Tag Archives: farm pond

Thankfulness from The Shenandoah Valley


If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

(Our pond)

Gratitude for God’s many blessings is where I want my focus to be and not to dwell on what I don’t have.  This Thanksgiving, I am deeply grateful for my family. Our newest grandbaby, Charlie, is celebrating his first Thanksgiving with us. Each loved one is infinitely precious. I’m grateful for our home and farm and am richly mindful that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I’m thrilled we were able to dig out and redo our farm pond this year and we got needed rains to fill what had been am empty dry crater. Now, it teems with life.

(Our pond with ducks, geese, and swan)

(Charlie and my dad, our oldest and youngest family members)

Good friends are one of life’s greatest blessings and I am grateful for everyone.  I love my bit of earth and look forward to getting back out into the garden in the new year and creating some order in the wild beauty.  Note I said ‘some’ as I know I will never entirely win over the wilderness. But I glory in growing things.

(Sunflowers growing in front of our barn)

I’m also grateful for my writing gift, and that I have a new release coming out the first of the year.  My Civil War themed time travel romance, Secret Lady, is out on January 9th and in pre-order at Amazon now: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KNL7K3Z/

After a long slump, I am finally plugging along again on my WIP (work in progress). I would be lost without my writing, and am when I’m in a hole. My late grandfather used to say there was no excuse for boredom if you have a good imagination and I do.  I think a vivid imagination is both a blessing and a curse,  at times, but I’m wired to be creative, so I’m running with it.

(Puppy Cooper and Sparky McGee–our newest furbabies)

My furbabies are a vital part of my life and I’m so thankful for my dogs and kitties.  The searing pain that accompanies the inevitable passing of a furry friend is offset by the happiness and companionship they give me.  The only way I know to compensate for the loss of a dearly loved furbaby is to open my heart and home to a new one. I’m big into pet adoption and urge everyone to consider adopting a needy puppy/dog or cat/kitten this holiday.

(Our pond in the recent ice storm)

I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving and may God richly bless you.

What are you particularly thankful for?

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. ~American Indian saying

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Summer Inspiration From Our Farm in the Shenandoah Valley


Summer days on the farm sail by like clouds in the blue. Each morning brings a fresh look to our familiar  scenery. The sights that greet us have comforting continuity and yet are ever-changing.  No two days in the country are identical.

Breaking dawn and soon after is the best time of day. Nightly slumber renews the garden, beading every leaf and blossom with dew. Cows amble in the sparkling meadow, and the pond swims with waterfowl… It’s the garden of Eden time.

(Lilies with the barn in back.)

Pastoral beauty and flowery nooks beckon and I get out my camera phone. Suspicious geese flee the crazy lady unless I sneak up on them. Fussy bunch. Summer sounds create a symphony while I dart around picture-taking. Birds sing, roosters crow, cows bawl, geese fuss… The cooing of mourning doves is a continual background note, and we have an insane mockingbird who runs through every tune he knows. Repeatedly. The trill of meadowlarks is heavenly. Finches and robins have the happiest song. Red-winged blackbirds sound their classic wetland call  at the pond. Ducks converse amiably, unlike the squawky geese.. There is much life here.

I love the music of the garden. Bees hum, crickets chirp, fairies sing…

(Phlox and more phlox)

(Zinnias and cosmos from seed I saved and sowed in May, also pictured below)

(Wild Bee balm and coreopsis tinctoria)

Hazy, hot, and humid stretches of summer do not inspire me. Pics are dulled when the air hangs like a warm wet blanket. My spirits soar in the ‘Reaching to heaven blue sky days’ and these are the best for image taking. But I also love the mist. Mist lends itself well to mystery. You can hardly say mystery without it.

Magic returns again in the long summer evenings. We’re blessed with a spectacular view of sunsets over the meadow, the pond, and hills with the Allegheny Mountains rolling beyond them. Once again, the geese may enter into these images. It depends on how sneaky I am and how fast they are. The host of lightning bugs blinking in the garden and meadows are impossible to capture on film.  Cicadas serenade us from the trees. Earthy farm smells are not for everyone but you have to love the scenery.

(Our pond at dusk)

(Our barn at sunset with sunflowers)

(Phlox at dusk)

I’ve captured glimpses of midsummer in ‘The Shire’ as I term our little patch of earth and hope you enjoy my sharing.

