Twenty years ago an itinerant photographer would be greeted by local folks with genuine hospitality delighted that an outsider would travel so far to enjoy their mountain countryside. "You mean, you come here, on purpose, for your vacation," would be a typical reaction. "We leave here for vacation." (I loved those conversations.)
Itinerant photographers are now greeted with a degree of suspicion I never used to see and, more recently, with outright hostility. The general prosperity of the 1990s rudely transformed the rural mountain areas in the five states I know very well: Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Everywhere transformed, right before my incredulous eyes.
Folks tell me about the influx of 'outsiders' with a romanticized view of the mountains - how mountains should look and be - clashing headlong with their old way of life and the ethos spawned by generations of mountain tribes. They worked the land, for a simple living.
Earlier this morning, as I was photographing an abandoned car in an empty field, a young man slid to an angry stop beside me. Expecting my do-gooder pictures were intended to take him to Court he voiced his displeasure in a way that could be clearly understood. He could not be calmed nor persuaded that my intentions were supportive of his 'way of life' and spun away emotional fires blazing, "if you're lookin' for a f***ing fight, you've come to the right place."
That was really sad for me to be roughly and so incorrectly judged. And sad for him, too, that he missed the chance to get to know Doctor Flowers a little better. Mercifully, I soon found this hospitable pasture gate bridging both sides of the fence, waiting for me in a gentle rain and quiet morning fog.
Title: © Foggy Gate. r1405-11
Location: Cr 1306, Double Island Road
Yancey County, NC
Date: Friday 21 October 2005