Pausing to reflect a bit on what our Rappahannock County might look like in 20, 25, 30 years . . . various paths seem to open up for those living here. Given the Rappahannock News’ coverage of some local events lately, I wonder about the future here, and therein lies a cautionary tale in my opinion.
Quite a few years ago, a friend of mine lived here in Rappahannock on what came to be through the years a property of approximately 1,500 acres. He enjoyed himself, working the land, raising cattle, having social events like fox hunting meets there, having the Old Dominion Hunt riding there on occasion, sometimes enjoying solitude or a few friends over. Why mention this?
After a while, some people moved from the city to neighboring properties. When his cows broke through fence lines, as they are apt to do once in awhile, the new arrivals’ knee jerk reaction was to call and complain, and soon to threaten lawsuits over what farmers here know can be resolved in a prompt, friendly manner: where is fence down? Thanks for giving me location. I’ll get it fixed forthwith. Any damages to you?
And so, my friend decided he was just too old to deal with such nonsense and sold the entire 1,500 acres. No more hunt activities which gave joy to so many over the years. Moreover, instead of one living there, the place was divided with many homes and a large number of people, too. In addition, there was the major loss of pristine beauty, serene vistas so prized by residents and tourists alike.
Thus, the reason for my cautionary tale. What happens if and when inheritors of vast farms around here are subjected to lawsuits, or what some newcomers perceive as their right, excluding discussions, negotiations to more appropriately resolve feelings? Our farming communities are struggling enough to address their viability. Attorney fees paid by well heeled city folk can be a threat on the horizon that farmers can ill afford. How many farms could be lost in our future to this illogical method?
So, instead of “preserving the integrity of open spaces” which attracts tourism, beneficial to keeping beautiful landscapes, dark skies — what nearby counties can brag of the sight of the Milky Way and starlit nights? — these people are precursors of the destruction of our beloved county, in their own way being like the ubiquitous Virginia creeper vines (mentioned in my prior letter) strangling the precious life out of what we so dearly love and, for now, are still able to enjoy here.
Sheila Dwyer Gresinger