– By Tim Jon
I’m trying to learn to appreciate more fully how providence seems to keep thrusting opportunity into my path when I often least expect it; I hope that’s an apt description of the conception and treatment for this story. You see – the little, unincorporated community of Lenah sort of jumped out at my imagination early one morning as I made my way to and from another one of these ‘assignments;’ I made a mental note at the time to return for an official (and much more expansive) look at the place.
In the meantime, my imagination went into high gear (this often happens – with or without hands on the proverbial steering wheel). I guess I had in mind (pre-plugging myself into the experience) a quaint, quiet, familiar, soft-around-the-edges type of country-crossroads neighborhood, safely tucked away from the busy traffic on Route 50: the kind of Norman Rockwell-ish atmosphere that would draw well-adjusted, loving family members back for Thanksgiving and that sort of thing – engendering (in them and me, of course) the corresponding warm and fuzzies; as we’ve seen before in this series, though, the well-conceived dreams of Tim Jon often turn – if not completely awry – at least a bit other than expected. Lemons – after all – sour at first taste, often make for a great batch of homemade lemonade.
Following this theme, I can’t help but think the late Southwest American Playwright Sam Shepard could have populated the immediate geography around Lenah with some more of his memorable, mad, yet lovable (because they are us) characters. These often rugged, wild, yet wounded souls would mesh (better than me, I’m sure) with that particular environment: over here massive log piles, down there industrial yards, further on up the road abandoned-looking structures (I wondered, as another beloved American writer, Thomas Wolfe may have, “Who build these edifices, who sold their wares from these counters and walls, whose hopes were kindled in these monuments?”), around other corners imposing farm and construction implements, and , as I cast a wider net, at least a few residences that resonated childhood tales of mysterious and spooky doings behind seldom-opened doors (the isolated eccentricities of our man-made landscape): these are the images that greeted me as I took my early-morning tour of Lenah in Southern Loudoun County.
And, yes, admittedly, I of course noted a number of very ‘normal’ sights, as well: a counterbalance of traditional homes, yards with reassuringly mature trees, fields of ripened and baled hay – helping to create at least a veneer of quiet and stillness (notwithstanding the vehicular activity along Route 50), albeit on a Sunday morn. And – expanding our viewpoint a bit further than the immediate sightlines of the original village – the surrounding countryside around Lenah is amassing its share of contemporary, upscale (of course) neighborhoods: the new ‘normal,’ if you will – at least in these here parts. Now, I’m not sure to what degree these 21st century communities interact with their (at least in some ways) less upwardly mobile fellow citizens. Not that I saw many physical opportunities for public get-togethers – whether in the name of culture, commerce, recreation or salvation; these may need to exist – for the nonce – merely in my imaginative dream time, along with the other, aforementioned, thought-projected amenities.
Or perhaps this little spot of earth already constitutes what still another writer – Voltaire – may have termed “the best of all possible worlds.” Or – just maybe – I’ll just see it all next time, if not on my most recent visit. I’m always hoping – even if I’m not certain of the particulars.
But in our (at least more) real world – on that last morning’s look-around, I still kept looking for that great Main Street of my earlier conception of the place – white picket fences, friendly dogs, maybe a few chickens pecking in a neighbor’s backyard – and perhaps these items existed – somewhere just beyond (or beneath) my feeble awareness; or (I’d like to think) they had all once been there – or will be (time and space being relative) at some as-yet-undiscovered point.
I hope to experience it; then again, I may already have.