Salem, Virginia, August 2017

Roanoke College.

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College Lutheran Church.

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I keep telling people on my native Long Island how hilly it is in Southwest Virginia.  Depending on where you live, you might need to walk up or down just to visit your nextdoor neighbor.  It seems like nothing to people who raised here.  But it can feel utterly strange at first to anyone who grew up in a region that is almost uniformly flat.

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Two more pictures of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Summer 2017

The first is a terrible picture, of course; it was taken from a moving car.  I’m sharing it here anyway, because I still like the effect of the backlit entrance to the Confederate Cemetery at dusk.

The second photo is of houses on Amelia Street.

 

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Summer thunderstorm, Salem, Virginia, 2017 (2)

These were taken from a moving car — my friends and I were headed for dinner in Salem.  As I’ve explained before, I have a weird thing about blurry pictures taken from a moving vehicle.  And the foreboding and colorless quality of these shots makes them extra trippy.

The disembodied black blurs that you see are actually trees close to the roadway; I thought the effect was pretty damned cool — especially in that last shot.  The second-to-last shot would be great to accompany a haunted house story.

 

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“To speak of atrocious crime in mild language is treason to virtue.”

That’s Edmund Burke speaking, or at least we think it is — the statement was attributed to him by John Stevens Cabot Abbott in 1876.  It seems relevant with an eye towards Donald Trump’s apparent equivocation about the neo-nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

There are two other Burke quotes that might spring to mind, too, after this past weekend’s alt-right rally and the murder of a 32-year-old counter-protestor, Heather Heyer.

The first is one I grew up hearing from my father, although today I discovered that it, too, may be apocryphal: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  (I’ve read that there is no primary source citing Burke as the speaker here; he may have been paraphrasing John Stuart Mill.)

But Burke definitely penned a similar sentiment: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

 

NPG 655; Edmund Burke studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds

The buzz around Roanoke.

This is a terrible picture, but … you see those tall, dark shapes ascending from the high, bare branches like grotesque, upright fruit?  Those would be buzzards.

Or … turkey vultures.  To be honest, I don’t know if there is any difference between turkey vultures and buzzards.  I’m from New York.

 

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“Roanoke Summer Midnight,” by Eric Robert Nolan

“Roanoke Summer Midnight”

Its midnight moon is newly minted coin —
a white-hot silver obol
forged in burning phosphorus.
The crisping clouds around it blacken.

Its silhouetted mountains
are great blue gods at slumber
the faded-haze azure horizon’s
giants in the dim.

Those slopes have known a billion bones of hares
that raced upon them other midnights, then,
pausing, one by one,
drawing up their downy legs at last to final sleep.

Where the Shenandoahs’ driving
beryl falls to black,
aquamarine to onyx,
lay legions of hares — generations resting.
There are the hills where ivory
rabbits sleep among gods.

Ahead and under moonlight
the curving rural road obscures its end.
At right, an intersecting well-lit modern block
confuses the curling topography.
The fresh and symmetrical asphalt’s angle
mars the winding thoroughfare with order:
a ninety-degree anachronism.

That new and perfect subdivision
affronts the corner’s antebellum chimney,
broken down to stones and overrun in lavender
— its lilac colors driven plum by sunset.
That last century’s smokestack
was itself effrontery once
to the formless places where natives stayed
their only edifice the stars,
their only currency the blinding coin of moon.

Eyeing, then, the summits’ crowning cobalt
driving down in royal blue to coal,
I hope to one day take my rest
there, in the darkening indigo,
alongside giants,
among white rabbits in myriad easy stillness,

to pause myself at last and sleep beneath
what meadows stretch in cerulean dark,
where hares will race like moon-kissed silver,
or comets of darting pearl.

(c) Eric Robert Nolan 2017

 

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Photo credit: By Jessie Eastland (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons