Category Archives: spring gardening

June In My Garden


Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains


“The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”
~Shakespeare

The heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water are pouring down from the hills, making new ponds and creeks. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I am struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it is so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there is no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven. The barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there is a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.

I’ve been thinking about my favorite places. The pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A most splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal. I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.

Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters, don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.