Things You Can See in Virginia:

Virginia is horse country, of a sort. Horse people know that there are many kinds of horses, but in America there are mostly two kinds of riders: "English" riders, and "Western" riders. English riders draw their traditions, and their gear, from the old Foxhunting traditions of England. Western riders draw their traditions and gear from the cowboys, vaqueros, and other riders from the American West. There are also Australian riders -- the kit is an interesting mix of the two other styles, as I gather -- and of course there are non-Western traditions as well.

Virginia is English country in a big way. Many of the great among the Founders were horsemen, and the English tradition was their tradition. It is so deeply saturated in the culture around here that every little waterway -- which would be called a "creek" or a "stream" anywhere else -- is called a "run." Around here there is Broad Run, Thumb Run, and of course the infamous Bull Run, which I should not have to tell you is near a city called Manassas.

Today I saw a fellow hauling hay for his horses, and on the side of the truck was a logo for his company. Turns out they have a website: "Journey's End Carriage."

"If I'm at the journey's end," I asked my wife -- who used to teach horseback riding in the days when the Girl Scouts of America had a big national camp out west in Wyoming -- "why do I need a carriage?"

It was worth it for the look I got out of her.

On Saturday, I went to the Village of Hume and saw a ring joust. This proves to be the state sport of Maryland, which is appropriate since Maryland is the only state with a proper coat of arms for a flag. The arms of Maryland were inherited from one of their colonial grandees, Calvert, Lord Baltimore.

It was a fun little exercise, featuring no "knights" but many young maidens. So, at least, the announcer proclaimed them as they rode through: "Such and such, Maiden of the Plains." "The Plains" is a small town near here.

The girls were all having a great deal of fun, and a few of them had even attempted to kit out their horses in something like a medieval style. I have some pictures, which perhaps I can upload. Anyway, good fun, even if the announcer from the Ruritarians who was hosting the event was entirely confused by the medieval jargon.

Another thing Virginia has is lots of military folks. It's common to see USMC bumper stickers (indeed, you can see them on my trucks), as well as stickers that say "Proud Parent of a US Marine."

Until today, however, I'd never seen one of these. They say every Marine is a recruiter -- and so, apparently, is everyone in his family, at least to one degree's removal.

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