Tag Archives: The Shenandoah Valley

Of all the seasons, autumn offers the most to man and requires the least of him. ~Hal Borland


Autumn color has been slower to arrive this year, but stunning when it finally came. These are some pics of the wooded hills behind our farm.

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.” ~Faith Baldwin, American Family

“The bright summer had passed away, and gorgeous autumn was flinging its rainbow-tints of beauty on hill and dale.” ~Cornelia L. Tuthill, “Virginia Dare: Or, the Colony of Roanoke,” 1840

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring…” ~P.D. James, A Taste for Death

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~George Eliot, letter to Miss Lewis, 1st October

“Autumn repays the earth the leaves which summer lent it.” ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908

“No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face…”
~John Donne, “Elegy IX: The Autumnal”

falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly
~John Bailey, “Autumn,” a haiku year, 2001, as posted on oldgreypoet.com

“Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees….
Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream…”
~Ernest Dowson (1867–1900), “Autumnal”

“The days may not be so bright and balmy—yet the quiet and melancholy that linger around them is fraught with glory. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell—some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power.” ~Northern Advocate

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves. ~Mahatma Gandhi


May is the wackiest, loveliest month, swinging from soaring heat to frigid cold. Now that the month is almost over, seasonable temps have arrived, and we’ve gotten some nice rain. Despite this roller coaster weather, most of the plants survived.

We grow hardy perennials, reseeding heirlooms, wildflowers (some might be called weeds), herbs…greens, especially Swiss chard, and a forest of dill. It’s possible I accidentally planted two seed packets. We’re reluctant to thin the excess as swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feed on the ferny foliage. Much of the dill is left to bury whatever else we had in that vicinity. Carrots, maybe…beets…  Some of the adult butterflies are soaring about the garden(s).

(Image of Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar and ladybug below taken today)

(Black Swallowtail on Bee Balm from a past summer)

Our garden is not carefully planned, and exists as much for the bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects as for us. We have a lot of ladybugs, lacewings, baby praying mantis, hover flies that resemble honey bees but are beneficials…and I’m not sure what, but a lot of good bugs to battle the bad. The plants often determine what grows. Those that do well tend to be takeover varieties, requiring some management.  By August it’s a jungle. Every single year. But this spring we’ve  mulched with a lot of hay, made valiant attempts at order. We even mulched many of the flower beds with bark like other people do, leaving spots for the reseeding flowers to do their thing, and make frequent rounds to pull out weeds, thistles, etc. But the ‘etc.’ has a way of overcoming all. Perhaps it’s best to do what we can and glory in the untamed beauty. We rarely achieve tamed.

(Swiss Chard with Peas behind below)

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ~H. Fred Dale (Thanks, Anne)

Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown
I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

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

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com


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

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

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary. ~German Proverb

(Heirloom peony)

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

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson

(Happy Coreopsis)

Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters


Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn. ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

(Crocus and violas in the garden blooming now)

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout

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

I wonder if the Daffodil
Shrinks from the touch of frost,
And when her veins grow stiff and still
She dreams that life is lost?
Ah, if she does, how sweet a thing
Her resurrection day in spring!
~Emma C. Dowd, “Daffodil and Crocus,” in Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

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

Her fairies climb the bare, brown trees,
And set green caps on every stalk;
Her primroses peep bashfully
From borders of the garden walk,
And in the reddened maple tops
Her blackbird gossips sit and talk.
~Hannah R. Hudson, “April,” The Atlantic Monthly, April 1868

(Grecian wind flowers)

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

…the sweet wildflower breath of spring… ~Terri Guillemets

I hear the passing echoes of winter and feel the warming spring on my face. ~Terri Guillemets

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring. ~Bern Williams

(Snowdrops blooming in the garden)

Spring Is When the Meadowlark Sings and It’s Singing


Signs of spring are everywhere on the farm. February is like an erratic March. So was January. We’ve had little real winter. Almost no snow. Our weather blows mild then cold then warm again, even balmy before the wind cuts through us once more. The geese are in hyper fussy mating/nesting mode. Don’t even try to talk to them now. Fuzzy pussy willows will soon burst into full-blown catkins. Possibly today. I’m calling it. Spring is here. I’ve got pea seed and early greens ready to plant.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood

Early spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Meadowlark, Eastern MeadowlarkBack to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be such a challenge, with our meadows and all. Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew. Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Several years ago, daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and take its picture, like photographing fairies. We tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek that flows from our pond, but never caught up with that bird, or birds. There may have been more than one taunting us. Unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills. Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting. Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden. Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat. It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape. A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in spring“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

***Images of spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman.

I bought the image of the meadowlark. Sigh.

Thankfulness


Autumn leaves on maple tree near green rye field on our farm in the Shenandoah Valley

On this fine Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my precious husband, family, and friends, including the furry ones. I’d add ‘feathered’ friends but the geese don’t actually like me. I should get some ducks. I’m grateful to live on a farm in the beautiful, richly historic, Shenandoah Valley where my ancestors were among the earliest settlers. I’m surrounded by fields, meadows, wooded hills, mountains, and my slumbering gardens which will awake this spring and burst forth. Though I may need to toss more seed around and put in new plantings if the winter is too cold. Such is gardening. Still, I’m always delighted by what does survive–except for the weeds. For all its challenges, I love country life. (Image above taken by daughter Elise behind our farm)

farm-pond-and-wooded-hills-behind

(The farm pond with wooded hills behind taken by me earlier this fall)

Being a prolific author, I must include how grateful I am for a lively imagination, writing skills, an excellent editor, and publishing company. I am grateful for The Wild Rose Press. I recently finished a ghostly time travel romance entitled Somewhere My Lady, for my Somewhere in Time series, that will come out in the new year. As of yesterday, I am at work on a new paranormal/time travel for this series. With writing, and reading, you can travel all over the place and not leave your couch, chair, bed…Inspiration is all around me.

