We were in the car for an hour, mostly stuck in traffic, inching along the highway behind a gleaming white BMW with Jersey plates. We could see the outline of the driver and assumed, more than surmised, that she was the daughter of some sleazy New Jersey shore lord who’d been given the Beamer for a high school graduation present. Traffic thinned slightly just north of Wilmington, and we made the Pennsylvania border, a few moments after the BMW and its pampered operator (whom we imagined with a 64 oz. Diet Coke in one hand and an iPhone in the other, based, in part, on the thoughtless weaving in front of us and, to be honest, on our previous experience with UD undergrads from New Jersey).

The roads were better once we were in Pennsylvania. We turned off the main high way and cut west on 30, towards Lancaster, half-expecting to see Amish buggies this far east. Then we headed north again, through a bosky countryside dotted with knots of colonial civilization, toward Phoenixville, our destination.


Squiggy would have eaten the fish if he’d gotten the chance, but the family came back just as he’d worked out how to get into the fish tank without the fish noticing. He hopped down from the table just as the father was turning the key in the back door, keys on the key ring jangling noisily, though barely audible above the din of those three chatty, touchy-feely girls. Squiggy didn’t care much for human contact and, given his druthers, he would have appreciated silence all the livelong day–except that he didn’t have the opposable thumbs necessary to operate a can opener. But if he could manage to get into the fish tank, he wouldn’t need the people for feeding, either.