We left the city far behind. We had accepted an offer to spend the weekend at a little farmhouse. No computers, no work, no everyday chores and errands. Were we ready for this? You bet!
Our cousins, Tom and Susie, joined us. First order of business was settling in on the screened porch for late afternoon drinks and snacks. We observed fences crisscrossing golden fields and the deep blue stormy sky with low clouds looming over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sitting on that porch was calming and restful.
We had been to the farm before and had not walked the fields and woods that extend all the way to the Shenandoah River. We had an aerial map of the farm. Our cousins are very good with maps so now was the perfect time to explore. We took off past the barns, through the gate, leaving the tree nursery fields behind us. A grassy track crossed a stream and then acre upon acre of cornfields rolled ahead of us.
We stayed on the fields’ edge as much as we could, observing amazing spider webs strung across the path, animal droppings (mostly deer, but was that one with all the berries a bear’s?), and the fluctuation in corn size and conditions. When the fields ended at the edge of the woods, we knew we were nearing the Shenandoah River. Looked at the map; studied the compass. After 10 minutes of bushwhacking, we came to the river.
Lots of little clamshells and toads were on the pebbly beach. We saw egrets and bald eagles overhead. No noise, no people. We climbed back up the bank, and continued following the river’s edge for some distance before we headed east to find a little pond marked on the map. And there is was! Beautifully “landscaped” with plants and rocks, the pond was many shades of green and browns. You wouldn’t swim there, but the view was lovely. We sat on a fallen log and just enjoyed the tranquility of the space. As if on cue, a light rain fell for a few minutes, but we were perfectly protected under the tree canopy.
We’d been hiking and bushwacking for almost 4 hours. We hadn’t covered all the farm’s property, but it was enough….except for one little detour. A colleague had given Beth this advice before our visit to the farm, “Bring water shoes, and hike up the stream. You might find a little waterhole.” This sounded too good to be true! So, when we came to the creek, we exchanged hiking boots for watershoes, stepped into the run, began walking upstream, and the cool water on our feet felt great. As we walked through the stream, the water got deeper and muddier at each meandering turn. We hiked on, laughing our way through the oozing – and stinking – mud. Then, good fortune befell us. A large tree had recently fallen, and it blocked our way upstream. It was all the excuse we needed to head back to that lovely screened porch for some drinks and snacks.