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  Birth to 18

I was born near dusk on Lammas Eve 1962 (31 July), in the ancient green Allegheny Mountains of Alleghany County in southwestern Virginia.

Mountain view in Alleghany County, Virginia, near the city of Covington
Photo from Covington, Virginia official web site

Alleghany County (yes, here it's spelled with an "a," even though the mountains are spelled with an "e") is a mixture of beautiful and ugly. Much of the county is rural and even agricultural, with a multitude of hot springs, several national forests and a large, gorgeous lake. Covington, the county seat, though, is aesthetically marred --though economically and almost solely supported-- by the MeadWestvaco paper mill that dominates the city. You'll often smell Covington before you actually see it.

Photo Album Link: Steve Nicholson's Pictures of Covington and the Alleghany Highlands

On the positive side, the paper mill serves as a sort of barometer. Only during low pressure systems, when we were likely to see rain, could we smell the mill all the way out at our house in the county north of town.

Covington/Alleghany County is also one of those places, as are hometowns for many people, that I appreciate more and more the older I get. I couldn't wait to leave --and I was the first, and for several years the only family member to do so, though a younger cousin eventually moved to the DC area and then on to California. Now, though, I really enjoy going back to visit my family, with whom I've retained strong ties. It's a much more relaxing place than anywhere I've lived since. Best of all, you can see a glorious starry night sky there, with little urban light to interfere.

thom @ elfintech.com Copyright 1994-2003 All rights reserved