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Middletown is a wonderful place to live: Look at all it has to offer

Posted 11/15/16

I love to walk! Especially in the morning before most people are out of bed. That’s one of the reasons I love that I’m living in Middletown. 

I think some of my love of walking came from the times I’ve lived in Europe with my family, …

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Middletown is a wonderful place to live: Look at all it has to offer

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I love to walk! Especially in the morning before most people are out of bed. That’s one of the reasons I love that I’m living in Middletown. 

I think some of my love of walking came from the times I’ve lived in Europe with my family, first in Switzerland with my husband, then later with my whole family, then in France for several summers. Most of the time we didn’t have a car, so we walked a lot and used trains and buses to get around to further-flung places or to bring back the groceries from the store. That’s a part of the world that knows about public transportation!

My husband and I moved here in July 2015 when I took a job at Penn State Harrisburg as the associate dean of research and outreach and professor of biology. It’s a job that has me working with faculty to help them support their research and scholarship in all kinds of subjects. I love my job.

When we were looking for a place to buy a house, we looked all over Harrisburg, in Lower Paxton and in Middletown. Where we came from in Binghamton, New York, we lived in a part of town with lots of sidewalks and parks where we could walk and where we were close to the schools were my daughters attended (five minutes to the elementary, 10 to middle school and 15 to high school — nice increase in their walking time as their legs got bigger). 

Midtown in Harrisburg had sidewalks and some interesting restaurants, the Midtown Scholar bookstore and the Midtown Cinema. Bellevue Park and Lower Paxton had areas with some sidewalks and lovely parks. It was in Middletown that we found all that and banks, grocery stores, the library and the post office within walking distance. And then I could walk to work, too. So we found a house on Spring Street that we love. 

The other really cool thing for us is to have an Amtrak train station within walking distance. I’ve used it to go to Philadelphia twice already and once to visit my family in Massachusetts. I’ll go to New York City this month to attend a meeting across from the United Nations headquarters. My husband has also used the train to go to New York once to meet with friends and do some business.

Now my mornings start at about 5:45 a.m. with a 2-mile walk while I listen to NPR news and “Morning Edition.” I usually walk down Union Street under the railroad bridge and all the way out to the Swatara Creek boat landing. In the summer, I’d often say good morning to the ducks before continuing my loop up and around past the ball field, the water treatment plant and the laundromat on Wood Street. 

Sometimes I walk to Giant to pick up a few items for breakfast or lunch. For that, I prefer to walk along Water Street rather than Main and then loop back via Adelia and Emaus streets. For the most part, the streets are well lit, so I’m not having too hard of a time stepping over the uneven pavement from the trees pushing up against the concrete.

In October, I loved seeing Halloween decorations grow up out of yards and front porches. You take this quite seriously, much more so than any town I’ve lived in before. Last year, my husband and I were driving back from the Giant at the end of October and started seeing crowds of families and kids on the sidewalk. We realized we were driving up the parade route and had to ask a policeman to let us out through one of the barriers. We won’t make that mistake again. In fact this year, I walked with a friend’s kids to watch the parade and enjoyed the spectacle from the sidewalk.

Since we’ve lived here, we have been able to walk to the Brownstone for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to Alfred’s for dinner and to Kuppy’s once for breakfast with the retirees from Penn State. It’s been great to use the new walkways along Union, giving a real nice feeling to the downtown. 

We’ve also seen two new places open up on our walking circuit, namely Tattered Flag and the Hopyard. We’re not real beer drinkers, so we haven’t made it a point to go, though we look forward to welcoming friends or meeting neighbors at both places. I also have some ideas I look forward to sharing with you about fun things we could do around town, so stay tuned!

As you can tell, I like to walk, although I’m usually alone when I do that. What I like to do with others for exercise is dancing, and not just any kind, specifically both English Country dancing and Contradancing. The first is the type of dancing Jane Austen did and is represented in several of the movies about her books like “Pride and Prejudice.”  Contradancing is a more modern type of English Country dancing with moves like you have in square dancing like do-si-do and allemande (remember your French?).  Both are low impact, done with all ages and usually with live music.  There’s someone teaching the dances for everyone and prompting you as the dance progresses. It’s great fun and something I do with my whole family.

The cool thing about our house in Middletown is we have a large living room with lovely wood floors that are wonderful for dancing. In fact, that’s the main reason I let my husband get the house when it was bigger than the one we left in Binghamton (I know it’s not logical for empty nesters). So we are hosting an English Country dance at our house this Saturday, Nov. 19, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. We’re at 207 N. Spring St. and would love to have you. If this day doesn’t work for you (maybe you’re traveling or in the midst of buying up things for Thanksgiving), you’ll get another chance Dec. 10 during the holiday open house. I’ll tell you more about our house before then.

Thank you for having such a nice town to walk in and I look forward to meeting some of you at our house for dancing or on my walks. Maybe not at 5:45 a.m. on a Monday morning. ;-)

Susannah Gal is associate dean of research and outreach and a professor of biology at Penn State Harrisburg. She has lived around the world and made Middletown her home in July 2015. She can be reached at susannahgal1000@gmail.com.

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