After three months of hiding behind the pages, I figured it was time to say hello.
I want to thank everyone I’ve met thus far for giving me such a warm welcome to West Virginia. I’ve met some authentic people who care genuinely about their state and their communities, which is always heartwarming.
However, I must lovingly pick a bone with a few of you, who shall remain nameless.
I’m sort of put off by some of the responses I’ve received from folks when I tell them my wife and I moved here from Florida.
Don’t get me wrong. Florida is a great place to visit, and can be a great place to work, live and raise a family. After all, we did those things in Florida. And our adult son still lives in Florida, where he works in research for the University of Florida College of Medicine.
However, my wife and I have received a number of “Why’d you move here?” responses from folks while we’re out exploring. Let’s face it, “Why’d you move here?” is an offputting welcome in any community.
What I’ve come to understand is many people have romantic notions of Florida that may or may not be true.
Many tell me they love the beach or they love the ocean or they love eating seafood. And while they’re telling me those things, I’m thinking to myself, “But that’s not all there is. Those are things people do on vacation.”
I’m not going to write disparagingly about the state I lived in for 27 years, so instead, I’ll write about what I like about West Virginia so far.
Here’s what I’ve come to like about Fairmont.
I love my street and my neighbors and how they’ve welcomed us and made honest attempts to get to know us and have even bonded with our dog, Nelson, as much as he would let them.
I love being able to wake up in the morning here in May and June and be able to walk outside with Nelson and not melt immediately in the morning air.
We take our walk, saunter back to the house where I pour my morning coffee and we sit on the back deck. Songbirds serenade us in the crisp morning air as sounds of the city hum behind us.
And the view is amazing. I look around and I see rooftops. In Florida, rooftops are not visible unless you have to climb on top of your house to unclog your dryer vent.
The real beauty here is not the rooftops, however, it’s the horizon where the verdant green hilltops can be seen for what seems like miles.
I look out over those hills and just wonder about the stories they hold.
And yet, when I hear the songbirds, I recall springtime while growing up in south central Georgia.
The house my Daddy built in 1955 didn’t have central heating and air conitioning until 1986, when my baby sister graduated from high school. So, we slept with the windows open.
On springtime weekends, I remember waking up to the sounds of songbirds, cows mooing in the distance and the sweet smell of freshly-tilled earth.
I grew up in the part of Georgia that is home to the last sliver of little hills before you reach the flatlands of the coastal plain, the part of the state that resembles, well, the terrain of Florida.
And much like the green rich hills that surround me now, the red clay and rich brown dirt that symbolically pumps through my native Georgia veins is full of stories.
Perhaps in the coming weeks or months, I could share some of those stories here with you.
In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. If you believe you have a story to tell that has not been told, please get in touch with me here at the paper.
Eric Cravey is the editor of the Times West Virginian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.