm, belt, or wooden spoon, ranked in that order, depending on how serious the offense See that time my mom pulled my pants down in the middle of Toys R’ Us because I was throwing a fit about some toy I wanted but have since forgotten. But the shame of that public flogging is unforgettable. The Toys R’ Us incident was probably belt worthy, but fortunate for me, mom wasn’t wearing one that day. (DIFFERENT DANCE) In Western Pennsylvania, when it snows, we plow the drive way, sidewalk, and our section of the street. We do not waste local tax dollars on something a plow attachment for the front of an All Terrain Vehicle can solve. Every morning at 5:30, from Thanksgiving to Easter, I wake to dad’s chipped metal snow shovel scraping the finishing touches into his freshly plowed domain. I pull on my swishy hot-pink snow pants to help. When I help, dad makes eggs for breakfast.

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(STOMP; STOP DANCING) In Western Pennsylvania, we pull our own weight. (DANCE) In Western Pennsylvania, every mother knows to make her child’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit. The last costume my mom ever made for me was of Hermione Granger. It was a periwinkle robe lined in pink satin with silver stars along the hood and sleeves. My wand is an oak branch that Andy Buckley shaves to perfection with his pocket knife. We are a do-it-yourself kind of people. Barrow from no one. (STOMP; DIFFERENT DANCE) In Western Pennsylvania, we: Build fires three stories tall Run around barefoot between the deciduous trees, gathering acorns, and chasing raccoons away with pointed sticks We climb the Appalachian Mountains so that we may roast marshmallows atop her sunset licked peaks (STOMP; DANCE) I haven’t been back since last summer. But every once in awhile, it is nice to check in. 3


Tapping to Western Pennsylvania