During the late sixties when my wife and I decided to take a vacation we always went to West Virginia. Patti was born in Elkins and most of her family still lived there, so going “down home” was inexpensive, as well as a guaranteed, joyful holiday for the both of us.
Once we left NE Ohio and headed south the scenery morphed from industrial ugliness to lovely farms, pastures, and tree covered hills. A few miles south of the state line the landscape changed yet again, this time it became hilly and far more interesting than the flatland we’d left behind.
The deeper we drove into ‘Mountains Momma’ the more beautiful she became. Her roads got windier, her hills higher and her valleys deeper, her forests thicker and her waterways faster and cleaner looking. The 480 million years old Appalachian mountains are a wonderland of awesomeness for anybody who loves nature . . .
To get to Grandma White’s farm we had to drive through the small college town of Elkins and beyond into the countryside for a piece. Turning off the main road, a narrow lane led back to the old farmhouse that looked pretty much the same as all the other farms dotting the area.
Grandma White was always waiting for us and always had an empty bedroom in her home for us to sleep in, but she never treated us like guests. Once there, we were family, and we moved about the house just as if we lived there, nothing fancy, no big deal . . . I loved the old lady for being that way.
Both Grandma and Grandma White worked for the local creamery. They would rise early in the morning and travel the backroads to isolated farms in the county and pick up the cream from their cows.
I went with Grandpa a few time while I was there to help them out and check out the back country scenery. I can only say that in all the places I had been to that point in my life, nowhere compared to the beauty of West Virginia.
I wonder what it looks like back there now. I haven’t been back since the seventies and from what I have been reading I think it would be a great shock to my system to see five hundred or so mountains skinned down like the Sunday rabbit and shining in the dust shrouded sun. I can only imagine how long Grandma White’s prayers would be these days if she was here to witness this catastrophe being caused by corporate greed and government neglect.
I guess the coal companies finally got their way when Bush got in office and dropped all the environmental nonsense that was barring them from their constant and wanton destruction of all that I hold dear about West Virginia.
I can only reminisce today what the long drive and hike to the top of one of those mountains was like . . . cause I sure as all hell don’t want to see them now.