(The geese running toward the meadow-away from me)

(The geese watching the sunset)

(Cows in pasture beneath the setting sun)

‘The summer night is like a perfection of thought.’ ~Wallace Stevens

‘In summer, the song sings itself.’ ~William Carlos Williams

‘Each fairy breath of summer, as it blows with loveliness, inspires the blushing rose.’ ~Author Unknown

(Cone flowers)

‘Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year — it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.’ ~Author Unknown

‘Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.’
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
True Poems flee –’
~Emily Dickinson, c.1879

‘I drifted into a summer-nap under the hot shade of July, serenaded by a cicada lullaby, to drowsy-warm dreams of distant thunder.’ ~Terri Guillemets

‘One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.’ ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

(Gaillardia)

***In addition to the farm and garden, I’m an author. I write historical, time travel, and paranormal romance. Also young adult. Plus nonfiction about gardening and country life. For more on my books, visit my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B002BLLAJ6/

April in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


(In front of our farm-house)

You are likely to find me out in the garden, because the garden is where life is. Everything is green, growing, flowering, or with the promise of blooms and fruit to come.  The garden is a vibrant place, and yet, deeply peaceful, too, and ever-changing. No two days in the garden are the same.  Each day holds new discoveries. Spring is a giddy time, with so much to do at once.

Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller 1732 (This is very true)

While much of the country is still buried under winter, those of us fortunate enough to dwell in the Shenandoah Valley, or ‘The Shire’ as I call it,  are blessed with spring loveliness. Not that the weather doesn’t waffle here, because it has and does, dipping back into frigid temps after luring everything into bloom. But most plants are hardy enough to withstand this whimsy. We are well accustomed to the annual dance. I cover my gullible lilies and pray for the blossoming trees.

A new project has opened up in my gardening world with the redoing of our farm pond–digging out years of accumulating silt–and the expansion of the surrounding fence.  This gives us much more room to grow our dreams, safe from munching cows, and a lot of tree planting has ensued. Yesterday, daughter Elise and I planted thirty additional trees and bushes on the pond banks, after a long planting session this past Saturday with the enthusiastic help of my three oldest grandsons. While we labored, we were surrounded by birdsong from meadowlarks, red-winged black birds, the song sparrow, killdeer, cardinals… It’s hard work, but the pond will be glorious. Our aim is to plant for the birds, water fowl, fish, pollinators, and people. I’m envisioning magic.

(One end of our Pond)

(Elise, Me, and my three grandsons after a long tree planting day)

As for my writing, admittedly it has sagged as planting and gardening take priority, but I have a new story idea buzzing around in my head. Outside time gives me the opportunity to ponder my emerging plot. How can I not be inspired while enveloped in all this spring beauty?

(Virginia Bluebells in front of our house)

“Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.” ~W. Earl Hall

“April is a promise that May is bound to keep.” ~Hal Borland

“The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.”
~Julian Grenfell

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” ~Mark Twain

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
~Robert Frost

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~Mark Twain

***Images by daughter Elise Trissel

Chronicling Spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


I am a gardener, animal lover, author… Fortunately, I haven’t had to choose a single focus and incorporate my loves into my writing. Among my greatest passions is the Shenandoah Valley in general, and our farm in particular. The meadows are covered in a wash of green and looking far more hopeful than the brown hue we’ve lived with since November A blanket of snow is pretty but we haven’t had much snowfall this year. Thank heavens the rain has returned after months of drought. Fingers crossed, it stays.

Our drained and dug out farm pond is finally beginning to fill back up again. It was a dry crater all fall and winter like something on the moon. The barnyard geese were suspicious at first, but now go for swims. We are watching for the migrating waterfowl and birds who were once regular visitors here. Sadly, our place was off their radar last spring. Having an alive pond again is exciting. We’re consulting experts about what to do regarding fish, and I’m toying with getting ducks. The original pond had filled with silt over the decades and had to be redone. It’s located in a marshy spot in the meadow fed by wet water springs and is the head waters of Cooks Creek, which ultimately feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Fencing keeps the cows out. We have planted some trees and shrubs around it and will plant more.

(Geese enjoying the new grass. Ruins of an old barn visible behind our farm)

I’m in my ‘giddy about the earth awakening mode’, or was, until the wind storm hit. My spirits are a little battered, and the crocus are kind of sad after the roaring bluster. But I trust the blossoms will revive and new ones will open when this gale finishes with us and sweeps away. March really roared in this year. Inclement weather is a trial to gardeners everywhere. We hopeful souls go on. We must. I’m chronicling spring as it unfolds in my bit of earth.

