Updated: Jul 31, 2020
About an hour and a half northwest of Baltimore, on what looks to be the elbow of the West Virginia chicken wing, is the city of Berkeley Springs. In the center of the city is a beautiful park surrounded by lodging, churches, banks, and handful of local stores with large glass windows. In the park are crisscrossing pathways lined with trees, the occasional gazebo, and a community pool. Running parallel to the pathways are streams and canals fed by a little spring which sits on the western edge of the park---Berkeley Springs. Diverted from the main pool is a makeshift tub which, according to legend, is in the exact spot where George Washington would, on occasion, bathe.
The water is cool and crystal clear---casting a faint blue tint on the bottom of the stone pools from which it bubbles. Adjacent to the pools are a set of pumps where locals and visitors alike can collect fresh spring water for consumption. Having tasted the water myself, I can confidently say it is better than anything you've ever tasted.
The pool is beating heart of the city---at least in the summer. Complete with a concessions stand and two lifeguards, it the place to be on a hot day. Then again, in Berkeley Springs it is quite possibly the only place to be on any type of day.
While parents sit on lounge chairs on the fringes of the pool deck, their progeny tread water and make good use of the chlorine by allowing the pool to double as a urinal. Like clockwork the nicotine itch gets the best of the parents. They cover up their sun burns and bad tattoos with loose fitting garments, take fifty steps beyond chain-link fence encompassing the pool, and scratch their itch. Once outside, they are in good company---younger versions of themselves.
Perched atop picnic tables and wandering park walkways are temperamental youth. Dressed in black, they push back their hair before taking a long drag from a communal vape pen someone's older brother purchased between stints in jail. Smoke billows behind them like a locomotive going full-speed nowhere. They have no hopes or dreams---only the moment. They are West Virginia.
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel
Film: Kodak TMAX 400
When: June 2020
Where: Berkeley Springs, West Virginia