Marion, Va., to Alexandria, Va.

Carol found us a hotel in Marion, Virginia, of a better quality than we have been staying at: this hotel provided breakfast; and the breakfast was not just microwaved eggs (“eggs-in-a-bag”) and cold cereal and stale bagels, it was eggs and waffles cooked for you by a pleasant young woman in a small restaurant open to the public. This is high luxury for us, so we settled in to enjoy it.

At the table next to ours sat a man and woman who were somewhat older than us. She was one of those forthright Southern women in upper middle age who are polite and unafraid to say what they think about the world. These women remind me of my mother, for there is a type of New England woman who become equally forthright in upper middle age, with much the same polite-but-firm manner.

When I got to breakfast, she and Carol were having a lively conversation about fracking, while the woman’s husband sat between them, mostly listening. This forthright Southern woman did not like fracking. What you learn in Real Estate 101, she said, is that you own your property, but these fracking companies can come in and do what they want on your property and there’s nothing you can do about it. Carol said that out where we live, some counties were organizing to ban fracking, but our new friend told us that in many eastern states, the state government has said that counties and municipalities cannot ban fracking. She said she had been taught that ours is a government of the people and by the people, but not when it comes to fracking. She was funny and articulate, and clearly very angry. The companies that engage in fracking, and the elected representatives that kowtow to those companies, had better watch out: it is not wise to anger women like this. They may appear to be polite older ladies, but they do not forget, they do not forgive, and they do not give up.

Most of the rest of the day involved driving in the rain, with too many cars on the road, and too many drivers who had abandoned all common sense once it started to rain. The less said about this part of the day the better.

It was raining when we arrived in Aleaxandria, Virginia, where we are staying with an old friend of Carol’s, someone she knew in college, and his wife. He is a principled and very knowledgeable Republican who used to work for the Congressional Quarterly, and I always enjoy look forward to hearing his views on politics. But none of us wanted to talk about politics very much. None of us like Donald Trump very much though we all agree that he speaks some truths, particularly about the effects of globalization and free trade agreements on average workers. And none of us felt that Hillary Clinton is particularly trustworthy, though aside from that she might make a capable administrator.

We went out to dinner, and on the drive back we saw the fireworks display through the rain and mist. Our host remarked that today is the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Only ten years to the 250th….

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