Dawn on the Susquehanna

The Susquehanna River and the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge

As I waited for a cafe to open I took a stroll this morning along the lovely Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, the capitol of Pennsylvania. Philly has two rivers, the Delaware and the Schuylkill, but both are badly polluted. This one reminded me of the Mississippi, by my grandparents’ house. Around seven a.m., I ventured over to the cafe, but apparently it’s closed this week for remodeling.

I’ve realized that many small towns in this state, and probably elsewhere, don’t have any cafes, let alone places with free wi-fi access. A cosmopolitan luxury I guess. The local meeting spots tend to be family-owned diners where coffee is drunk, shop is talked and the waitresses call everyone ‘honey.’

When I ask locals, ‘Is there a coffee shop around here,’ I’m given directions to Dunkin’ Donuts or the nearest gas station.

Even here in Harrisburg, cafes are hard to come by. I eventually found one, run by a funky midwestern woman named Pat. She is leaving town soon. Hates Harrisburg. Brought here by marriage. Now divorced. I watched her meltdown as the participants from the pro-gun rally swarmed her shop. “These people give me heart burn,” she told me later. “They don’t understand good coffee.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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