Slept in until 7:45, which is pretty late for us. Neither of got much sleep on the mushy bed, despite the cottage we’re staying in being well appointed otherwise. In the morning we drove a steep, rutted road to the top of a little mountain on the edge of town and hiked a short ways before heading back into town and strolling through the farmers market. Hubby can’t resist the opportunity to buy alpaca wool socks and I couldn’t resist the urge to buy local maple syrup mixed with sap from walnut trees. After stashing our stash back at the car, we wandered up and down the streets, in and out of shops and secret public gardens. We found a hobby shop that carried his favorite brand of puzzle, White Mountain, and ended up buying seven. His logic: “We saved money because they’re two dollars cheaper here than online, and we don’t have to pay postage.” My logic, “You don’t save money by spending it.” But, it is his birthday weekend, and these will also serve as Christmas presents. We stashed our stash back at the car, and wandered some more before ending up a Chicano Boy for some outstanding taco samplers.
Later, Hubby went back to the this morning’s mountain while I rode my bike around town, passing some interesting yard decorations, including fake skeletons of dead rock stars displayed across the street from the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (maybe that’s how the homeowner got away with it?). The town is full of large, old homes dating to the 19th century, and in some cases the eighteenth century. Many of them are kept up and gorgeous; others are rundown or abandoned all together. Staunton is an old industrial and mill town, and the railroad played a huge role both pre and post-Civil War. Trains still run through, including Amtrak passenger trains.
In the evening we drove to neighboring Waynesboro to walk along the South River Trail. The place is another industrial town and the first location in the world to produce the textile Lycra, a DuPont creation. From the early twentieth century into the 1960s and beyond, DuPont factories cranked out other acrylic and synthetic textiles (Rayon, Orlon, Nomex) in Waynesboro. Many of the industrial works are now shuttered but they town does still produce these textiles. It makes me sad to see closed and decaying buildings, although who knows what kind of pollutants they pumped into the nearby river. I got to thinking about what it would take to revitalize the old buildings into something different: affordable housing, education centers, shops, distilleries, clean industries of some kind. Maybe even a data center or two (they are way too highly concentrated in the N. VA area). Counting myself lucky that I grew up in a thriving community and live in a thriving community with plenty of work opportunities; wondering what I and others can do to motivate the rehabilitation of other not-so-lucky communities.