Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Loudoun Nostalgia: Crooked Run

There's an old farm in Purcellville, VA called Crooked Run Orchard. It was around long before the Gourmet Giant came in, long before Route 7 was turned into a four lane, long before Loudoun County became one of the fastest growing places in the nation. Like many Purcellville residents, we go to the farm for apples and pumpkins, lavender and paw-paws, zucchini squash and fresh eggs. It's a place that reminds me of things I've forgotten and Purcellville wouldn't be the same without it.

There's been talk for years now of putting a bypass (The Southern Collector Road) through the farm to ease the traffic on Main Street. Of course there's been opposition from those who support local agriculture, those against development, and from the farmer himself who wishes to work the family farm until the day he dies. But every year the road seems to come closer to reality as the traffic gets worse and more suburbanites move in, and like most things that stand in the way of "progress," the farm appears to have no place in today's world. Mark Dewey, columnist for The Blue Ridge Leader managed to put into words the primary reason I feel so sad to think of the bypass going through, though it's a reason that is rarely talked about because it seems soft and sentimental:

"My reason for wanting Crooked Run to survive seems paltry compared to the larger concerns like controlling development, preserving local agriculture, and honoring the wishes of property owners. My reason is nostalgia. Fifteen years ago I picked apples with my children there, on an afternoon in October, when I was struggling against a life I finally had to leave. But that day there was no struggle. That day I saw the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance for the first time, a sight that lingered for weeks. That day my daughter rode on my shoulders and my son ran through the trees, and we ate apples and drank cider and rolled in the grass and played with a dog, who appeared just when we thought the place could not get any better . . . I remember how we were whenever I see Crooked Run."

Places -- real places like Crooked Run -- create these feelings of nostalgia, and though it may not be reason enough to preserve them, it may be as valid a reason as any, and certainly worth articulating and pondering. For more on Crooked Run and the fight to preserve the farm: http://www.vimeo.com/6131047

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