We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"Everything had a thrifty look," wrote a Confederate soldier in the Shenandoah Valley in 1861. "The horses and cattle were fat and sleek; the large barns were overflowing with the gathered crops; the houses looked comfortable; and the fences were in splendid order. It was a truly a land of milk and honey."
Nature had indeed been kind to this verdant strip of land between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Its hot springs and magnificent scenery attracted travelers from as far away as Europe....
The Indians who lived in the Valley called it "Daughter of the Stars." And the prosperous settlers, many of them pacifist Mennonites and Dunkers from Pennsylvania and Maryland, considered themselves blessed.
These quiet, religious people worked diligently to improve their land. They crushed Valley limestone to build macadam roads and harnessed streams and rivers to generate power for machine shops, foundries, and textile and flour mills. Fields in the Valley produced wheat at nearly double the yields of farmland elsewhere in Virginia. There were no great plantations and few slaves, no conspicuously wealthy families and little poverty. The settlers of the Shenandoah Valley felt that theirs was a world apart, boundless in potential and stimulating to the human spirit.
The advent of the Civil War [sic] threatened to shatter this special world between the mountain barriers. The Shenandoah's strategic location and sheer abundance made it a military objective for both sides. Not only was the Valley a natural corridor between North and South, but its fields could feed armies. Forage was everywhere.
Soon the sound of cannon would echo from ridge to ridge as the Valley became a giant battlefield. "As the superb scenery opened before us," a Federal soldier wrote, " there was no foreshadowing of the terror, the desolation and death that were to follow."
-Clark, Champ (1988). The Civil War: Decoying the Yanks: Jackson's Valley Campaign. Richmond, Virginia: Time Life Books. Pages 8-9.
It truly is a gem of the east coast. Very few places like it. When you arrive there, it feels like time has slowed down. We've taken many drives through the Shenandoah and always thoroughly enjoyed. The scenery is always breathtaking regardless of the season.