Vultures of Culture

‘Mature’ sorority sisters travel around the Pennsylvania region to devour culture and the great outdoors. From Philly's Museum of Art and the rockin' Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth to bike trips in God’s Country up north, we tour and taste, sightsee and sample, learn, lunch and laugh. Just a bunch of old birds? Not us!

Month: May, 2012

Inn With Nature

Going for the Ahhhhh

I’m in the Pennsylvania Wilds staying at The Nature Inn, a small eco-lodge tucked into the foothills across from Bald Eagle Mountain in Center County, where the forests are thick, the mountains are high and endless and the valleys are Happy–as in Happy Valley/Penn State. The campus is some 20 miles away. There’s sure to be hustle and bustle there tonight, but I want none of it.  I’m a culture vulture on the fly with my husband, who grew up nearby, and we’re here for a family reunion and a major dose of R&R.

We look for any excuse to come back to The Nature Inn. This is our third visit in one year’s time, and we never tire of the greenness and the bounty of natural beauty. The expansive lobby windows, back porch, downstairs patio–and half of the Inn’s rooms–give visitors “the view” that invites you to sit and never leave. Below the Inn’s patio stretches a meadow rich with native grasses and plants that gives way to the lake, the Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, and then the mountain. It’s a birdwatching haven. It’s a haven, period, even if you don’t cast an eye to the skies to spot bald eagles. This place offers peace, a place to kick back, or if you’re like me, to kick up on a sturdy porch rail.

So what do you do here? You can boat, fish, swim, kayak, grill, picnic or walk along the butterfly trail. Me? I specialize in coming here to do nothing. Yes, I will walk, but I prefer to dominate a porch chair with diet cola and reading material in hand and just gaze. Take some photos. Read. Gaze again.

And I’m very good at this slothfulness. So imagine my delight today while reading the Wall Street Journal. Turns out that soaking up nature is actually good for our brains. Here’s what staffer Jonah Lehrer reports:

“According to the latest research,  untamed landscapes have a restorative effect, calming our frazzled nerves and refreshing our cortex. After a brief exposure to the outdoors, people are more creative, happier and better able to focus. If there were a pill that delivered these same results, we’d all be popping it.”

S E E? All of my nothing is everything! But enough for now. This view is smacking me in the face, and no computer screen can match it. The birds are singing, the water is shimmering, and my brain, turns out,  is at the spa. Ahhhhhhh.

The Vultures Up Close

The first thing you’ve got to understand about the vultures is that we don’t take all this culture stuff too seriously. First and foremost, we like to laugh. Sure, we love the highbrow exhibits and displays and tours, but the time we share catching up, trading stories, finding adventure–that’s what counts.

We call ourselves vultures for a simple reason. It rhymes. With culture. One of the vulture husbands coined the phrase–we had previously called ourselves the very mundane “Women of Culture”–and we’ve never looked back. Or took offense. It’s just too amusing for middle-aged women to name ourselves after hunched and haggard-looking birds that mate for life, have great eyesight and eat wounded or already dead animals. Vultures of Culture. That’s us.

And who are we, up close? Moving left to right along the photo above:

Amy, communications expert and hostess extraordinaire for pool and cabin parties; Linda, blogger, reader, trip researcher; Wendy, soon to be retired math teacher and kayaking queen who got us all hooked; Pat, phenomenal cook, oenophile, voracious reader; Kim, style queen and HGTV wannabe, and Donna, Martha Stewart disciple who gets every project right.

This photo was taken in the back of a Philadelphia Museum of Art shuttle bus–doesn’t everyone love a photo op in one? We had just viewed the sumptuous Van Gogh exhibit and were on our way to the museum’s Perelman building for more sightseeing. The photographer was the multi-talented shuttle bus driver, Bobby. Kudos to him for the portrait. Only problem is that one of the vultures was missing. Not pictured–culture vulture Amy O, art major and Colorado-based computer exec who is the high priestess of travel and carpe diem lifestyle. You’ll see her eventually, as you will other vultures who fly in and join the group when possible.

So stay tuned. The next vulture-ama will be in early June as we return to Mansfield (Tioga County) for alumni reunion activities. We’ll be rolling along Pine Creek on the rails-to-trails path, considered one of the top places to bike in the country! After our ride we’ll return to campus for a nature photography workshop, no doubt the scene of an artisic breakthrough  for a few of us who own, but don’t know how to use, our fabulous digital cameras.