Tag Archives: The Shenandoah Valley

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.

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)

Nothing is more completely the child of Art than a Garden. ~Walter Scott


Double apricot hollyhocks

I’m taking delight in dashing out to the garden anytime the light beckons. I never know what I’ll find to photograph. Extra time in the garden is always good for the spirit. I hope you enjoy my discoveries. The double apricot hollyhocks above are on the only plant that survived the winter from the many seedlings I started the spring before and nurtured last summer. This one remaining flower is glorious, and I will save seed from it and try again for more.

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

a medley of flowers

(Bachelor’s buttons, calendula, poppies, phacelia, )

I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden. ~John Erskine

Everything, from kings to cabbages, needs a root in the soil somewhere. ~Woods Hutchinson, A.M., M.D. (1862–1930)

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author unknown

Red Admirel butterfly on cone flowers

(Red Admiral butterfly on cone flowers)

My little bit of earth in the front garden is one of the places that I find my bearings. The rhythm of my day begins with a cup of coffee and a little bit of weeding or dreaming. ~Betsy Cañas Garmon, www.wildthymecreative.com

I am writing in the garden. To write as one should of a garden one must not write outside it or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849–1924), In the Garden, published posthumously, 1925

Can plants be happy? If they get what they need, they thrive — that’s what I know. ~Terri Guillemets, “Lessons from Nature to the Human Heart”

Blacl-eyed susan and larkspur

In almost every garden, the land is made better and so is the gardener. ~Robert Rodale (1930–1990)

Life begins the day you start a garden. ~Chinese Proverb

I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error. ~Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988

As a gardener, I’m among those who believe that much of the evidence of God’s existence has been planted. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

Shirley poppy and minature hollyhocks

(Shirley Poppy and Miniature Hollyhocks)

Yes, I am positive that one of the great curatives of our evils, our maladies, social, moral, and intellectual, would be a return to the soil, a rehabilitation of the work of the fields. ~Charles Wagner

Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw. ~Henry David Thoreau

lily and larkspur(Larkspur and evening primrose)

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a gardener is to think you’re in charge. ~Janet Gillespie

I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error. ~Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988

daylilies and white asters