Two years ago, after we received PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders to the University of Virginia, we had looked at almost 40 homes when we found the perfect one nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge, in a quiet little town called Crozet. A town where at times it seems time has stood still. A town that prides itself on a sense of community: the type of community that a person of my generation grew up with but is rare in modern day America.
From the sound of the train echoing through the air each morning and night, to the simple four-way stop in the center of town. Under the railroad bridge a mural of the past is painted to show a glimpse of the town’s rich heritage. School-aged children can be seen walking to and from school. Weekly field trips from the school include: walking visits to the fire house, library, hardware store, small town grocery store and Dairy Queen. Businesses are owned by locals; fruits and vegetables along with breads, meat and cheeses can all be found farm fresh within a few miles. The beauty of the rolling mountains and history of the land provide spectacular views for a growing number of vineyards and breweries. The local pizza places are packed when there is a concert or function at the local schools and everyone knows each other.
In the fall, Friday night high school football is the main attraction and in summer the community pool and park becomes a gathering place, and baseball the sport of the season.
I am not talking about a time long ago that a place like this existed; I am talking about present day. Our family was fortunate enough to call this town home and it has left a lasting impression on our lives. I was very lucky that the children of this small town became part of my everyday life, I spent countless hours at school volunteering in their classrooms, aiding with their after-school program and serving as their PTO President. They welcomed me with open arms and made it easy for me to want to spend time with them and watch them excel. I may not know all 333 of them by name, but I can assure you I know most and I will miss them deeply. When the students see me out in town I am greeted with a “Hi, Mrs. Ross” and sometimes a hug. Their parents sometimes ask if I am a teacher and the kids simply say, no, she is Lindie, Gavin, Kailie or Taryn’s mom. I became close with many of the teachers working along side them to aid in anyway I could to make things easier or provide an extra hand when needed.
There are a few other military families in the area. Most know that our time here is short. From the moment we arrived in our home, there was knock after knock, as the neighbors came to welcome us to the neighborhood. It wasn’t long before our children were off adventuring in the woods or riding bikes with their new friends. As we prepared to leave, those knocks at the door came again. This time many tears and hugs were shed as we said our goodbyes. It’s never easy to say good-bye As a military family we do it often; this time is different.
One of our movers said it best yesterday when he asked how long we had lived here. When I replied two years, he could not believe that we were so close with all our neighbors. His exact words were, “You don’t find neighborhoods like that much any more.” He is exactly right. I could not be more thankful that for a few years my children came to know and love a small town like the one I was raised in.
I have this personal motto: “try to leave each community I live in better than I found it.” I don’t have all the answers, but I have vast knowledge and experiences as a military spouse that guide me to see things differently. This time I can say I made my mark on this small town, but this small town and the people of it made a lasting impression on me and for that I will always be thankful.
We will miss you all greatly. Thankful for our time together in this small town with a big heart.
Tricia Ross and the Ross Family