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Posts Tagged ‘country charm’

horse-head-49642_640This morning featured a unique Neighborhood Breakfast.

I am not a morning person. Maybe closer to a bear.

I used to get up early to fix bacon and eggs  for Bill, but he was always too sick to eat!  Then he found out  it was me who made him sick and he has made his own breakfast ever since.

Nevertheless, at 8:30 this morning I managed to stagger into the Hunt Lodge where our neighbors were meeting other neighbors, and all with widely divergent interests.  The breakfast was to spread good will and I guess they had no idea about grouchy morning people.

But this is the story of a Buffet Breakfast designed to bring even me around to discovering the joy of connecting in an equestrian community.

Bill and I live in  the middle of a 700 acre tract designed for traditional fox hunting.  The scenery is spectacular and we have always loved  seeing the riders in their pinques (scarlet jackets) and the thrill of seeing them “ride to the hounds.”

They say they never actually catch a fox and I fervently hope that is true, but I diverse.

One of our fellow property owners is a Fox Hunting Club.

As you might expect, the Club’s main interest  is “horsey” and although many of the Hunt people once owned parcels and lived on the land, the Club Members  no longer do live here but now come to ride from far and wide.

The “other Land Owners”  are like Bill and me.  We own a parcel of land we live on and that is partially accessible to the Fox Hunting Club.  

We, the “other” Land Owners, are the people who love horses but  don’t ride in the Hunt.

We oftentimes feel vulnerable to the Club’s hounds, horses and riders who traverse our land.

And we tend to worry about liability.

Over the decades since our equestrian haven was conceived, the Hunt Club and  the other Hunt Landowners  have drifted apart and do not always agree on the use and care of the land or even the roles of each entity.

Enter two dedicated fellows with peace and harmony in mind. One is from the Fox Hunting Club and one from The “Other” Landowners, and these two peacemakers decided to host a Neighborhood Breakfast!

Cook & Dishwasher

They planned the event right down to name tags and provided all the food and drink.  There were home baked scones and biscuits, West Virginia sausage, ham and eggs, beautiful fruits, mimosas and all the coffee we could drink.

Maybe  people were motivated by the yearning for good will, and  maybe they were mellow from all the goodies, but soon there were folks chatting  away and getting to know each other better.

We talked about horses of course.  We used to have two of our own.  

We talked about the way things used to be,

the people we knew who were such assets to the Club and to all who live here,

the beauty of the grounds, the fun and camaraderie.

We talked about “the way we were.”

And the Neighborhood Breakfast Buffet was a big success!

Kudos to Pete and Hugh who hatched this ice-breaking outreach event, and to those of us who participated in spite of morning stupors.

I hope next time we will talk about ways to work together going forward and I hope next time the party will be in the late afternoon.

But, in spite of my bear-like morning persona, I must admit there is something to be said about sharing a lovely breakfast with good people.

Communication must surely be the way to overcome divergent interests so we can all live and let live and enjoy a beautiful world.

Amazing Egg Maker

Amazing Egg Maker

06TailRideJulyBrownJarvis2

Please Come Near (626x460)

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Geese n Pond Good One

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Favorite Country Fence

I made another stop to look around

and there were pictures to be found

of country charm, forgotten lanes,

 mountain vistas in nature’s frames,

wild flowers and abandoned fences,

and gates on rusted hinges.

Green Mtn View

Rusty Charm

 

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Which Way to Venezuela

Now is the time of year when our fascinating “hummers” start to overeat because Hummingbirds need to fuel up for a long grueling journey to Venezuela.

I heard that on the radio once – the thing about Venezuela being their ultimate destination.

And I tend to believe everything I hear.

This little traveller resting on top of my umbrella has doubts though.

He evidently doesn’t believe what he heard about directions to Venezuela.

He keeps landing and looking north and then looking south.

Meanwhile, six more of his family ignore him and are busy swooping and arguing in a deafening buzz.

They are making a big fuss with all that fighting, and wasting energy over who gets “first dibs”/dips at the feeder.

Ah, I know it will not be long now when they will all take off for Venezuela.

Bon Voyage my little friends!  Fare thee well!

And please –

Listen to the radio next Spring and find your way back to Virginia!

 

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Brochure Arts CntrThere are things happening in the small town of Clifton Forge, Virginia.  I didn’t realize how many things.

My friend and I stopped there because it’s only 45 minutes from “home” and we heard the little town was morphing into something special.

We stopped right in the center of town to begin our visit at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center.  Taking in the regular storefront facade.  I was thinking, “Ah well.  Just another ho-hum artsy craftsy place. But let’s take a look.”

What surprises were inside!

Quilt at Art Cntr

Handmade Honeysuckle Basket Centerpiece

Handmade Honeysuckle Centerpiece Really Made of Honeysuckle!

Art Cntr Display

Look! Look! Look!

After talking to the friendly volunteers in the Arts Center and marvelling at all the locally made treasures, we realized there was not enough time.  Clifton Forge is becoming a true art center.

First there is exciting rennovation going on at the Masonic Theatre (just down the street from the artsy craftsy place).  Work is in progress to create the most modern facility for theater, music, and community events.  There was mention of a sophisticated Art School too which is already populated with students from around the world..

