Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 2013 Message from the Guildmaster

January 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Message from the Guildmaster

Happy New Year!

As I sit and write, I glance outside our upstairs window at the mountainside before me. Winter brings a special beauty to the mountains of Virginia. Often noted for their blue color, this time of year imparts a purplish cast that I cannot help but think of as somehow more striking than usual. The early settlers named these mountains for their color, and I suppose their first glance may have occurred in a warmer season. With the leaves gone, the stark ridges, valleys, and features stand out in detail not seen in the spring and summer.

Years back, my grandfather often commented that I would see lights at night all over our mountainside. He had grown up here in the early 1900’s and witnessed many changes in our area through his long life. He saw the invention and proliferation of the automobile, among many other “modern miracles.”  A competent and proud driver, he piloted the first school bus in Amherst County in the 1920’s, ferrying students of all ages in a  green  Model T Ford truck with wooden seats facing out on each side of its body, and side curtains to keep out inclement weather. Often the bus would stick in the mud, and he would enlist the help of his young male passengers to help free it from the mire on our rutted back country roads.  Tow trucks were just not available in those times.

He clearly foresaw the spread of our population and its encroachment into the less settled and developed areas of our countryside. Last week, to celebrate the new year, a couple of good friends drove with us to the top of our mountain at night. At 2900 feet of elevation, the mountain top offers a view of Lynchburg and surrounding areas that few folks witness. I had not been there for a few years at night, and was stunned by the number of lights and corresponding sprawl that we witnessed. As I stood and thought about what I was seeing, I could not help but think back to earlier times that I have witnessed in our county.

A suppose I really miss the simpler times of my youth. Going to a restaurant, and having a meal “out” was a special occasion that happened only several times a year. Talking on the phone was not necessarily an everyday occurrence, nor was driving. Other than my father going to work every day, it was not uncommon to pass several days before the need to drive somewhere occurred.  My mother cooked our meals at home. McDonalds did not make its presence known in our area until later in the 1970’s. TV was a privilege that came a couple of times a week, not every waking moment. At that time, our TV got one channel, far away in Richmond.  Home computers, smart phones and tablets were not even imaginable to most of our population.

As our ancestors explored and settled our vast country, I wonder how many of them could imagine the spread and growth of our population and its corresponding impact on our natural resources? I expect that some were able to see the inevitable expansion of  cities since these areas attracted immigrants  with their comparative wealth and accessible resources. Thomas Jefferson was noted for his visions regarding our country’s growth. Jefferson believed that our country would eventually mature and grow as a largely agrarian society.  He did not foresee the growth of urban areas where the inhabitants were completely reliant on outside resources for their daily existence.

All of this has led to an unimaginable level of material consumption for much of our population. Our citizens rely on the products of others, not on their ability to care for themselves. For the coming year, as responsible presenters of past times, we should  reflect on our own lives and the impact we have on our  land.  We only get one world to live in, and we can help educate others about responsible use of it. My grandfather was right; there are now a large number of house lights on the mountainside each night after dark. I think our elders deserve a lot more credit than they receive.

Thank you,
Jeff Bibb

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