Sunday, June 15, 2008
This is Virginia
This is the Virginia I never knew about when I moved here 16 years ago. Choosing to move here and go to school without ever having set foot in the state, I envisioned tree covered mountains and the beach, but didn't know much at all about what lay in between, especially the wide-ranging network of rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay.
As an outsider coming in, this appeared to be a world all to itself, a whole separate and unique culture, similar to the coastline in North and South Carolina, but the presence of the Bay making it singular and special, it's own place. And the disparity between the have's and the have not's, wider, more apparent.
Here waterman earn their living, and city people have their summer homes. Jet skis and large boats fly by trees that have fallen in on houses and remain that way. Here the water is brackish and tidal, blue crabs are revered and the water and nature itself respected.
I learned what a paper mill smells like, how dried salt feels on your skin and in your hair, and that fish named croaker make sounds like burping frogs. I learned about Tangier Island, the sulfur-smell of gray river mud and red-right-returning.
Today's spur of the moment trip to Croaker, Virginia started as something fun to do with Dad on Father's Day, but became an adventure, and another file in the children's mental memory books. They found crabs, saw blobs of jellyfish washed ashore and reeled in fish. But the favorite of each was the discovery of their own "private" island.
For Kevin and I, each time we head east and go to the water, we wonder why we live so far from it. We feel strangely as if we belong here, like we've come home, and for a midwestern girl that's an odd and surprising discovery.