The Red House on Morris Neck Road, 2012
This is the time of year I seem to find myself without anything I specifically want to photograph. I usually have all kinds of ways of generating random photo destinations. But sometimes even they fail to get me motivated. Faced with such a situation, the better me would pick someplace close by and just go there and see what I could find to photograph. But the lesser me sometimes seizes control and screams into my ear, “Let’s go waste some gasoline!”
That’s how, this past Sunday afternoon, I decided to make my semi-annual pilgrimage to the southern precincts of Virginia Beach. For those not from this area, I should mention that Virginia Beach covers almost five hundred square miles, extending southward along the Atlantic coast from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to the North Carolina border. About half of that area is land and the rest is water and tidal marsh. The northern part of the city where I live has the highest elevation above sea level—“elevation” being a relative term since unless you live atop a sand dune hardly anyone’s more than a dozen or so feet, at most, above sea level. The southern part of the city is mostly rural, flat and rarely more than a couple of feet about sea level.
Drum Point Road, 2012
Most of my Bonney ancestors came from that lower rural area. In fact, I’m part of the first generation of my family not to have lived at least some part of my youth in the country. (Which is no biggie, if you ask me, since those low country marshes are home to water snakes as big around as your arm.)
But I still go back from time to time to visit, even though almost all of the places where my ancestors lived are long gone. There are still Bonneys there, as well as Whitehursts and Ives and Ayres and some of the other old family names that show up in our family tree.
I know where the old wooden schoolhouse is that my grandfather attended as a child. The farmhouse where my great grandmother raised my father and uncle is still there. Down near the Carolina border they’ve never straightened out the dangerous bend in the road where my uncle once ran his car into a tree.
But even if I don’t see any of these Bonney touchstones when I travel the narrow country roads along Back Bay and Muddy Creek, or if I don’t stop by Charity Church to check out the headstones, there’s still enough unspoiled nature—and let’s not forgot those big water snakes—to draw the eye and remind me of how just being twenty-five miles away from my current home can seem like being in another age.
Closed for the Season, 2012