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Archive for the ‘The Land’ Category

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Bill and I live on top of a hill with a grand view of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a steep 15 acre slope down which I call The South 40. The South 40 requires “bush hogging.” And when I began to see the forest primeval slowly encroaching I realized we were facing an upkeep challenge.

In the beginning we had two horses (Lucy and Martini). There was also Martini’s friend, Rossi, but he was too wild for us equestrian novices. We were told grazing horses would take care of keeping the grass/weeds down but that was “fake news.”

The horses did love grazing but the grass grew faster than they could chew and soon everything became weeds and trees in an overgrown pasture.

We decided to hire a bush hogger person to keep things trim. That was only successful off and on since not too many people have their own equipment who are willing to risk life and limb to clear our formidable hillside.

Finally Bill bought a John Deere – a big but not the biggest John Deere – so he could mow the slope himself. He had to go straight down to the bottom and then straight back up (no sideways trimming due to the danger of tipping over).

I had visions of Bill lying on the slope with the bush hogger machine on top! Twice a year Bill would do the slope and it would take him four or five days each time to complete the job and that long for me to worriedly chew my nails down too.

Note of interest: Bill was halfway up/down the slope when I ran out to tell him about the 9-11 Disaster. This should give you an idea of how long he has been dedicated to bushhogging our slope.

As Bill grew older – and older, and less interested in risking his own life and limb, a Miracle Man arrived. Dennis came from Texas and said he noticed many folks around here have steep slopes that need trimming. He then bought a special mower that allows him to mow across slopes instead of up and down.

Dennis named his new company Slope Goat!

Dennis the Slope Goat finishes mowing our South 40 in three to four hours instead of days. Now we are duly impressed and looking forward to retiring the big John Deere.

Lest I sound too cynical about our steep incline/decline, the slope has some desirable attributes:

  • There is an old forest and a gurgling stream at the bottom. This is great for horses since they must go down to the bottom to drink and come back up for food (lots of great exercise). The problem is, we outlived our horses who were 28 and 32 and had become longtime lawn ornaments grazing on our parklike slope. Our urge to ride slowly receded when it was too hot, too cold, too buggy or we didn’t feel quite like it.
  • The horses did look beautiful grazing though and our three grandgirls loved pony rides.
  • I used to take walks down to the bottom of the slope (but not for long since it’s a killer huffing and puffing back up).
  • When Elsa-the-dog was new and we turned her loose for the first time, she ran down to the bottom, back up, and down and up again. That was the first and last time she ever tried to make a break for it.

And here we sit, atop our hill. It is 30+ years later as we admire the ever-changing mountain view. But if we look down for a moment at the land, we can see all the way to where we know the stream is. And though we may be a bit too rickety to make our way down there nowadays, the memory is fond.

We smile because we are so happy to have found Slope Goat and hope that Dennis keeps at it through 2021.

Blue Ridge Beautiful

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View from the warm interior of my home December 17, 2020

An icey foggy strange and wonderfully different day in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are always a viewing pleasure, but today they are a distant and magical kingdom right out of a Disney film.

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A little sun, some grass seed and a cover of straw and look what we have created! Or rather, the earth has given forth and I am once again amazed at just what goodness the world can wrought.

Oh, I know growing grass is a little thing.

But that is what this story is about – the green green grass growing in our front garden!

And sometimes pictures speak louder than words.

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It has been over 30 years since first we came to this bit of Camelot in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There was nothing here but we camped out on the land and dreamed of the perfect house to shelter us right into old age.

A Home for Living

All on one level with an attached two car garage we have given thanks many times for the cover during rain or sleet or snow. It is a modest house designed by Bill, that has bent with the years to accommodate many changes. In the beginning my mother came to live with us for several years, then Bill’s sister moved to the area and spent every weekend here. My brother and Sister-in-law and kids came too, and long time friends returned and returned. Our son came early on, married, and then grandchildren arrived, and we had dogs and horses and a garden and we grew along with the landscape and we changed too along with the house that accommodated and sheltered us all.

There are rooms with a view, mostly of the Blue Ridge Mountains which really do look blue sometimes. Other rooms look out upon our green green world and what I call the Forest Primeval.

Bedrooms have their own thermostats for individual heat control in case we lose power. But there is a big wood stove which heats the house so efficiently that I sometimes have to open windows in the middle of a blizzard.

Even though I always see this home as almost perfect, we began some upgrades in 2018. A big change was the addition of a “Whole House Generator.” It is still hard to imagine we no longer need candles. Oddly enough I still have a major stash of jarred candles “just in case.” But the generator keeps working its magic and we haven’t had to use a candle yet (except to add romance of course).

In addition to the magical generator, we upgraded the kitchen with a quartz countertop that feels cool and looks so cool that I think I am working in a brand new place. I love the view of the mountains from the kitchen too.

Kitchen Before – Outdated Cabinets and Formica Countertop
Kitchen After – Counter is actually a Dove Grey

Nope, we do not wish to sell the house! And this is not a pre-prepared advertisement. I have simply run out of adventurous things to blog about, and my self imposed isolation means you get a little tour of Camelot. Also, between you and me, I am practising using the new WordPress block editor format. What do you think?

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Layers Sunrise

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

 Just another miracle here – the dawning of a new day.

The sun is rising over lingering storm clouds over the Blue Ridge Mountain range and finally over the foothills and hollows of home.

 

 

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There is something enchanting about the ethereal mists in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  I am still breathless for a moment when the world is quiet and serene.

Mountain Mist 1

View from Home The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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Foggy Barn 2

Little Elsa, the rescue dog, has been with us for five months.  And even with wide open spaces and acres where she can run, we have been walking her on a leash.  It was our fear since we did not know her background, that she would run away or disappear into the woods and be hurt or lost.  We love her now too much to risk losing her to a taste for freedom.

But we have had dogs here before.  Two Golden Retrievers (Peaches and Carrie), Rudy (a misunderstood Pit Bull) and Rozie, our other mixed breed love, who all lived to old age. None of them ever required leash control on home ground since we have ample space right here for long country walks and little traffic to worry about.

One day Bill and I knew it was time to finally set Elsa free to stretch her legs and run with the wind.  Removing Elsa’s leash was a terrifying move for all three of us.

Elsa could not believe her luck when the door opened and there was nothing holding her back.

And out she went – running and running and sniffing and sniffing.  Oh no!  Will she love freedom too much to return?

Out of sight she went with us

calling and calling

and so worried for her safety.

And suddenly,

THERE SHE WAS!

And suddenly

she tore off again, running and running and free!

And THERE SHE WAS

walking in sight of us without a leash!

And again, running and running

and exploring the world.

And finally she was walking with us

and met us at our door.

Home!

All three of our hearts are swelling with pride and love.  We have all seen and felt the utter joy of freedom in the shape of a little rescue dog who has probably never felt it before.

 

 

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