By Donna Rosser.
As someone who grew up, and spent most of my life, in the rural south, I take a romantic view of my homeplace. Visits home to Virginia are stark realities of the sprawl that encroaches on places of my youth. The rural south is disappearing just as rural communities are disappearing nationally. It seems if a town thrives; it grows. This growth invites more growth and the next thing that you know – you live in suburban Washington, DC, or Atlanta, GA, or Charlotte, NC.
A bookmobile parked in the dirt lot at the little local post office was my connection to a library – the main library in Fredericksburg. When we moved closer to the city, I spent summers cooling off inside that large (at the time and to me) “real” library. The post office where the bookmobile parked was a large open space inside separated by a wall with a large pass through opening. The postmistress (Miss Dorothy) would sort mail into boxes with names, not numbers. My grandmother would fill in for her on the days she could not be at the post office. Everyone knew not to park under the tree out front because that was where she scattered the birdseed to attract what, some days, seemed like every bird in the county. Today at this location is a very busy highway and a furniture store. Garrisonville is no longer a rural address. It is suburban DC.
Aunt Anna’s house was at the turn on the dirt road that took us to Grandma’s. The walkway to the house was a gorgeous selection of flat stones. All around her yard was a wire fence and inside were flower beds lined with rocks to separate them from the grass in the yard. In the springtime, the yard smelled thick of Lily of the Valley. Across the driveway from her house was a field where she could watch deer come and go. That field, a beautiful collection of wildflowers, is soon to be developed.
Many places of my youth exist only in my memories now. They also exist in the precious photographs saved from those times. SlowExposures means a lot to me because of this personal connection. The exhibit serves as a reminder to document our rural places, they may not be there for much longer.