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

What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? ~Erma Bombeck, “No One Diets on Thanksgiving,” 26 November 1981

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. ~Jim Bishop


autumn-trees-in-mountain-drive

(The Alleghenies)

Autumn blew in last night. Friday and Saturday, the Shenandoah Valley got some much-needed rain out of the hurricane that wreaked havoc on so many. I am deeply sorry for those caught in Hurricane Matthew’s path, and almost feel guilty that it did our dry valley some good. Living this far inland, we often escape the wrath and reap the benefits from a fearsome storm. But not always. Sometimes the valley and mountains are deluged with rain, wind, and flooding. It can get very bad here. Fortunately, this wasn’t one of those times. The valley is green again, and with cooler temps, fall is settling in and leaves beginning to turn. I had feared with all the drought and heat of August and September that we would have poor color this year, but maybe it’s not too late.  I hope so, because I love autumn and am posting some favorite pics from past falls.

chloe-sitting-on-our-pumpkins

No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face….
~John Donne, “Elegy IX: The Autumnal”

I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze.
The sweet chill of pumpkin and crisp sunburnt leaves.
~Ann Drake, 2013

falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly
~John Bailey, “Autumn,” a haiku year, 2001, as posted on oldgreypoet.com

A glorious crown the year puts on… ~Phebe A. Holder, “A Song of October,” in The Queries Magazine, October 1890

autumn-branch

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees….
Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream…
~Ernest Dowson (1867–1900), “Autumnal”

tree-on-fencerow-bordering-our-meadow-by-elise

(Behind our farm)

Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees. ~Faith Baldwin, American Family

The softened light, the veiling haze,
The calm repose of autumn days,
Steal gently o’er the troubled breast,
Soothing life’s weary cares to rest.
~Phebe A. Holder, “A Song of October,” in The Queries Magazine, October 1890

A beauty lights the fading year… ~Phebe A. Holder, “A Song of October,” in The Queries Magazine, October 1890

"Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower."~Fall Quotes and Images--Beth Trissel

Of all the seasons, autumn offers the most to man and requires the least of him. ~Hal Borland

Catch a vista of maples in that long light and you see Autumn glowing through the leaves…. The promise of gold and crimson is there among the branches, though as yet it is achieved on only a stray branch, an impatient limb or an occasional small tree which has not yet learned to time its changes. ~Hal Borland

There is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky…
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

O’ pumpkin pie, your time has come ’round again and I am autumnrifically happy! ~Terri Guillemets

chipmunkonpumpkin

“Autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season which has drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling. She occupied her mind as much as possible in such like musings and quotations…” ~Jane Austen

“green-veined leaves suddenly blushing copper
bronze-edged trees swaying in autumn breezes
gold foliage drifting past pewter branches baring all
brass-hued leaflets dying in beauty, falling in grace”
~Terri Guillemets, “In the Autumn Wood,” 2016

autumn in the Alleghenies

Mom took the pic of the chipmunk on the pumpkin and the one toward Reddish Knob in the Alleghenies above. Daughter Elise took the others of the leaves, trees, grandbaby Chloe with our pumpkins, and the mountains. Grandson Colin is the baby reaching for the leaves taken by his mom, my daughter Alison. Autumn is a family time.

Geese I know #Countrylife


Here's looking at you kid.JPG2(‘Here’s looking at you, kid.’)

With my new photography craze, I’ve taken to stalking the barnyard geese, aka Pilgrim geese (an old breed). They’re squawky, easily spooked, and difficult to capture on film. I creep around corners, freeze when they spot me, and attempt to hang out with the gaggle to win their trust. Not gonna happen. When I toss grain their way, they fear I’m throwing stuff at them and flee. Not overly bright, but fun to watch. I’ve gotten a few good pics and many of their retreating backs.

'I think we're alone now'             (‘I think we’re alone now. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around.’)

These geese have been on our farm for decades. They began as two pairs. The breed is so long-lived, I suspect we still have the originals. If they were better parents, we’d be overrun, but they’re absentminded and forget where they left the goslings. We’ve retrieved distressed peepers and restored them to the gaggle, but only a few reach adulthood out of those successfully hatched. A lot of them don’t even make it out of the egg. After four plus decades, we have about two dozen in the flock.

geese counting cows(Geese counting cows, only they don’t count very well.)

They roam all over the farm, frequent the pond, the meadow, the barnyard, shady grassy spots when the sun’s too hot, and of course, the barn itself. They keep company with the cows and dislike dogs. Cats are ignored. ***Note, these are not attack geese. They fuss and carry on, but will take off when threatened unless defending their nest. Don’t get too near nesting geese of any breed.

“Ego: The fallacy whereby a goose thinks he’s a swan.”

***Images taken by me in July.