I should have known that this one would take me far from my contemplative, Zen-inspired comfort zone; after I’d traversed more construction projects than I wanted to tally, competed with hurried, coffee-driven commuters with no time for mere existence, and kept a respectable distance from a fleet of school buses which would have made General Patton proud, I tried to enjoy a few moments of near peace at the South Riding Town Hall and pavilion – way down there in the corner of the County – smack dab in the center of a busy universe of activity. Now – having negotiated the pinball-like series of traffic circles on Route 50 – and successfully avoided all the heavy equipment entering and exiting my route – I felt entitled to just a bit of solace and deep breathing before heading back on the road for my return trip. I needed to hear some of those Tibetan monks, or something. Well, this is South Riding, I thought.
Commuter traffic, school buses and ongoing construction; this still-rapidly-growing community appears much more complete, though, than at the time of my previous visit – probably five years earlier – but certainly hasn’t slowed down its level of activity: if my early-morning weekday appearance represents the standard down here – well, let’s just say that I’d be more relaxed in a beehive. Now, with all this in mind, I want to stress that my first actual visit to the South Riding Town Hall and pavilion (a charming little oasis) was a far cry from my latest; I had (half a decade, or so, ago) interviewed one of our local elected officials one summer Sunday morning, and I was amazed at the tranquility I encountered: Little, if any traffic (commercial and domestic life was just starting to erase their cobwebs), and the most notable activity came in the flock of robins pulling worms out of the dewy lawns. I made a mental note at that time – in bold print – to return and savor the experience at greater length at my own leisure; hmmm – “Funny how things never turn out the way you had ‘em planned,” is one of my favorite Bob Dylan lines, and I can really apply it to my intentions to spend a peaceful Tuesday morning – in the Year 2016 – down at the Town Center in South Riding.
Well, it was my decision to drive there during a weekday rush hour, so maybe I’ll just re-configure my vision to return at some point on another Sunday – or holiday, perhaps – when the workaday world is in neutral mode and I can enjoy that cup of java in some semblance of solitude, stillness and sanity – so I can prove to myself (once again) that our densely populated areas in Loudoun County contain their charm and battery-recharging properties, just like some of the more isolated spots. Ahh, images of this sort makes me feel good already.
And in contemplating the meditative, satori-esque side of South Riding, I recall my first-ever on-site visit to this new community; it came back in 2005- when the local Supervisors and officials in the public safety industry celebrated a groundbreaking for the then-incoming Public Safety Center. I remember a warm, sunny September day with scenes of lots of unused space, lots of open views of the horizon – but also many acres of freshly turned over Virginia clay – denoting incoming houses in the numbers one sees only in places like Loudoun County. The drive – that day over a decade ago – from Leesburg and back was much less congested, and I remember thinking that it’d be nice to come back some time in the future (like now) and visit when the neighborhood feels more like – well, a neighborhood. And – you know? It does.
And if you care to show up on a weekday morning during the school year, you’ll get a chance to see everybody in action. And I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Just pay attention to where you’re going and keep in mind that a lot of those other guys are in a hurry. If I’m there, I hope I prove the exception.