Come Play with us here
They say you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl, but I was born in the north, to very proudly northern parents (My father really wished he could live in Maine, rather than Massachusetts where we actually lived)I’m not sure what that means to me but when I was 18, nearly 19, I came to southwest Virginia & for the first time in my life I really felt like I was home.
1. Spring starts in late February here in VA, It starts, if you’re lucky, in mid April in MA.
2. Being in the country, everything is so much fresher, when I go to my local grocery store, I know they cut the meat right off the cow out back, and in the case of the store closest to my house I can drive around back & look at it if I should want to (I don’t usually do so though, we were looking for boxes when we saw this corpse, bottom left of the picture) In MA, the only places with truly fresh veggies & fruits are charging an arm & a leg for them.
3. Along with fresh meat, we have lots of fresh produce, from the guy who sells fresh strawberries & blueberries out of the back of his truck in the super dollar parking lot to the farmers who sell to the grocery store direct, to the veggies we plant & harvest out of our own garden & the raspberries we pick up on the side of a mountain, there are always fresh vegetables & fruits in season. Yes, in some areas in MA, people have gardens, my father’s sister & one of my mother’s sisters in law always had great gardens, but I don’t have the sort of financial wherewithal to be able to afford that sort of land up in MA.
4. Everybody waves. When I drive to work in the morning everyone coming in the opposite direction (entering the county as opposed to exiting it as I am) lifts their finger off the steering wheel to acknowledge my similar wave while I’m driving. If you drive down a back road (something the kids & I love to do, just exploring to see where the road goes) people working in their yards or relaxing on their porches will always lift a hand as you drive by, we do the same at home when we sit on the porch in the morning sun, or in the evening shade in summer. Contrast that with losing (you read that, having stolen) 3 separate car stereos in 3 years in MA between 1994 & 1997.
5. When we first moved back to VA dedicated-ly (the ex & I had moved here in 1993 but only stayed 18 months or so & then went back to MA until 1997) we lived up on a mountain, 8 miles from the nearest store, 20 miles from the center of town. Off & on I was a stay at home mom during the next 3 years & sometimes it felt like I never came down off the mountain. To go to a convenience store where about 25 people are congregated & feel overwhelmed by all those people is an odd experience for someone who’s lived in large suburbs & medium sized cities most of their life.
6. In the summer you can just drive down by the river, park & swim. There’s not a “no trespassing” sign in sight. Of course, there are no lifeguards & you’ve got to keep an eye on your kids & an eye out for snakes, otherwise it’s a great way to spend a free afternoon. And unlike the pond I grew up swimming near, there are no charges to swim & no mean kids to pick fights with or bully your kids.
7. Winter doesn’t begin to really set in until late November/early December, just in time for me to be willing to deal with it because of Christmas coming. I can’t count the number of years we’ve been doing trick or treating in t-shirts & where the kids’ costumes were too hot here in VA, in MA we didn’t have trick or treating because it was deemed to be too dangerous & everyone was worried about kids getting kidnapped & molested or fed angel dust in pixie sticks & all those other urban legends that they say now weren’t true.
8. Everywhere I go, whether it’s to work, the grocery store or to take our trash to the communal dumpster sites all over the county there is always a beautiful view to take in, in any weather, any time of day & even at night the stars up in the clear, less light polluted air are something to behold. In MA, well there’s highways, cars & people everywhere, that’s not to say there isn’t beauty there too, but I like my beauty rural is all.
9. It is not at all unusual to see 5-10 people in the grocery store who we know, just yesterday the kids & I were on our way in to the store & encountered my ex-mother in law who reminded me I still need to come collect the kids’ Christmas gifts because I had been too tired & overwhelmed with work to go visit on Christmas eve like we were supposed to. Then we ran into mr 9’s preschool teacher, 2 of ms 12’s school friends & their separate parents & 3 people I worked with at a local factory back in 1998 & 1999.
10. Everyone takes things in stride, during our afore mentioned 3+ year hiatus in MA no one noticed we were gone, when we came back (we had a very noticeable car, a mustang with a large white stripe down the hood & another one on the tail) many people we hadn’t seen in 3 years thought it was just that we’d had the mustang off the road & had been around the county in other cars all that time!
11. People here are friendly in general, one time when I was in MA before the ex & I got together, I was planning to move here to VA by myself with ms 19 (who was less than a year old at the time) I called information to get a phone number for a local real estate office to try to start looking for a place to rent in advance, information gave me the wrong number, the person I called in error had me hold on the phone while they looked up the number I needed & actually gave me another number of someone they knew personally who rented houses!
12. When I was here as a young, unencumbered (generally dumb) 18 & 19 year old I would hitchhike all over the place & I rarely had to wait for more than 1 car to pass before I had a ride.
13. One thing I noticed right away when I first came here in 1987 (and which was really brought home to me this week with all the snow we had) people here don’t drive well in the snow & even the plow truck drivers don’t plow the same (correct= MA, incorrect= VA) way. I have learned through scraped fenders, bent bumpers & a few long cold walks from the ditch to the nearest house, or closest location where I could get cell phone signal, that the VA way for dealing with snow here is the best way. That is the theory that “the good lord put the snow there & it’s best, if you can, to stay in your home where it’s warm until the good lord takes the snow away!”