Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cold Cold Culpeper

Brrrrrr!  I noted in my last blog that we had gone a long time without any really cold weather.  I like cold weather..... at least for a while.  It must be because I grew up in cold cold Idaho.  Anyway, we ended up getting plenty of cold....even for me.  When it is cold outside it is a lot harder for me to find people to photograph because they are just not hanging around outside.  There are places I know that will always have people regardless of the weather, but not many.  They tend to be stores and restaurants.....IHop, Chick Fila, McDonalds, Walmart, Martins etc.  However, next time that you are at one of those places in the winter observe what the people do.  If they can, they stay in their car.  If they venture out of the car they do it at high speed or at least at "their" highest speed.   If a guy like me says, "Excuse me, can we talk for a second?"  they look at me like I just escaped from the Looney Bin and they double time it out of there.  There is no doubt that it is easier to get pictures in warmer weather. 
Let's see who the champions are who stopped for a second and waited for a picture.  Trust me....they represent a minority.
I really had an exact idea of the picture that I wanted to start this blog on the cold weather.  I watched for several days for the right person with no luck.  I was looking for a woman with a fur lined hood or a stocking cap and a scarf who could smile in spite of the cold.  Then I found Amanda  Halsey and she was perfect!  She is not only a cutie but very conversant.  Amanda lives in the Pepper, but commutes to Charlottesville to attend Piedmont Virginia Community College.  She has not definitely tied down her career yet, but says it will be either in the medical field or in criminal justice.
Last summer on a day that was 100 degrees I went out to take pictures of those brave souls who were out working or playing or ....... whatever when the heat was blistering.  I found quite a few interesting people that day.  Soooooo......on a day when it was 20 degrees I decided that I would go see who
was out and about when it was way below freezing.  They were not so easy to find.  The first group I saw was a group of men working on the power lines by Wendy's.  I discovered that not one of those guys lived in or even near Culpeper so they didn't work for this blog and other than those guys the town looked fairly deserted.  Then I saw a lady dressed in a white coat, Claudi Wade, and I had my first brave soul of the day. 
One of the things that has surprised me just little is how many people who live in Culpeper have fairly recently come from other countries.  Claudie and her husband had lived a few different places in our general area for the last two years.  Before that Claudie was living just outside of Paris, France.  To prove it, she has a delightful accent.  I asked her what the hardest adjustment from Paris to the Pepper was and she told me that there was not as much entertainment here.  No kidding!!  From one of the most exciting cities in the world to such a quiet town is quite a leap.  However, she was not complaining and is enjoying living here.....she loves her new house.  Oh....you can meet her where she works....TJMaxx. 
I moved on looking for those out braving the 20 degree temperature.  Did I mention that the wind was blowing which made it even colder?  The truth is that there were very few men out in this weather and even the women were all clustering around stores....such as Martins.   I am generally pretty bold and/or positive about approaching people for pictures.  However, on this particular day I had a hard time motivating myself to get people to stand out in the cold to talk to me.  I developed the approach of asking people on the way into Martins if I could photograph them for this blog and then walking into the store with them and talking by the rows of carts.  It turned out that that did not really work all that well.  So back out in the parking lot I found Kevin Young who says that he "hates the cold" but it is part of his job to go out and get the carts that the shoppers have left in the parking lot.  He was a good sport, but even all wrapped up, he looks cold.
On the 20 degree day I learned that people from the Madison area come to Martins to shop.  I ran into two ladies in a row who were out in the cold.  They were both school teachers from Madison and had a free day because the schools had closed due to the threat of snow. This is Gail Wasalko and she teaches Spanish at Albemarle High School.
