Malia's first letter home
Hello, Max and Ben!
(And Elaine, of course.)
It's beautiful here! The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, and it's 67 degrees Fahrenheit right now (at 2 pm). Everything is green and hilly. This area used to be all coal towns, and in fact the very first underground coal mine in the United States was just about 5 miles from the B&B. There's a group of people who have been working for several years to put a museum there, but the museum's not open yet. In nearby Scranton, PA, though, there's a big coal mining museum, where you can even go down in a coal mine. I can't wait to go! They stopped mining here in the 1960's, but you can still see how the industry shaped the culture here.
For example, the houses are packed in pretty close together, and tall rather than wide. Then they usually have big backyards. Between the places where the houses are, there are often miles of unspoiled woods. This is partly because in the old days, the miners had to walk to work. Also, most mining families rented rooms to single men who worked in the mines. So, most of the houses (except the really new ones) are divided up so that one family occupies part of a house.
The house the B&B is in is like this. The family that runs it (and they're really nice!) lives in the biggest part, which occupies two floors and half the house. They also have the attic, and access to the basement, which used to be two stores but is now just storage. (The hills are so steep that the basement has front doors right up against the street, but at the back of the house the door to the B&B is also at ground level.) Next to them, on the first floor, lives a very old lady who has been in her apartment for more than 30 years. She used to garden and do lots of other things, but now she can't leave her apartment. There's another apartment on top of hers, with its door on the back balcony (did I mention there's a big balcony on the front and the back?), but the guy who lived there moved out.
I'll write more later. Bye now!