(Early crocus and snowdrops)

I saved a lot of seeds last year, ordered many others, and started some early varieties of flowers, herbs, and vegetables in my little greenhouse. One late February day was so balmy, it felt like May. I planted my early salad greens in the garden during the warm spell. Then the lion returned, and the seeds will slumber until the warmth comes back.

“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.”
~A. Bronson Alcott, “The Garden,” Tablets, 1868

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

(Miniature iris return faithfully each year)

(Yellow crocus)

***For more on me follow my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/

The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats


We’ve had a lovely garden season this year with rains enough not to need the sprinkler. This may change, as higher temps are in the forecast and no imminent showers, but weather can turn around overnight, so we shall see. Meanwhile, we’ve been blessed and I’m sharing July pics of the farm and garden with you.

A parade of poppies by Elise(A parade of poppies by daughter Elise)

_MG_0679_copyright (1)I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir (1838–1914)

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright. ~Henry David Thoreau

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. cummings  (Cone flowers by Elise)

Good heavens, of what uncostly material is our earthly happiness composed… if we only knew it. What incomes have we not had from a flower, and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons. ~James Russell Lowell

poppies and alyssum by EliseI know the thrill of the grasses when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover felt as it held a drop of dew pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the stream said to the dipping willows, and what the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when they came stealthily down and crept fondly into the tops of the trees. ~Muriel Strode, “Creation Songs”

(Poppies, sweet alyssum, and bachelor’s buttons by Elise)

July 5th evening light in between rain storms

(Grazing cows in the meadow taken by Beth)

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson

Happiness flutters in the air whilst we rest among the breaths of nature. ~Kelly Sheaffer

barn in sunset                                              (Barn against sunset by Beth)

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere. ~Vincent Van Gogh

All I want is to stand in a field
and to smell green,
to taste air,
to feel the earth want me,
Without all this concrete
hating me.
~Phillip Pulfrey, from Love, Abstraction and other Speculations, http://www.originals.net

I can still smell the green of the grass crushed beneath me. Feel the damp of the dew on my elbows. Hear the birdsong. ~Kristina Turner, The Self-Healing Cookbook, 2002, originally published 1987

Garden shot by Elise in July

(our garden by Elise)

God’s handiwork is all about me,
As I sit on the porch and gaze
At the far-off peaks of the mountains
That are touched with the sun’s bright rays.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “In the Mountains” (1940s)

farm pond with cow(Our meadow with pond and hills beyond by Beth)

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

A setting sun still whispers a promise for tomorrow. ~Jeb Dickerson, jebdickerson.com

Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
~William Wordsworth

Brilliant coreopsis and Queen Ann's Lace by Elise(Coreopsis Tinctoria and Queen Anne’s Lace by Elise)

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story. ~Linda Hogan

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. ~Henry David Thoreau

morning garden along the road(Bee Balm, white Phlox and other flowers in front garden by Beth)

All Things Bright and Beautiful


The Shenandoah Valley is one of the loveliest places in the world. I call it ‘the Shire’, for good reason. Given the darkness spreading in America, my aim is to share the simple goodness and beauty that still exists in my green valley.

“God made the country, and man made the town.”  ~William Cowper, The Task

Farm Pond with Geese(Image of our farm pond by daughter Elise)

“To a brain wearied by the din of the city, the clatter of wheels, the jingle of street cars, the discord of bells, the cries of venders, the ear-splitting whistles of factory and shop, how refreshing is the heavenly stillness of the country!” ~Olive Thorne Miller, 1895

“I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

Cosmos, sunflowers, and barn.jpg1(image by Beth of old red barn that’s now white with cosmos and sunflowers)

Daylily wet with rain(Daylily and larkspur wet with rain by Beth)

“Anybody can be good in the country.”  ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something.” ~Charles Dickens

butterfly in evening garden by Elise(Silver Checkerspot Butterfly in Garden by Elise)

“The sunrise and sunset of each Summer’s day,
The song of the birds and the flowers, so fair,
And all the beauties of Nature everywhere.” ~~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “A Leaf from Memories’ Book” (1940s)

“As much as I converse with sages and heroes, they have very little of my love and admiration.  I long for rural and domestic scene, for the warbling of birds and the prattling of my children.”  ~John Adams

Elise herding geese(Elise herding geese–image by Beth)

Geese in front yard.jpg1(Geese in my front yard–image by Beth out the second story window)

“Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature.”
~William Cowper

“The city, no matter how small, is corrupt and unrepentant, while the sun shines brighter in the country, making people more wholesome.”
Lori Lansens, The Girls

Another bright corner(Bright garden nook by Beth)

