What’s Happening in Obscurity?

Ohio River1WEb

Deep In the Woods

Editor’s Note:  I touched on this is a previous post: “In the Big Cities There’s Really Only One Game in Town, and It’s Out of Town”.   (https://schn00dles.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/from-the-editors-perch-111/)

I write, eat, sleep, read, and pee…  while the Ohio river flows past, a couple of blocks away.  Parkersburg is across the bridge.  From there the hills and hollows of West Virginia stretchto the East.  The Hatfields and McCoys fought not so many hours drive through the woods to the South.  And the nearest cities of any appreciable size – for example Pittsburg, Wheeling or Columbus – are two or three hours of woodsy scenery away also.

Marietta flower2  Porch2

We are very much a part of American History here.  The template for Westward Expansion began just up river in Marietta, gateway to the Northwest Territories.   At the end of my street is a historical marker denoting the location of a major stopover on the Underground Railway for slaves being snuck across river from what was then the slave state of Virginia.  The end of the street also boasts a museum, which is open a few hours/week.  Like mine, the flipside to a lot of small towns around the Mid-Ohio Valley which post signs boasting of their history, is that there is nothing happening presently.  I mean, it’s still.

All of which suites me fine.  Gridlocked Congress?  Could a rational citizen ask for more?   Lackluster economy?  Today’s gonna be pretty much like tomorrow.  Lack of intellectual inquiry?   Leaves me time to set on the porch.  And the mail still runs.  I  can download movies.  The store is only a few blocks away.  And I can argue with whomever I please about whatever I please on the internet all I want.     Marietta flower

Currently we folk in Belpre, Ohio kind of mosey about in obscurity.  Which, as the culture heats up, has become not a bad place to be.  As a recent article in the Atlantic points out, the densely populated liberal urban areas with their higher housing costs and taxes are squeezing out the middle class.  The income gap liberals so bemoan, is widening there.  And it makes me suspect  if  perhaps they (the liberals) don’t “protest too much”.  But I’m not protesting at all.  Because in these small towns a low income person can still live in a fine neighborhood, as can someone of middle income.  We are not as segregated as the larger metropolises.   Two blocks to the northeast of me is a trailer court.  Two blocks to the south, old, stately homes along the river.  There are abandoned homes here and there, but even the abandoned homeowners mow their yards.  Go figure.

Here, in the Mid Ohio Valley, the neighborhood is quiet at night.  No burglar bars.  People sit on their porches.  They smile and wave.  And they leave the light on for you.  The worst you hear is a car driving past which rattles or rumbles a bit, driven by a smoker with her druggie husband and the tattooed kid.  (Hey!  Just joking… almost.)   The bars are few and the churches many.  The ideology which drives the big cities wafts through and pulls a few away.  The rest remain, satisfied to assemble their own meaning from experience and personal reflection.  “The poor will always be with you,” seems an established and accepted biblical truism – and like as not, they are with you right next door.  So you’re not going to forget them.  Still, they keep their lawn mowed, as I’ve said, and mind their own business.Porch1

There are certainly a raft of what my city friends would call problems: poverty, low wages, lack of jobs, obesity, poorly educated populace, few opportunities, and voting Republican… the list could go on and on.  But it’s a liberals list.   The employment here is predominantly tort and personal injury law, the government, pensioners, burgeoning medical facilities and funeral homes… all feeding off of the chemical plants up and down the river, and the old coal and gas industry with its expanded fracking activities.  But from a local conservative’s point of view, the problems are that the ‘country’s going to hell’ while they’re happy to be here.  Life is real.  It hasn’t got half of itself lopped off and run through a governmental re-education grinder (sometimes called colleges)… until it is some kind of torpid, characterless, whining mass of metaphysical complaints kept alive by press coverage and a solution of haphazard entitlements and benefits.  My neighbor’s home is slowly falling down around his ears because he’s lazy.  But he’s honest and ethical and isn’t asking me for anything, and we get along fine.  He’s pretty much how human beings are built… when they’re run right, and left to their own devices.  As am I.

Photos by Carl Nelson

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