Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Richmond is green and leafy. There's history around most corners - it was the capital city of the South during the US civil war, and before that, a site of early settlement in the US.

I know that there's a city – a downtown – there in Richmond. Big buildings and traffic and the like. But that's not the Richmond that I saw. I saw a green and leafy Richmond.

The US is a strange place. Or maybe Australia is. Anyway – I'm used to cities that have a big line drawn around them and that's the city. The line includes all those suburbs and people that stretch off into the Australian horizon. In the US it seems that there's the city and the line is drawn in tight. Then there are towns and counties that seem to be part of the city – at least to me they do – but are actually part of something else. It's all very confusing to my Australian eyes.

So my Richmond is actually Chesterfield County. That’s where Amy’s family lives. It’s like lots of TV pictures - big oak and pine trees, weatherboard houses on blocks of land that lack definition. There are no fences. None at all. There are no jobs for fence building fellows in the US. Unlike Australia, where we’re all very quick to get our 6ft pailing fences up, and make sure the neighbours can’t see into our yards and gardens, in so much of the US there are no fences.

Richmond gets snow in winter and is stinking hot in summer. Seriously, humidly hot. And serious snow that needs to be shoveled. My Australian temperate-climate heart shuddered. We get a bit warmer, and a bit colder. None of this temperature below zero nonsense. No humidity that makes it hard to breath.

This was my first real taste of the US South. Not actually deep south, but south none the less. It showed. Everywhere we went people were unfailingly charming. Nothing was too much trouble. There was usually a conversation thrown in about my accent, and where did I come from and that they’d always wanted to go to Australia and did I really have kangaroos and koalas? Increasingly folks told Amy that they could hear her Australian accent as well.

Oh - and the photo? That's Amy and her sister Katie

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