Since I can see what people are looking at on my blog, I sometimes notice something odd--like a really old post getting attention.
The following post is from September 2011 and people have been looking at it today. Go figure.
I'm writing this with a tee shirt, a long sleeve shirt and a West Virginia University sweatshirt on. It is chilly. Relatively from a few days ago.
I grew up in Anawalt, West Virginia in the southern most county of the state--the free state of McDowell. One of the things I've come to realize having lived in New England and Alexandria, Virginia is that southern West Virginia has arguably the best weather in the US.
Anawalt is further south than Richmond and Lexington. And the elevation is about 2700 feet above sea level. The highest spot in WV is Spruce Knob which is 4200 feet a.s.l.
Because Anawalt was so far south and so high up, surrounded by mountains about 1000 feet higher, the climate was remarkable. We had four months of Spring and four months of Autumn with about 2 months of Winter and Summer. Spring and Autumn were cool at night and warm in the daytime. Summer was sunny but not that hot. A town 30 miles away called Bluefield (nicknamed "Nature's Air-Conditioned City") gave away lemonade any time the temperature got to 90. In the 18 years of my early life, I don't remember more than a few days that free lemonade flowed.
It rained a lot and snowed a lot. But the snow seldom stayed around for more than a few days. Even in winter, the temperature would creep up into the 50's a lot, so the snow would melt.
I actually think McDowell County could be a really ideal retirement place--amazing weather, mountains, friendly people. But then there is this: of all the counties in the contiguous 48 states, McDowell County has the earliest death rate AND the oldest average age.
Ponder that for a moment. People die sooner there than anywhere in the US and yet the average age is the highest. Huh...no young people at all. When I grew up there 50 years or so ago, the county had 12 high schools--6 white and 6 black (McDowell County has about a 50/50 racial divide, the highest outside the deep South, though in the whole state there are only about 5 % black population....go figure that!) Now, to my knowledge, there are only 3 high schools.
The population of McDowell County, when I was growing up there, was about 60,000. Now, bear in mind that the county is about the size of Rd. Island, so we're talking a really rural place. Now, if I'm not mistaken, the population is around 30,000 or less. Go figure. Well, deep coal mining lost out to cutting the tops off of mountains. All the young people left.
Don't tell me there isn't something called Irony: the place in the country with the greatest weather ever is poverty stricken, practically deserted, full of old people who die early and so isolated that even if you wanted to retire there there is almost no easy way to get there.
What a shame....