Confessions of a Belle Out of Water

Allegheny RiverMy husband and I just celebrated our thirteenth anniversary, proof positive that a) opposites attract and b) opposites can maintain that attraction. He’s outgoing, athletic and spontaneous, while I love planning, can happily spend days on end in my writing cave, and my last attempt at athleticism is the reason why I’m currently typing this with a sling on one arm. He’s also a Northerner through and through, a man who can drive in snow, wears t-shirts when I’m wearing a parka, and is a proud member of the Steeler nation…if there was a membership card, you can bet he’d be carrying it!

And me? Well, I’m a Southern gal, born and bred in Virginia. Not the mountains of Virginia, though I’ve always loved them. Nope, I’m from the coast, a land of moderate temps most of the year, hot summers, and winters where snow is a rare thing and a snow day is a treat beyond all comparison. Last fall, after a lifetime spent on flat, snow-less land, I moved with my oh-so-Northern hubby to his home state…you guessed it…Pennsylvania. (It was the Steelers reference that gave it away, right?) Northwestern Pennsylvania, to be specific. The mountains. A place where the roads wind and curve and go up and down like roller coasters. Fun driving for a gal like me, yep…I keep telling myself that…from a city with nearly half a million people to a lovely hamlet with less than a thousand when hunting season’s not in.

I’m a belle out of water…a Southern belle transported from the surf and sand to the majesty of a glorious mountain range, beautiful rivers, and lush landscape. This transition hasn’t always been easy. Now that I’m settling in, I’ve decided to share some of my experiences with you.

The sun is shining today, and the temperature is forecast to reach the mid-sixties. Last week this time, it was snowing. On April 2, the snow was coming in squalls, as if Osteospermus - By Audrey from Central Pennsylvania, USA (OsteospermumsUploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commonsbuckets of the stuff had been dumped on the land. Now, it seems spring has arrived (actually, it showed up around last Thursday, just as I was mumbling that this winter will never end and I feel like I’m living in a snow globe) and I’m ready to get outdoors. My first winter here was an experience. And I’m happy to report I survived and actually enjoyed myself, like a bird that’s discovered a new forest in which to build its nest…the sling on my wing (oops, I mean arm) shows I’m a little worse for wear, but all in all, it was a good winter.

The sling? Oh, that’s simply validation that my fear of heights is a good thing, all in all. My foray into snow sports involving hills was less than successful, and from now on, flat ground will be my friend. I’m approaching spring with an eagerness to soak up all this lovely little town and the surrounding Pennsylvania Wilds has to offer, rocking my sling like a fashion accessory. I’m still a belle out of water, and I’ll be sharing that with you as spring and summer progress in my new little town.

Have you ever felt like a fish out of a water? What life changes have you embarked on that have transformed your existence? Leave a comment for a chance to win this week’s prize, a $5 Amazon gift card. A winner will be selected at random from those who leave comments on this week’s (April 8 – April 12) posts on Sunday, April 14. Please check back on Monday, April 15 to see if you’re the winner.

Image Credit: Osteospermus – By Audrey from Central Pennsylvania, USA (OsteospermumsUploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


19 thoughts on “Confessions of a Belle Out of Water

  1. like a bird that’s discovered a new forest in which to build its nest…the sling on my wing (oops, I mean arm)
    What kind of bird would that be? A titmouse? 😉

    I’d say I felt like a fish out of water the first time I came to Montreal. I’d lived in the suburbs (fairly rural ones–our back yard ended in a cornfield for a few years until the housing development behind us spread) most of my life and here I was getting ready to attend university in a downtown core. Oh, and the French I’d learned in high school? Was the Parisian variety. Let’s just say that there’s a slight difference in accent here, the way Cockney differs from a Texas drawl. But yeah, I adjusted.

  2. Hi Tara, great post. This winter lingered way too long, and I’m thrilled the warm weather is hitting your neck of the woods, as well as mine. Have I ever felt like a fish out of water? Oh, yes, many times. I can commiserate with you and winter sports. The first time I put skis on I couldn’t keep both feet pointed in the same direction. I just stood in one spot and tried to look fashionable, well, as fashionable as one can look wearing twelve layers of clothes.

    • Hi Renee,
      Yes, I’m so happy to see the sun. This winter wasn’t just cold…it was so gray! Just relentless cloud cover…the vampires in my book could have happily walked about at noon, the skies were so dismal.

      I wish I’d stuck to looking fashionable. I have a good picture of me on the skis that was taken the first time I went out on them. Should have stuck to striking a pose and never looked at a hill. My husband heard me saying (screaming, perhaps), “I’m going faster” right before I wiped out. Thank heavens it wasn’t my right arm (my writing hand).

    • I didn’t try sledding this year. I might get myself an Iron Man suit and try it next year…clumsy as I am, I’d need that much protection 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Abigail.

