I recently visited my home town for a week. I grew up in a tiny little town in a rural county. The town sits on a river feeding into the Chesapeake Bay and tourists come flocking in every weekend. People whose families have been there for generations originated from the Appalachians, and at least part of the hillbilly culture has been passed down to present day. It’s odd, this little pocket of Appalachia in Maryland. If you leave the county on either side, it is like a different part of the country. It has been diluted quite a bit as people from out of state have moved in and the town has grown but that core is still intact. There are some very negative attitudes and behaviors that were passed down as well as the good, and with those things I was always at odds. About some things, that demographic behaves as if it were 1950 or so.
The forests are mixed deciduous with a wide variety of plants and animals. There are beech, hickory, oak, paw paw, cherry, sassafras, and on and on. In parts of the forest, terrestrial orchids and clubmosses grown in profusion, and in others ginseng, bloodroot and dogtooth violet grow by the streams. It is a gorgeous green place and I spent my life exploring the woods and everything within them. When I was a little girl, the woods was my safe place, where I would go to hide, and it is where I always was able to find peace. I felt like just another forest creature. The perfume of the forest was something I took for granted until I moved away. As you pass the farms, the smell of green growing corn and of sun-warmed fields of grasses and wildflowers fills the air. There are Amish farms and produce stands, and the Amish themselves have almost a holy status to the rest of us. They are highly regarded and no one minds if their horse and buggies are slowing traffic. Blue chicory flowers alongside the road with rose milkweed and black eyed susans.
In the summer it’s regularly in the 90s, and in the winter it gets to single digits. We have all four seasons and each is distinct. Every fourth of July, each tiny little town in the county has its own fireworks, and every year we go to see them. My town sets them off on the river, while the next town over has them in the park. They are often on separate days so you can go to both. People have cook outs and set off little fireworks in their yards and outside of town limits, the Appalachian descendents fire their guns. The same is done on New Year’s Eve, but with more guns. 🙂
The attitudes and beliefs of the people was the thing I had issues with. There is open racism, homophobia and ignorance. The people live in a beautiful place but don’t appreciate the beauty or wildlife. I wish I could have the friendliness of the people in my new home in the location of my old.
I started writing this because R is going home to MD. She’s homesick, and I do understand that. I’m homesick too. However, she would be better off staying here long enough to go to university, and it would do her good to make new friends here. She would have done that at college, but she’s decided she’s going home. I told her she’ll never have another opportunity like this, and I fear that she won’t go to college at all. I will miss her dreadfully… it has been wonderful having her here. She gives me someone to talk to and do things with and she helps with things I am unable to do so that I didn’t have to ask Brian. We’ve been sorting out her medical problems and got her in therapy. We got her all set up for college and she has everything she needed or wanted, except for her family. She misses her dad and brother and aunt and grandmother. She misses her friends. She misses Maryland in general, but she is thinking short term. In the long run I think she will be worse for going home. She needs someone to challenge her to do things and to grow out of her comfort zone. That’s painful I know, but it’s what’s good for her in the long run. Treating her like a child and not pushing her to do anything is going to be less stress I guess, but then she will never reach her full potential. There’s nothing I can do about it though. Who listens when they’re eighteen? I know I didn’t, even if I had had someone like myself trying to help. I never had a person like that, but I wish I did.