Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adventures in Small Town America

This past weekend my wife (Sara Jo) and I traveled to Tunkhannock, a small town of about two thousand people in Pennsylvania near(ish) to Scranton and Wilkes Barre. We’d never heard of before. Now that we’ve been there…we’ll absolutely be going back. The weekend turned out to be one of those genuine surprises that has come to define small town America.

I was invited there by Hildy Morgan (of PennWriters) to give a full day’s worth of writing workshops for folks in the area. The workshop was part of a larger event to support the planned expansion of the Dietrich Theater. The old theater is a marvel. Original built in 1936 and closed in the late ‘80’s, it was brought back to life in 1998 and since then has been continually refined so that it’s now an elegant movie house that shows a mix of films but with a nice bias toward art films. Last weekend they were cruising along with a movie marathon that included MAN ON A WIRE, AMERICAN TEEN, BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, MONGOL (one of my recent favorites), and TELL NO ONE –a French film based on a novel by my friend Harlan Coben (current President of the Mystery Writers of America). http://www.dietrichtheater.com/festival.asp

My wife and I were booked in at the Weeping Willow Bed and Breakfast, which has a view you won’t believe and true to its name, a massive weeping willow tree by the front drive that I first saw in the mist of early morning. Huge, green against the gray mist and the red barn, surrounded by flowers and with a cornfield rustling nearby. Pretty much a perfect image (even if you’re not a writer).

We dined at Seasons, a restaurant that is virtually unknown outside of Wyoming County and which can holds it own against anything in New York or Philadelphia. My wife is still talking about the pan-seared Pistachio Parmesan Encrusted Grouper; and I will go on record that the crab cakes at Seasons are second to none (and yes that includes the Jersey shore and the entire state of Delaware). The owner/chef Bruce Arrowood is a genius and the town wasn’t a three hour drive away we’d be there every night. No joke. www.seasonsdowntown.com

The group of writers to whom I spoke was terrific. Smart, focused, talented, and many of them are ready for that step into the pro leagues. They asked all the right questions and we had a blast!

Sara Jo and I feel like we stumbled into someplace magical, and we know we’ve made some real friends.

This Christmas we’ll be going back for their Christmas festival at the Dietrich and a big-screen showing of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Can’t wait!



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