The snow came down for hours yesterday – silent, soft flakes. I’m tired of the snow, but it still works it’s magic. You can’t help but feel the world is enchanted for those few, quiet hours when everything’s covered in a pillow of pristine powder.
We spent Thanksgiving at my stepmother-in-law’s house in the Shenandoah Valley. Daniel’s dad grew up in this area, so he took my sister-in-law and I on a walk down to the river. The town was quiet, blanketed in fresh snow.
At about this point on the walk, I realized I couldn’t feel my toes.
They have a lovely dog I enjoyed petting while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking. Donna, the aforementioned stepmother-in-law, makes delicious brussels sprouts with bacon, which I greedily ate with a heaping mound of mashed potatoes.
In the beginning of July, Daniel and I headed out with friends from church to attend the annual congregational get together at the Episcopal campground that borders the George Washington National Forest. It’s taken me forever to get to posting these, because on the way there, our car broke down (RIP) and the rest of July was spent either car-less or in Florida to buy my grandparents’ car (thanks, Grandparents!).
I had a most relaxing time despite the stress of losing a vehicle. We played literary games, sang gospel songs in three parts, read on the covered porch, ate s’mores, and went on a very educational hike thanks to the presence of an ecologist and a former geology major. I fell in a creek, got bitten by a horsefly, and overheated a bit, but that’s part of the joy of summertime!
The weekend could not have been better.
I spent Saturday in the mountains with my church’s college group. You may remember that I went on the same hike last year and really enjoyed it.
We read Psalms, closed our eyes and listened to the gentle shhh of wind through leaves, and had Eucharist on the mountaintop.
Focused breathing up steep paths is a special sort of meditation. It’s so very rare for me to be able to let go of daily stresses and live in the moment for hours at a time, but something about Shenandoah does it for me. I was distracted by panoramic views, new friends, and the marvelous way the body adapts to uneven terrain. It was a lovely and exhausting day.
Mary and I have been friends for nearly 10 years. We met our junior year of high school, attended college together, and were roommates for a year and a half. She came up to visit last month, so naturally we went to Skyline Drive. It’s one of the most impressive parts of this state and I’m lucky to live so close to it. I especially love the foggy haze and flash storms that visit the mountains in summertime. It’s like exploring a primordial rain forest.
Daniel had to stop by the library to pick up a few books for a research paper last weekend, so I parked nearby and took a self-guided tour around UVa. UVa’s campus is nearly always referred to as “The Grounds.” It’s a funny, sort of pretentious little quirk. I like to say it in my best high English accent: “Shall we take a stroll around The Grounds?”
They also have student/faculty housing located on the main lawn called the “Academical Village.” Sigh. What a bunch of weirdos.
This journal has turned into a place for photos and little else. I talk plenty in everyday life, but I haven’t felt the need to reiterate here. I’ve always journaled in some form or the other, but with access to various social media platforms, I have so many ways to have my voice heard or reflect on my day in small phrases and brief conversations. Maybe I need long form, but maybe the quiet is fine, too.
Charlottesville went from black and white to vibrant technicolor in the past few weeks. I’m enjoying the spring blooms as much as I can because I know they’ll give way to lizard green leaves in a few short weeks.
I didn’t make it home for Christmas this year, but I came pretty close. We spent Christmas day at a family friend’s childhood home in tiny Woodstock, Virginia.
It was a proper country Christmas. We fed the hens, chased the guineafowl (that was mostly me), ate pot roast with mashed potatoes, and opened gifts by the fireplace. It was just how Christmas should be. I missed my family, but I’m thankful that another one welcomed us in as two of their own.
Hope you had a lovely Christmas day!
Daniel’s friends asked him to officiate their wedding in Lakeland last weekend, so we flew down to Florida for the first time in a long time (in fact, Daniel hadn’t been back since we moved over a year ago). It was a weekend of reunions and reminiscences.
Seeing old friends is a great reminder of the progress we’ve made. We think our lives are boring until we’re forced to summarize them to people who no longer experience our routines firsthand, alongside us. Everything is reanimated. We defend, reflect, reconsider. We begin to see ourselves as the protagonist in a grand narrative like we did when we were young and dreaming. We see each other through new eyes. We see we’ve grown up.
As we drove along the wide Florida roads, I realized that Virginia really feels like home, maybe more than Florida ever did. I am swaddled in the mountains, set at ease by this community. Life is richer here.
All I need now is for my Florida friends to move to Virginia. That would be heaven.
I-64 boasts 2 lookouts between Waynesboro and Charlottesville. Since it’s a divided highway they’re only accessible going east from Waynesboro, so I have to wait until I have reason to head out that way to take in the view. This week I remembered to bring my camera along on a thrifting excursion, so I stopped at both lookouts on my way back home.
What a lovely fall day!
It’s days like these that make me fall in love with Virginia all over again. I’m lucky to live here.