Lee and I have lived in many beautiful places in the course of our lives. I grew up in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest and in the deserts of San Bernardino. I lived for a time on a sailboat in Marina Del Rey. I lived in the Kingdom of Tonga. We both lived on the coast of California and then for four years in Hawaii. We lived for 10 years in Northern California in a beautiful city called Granite Bay, walking distance from Folsom Lake. We would be there to this day if Lee's job hadn't moved him to Orange County, CA. We spent 10 years there, fifteen minutes from the beach and with perfect weather, not counting mudslides and the odd earthquake. And yet, when Lee retired we moved to the tiny town of Buchanan, VA.
Every vacation where we did not go to visit relatives, we spent exploring the US. We wanted to find the best place to live. We eliminated the northern part of the country. Lee had lived in Escanaba, MI as a child and didn't want 6 months of winter. We also eliminated all the southern states. Lee had lived in Houston and hated the humidity. Hawaii was OK, as we had ocean breezes, but he really preferred to live somewhere other than the tropics!
Lee's much beloved Grandmother, Pearl lived in Sun City, AZ. It was too hot and brown for us. We kept going east, looking for the perfect spot.
My mother is from Ashland,KY. I have relatives there and Virginia and North Carolina. We visited there and we loved it. We like that you can't throw a rock and not hit an historic site..Civil War ( oops, I mean the war of Northern Aggression) or Revolutionary War. My Montague relatives came here through Williamsburg and Lee loves to visit there. The state is jam packed full of Universities which makes for a diverse and interesting population. And the views. Even the freeways are pretty! No concrete tunnels full of graffiti on jam packed freeways 24/7. Have you seen the Blue Ridge Parkway? Awesome views from every lookout.
So we chose Virginia and our daughter Tara chose Virginia Tech and here we are. Now we have four seasons. Just when you get sick of the heat and humidity of summer, a summer shower will come along and cool you off. Sprinklers for the lawn? Why? It rains every few days and keeps everything green. Then comes the beautiful autumn colors. Winter has its' own stark beauty. It reminds me of a Beverly Doolittle painting! Spring is glorious. I love it when the dogwoods and lilacs are in bloom.
This winter has been a challenge for us and others. If you have read my earlier writngs you will know that snow is not as fun as it looks. But then we got up this morning. The sun is shining and the snow is sparkling. If you discount going to the barn and finding it a VERY cold 20 degrees, and for this narrative I WILL discount that, it is a morning worth all the trouble.
The view of our house from Lithia is commanding.
There is an even better view from our porch across the valley.
The woods behind our house are home to many deer, turkeys, fox and a host of birds. There are bears, cougars, coyotes and bobcats on the list of things we know are there, but hope they stay far away. I like knowing they live here, but I'd just as soon not see them. We won't count the groundhogs, because I wish they would find another place to dig their dens, but not enough to shoot the cute little critters. If a horse breaks a leg in a groundhog hole, I will wish I had done something. We also have a lot of buzzards, but from a distance they look a bit like hawks, so that is what I prefer to think I see gliding above us.
Our stream in no longer a scary, rushing danger, but a thing of beauty.
Just driving up our driveway is glorious. I choose not to think of the muddy mess it will be when the snow melts. (A paved drive is on "the list", but it is 1/3 of a mile and thus, quite expensive.)
We particularly like the deer tracks going up our trail into the woods. I love when we co-exist and worry about them during hunting season. On the other hand, I guess I don't need 300 deer eating our pastures and woods to the ground. We can support quite a few on our 57 acres though, so they are welcome.
This is what it is like for a California native to learn to live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. So far, so good.