Here is the buzz on closing schools for snow when there is no snow.  This is  for those who smugly say they would never close schools:  School officials are responsible for the safety of thousands of children and they make decisions from weather reports that are  generally very conservative in order to safeguard that safety.  They have to make a call that they know will be unpopular (doesn't matter which way they go.....it will be unpopular) but will protect the kids.  These decisions are no doubt the most second guessed decisions in the world.  All school systems in order to be fiscally prudent have to use their buses over and over each day for different grade levels. A decision to close the schools once they are in session takes hours to complete because all of one grade level has to be delivered home before the buses can go back for a second round and usually  that is repeated for a third round.  A lot can happen with the weather in three hours it takes from start to finish.  Besides that, there are hundreds of small narrow roads in Virginia that the buses have to traverse.  If these roads get bad it is very likely that a car will slide off and block the road or worse, a bus will slide off the road and injure students.  If you think people are upset when they have to keep their kids home you should see how they are if the kids are trapped at school.  One year when I was working in Fairfax County they decided to take a chance with the weather and have the kids go to school.  About ten o'clock it was obvious that the kids had to get home.  With snow getting heavy and traffic snarling, buses could not get in and out of one elementary school.  The children and staff were trapped in that building until 10 pm.  when enough roads were cleared to start getting the kids out.  Parents were absolutely beside themselves as you can imagine.  Far far better to close the schools and have no school than to have children injured....even one child....or to have a busload of kids off the road somewhere.  So, I really do get it....I hope you get it now.
Same day....another teacher at Martins.  This charmer is Liz Ford and she is also from Madison where she teaches Kindergarten at Graves Memorial School.  She is a mother of two girls.  There is something special about teachers.  These last two ladies gave me big smiles and chatted with me like it was balmy outside. 
We have had very very little snow this winter and since it is now the end of February, the chances of significant snow are slim to none.  A couple of weeks ago, however, we had a brief but beautiful snow.  I watched out the window as these kids tried to sled and snowboard down the hill, but there just wasn't enough snow.  So they did the other thing that kids do in the snow....they built a fort....and a pretty good one. In the next three hours almost all of the snow melted, but the fort held firm.  The next day it was still looking good and as I submitted this picture to the Culpeper Times for my "Snapshots of Culpeper" feature.  I took some license and said that it lasted a week....and it would have except the next day they all came back a stomped it to smithereens.  That's another thing that kids do. 
It seems that this year we have had a lot of cold rain.  On this day it was raining and was a cold 38 degrees.  Thirty eight may not seem so cold but when you add significant rain and wind  to that.....it is cold.  On February 26th I was wrapping up this blog but thought I needed a rain picture....probably someone under an umbrella because it is hard to see it raining in a photograph, but believe me it was raining quite hard. Lots of times I take a camera with me as I go about my business and take pictures for this blog if I happen to see something that appeals to me. Other times I specifically go out with the intent of finding new faces.  This was one of those times.  I thought about where people feel like they must go in spite of the weather and Pet Smart came to mind.  I went over to their parking lot and watched for my perfect candidate.  It was raining hard enough that I had to keep the wipers going.  It became clear right away that I had chosen the right place except everyone was running in and out.  I saw a man with a mustache come out with an animal carrier, but I could not grab my camera and get out before he was in his car and pulling away.  Then came a cute family....I think there were five of them and all but the dad had multi colored hoodies, but they really moved.  Then I saw just the perfect guy.  He strolled out of the store like there was no rain.....a perfect manly man.  He had two heavy bags on his shoulder and looked the kind of fit that comes  from  workin  physically.  I told him who I was etc.  and he was very accommodating.  I took my shot and then had him climb in his car while I got the info.  This is Jeff Woodall and he is a horse trainer.  He lives just outside of town with his girlfriend and her daughters....I think, three. He has lived in Culpeper for ten years and the bags were not for horses,  they were dog food.   Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stops a man from getting food for his dogs.   Hmmmmmm maybe that is a postman.  Oh, well.
 I have been saying quite often lately that we were too far into the year to have any more significant snow......Wrong!!!!!   We got our biggest and best snow storm the first week of March.  We even lost power for about five hours.  So to make ammends I went out looking for one more picture to add to this blog although I published it about a week ago.  Right in front of TJMaxx I saw DeAndrea Kontir all bundled up and her son CJ running around and around.  Since DeAndrea was looking like a model or movie star, I decided that I better get her picture.  She lives in Rixeyville.
That's all for this time.  I am always interested in new faces for my blog and for my "Snapshots of Culpeper" feature in the Culpeper Times.  If you have ideas for this blog or would like to be included be sure to contact me at: