An Outsider’s Guide to East Ohio

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I titled this blog “Buckeyes and Babies,” not only to document my adjustment to motherhood, but also my adjustment to living in Ohio. You see, we live in a very special niche of the Ohio Valley. Close enough to Pittsburgh (30 minutes) to make us honorary Pittsburghers, but loyal enough to the Buckeye state that we still bleed crimson and gray (OSU colors). There are a number of unspoken traditions here that I, as an outsider, have been able to take note of. They’ve helped me appreciate this area and its eccentricities.

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#1 We decorate all year – Every house I’ve been in (that belongs to a native Ohioan,) has a tiny “Christmas” tree that is left up all year, sporting different decorations for each holiday. If you’re a really dedicated Ohioan who takes pride in their home, then you don’t just decorate for the bigger holidays (ex. Easter) you decorate for Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s too. And not just a little tree, no– if you really take pride in your property, you also decorate your mantle and doorway with festive lights and adornments.

Speaking about pride of ownership…

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#2 We take our landscaping seriously – It can be hard to find beauty in the steel mill cities that line the Ohio River, so we create our own. Vegetable gardens, fountains, flower beds, and perennials… I’ve never experienced a community of people who put so much work into their yards before. Also, residents here don’t just have beautiful landscaping, they have a spotlight on every tree, walkway, and bush so that you know they have nice landscaping. Day or night, you will appreciate the man made beauty of East Ohio residents. Back in California, I never thought twice about landscaping.  Why put effort into a garden when you could be at the beach? (Not to mention there probably wasn’t enough water to maintain a garden with the seasonal droughts.) We’d just throw a few palm trees in the yard and call it a day. I mean, our state flower is a weed for goodness’ sake. That should highlight to you what Californians think about landscaping.

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#3 Our seasons rock – Yes, some times we have to create beauty, but there are a few moments when we don’t. Winter sucks, I won’t lie to you… and I’ve heard we get about as much sunshine here as they do in Seattle, but when the seasons change it is absolutely stunning. Rolling hills covered in fall colors, or in the spring, daintily adorned with small buds and wild flowers are not moments to be missed.

#4 Buckeyes are the best – And the term “buckeye” can refer  to a multitude of things: the OSU mascot, our state tree, the actual buckeye nut (left), the cookie (right), etc. Personally, I think the cookies are what’s “best.” Even though every one calls it a cookie, it’s really just a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. While we’re talking about cookies…

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#5 Cookie tables – I’ve been told that this tradition actually started in the city of Pittsburgh and just spread within a 50 mile radius. Either way, its a tradition here! During the great depression, people couldn’t afford wedding cakes, so family and close friends to the bride and groom would bring various cookies for people to eat for dessert at the wedding reception. Now, friends and family make cookies for the bride and groom as a show of love and support. To not have a cookie table is to insult the generosity of your kinsmen (no body will explicitly admit it, but trust me — it’s true.)

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#6 Cold Cheese Pizza – This is more of a pet peeve for me, but it is some thing that is also unique to our area. Cooked pizza dough, cooked pizza sauce… with the cheese and pepperoni sprinkled on AFTER. That’s right, cold raw cheese and meats on your warm bread and sauce. Don’t ask me why, I just chalk it up to a valley quirk, but some people actually crave this square pizza.

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#7 “Yinz” – Another Pittsburgh tradition sneaking its way into the valley, “yinz” simply refers to a group of people.

Those are the most common Ohio Valley quirks I could think up. Are you surprised by what made the list?

 

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