People here in Northern Virginia are way different from the ones I grew up with in Connecticut. Folks here just can’t seem to get away from the Civil War. And now, I guess I can’t either.
Now, I can understand the interest. That war is still all around us. After all, Richmond, Virginia was the Capitol of the Confederate States of America. The first battle was fought here in Manassas and the last battle and surrender took place here too, in Appomattox. There are hundreds of known and marked battlefields where you can touch history, where you can learn the details of the battles and who did what to whom. All is laid out clearly, respectfully. We Americans do a great job at battlefield parks.
Throughout most of the year there are also reenactments of battles. From what I’ve gathered, though, this mostly involves men dressing up in gray uniforms and blue ones and hanging out in front of a campfire. They shoot the breeze — instead of each other, which is modern life for you — being a Civil War participant is much better in this century than it was back in the day. Nowadays you can avoid the bullets, the bayonets, the cannon fire, the dysentery and, and, and ….
Recently, the Civil War got even closer. You see, a history buff bought the land across the street. And he really wants to feel the history at home. And of course, that means history is at my doorstep.
Now, the property across the street includes about 10 acres. John and I thought that no one would ever buy it. It’s just a weird piece of land. It’s a triangle, with woods on the left, woods on the right and an open, grassy area in the middle, where the owner may not build.
When we ran into Beau, our soon-to-be-neighbor, he introduced himself. “I’ve always wanted property with a ‘meadow,’” he told us, with misty eyes and a ramrod straight back.
“Actually, it’s a natural gas pipeline,” said John helpfully (because that’s what it is.) It is a potentially explosive piece of property. We told him that before he bought it, mind you. When he still had time to change his mind.
But Beau has a dream. Now we have a nightmare.
Beau didn’t specify just what his dream was. Perhaps we should have known what was in store for us by his pronounced drawl. Or maybe by his military bearing. Or maybe when he didn’t know the difference between a peaceful meadow and a grassy knoll. Can you say “Stonewall Jackson”? Can you say “Great Balls of Fire”? Can you say “Rhett and Scarlett”?
You guessed it. To our surprise (horror?), Beau built Tara, right across the street. Or maybe it’s Twelve Oaks. I can’t quite decide. Maybe it’s Tara Oaks, but that sounds like a new flavor of oatmeal.
To be fair, well, the house isn’t like the McMansions that surround our more modest house. It isn’t quite as large as I expected either (apparently they skipped some of the wings found in a real southern plantation). But Tara Oaks is from another era, one that ended in 1865, also here in Virginia.
More visible to me and folks driving by, the property is surrounded by Civil war-style stockade fences, just right for the boys in gray to hide behind while shooting Yankees.
But the thing that worries me most is that there is one spot on the side of the meadow where they leveled the ground and put in a rectangular bit of asphalt. You can see it in the upper right. This spot is suitable for only one purpose:
And I just know it will be pointed towards the Yankee across the street. Especially if Beau ever reads this piece.