And we noticed enticing shops – like a grand looking antique store and a hardware store that is supposed to be fabulous.  Now I know “fabulous” is a strange word for a hardware store but we were told not to miss it.  This particular place is so unique it even has a section devoted exclusively to WOMEN!

And of course, Clifton Forge was once a booming railroad town for over 100 years until the 1960’s.   I have to return there to visit the Railroad Museum where visitors can go through a 1940’s vintage train!

There are several restaurants, including Michel’s of authentic French cuisine, and the Club Car (where we had lunch) featuring the freshest of fresh everything.  I have to go back just to try the restaurants!

The sad thing is we simply did not have enough time to cover the charming town of Clifton Forge.

And as I put together this blog post, I realize there is not enough time to tell you all about it either because if we had just two more hours we would still be in the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center browsing buying.PinWheel Quilt Art Cntr

Horse Eye View

 

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Striped_Skunk

Photo from en.wikipedia.org

I have been living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for 26 years now and I am a self proclaimed “local”, but still considered a visitor by genuine old timers. It seems like eons ago I  traded citified  high heeled shoes (that don’t work on gravel drives) for  more sensible Wellies or flats that keep you from falling over.

OF COURSE you never have to ask for Dor’s sage words of wisdom.  Here’s the scoop and the straight talk about country living.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH WILDLIFE!

Deer Turkey Convention 3

Wild things “where the deer and the antelope play” make up a big part of country life but please forgive them their sins.

Deer are hungry.

And anything you plant in the ground (flowers, food, maybe even plastic plants) will send out signals in deer language.

Have you ever heard deer talking?  They oink to each other and they don’t know it but I know they are saying,

“Come and Get It Guys!!  SALAD HERE!”

But you have to love deer for their great beauty and grace.  And after all, they were here first.

  • Exception #1:  Do not try to make friends with Virginia Black Bears.  They are beautiful but somehow not to be trusted with your life.  AVOID VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS.
  • Exception #2:  If you see a sick skunk, do not try to cover it with a blanket to reduce chills and fever.  Dor tried this once.  Fortunately the shivering skunk dragged itself away, but I learned later it might have been rabid!  I hope it was only the flu, but please – AVOID SICK SKUNKS!
  • Exception #3:  Buy or borrow a “Have a Heart Trap.”  This comes in handy for humanely evicting critters that get into your attic like flying squirrels and possums.
Nice View Here

This is just a cute squirrel…not a flying squirrel. I have never seen a flying squirrel but my neighbors had them in their attic.

 

PLANT A VEGETABLE GARDEN BUT MAKE IT BIG

We planted a garden right away but were laughed at.

“Need some help harvesting?” said Julie and Peggy between rude guffaws!

I guess one cucumber and one tomato plant was considered small potatoes around here.

It wasn’t much of a salad for the deer either.

YOU WILL SOMETIMES MISS THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE

Plan on losing POWER, WATER, HEAT, AIR-CONDITIONING and don’t expect to FLUSH TOILETS EITHER!  These things usually disappear without warning at the most inopportune times.

WHACK AWAY AT THOSE WEEDS!

You will undoubtedly own five to ten weed whackers over five to ten years.  WEEDS ARE KILLERS OF MECHANICAL OBJECTS.  And weeds will always win.  Be vigilant. Enormous weeds will soon take over without your constant murderous intention.  Wear gloves for manual attacks or risk bleeding fingers and bug bites.  And be prepared.  You will definitely lose the war.

THERE ARE GOOD BEES AND BAD BEES

Have a plan for dealing with wasps and hornets who build TERRORIST CAMPS in the ground or in great hives almost anywhere you don’t think of.  We found one enormous hive in the fender of our pickup truck.  We moved the truck and the critters kept returning to the empty parking space.

Evidently wasps are not particularly bright.

Now there is a terrorist camp in the ground next to our front door!  Beware visitors.

Bill has a diabolical plan for dealing with the threat.  He ran a hose into the hole and turned the water on.  We are waiting to see if they evacuate and move to a more idyllic location.  I will let you know how this works out.

Request for Bee Eviction 2

WORRISOME WEATHER

We have had flooding rains.

Once we had an earthquake that registered as a mild thump with some rattling dishes.

We experienced a Derecho (a type of storm I never even heard of) with wicked winds.

Tree Limbs Down (800x800)

Tornadoes are rare but not unheard of.

Drought is a distinct possibility.

Deep snow does happen.

Hot, muggy, mid-summer weather is punctuated by severe thunder storms. (Dor hides in a closet.  She used to blame the dog.)

However, we were told and still believe this is Brigadoon and it only rains at night.

Don’t get me wrong.

I LOVE COUNTRY LIFE,

the birds singing

and starry skies,

seeing a doe nursing twin fawns,

herds of turkeys,

  Mama Bear and two cubs wandering by our living room windows.

I love the open space

and the silence,

the comfort of knowing we are almost self sufficient,

the warmth of a wood stove and being stocked up for the winter,

and occasionally I even love the challenge of survival

in a place that is not always benevolent.

I still stand in my kitchen and look out at the Blue Ridge Mountains and then I look again at the inside of our house.  It is a welcome nest Bill and I have created and it is all we had ever hoped it would be, complete with all the memories.

Are you still contemplating the serenity of country life?

Ahhhh –  call me if you have questions!

Shenandoah Sunrise

Shenandoah Sunrise

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