Searching through my work to find photos appropriate for last Thursday’s post (which was hard enough to write—then to learn I’ve no photographs of hearts or other appropriate items!), all sorts of other semi-forgotten photographs I’ve taken of course came across my radar. These I owe to our GPS, which often takes us into really interesting and utterly unexpected areas, since we unfailingly check off “Avoid Highways” before setting out.
One of our more memorable “Where is this thing taking us?!” such journeys was a return trip from Virginia, one that brought us through the humbling, often heart-stopping glory of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I couldn’t help but wonder what both of these places looked like in their heyday, the old shopfront especially. It must have buzzed with business in the ’10s and ’20s, perhaps even selling milk from cows stabled in the farm up the road. And of course that handsome home in the first photograph; the incongruous indignity of the two-story porch addition that hardly seems to fit its architecture is simultaneously buffered and sharpened by the pedestrian sight of cattle grazing amongst the scrub not far from the house (which is almost surely abandoned, considering its state).
The smaller house slightly behind it, more charming than grand but no less fascinating for that, looked long empty as well. Both left us with many questions.
This vision appeared out of the mountain mists that day like a character from a legend, surprising and even mildly awe-inspiring. Until this moment, I wrote,
Some of the homes were what we’d see anywhere, on a suburban street or the Ohio countryside. Well kept, with flowers out front, others with trash strewn about, dirty curtains peeking from the windows. Some were house trailers, others barns, the last remnants of a garage or long, long-gone country store recognizable only by what was left of the sign on the ground.
To then come upon what had been, once upon a time, “quite a place”, shreds of her dignity still clinging to her, was startling indeed, making the experience even more memorable, requiring my gathering a digital memory of it. I donned a raincoat to protect my clothes and popped up through the sunroof with my pocket camera; a final glimpse, and we continued on.