Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

(Surry Ferry from Historic Jamestowne)

When I first moved here in August of 2008, I immediately fell head over heels in love with this place.  There is not one thing I do not love about living here. Well, except maybe that huge spider that was waiting outside the garage door the other day. But other than him, I love this place. I immediately felt at home - like I belong to this area of the world from about Williamsburg down to central North Carolina.  I told every. single. person about it, too. Repeatedly. I am certain they probably grew weary of hearing about how much I love living here!

(Historic Jamestowne was in rare form this morning and there was no entrance fee, huzzah!!!)

I will come right out and say that I got all teary-eyed on my way home from voting in the elections that fall. I remember driving home from Waller Mill Elementary, the brilliant early morning sun filtering through the riotous fall leaves.  As I pondered how fortunate I was to exercise my right to vote as a member of America's First Congressional district,  my soft, smushy heart was overcome with gratitude to those who had sacrificed so much to make it possible. I felt almost mystically connected to the land like never before. At the time I just shrugged it off as just a overly emotional, stressed out, Melynda-moment.

(A "shaggy pine" at Historic Jamestowne this morning. )

As I have been exploring my lineage a bit more, I have discovered I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of ancestors who were born in this exact area, grew up here, married, raised families, planted gardens, laughed over dinner right here in this area.

(Met this nice lady this morning. She is not my ancestor, but her rooster was lovely.

As I search my Grandmother  Mollie's genealogy, names of places like Brunswick, Albermarle County, Goochland, Gloucester, Savage's Neck, Hampton, Northampton, Williamsburg, Accomac County, New Kent, Louisa, Hanover, Essex, Bristol, Richmond, Elizabeth City, Chester keep bubbling up. Places I have been too and locations I recognize. Places that are sometimes no more than 10 minutes from where I sit. While at times there is an infusion of someone from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts or Georgia, over and over again all the roads lead back to Virginia, Virginia, Virginia, Virginia.

(Ambler Mansion or what's left of it. So lovely and haunting). 

Thanks to Dad 1.0, I grew up with the family folk lore that on my mother's side of the family, I was descended from drunken Irish potato-famine refugees (which I am) and back-water North Carolina hill-billies (which I am). But that doesn't tell the whole story.

In addition to those potato loving refugees and hillbillies (from whom I inherited my deep appreciation of blue-grass), I am also the descendant of brave, intrepid and people. People with enough courage to get on those teeny tiny boats back in 1607 and 1608, sail across an ocean to uncharted land, and establish Jamestowne. I am a descendant of people with the fortitude and tenacity to survive the Starving Time, people who then went on to carve out a heritage in the wilderness of this great land. I am descendant of some of the earliest Virginians like Savage, Littleton, Tucker, Hope, Allen, Page, Hearn, Smith, Andrews and Williams

(Statue of Pocahontas at Historic Jamestowne. Not a relative of mine, but my relatives sure would not have survived if it had not been for her tremendous work to build bridges between cultures in this area of the world).

It has been a bit surreal as I have uncovered this part of my family history. When we moved here in 2008, I had absolutely NO idea that nearly a full one-fourth of my ancestors were descendants of people who immigrated to Virginia in the 1600 and 1700's. I was 100% ignorant to all of this.  As I sit at my computer and keep finding yet more family here in the Tidewater area, I marvel at the almost tangible connection I have felt to this place without even knowing why.

(New baby figs at Historic Jamestowne. Too bad I won't be around when they are ripe.)

I think I am finally beginning to understand why I feel so much at home in the Tidewater.

(New baby Virginians at Historic Jamestowne. Too bad her dad isn't around when she is ripe for a diaper change.)

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