Thursday, August 01, 2013

It's evening in the Valley ... thoughts while sitting on the deck

I love the quiet of the hours before dark. I'm sitting on the deck in the cool of the evening, a slight rustle through the leaves, with temperatures in the low 70s. The weather has been fantastic the past week and so we've enjoyed smelling the freshly dampened soil when it rains, listening to the summertime cicadas and crickets and tree frogs, hearing as rain drops plop on leaves outside the window, and enjoying just being alive in such a peaceful, beautiful place.

It's been a busy summer spent with family and friends as we've traveled, visited, and enjoyed just being together and doing things. We've entertained company here at home, and we've traveled to visit others. Many memories have been made and stored away.

I still cannot believe it's August. AccuWeather has forecasted an early fall with temperatures below normal beginning the end of this month. It's been a comfortable summer ... a few patches of hot, hot weather but mostly cool nights, comfortable days, and low humidity when cold fronts pass through. For campers like us, the beauty of living in the Shenandoah Valley is "camping" from home. We have all the privacy and convenience, yet can enjoy the beauty of the mountains -- you know, the things people pay to do in this part of Virginia. That used to be me while growing up in Chesterfield. I've lived here 17 years now ... I'm still pinching myself to believe that it's real.

I still see the majestic mountains, the breath-taking vistas, the fields of freshly baled hay, the wildflowers and birds and wildlife. And when I look at those things, I see God's hand at work. Just wait until October's blaze of autumn colors take over!

Ahh -- a hummingbird just buzzed me, coming in from three directions, hovering and making that little squeaky sound they do. I looked at him as he buzzed in front of me -- he looked at me, I looked at him -- and he hung in mid-air before finally lazily zipping away.

There's a butterfly on the deck railing. I've noticed this week the butterflies are all over the deck and the trees whose branches shade the table and chairs. We have a maple and bass tree adjacent ... blue swallowtails, orange monarchs, and some smaller species that I'm not familiar with have covered the railing and branches. They have added a new dimension to enjoying the outdoors.

Yellow bass tree leaves are beginning to litter the ground as they do toward the end of summer each year and, in the past, I attributed it to the hot, dry weather. However, this year has been rainy and fairly cool -- grass and trees are still lush and green -- so it must just be part of that tree's life cycle.

Our deck is on the second story of our house which gives me some added comfort in an area that has seen black bears, coyotes, deer, wild turkeys, some have said they've seen some type of panther over the years, and other wild creatures.

Tonight our next door neighbor, who has 60 acres of pasture and woods, informed us that a bear visited him this week, killing one of his goats and causing havoc in his barn. His motion camera caught photos of it that I hope to get and post ... he said it was the larger of the two bears that have been seen in this area all summer. Thank goodness he hasn't yet discovered our garden.

So I'm sitting on the deck with my chair facing into the yard, camera on the table beside me, because you never know when that Kodak moment might pop up. I don't want to be surprised like SWAC Husband was in the spring when he was sitting in a chair near the garden and had kind of dozed off in the sunshine, waking up just in time to hear a panting sound as a bear came up the yard right toward him. I don't know who was more startled -- him or the bear -- but they both took off in opposite directions.

No deer yet under the trees at the back of the yard which is kind of unusual since it's 8:00 and this is when they come out to graze. Maybe they are wary of the furry visitor next door.

And the hummingbird just came back. I've got purple Mexican heather and blue dwarf potted morning glories out here ... perhaps I'm disrupting his evening snack. As I look across the yard toward the garden, a bunny is nibbling on this side of the fence. Good bunny. Eat the grass and not the veggies. Still no deer under the trees at the edge of the woods ... very unusual this close to dark.

So I'll sit out and enjoy the coolness a while longer. Sometimes I stay out until after dark, watching as the stars come out, and sometimes the bull frogs in the neighbor's pond add their deep bass to the chorus of night sounds.

It's August in the Valley....

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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