Monday, March 01, 2010
Where I live...Geography
Boring way to start, but really, it's the star of the show. The county I live in is over 400 square miles and there are less than 2,300 people here. That's roughly five people per square mile. So when people swear that the world is over-populated, we're pretty hard to persuade. Yet we're less than four hours from the nation's capital.

The whole county is mountainous. From the east you enter our county at the top of a mountain, and you leave it the same way to the west, six mountains later. I have to cross four mountains to head to the valley where most of the serious commerce is done. The closest real grocery store is thirty miles to the north, across the state line. And even that's an IGA. It's sixty miles, over the mountains, to the nearest Walmart.

It's beautiful. People visit here and fall in love. They make plans to retire here. Some want to raise their kids here. If peace, tranquility, closeness to nature, and bright stars in the night sky are your cup of tea then this place is for you. Before I ever had a hint I would live here I passed through and found what I still believe is the most beautiful five mile drive I've ever seen. Nineteen years later I still feel the same way, and love to drive through there as much as I ever did.

With all this elbow room it's pretty common to have only one neighbor in sight from your house, or none. So unless you live in town you don't easily bump into your neighbors. Still, most or our neighbors are the kind you like to have. For as long as I can remember our neighbor across the road and up from us has mowed the grass down along the highway from his house to ours. No reason on earth to do that other than to give us a safe sight-line when we pull out into the road. He's also been the one plowing us out this winter. M's had to force jars of canned tenderloin on him because he won't take our money.

The county is criss-crossed by two main highways, which anywhere else would be secondary roads. We live on the third priority road in the county. Everything else is side roads, none with center lines. Thankfully our snow removal teams are awesome. When the conditions are crappy you just pray you can make to our county line because from there you know you'll be better off.

Our county boast the highest mean elevation east of the Mississippi. We're like nowhere else in the South. Weather forecasts rarely get it right for us because of our high elevation. The summer evenings are cool here and the winter is bitter-ass cold. Climate-wise life here is not for the faint of heart.

We have one town of about 300 people and two smaller villages. And half a hamlet, as M calls it.

So now I've established the setting: mountainous, remote, isolated, harsh, and breathtakingly beautiful.