  3. Ah, the infamous titmouse 😉 Actually, right now, I think I’ll go with a blue jay, as my sling is blue and I must be coordinated 🙂

    I’m finding the language here is a little different than what I’m used to. Now, I’d grown accustomed to my husband saying “pop” instead of “soda”, and I’ve resisted any attempt to convert my “y’all” to “yinz”, but there are definite differences that call my ability to use context clues into play, especially with anything idiomatic. I can only imagine how much of a transition it was to go from textbook French to French as spoken by those who were raised on the language. I would be absolutely lost if I had to use my high school Spanish for anything other than translating a menu.

    Thanks for stopping by, Ashlyn!

  4. Loved you post. I’ve moved so much during my life and every three years I’d start to get itchy feet. So it was quite an adjustment to me to live in one place for a while, but I managed to through my family into a tizzy when I went to law school. My Green Beret hubby had to take care of our 8 year-old son and sit at a desk for a year. Then we moved overseas and I was happy to be doing what I did best, move. I never did get tired of Germany, but hubby retired and wanted to move to England. After two years, I sold the house and moved back to Germany, he followed. A few years later, he moved me to the States, that was not a fit. After three years of misery, I moved back to Germany, then when hubby didin’t want to retire from civil service in Europe, I found the retirement home in St Thomas. I don’t think I adjust well at all.

    • Hi Ella,
      I would love to visit Germany. I’ve never been a traveler, but that was not by choice, but by circumstance. Now that our nest is empty (yay!), I’m longing to see the world. You’ve had a fascinating variety of locales. St. Thomas sounds wonderful…I enjoy seeing your pictures on Facebook, and would love to be on that beach!

  5. Yes, opposite attracts! My husband and I have been married 27 years and still very much in love!
    Being the quiet one, I can spend a day in my cave reading, while he need to spend his energy, I call him my “social butterfly”. I always lived in a large city, but when we retired from work, we decided to move in the country. At first, I found it difficult, being away from my family and friends, but now I love the place so much I would not move elsewhere. My family and friends come to our home and say it is “zen” ..Happy anniversary!

    • Hi Nicole,
      I’m the same way…adjusting to small town, almost-rural life has been a challenge, but I really do love it. We now live among the beautiful recreation areas (lakes, rivers, and forest) that we used to drive hours to get to, and we have a bit of a drive to the city, but that has forced me to plan and become more organized, which is a good thing. It is quiet and peaceful here, and I really am loving it.

      Oh, you have a social butterfly, too! My hubby can meet someone in the line at the grocery store and swap life stories by the time the checkout is finished. So different from me 🙂 But it works!

  6. So sorry about your arm! Dare I ask which winter sport this was? And does it seem odd that a week later, there’s no trace left that winter was here? 🙂

    Thirteen years ago this October, I moved from NYC to the Philadelphia suburbs because, as I told a Philly-based friend, I loved how clean the air smelled. He laughed and told all his friends, who also laughed. Let’s face it, I grew up a few miles from the Fresh Kills landfill. Anything smells better.

    In 13 years, a week hasn’t passed that I don’t appreciate where I am now. I turn a corner and see all the way to Center City. I climb a hill and can see halfway to Allentown. Just yesterday I discovered places in a local park I’ve never seen before, and I can’t wait to go back there today with a camera. The day I drove down here in my minivan (I typoed “minican”; how appropriate!) with my friend in the moving truck behind me, I honestly felt like I was coming home. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t leave if an opportunity came up, but it would have to be the right opportunity. I’ve learned to embrace change instead of fearing it. Like a spooky movie, change is frightening but you’ll live through it. You always do.

    • Hi Carla,
      I broke my arm cross-country skiing…I’d gone down a hill, navigated a curve, and then, wiped out when I tried to slow down. No more hills for me! I have a fear of heights for a reason 🙂

      My hubby lived in Philly for a few years when he was stationed there with the Navy. He loved it. I really want to tour the city. I’ll let you know if I ever get over to that part of the state.

      I’m with you about the snow disappearing so abruptly…last week this time, we were having snow squalls…yesterday, I went for a walk in a tee shirt. It’s like we’ve skipped spring and headed straight to summer.

  7. I had lived in the same house my entire life until DH and I married. Then he went into the military and we moved 1500 miles away from everyone on the earth I knew. That, in itself, changed so much in my life and my marriage. I did miss friends and family, but dh and I learned to depend on only each other…great for our marriage.

    • My, what a transition. I know what you mean about the closeness developing when you’re on your own. That’s happened up here, too. It is a change, but a good one!

  8. Hi Tara. I too lived on the shores of Virginia for many years. Then my husband took a job in a rural part of northern Virginia. Talk about feeling like a Belle out of her element! It’s been six years since we moved here and I’m only just now starting to feel like I’m at home.

    Nah. Not really. Virginia Beach will always be home, but this place is my home away from paradise. 🙂

    • Mary, it’s such a great coincidence that we both lived in Virginia Beach. I really do love the beach, and I’m so thankful I have family down there…always have a wonderful excuse to visit!

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