051205clydewilliams.jpgLike many photographers, I too often get wrapped up in the scenic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and forget that it is also the people who make living here such a pleasant experience. A reporter inteviewing me for a story a few weeks ago asked: “What is the biggest difference between living here and living in Washington, DC?” My answer was simple: “In Washington,” I said, “we had many acquaintances and few friends. Here we have a few acquaintances and many friends.”

Some I have known since high school: Sam Hancock, a whiz in shop back then and know the owner of Highland Hardwoods. Sam worked until late Christmas Eve finishing up the new flooring in our home, flooring that brings many a compliment from visitors. Or Kerry Whitlock, whom I hadn’t seen since high school until I ran into him at a county board of supervisors meeting and discovered he not only is my supervisor but also our mail carrier. We walked into Pine Tavern for dinner last week and ran into Ruth Hallman, my journalism and English teacher from high school. She was back in the county visiting her daughter.

Or new friends like Fred and Ann First, transplanted Alabamians who welcomed us here when we moved to the county, Fred, the county’s first blogger (Fragments From Floyd) now serves as dean of the county’s growing list of computer-based chroniclers like Colleen Redman, a writer with a passion for politics. Those blogs have brought other new friends like David and Gretchen St. Lawrence who are moving from Charlottesville to the county. Others will soon join them.

Sometimes the old bridges the new. I knew Donna Johnson in high school (when she was Donna Reed). Now she and her husband Don (a fellow photographer and a former Oklahoman) are among those we count as friends, not acquaintances.

On Fridays, I may stop by the Friday Night Jamboree, a fixture here in Floyd, one that started after I left the county in 1965 but a place where I can go on any Friday night and run into friends, both old and new. Fiddle player Clyde Williams (above) is an old friend. Max Wade, an uncle, played there until he died.

Like so much that happens in and around this area, the Friday Night Jamboree is a people event and people make this a special place to live and call home.