Friday, May 1, 2009

Moving Day

Welcome to my new home on the internet. Whether you just stumbled on this blog, or have been directed here from my old blog, I am glad you found me. Why the move and change? Put it down to a strong sense of place.

My roots are Surry County, Virginia. My grandfather lived there, in an old, pre-Civil war farm house called Shady Grove, where he lived most of his adult life. He moved into the place as a sharecropper and at the time, the house was bereft of paint, and the yard and farm largely abandoned and wild. In time, long before I was born, he had worked hard enough that he could buy the house, forests and surrounding farmland. He earned a good living his whole life there on the farm, wrestled the yard into a thing of beauty, and painted and repaired the house into a stately, warm place to live.

Growing up, I spent part of my summers there, getting up early in the morning, feeding the hogs, working in the garden and sometimes hoeing peanuts in the summer sun. I spent many late afternoons and summer evenings drifting in a rowboat on the mill pond deep in the woods behind the house. That place, particularly the mill pond, came to represent home to me, and still sings of home and peace to me like no other spot on the earth. I found an acceptance and peace there that is buried in my DNA somehow.

I mostly grew up in Richmond, Virginia. Somehow, Richmond left less of an impression on me than my grandfather's farm, but some of it, particularly the tumble of rocks on the James River where the fall line breaks up the perfect smoothness of the broad river, still sings to me. As a teenager, the river was a long, long bike ride from my house. Today though, my sister lives on a bluff very near the James, and one of my favorite things to do is to walk down to the riverside and sit on a rock listening to the rushing water and feeling it on my feet as they dangle from one of the flat gray boulders.

Southwest Virginia has been my home for the past thirty one years. In that time I have come to love the place: the mountains with their valleys, trails and streams, the small towns with their old churches, antique shops, and sense of history; and most of all, I have grown to appreciate the warmhearted people I find everywhere here. It has become home for me.

What do all these places have in common? They are in Virginia. Virginia is my home. I define myself as a Virginian, and while aware of the flaws (we southerners are not all that, all the time, alas.) I love my state's heritage, history, beauty and people.

Yet, at nearly 54 years of age, having lived all my life in Virginia, I have decided to move to Vermont, to begin and become a Vermonter.

Love takes me there, but beyond love of a woman, I have fallen in love with Vermont and New England over the past year or so. Much of southern Vermont, where this very day I am closing on a house, reminds me of Southwest Virginia - tall green mountains, small towns and a palpable sense of place and community.

So moving to Vermont is not like moving to Bavaria or Timbuktu, but there are a lot of differences, and a lot of changes ahead. Many of those differences are part of what drew me to Vermont, and many I have yet to discover, for the discovery comes only with a sustained time in a place.

This blog is a place where I will write of some of them, a journal of change and exploration. And as I did with my former blog, I will continue to fill it with my photographs and poems as well.

So read on. Come again. I hope you learn a thing or two along with me, and enjoy sharing part of the journey.


PS - The photograph at the header of this blog is of a barn not far from my new home in West Pawlet, Vermont.

1 comment:

Leonora said...

Hi Tom!
It looks like you have some great explorations ahead of you in your new surroundings! I think we are drawn to certain landforms, some make us more comfortable than others. I'm sure I settled so comfortably into SW Virginia because it reminds me of upstate NY, where I grew up. Have fun uncovering the beauty of Vermont!