Driving around the county today - a tour guide of sorts with a visiting photo friend - on a search for tobacco curing in barns. It’s an image that used to be everywhere in the county, but is now mostly gone. It takes phone calls and driving to find that important piece of our county’s history. But we do find some and my friend is happy with the outcome.
It’s a funny thing – driving around with another photographer and seeing what attracts his eye. Often, people are looking for nostalgia and memory, a sense of days gone by, and we certainly have our fair share of that here in Madison. Our traditions take us back and often hold us in place. But, more importantly, I sense people from the outside, from cities and bigger places, are looking for what Melville would have termed a true place – a place not down on maps that has remained relatively untouched by the modern world. Madison fits that definition, too, and we seem to draw people looking for that kind of experience. I worry our place will become known as a museum and not the actual living, breathing, evolving community I’ve always known it to be.
Throughout its history, Madison County has been a place of refuge and resistance to the outside world. The Native Americans, the Anglo settlers, war resisters, and present-day refugees from urban living have all found Madison to be a receptive place for people wishing to get away from it all or living off the grid. For some people that vision of refuge is fulfilled with an image, and for others it may be a retreat to a part-time palace in the mountains that resembles their home in Florida. For others, that wish is more of an insistent need and people who are supposed to be here always find their niche.