Saturday, September 27, 2014

In Hunt Country

I flew up to the western part of Virginia on Thursday. I was born in the Tidewater area but hold this part of the state in a special place in my memory too. During college I hiked through the mountains, rode horses, slept in pastures, and went to some great parties at some fine homes. 

I am particularly fond of the beauty of the foothills of the Blue Ridge in the fall.  Today and yesterday I drove along country roads where the leaves were changing. I saw hayfields being cut and others being raked for hay that is rolled into bales and covered with plastic. The fields are framed by black fences with the occasional rock borders. Vineyards dotted the countryside. It is breathtaking in an old colonial way that harkens to a time before there was urban sprawl. 

My parents brought me to some fine old Virginia schools when I was a child. We toured Washinton and Lee, the University of Virginia, and Hampton-Sydney. I marveled at Robert E. Lee's horse, Traveler, whose hide was stuffed and enclosed in a glass case at the Lee Museum on the campus of Washington and Lee. I looked at the recumbent statue of the old General himself. 

Later, I marveled at the incredible horses at some of the shows in Warrenton, Upperville, and Middleburg. I had crushes on several young horse women, and eventually made love for the first time near a lake on one of the farms in the area. We spent the entire weekend unclothed (or so it seemed),  snuggling under sleeping bags at night. It was a time of great exploration in many ways. 

So the area is filled with good memories. But nothing stays the same. Now some of the estates have been divided and developed with fake mansions in the hay fields. The main highways are lined with strip malls, fast food joints, hotels, and all the other evidence of modern times.  The great battlefields of the Civil War are surrounded by sprawl. I couldn't help but think of the many remains that still lie in old graves or in the woods and fields and under pavement in the area. I wonder what my great grandfather would think if he could see the battlefields now. Would he be horrified or enthralled at the changes?

Now I am at the airport waiting to fly home. Virginia was my home and will remain a home in my memory. But the island where I live is now where my heart lies with its estuaries and marshes, dense subtropic woodlands, and soft humid air. I am looking forward to seeing my love, my animals, and my land. 


  1. dude...i was at UVA today for the football time you are in my area let me know...we can grab coffee or something....i used to get similar feelings walking gettysburg....

  2. I live in Tidewater -- but love Charlottesville & UVA -- our daughter graduated from there in 2006,... and our son from Radford in 2009. Those trips to their schools were always so beautiful. It's true -- so much significant history for the U.S. happened in Virginia. I'm not originally from VA.,....but love living here now.

  3. Syd, very nice post.

    Funny you should mention wondering about what those that have gone before would think about our "progress". Would it be seen as a good change and see wonderment in our advances and stir a sadness that those places of peace and memory are gone?

    I have actually wondered about that for myself too. After I am gone would I be sad to see those places of my joy and memory be changed to the needs and whim of future generations?

    Change is inevitable.

  4. Lovely sojourn, Syd. Brought back memories, not only from my childhood in Tidewater but from my college years in Blacksburg. Bittersweet and beautiful.

  5. Modernization, urban sprawl, taking away our forest lands and building building building with not enough water to support the area....makes me sad. I like your early descriptions....current, not so much.

  6. Send me back t the Franklin county/Henry County area of Virginia and I would quietly stop living in the virtual world and gladly sit there watching the days pass as i rock them from my chair to power themselves onward to the next.

  7. It's a wonderful thing when you have a warm and loving home and family to come home to. I usually travel Rt 81 thru Virginia at least once a year on my way Norht and it always refreshes me.

  8. I really enjoy reading about your memories. Nostalgia is a lovely thing.


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