Ferny asparagas covered with dew(Ferney asparagus and flowers covered with rain in the early morning by Beth)

“Let yourself fall in love with something that simply makes you happy. If there’s a place for it in your heart, there’s a place for it in your home.” ~Mary Randolf Carter

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

garden, yard, and old barn.jpg1(Garden, yard, and old barn)

Gardening–A Worthy Legacy


Emma in the garden with larkspur1Whisper blue sky days in the garden feed my soul, especially when the plants are fresh and the world is new. May and June in the Shenandoah Valley are as fair as any place on earth. I launched myself from winter slug mode into the garden in March. Since then, I’ve tended neglected nooks, (and entire beds) pulled weeds, thinned vigorous reseeding heirlooms to make room for other contenders, planted, pruned, and mulched with compost from our farm. I hear the envious sighs from gardeners who yearn after all the organic compost we have access to.

(Granddaughter Emma above with blue larkspur taken by Dennis)

perfect June roseGardening is an ongoing labor. Daughter Elise, my right hand and ‘colleague’, undertake many projects together. Our dreams are far loftier in January than when reality hits. That tends to pare them back. I also have the enthusiastic support of various small people. Some of the children work harder than others, but each one loves the garden.

Earlier this spring, 10-year-old grandson Ian asked who would care for the plants when I’m too old to manage.

‘You,’ I said, ‘and Elise, and anyone else who loves to garden.’ He pondered who that might include. I assured him I’m good to go for many years yet, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Despite my moaning about the–at times–backbreaking work, I can’t imagine life without gardening. Nor do I wish to. What a wealth to leave future generations, culminating from the love I inherited from those who’ve gone before me. Plus some still avid gardeners in their 80’s. It’s a family thing.

(Above, A David Austen Rose by Elise)

my gardening assistant1

Elise and my husband Dennis have taken wonderful pics of the garden, our farm, and several of the small people this spring. I hope you enjoy them.

“It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.” ~James Douglas,Down Shoe Lane

***I totally agree with this quote, but don’t have images at dusk or dawn on this particular post.

(Above, my most enthusiastic assistant, 5-year-old Owen, pulling the vintage wagon one warm spring day with his hoe and drinks to keep us hydrated.)

Emma and Owen beside the old pink rose with larkspur1 (The heirloom pink rose-bush the children are beside is 34 years old.)

“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

***Wow, is this true. Mine surely is. I suppose the way our garden(s) are allowed to assert themselves as much as they are, says something in itself.

Siamese barn kitty in herb bed

(Siamese barn kitty in the herbs, by Elise)

“I know that if odour were visible, as colour is, I’d see the summer garden in rainbow clouds. ~Robert Bridges, “Testament of Beauty”

***What imagery. Quite enchanting.

“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

***Gardening has comforted and consoled many on this side of the veil.

Emma and Owen in the flowers with poppies

(My wildflower meadow border)

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

***You surely can.

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.” ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

***These quotes really struck me because Elise and I often imagine what could be. Especially in January, then we pare down those visions come spring, but glorious dreams rise ever before us. And who knows what might yet become reality. The possibilities are ever there. We have room here to dream.

pilgrim geese in spring meadow1

(We see the meadow from our garden. Image by Elise)

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

***A wonderful quote from Kate Morton, and yes, I am in accord with her.

From an aunt, long ago: “Death has come for me many times but finds me always in my lovely garden and leaves me there, I think, as an excuse to return.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

***I absolutely love this quote from Robert Brault, who has many excellent insights into gardening and all that it means, or should. And still can.

blue phlox spring blooming

(Wild blue Phlox divaricata above and Coral bells below by Elise)

Coral Bells 2

If you want to show your love for the earth, plant something and encourage others. Family and community gardens can make an enormous difference in a person’s outlook, no matter how old or young they are. Gardening feeds the five senses as well as the body and the spirit.

“In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.” ~Dodinsky, www.dodinsky.com

***Wow. How well said. The farm pond in the meadow below. Rather like a very large water garden. We’ve planted trees and pussy willow around it.the farm pond with geese “It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not.” ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

***You really do.

“My garden is my favorite teacher.” ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,www.wildthymecreative.com

***I’ve learned immeasurably from my garden. This past Saturday I took Emma and Owen on a garden tour and invited them to smell many of the herbs, as well as seeing and exploring. Fragrance is our earliest memory, and it’s my hope that someday, when they’re older, the scent of an herb will carry them back to this happy fragrance filled morning with their grandmother, as dill once did for me.

Emma and Owen in the garden1