Saturday, July 25, 2009

Learning along the way

I've had the picture and my song ready to go since early Saturday morning, but this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write something. Between playing tourist and taking care of business both on the construction project and everyday living, there has been little time for this. Today is different because Steve went to the property by himself to work on the garden shed, which I'm not much help at. We'll start clearing again tomorrow or Thursday, and the morning labor routine will begin again. We're almost finished with that job; now we have to get a tractor mower to stay ahead of Mother Nature, who appears to abhor an underbrush vacuum. When the shed is up, we'll have a place to store the mower. You know how it is, one thing leads to another....

The picture above is a closeup of the Roanoke River at Williamston, NC, about 40 miles south of here. As you drive south on US 17, you cross the river at that point on an enormous bridge, and you see what appears to be a complex of walkways. In the same proximity along the road are signs bringing your attention to the Roanoke River Wildlife Sanctuary. A stranger to these parts can be forgiven for putting two and two together and concluding that the walkways are part of a walking tour of the Sanctuary. At least, that was our conclusion, and we set out Saturday morning to take a trek and see some wildlife. Wrong. Turns out the walkways you see from the bridge are all there is; they don't "go" anywhere. They're just part of a small park. Interesting enough, for about 5 minutes. We drove into the town of Williamston itself to check out the tourism center. On this sunny summer Saturday, when tourists may be expected out and about, it was closed. Weekdays only, 9 to 5. What, one may reasonably ask, is the point?

We continued on to the town of Plymouth, whose name we had seen on road signs since we've lived here, and was intriguing. It's a harbor town, it has the same name of the more famous town in Massachusetts, and there might be something there to explore.

We discovered another barren little viilage, hanging on by a thread. We stopped for lunch in the only place that was open, the Plymouth Bakery and Café. The owner/hostess/waitress, an older woman, turned out to be a transplant from New Jersey who engaged us enthusiastically once she found out we were new to the area and from "the North." She asked us what we were interested in, and we said activities like antique stores, walking tours... she became a fount of information about out-of-the-way restored plantations and emporia. Plymouth is trying hard to rejuvenate itself, but like so many places we've seen in this depressed pocket of the state, it has been hit hard by the economic crash. People like us are bringing a little cash in, but it's a mere trickle at this point.

It wasn't my intention to write something depressing today, but this is what came out as I followed the words. We still like it here very much, but as is to be expected, we are discovering things we hadn't anticipated, such as these dormant local economies. In Edenton we find ourselves in a capsule of relative prosperity, and when we move, our little neighborhood will be the same. Our "big city" then will be Elizabeth City, and collectively we will be contributing to that economy by spending our retirement pensions there on restaurants and good grocery stores. Little by little.....


Linda - SE PA said...

Hi Ralph,

It seems to be one of life's interesting journey's... that being a relocation.

I found with my first minor relo - one county to another, that what I thought had "always" been there, was quite new (less than 10 years old) and still an irritant to the old-timers. Still-in-progress development became another surprise. Where I was had started the tear down-rebuild syndrome.

When I relo'd here to SE PA, real surprise came in as many farms became high density residential developments. And while it has slowed down some, it continues. We thought we were moving to a semi-rural area and realized we were moving right back into a similar suburbia that we had left.

So, it is with much consideration and thought, that we plan our next move. We base it on first, a few practical considerations and yes, there will be some surprises - some positive - some not so positive.

Yet, one positive I have learned is that when you enter the door of your home and close the door - the outside world can be shut off for awhile.

Ralph said...

You're right about closing the door, Linda, and that, ultimately, may be the secret. No matter where we find ourselves geographically, we are all like the Nautilus, traveling in our own homes.

I'm not sure any amount of research would have dissuaded us from coming here. We were ready to leave the pressures and impersonality of the city, and don't miss the place at all (friends, yes). We knew things would be different and were up for the change. So far, no disappointments on that score!

Anonymous said...

I like your post today Ralph. Even when you stumble upon a depressed area it's good to learn how people are coping. I was surprised that our slow down in tourism hasn't really impacted Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral etc., but go inland 10 miles and stores are boarded up. I thought that picture of the river was the muddy Mississippi. I was glad to read it's not in your backyard. Looks like some serious industry was once nearby. Hiking should be good there. I also remember the sand dunes in Kitty Hawk. Bring bottled water, please. Good post!