As I thanked my hostess last Thursday evening before hurrying out the door to catch up with my colleagues, she realized three of us were riding together. “Yes,” I laughed, thinking of the 1989 movie “Driving Miss Daisy” starring Jessica Tandy as the aging southern lady and Morgan Freeman as her butler and driver. “I’m driving Doctors Michael and Pattie.”
The Augusta County Library board of trustees had met in southern Augusta County at the home of a Friends of the Library board member whose house overlooks Marl Creek and has extensive botanical gardens. Dr. Kurt Michael, a library trustee and professor at Liberty University, and Dr. Marshall Pattie, county supervisor who is liaison between the board of supervisors and library trustees, and professor at James Madison University, met me in Staunton and we all piled in my car for the half hour drive to Vesuvius.
Traveling with two college professors has its perks; I mean, sometimes I almost feel smarter just being around those guys. As we traveled through monsoon rains that had moved into the Valley earlier in the day creating messy interstate conditions, lively conversation in the car made driving more bearable. Our discussion covered the gamut of life, academia, weather, library issues, and politics. The two PhDs both talked statistics that’s beyond my understanding — yucky math stuff — so they happily discussed instrumentation and quantitative research and discussed articles they had published and other university-type things. I listened as I navigated 18-wheelers and road spray.
They were still talking academia when we turned into our destination where two waterfalls greeted us as we parked — we had made it safely without calling in the services of an ark — and I grabbed my camera and umbrella as I headed toward the overflowing creek to take pictures. Kurt was already there, and Marshall was following behind him. As I juggled the umbrella in one hand and camera in the other, Marshall reached out and held the umbrella so I could focus on snapping photos. Meanwhile, the rain pelted down as I zoomed in on the beauty of southern Augusta-northern Rockbridge Counties.
We eventually made our way across the bridge to the house. The guys went on but I lingered behind taking pictures from the bridge and watching the rising waters while enjoying the many blooming flowers planted here and there along the creek. Someone had spent a lot of time in those gardens because there were Japanese maples, garden art, dozens of potted plants, and garden benches tucked into the landscape surrounding the 1800s family home. Not wanting to hold up everyone, I joined them in the house and we settled down for our meeting.
Kurt and I have worked in politics and been friends for over a decade. I’ve known Marshall for five years and have enjoyed his expertise as liaison … he represents the county well on the library board. Thursday night was no exception. Exciting things are happening with the library, and Marshall as well as Kurt and others came up with some good ideas as we brain-stormed about long-range goals and upcoming events with library director Diantha McCauley. While the rain fell outside, we were cozy in the living room of that old historic home. After the meeting, we joined our hostess for potluck dinner and conversation around the dining room table.
It was still pouring rain as we left to drive back to Staunton. The two docs talked as we headed north, reminiscing about 2011 when they both ran for Augusta County supervisor, along with David Karaffa and incumbent Tracy Pyles, with an eye to the future and a vision for the county (see Augusta County townhall by four supervisor candidates). Three of the four made it onto the board — Tracy, Marshall, and David — and Kurt commented that he was impressed and pleased at how many of the campaign promises, ones that the four of them had worked on together while campaigning, had been kept.
We talked about elections and politics and Augusta County. We talked about public service and the treacherous political waters that anyone wanting to serve has to navigate. All too soon, we were back in Staunton and I safely deposited them both at their vehicles as the rain continued to fall.
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell