I’m back in Seneca Rocks after almost a week in White Marsh, Maryland helping a friend who had back surgery. (Been there, done that, thought I might be able to help, I did…) It is SO GOOD to be home!
I was surprised to find that I slipped back into the endless strip malls, I-95 traffic, traffic lights (the nearest light is the single one in Franklin about 22 miles away), and pace of life as easily as I did. I was most surprised at how comfortable I felt in traffic. But, oh, how great it feels to have driven away from all of that, transitioning from a six-lane, straight, level, highway to a two-lane, winding, hilly, country road, past huge homes (I always think of the money it takes to simply install the window treatments in those houses) on small lots, rows of car dealerships both new and used, and from plenty of conveniences (yep, I admit that!) to self-sufficiency and DIY.
When I pulled into the home stretch, it was a relief to drop into the local convenience store (that closes by 8 usually) to inform the manager there that I was home. I’d told her I’d be gone before I left for Maryland; she and the gals at that store keep tabs on EVERYTHING in the immediate area. She even fed my cat while I was gone and took in two packages that had been left on the front deck/porch. I loved returning to my little two-bedroom trailer with its slightly sagging floors, back to all the old stuff adorning the walls (besides the paneling) and furnishing my rooms. Those antique and vintage items make me happy just to see them all.
While the plant nurseries in Maryland seemed to make my car veer slightly in their direction (I love gardening), I only went to two stores while there. One was Richardson’s, a big, family-run garden and produce store that is an attraction for like-minded folks in the White Marsh area. I picked up some moonflower and nasturtium seeds there, as well as munchies for the road. It was tough, but I had to turn down a lovely Virginia Tech-colored rocker priced at $299.00. Maybe when I win the lottery.
The other store I couldn’t resist was a Goodwill Super Store near Falston, MD. I love Goodwill stores – I find the neatest treasures there, at a price even I can afford! My latest finds: a “Whippit Cream and Egg Beater” manufactured by the Dura Metal Products Company of Chicago, Illinois. The company was founded in 1917 and I suspect my “new” Whippet is circa late 1920’s or early 1930’s, judging by the shape of the handle and its cream and dark green swirled paint. Fun find for fifty cents. Now to learn how to clean the metal. I also found a clear glass juicer with an interesting design. I really didn’t need it, I know (I have a green Depression glass juicer), but it was FILTHY and pretty and perfectly intact and needed a good cleaning and TLC so I HAD to adopt it and bring it home. Surely there are others out there who do something similar! It was a little more expensive than what I typically pay for Goodwill finds (the juicer was $3.00) but I’m glad I rescued it. Some good-hearted people rescue pets. I rescue SOME unloved old stuff. Just not to the extent that I used to. I like to keep to a friend’s creed – If I bring something into the house, I take something out of it.
Returning to the mountains after a week in the suburbs made me realize just how fortunate I am to have found this place that is perfect for me. Not having money in the suburbs was tough. (Single mom raising three young children – we were rolling in dough, though not the green stuff!) While I love DIY projects and finding my own fun, it’s a little hard watching neighbors build decks and fences and go on vacations and have season passes to Kings’ Dominion and buy bikes for their kids. Even if I’d HAD that cash available, I doubt I would have done anything similar, but having money gives a person choices. It’s a bit easier to say, “I repurposed the deck from the model home trailer for my own small deck” (which I did) when you have a choice to be “green” like that. I took my family to orchards and berry farms, then we canned fruit and made jam together. We went foraging for fossils in stone formations and took picnics to local parks even when it rained. For years, we kept a sharp eye out and finally found what we’d sought – picnic benches and a table set out for the trash at curbside. We had a very good time repairing and painting those treasures and our friends enjoyed using them at our cookouts. So much more fun than purchasing new ones – for me, anyway!
In the suburbs, that sort of stuff is not exactly the norm. At least it wasn’t when I was doing it, before Pinterest boards sung the merits of reusing wooden pallets and “repurposing” old crates. But here, in the mountains of West Virginia, repurposing and DIY has been the norm for generations. Here, things are repaired with what’s on hand, not tossed out. At least not when it’s still repairable. When you need something in the mountains, it’s not a 5-minute trip to Home Depot – the nearest Lowe’s is about 80 minutes away. You figure out how to make do and use what you have. No wonder my friend’s machine shed looks a like a disheveled hardware store. Necessity really IS the mother of invention!
I also love that home gardens are everywhere here. Folks use their smaller tractors to till the soil and level it for planting. I need to see how this garden thing is done, West Virginia style. I’m used to small gardens or tucking in radishes as a border to my flower beds in early spring. Here, potatoes are grown in gardens – please don’t laugh, I just think this is really unique. The soils I’ve had to work with have been either sandy or full of clay. In my last home, I had to use a pick just to plant marigolds! Potatoes would definitely NOT thrive in clay! I have three rhubarb plants growing in pots in the back of my trailer (oops – “manufactured home”). I’m eager to get to work in the soil! Pots of iris and daffodils and a couple of hyacinths from my friend’s grandmother’s old home – burned down about four years ago – will find a new home here, tended by yours truly. I have cuttings of lilac and forsythia, too, with a promise of transplanted peonies later this spring.
Yep, it’s great to be home. Really home. West Virginia home.