Please forgive me if I am a tad hard to understand this morning. I find that I am writing with a southern accent today, probably because I’ve been in West Virginia visiting Sheepdog’s parents all weekend. Y’all just please bear with me.
Sheepdog grew up in a small town in the middle of West Virginia. And by “small” I mean population of 406, but that’s only if you include the greater metropolitan area. They have a fire station, a park, a car wash, a laundromat (which – until recently – was called the “laundermat”), a church, a Dairy Store, a Dairy Mart, a Dairy King (not to be confused with Dairy Queen), and an elementary school. There were less than 50 kids in his graduating class. It is a town that has very nice people who take tremendous pride in their families, their town and their state. Oh, and a few of them root for the Mountaineers.
His parents live in a beautiful stone house at the top of the hill on Main Street. It is the same house that Sheepdog lived in from the time that he was less than a year old until he went off to college. Sheepdog’s mom is an obsessive viewer of the HGTV and her house is always beautifully decorated, re-decorated and eventually re-re-decorated. She also keeps their yard (which is a farm-like two acres) meticulously maintained, with beautiful landscapes, vegetable gardens and lush flower beds. Sheepdog’s dad is a retired power lineman (with the resultant Popeye-like forearms) who keeps busy working on the ever-evolving Honey-Do lists that his wife continues to produce. They’ve been married for 46 years and they haven’t killed each other yet.
Our trip up here this summer ended up sandwiched between two things that could not be changed on our family schedule. We left Atlanta at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning and drove through the Blue Ridge mountains in the fog and rain to get here. It has been raining hard every night since we arrived. We have to be back in Atlanta by tomorrow afternoon, so our original plan to hit the road at 3 a.m. on Tuesday was thwarted by the potential for middle-of-the-night fog in the mountains. I don’t know about you, but driving along a highway that was literally built on the side of a mountain in the pitch black dark of the early morning combined with dense fog that does not allow you to see much of anything – neither the side of the mountain nor the 18-wheelers that continue to drive over 70 m.p.h. no matter the weather – does not sound appealing to me. So we’re pulling out this afternoon, just a little bit earlier than we planned, and hoping that the elusive sunshine holds out.
We’ve been making the most of our short but sweet visit by simply spending time together. We got to see Sheepdog’s sister, her husband, her two kids and their new puppy, Mabel, on Saturday night at dinner. We hung out with the neighbors (who are as good as family) last night. And we’ve been visiting with Sheepdog’s parents (“Grandma” and “Grandpa” for almost 16 years… we are not switching to “Me-Maw” and “Pa-Paw” even though that’s what their other grandkids call them now) every waking moment. It has been a really nice, relaxing trip.
My favorite part so far was when Grandpa offered to let Kid A (who just finished driving school) drive the tractor around the property. She was very cautious and hesitant because she was following every rule applicable to driving a car on the road. I think she even had her permit in her pocket. But she had all of this beautiful land to drive and drive and drive until her heart was content. She probably gained more confidence driving that tractor around their property for thirty minutes than she has driving my truck around an empty parking lot for hours.
And that’s just one of the many great things about small towns and Country Roads…
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue ridge mountains
Shenandoah river –
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin’ like a breeze
– “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver, 1971
“It’s always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it. To remember where you come from is part of where you’re going.” – Anthony Burgess
Y’all wish me luck for tomorrow…