We never seem to make it to the farm in the fall. In Southern Coastal Virginia, when the calendar says sweater, weather.com is saying sunny and humid! This is the time I wistfully look at my planner and dream of an October weekend surrounded by mountains of fall leaves, a nice chill in the air, night skies illumined solely by the moon and stars suspended in space (Psalm 8)…but Ian has the Head of the Lafayette River Regatta (see Viking Invasion post) on Halloween weekend. There is usually an October Scout campout or a church event that keeps us home. I have women’s ministry events to work on. We end up ”settling” for Thanksgiving weekend.
This year was no exception. We enjoyed a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner thanks to Grandma Midge and her sister Ilene from West Virginia, and left in the afternoon with a packed cooler, and tank full of gas, headed for the farm. Ralph caught us up on Grace’s history read-aloud, “Carry on Mr. Bowditch,“ while I drove. With only 1 stop in Clarksville for the obvious reasons we made it to the farm by 9:30 pm. We warmed up the cottage, and warmed up leftovers and relaxed!
The sky did NOT disappoint! The weather was wonderful – cold! The leaves, had fallen. (sigh) The wind was really something Thursday night and Friday morning! We hiked the back fields, and up Dad’s ridge (making lots of noise so the bear would avoid us). Saturday we took our usual trip to the Roanoke Farmer’s Market. I was hoping to find fresh wreaths. There was an abundance of beautiful wreaths to choose from – many with a lovely variety of greens: cedar, boxwood, holly, pine, magnolia; and so very inexpensive! We picked a large pine wreath with magnolia leaves and a bunch of pine roping. We also enjoyed the market’s harvest offerings of apples, including my favorite winesap variety, all shapes and colors of winter squash, large fluffy greens (the eating kind), beans, and root vegetables. There were farmers selling goat cheeses, and quick breads, many from organic ingredients. Vendors were selling wonderfully scented handmade soaps and candles, crafts and jewelry.
Back at the farm…Skating in the barn is VERY popular with the Garner kids. Papa Gene usually makes sure the barn is cleared out, creating a small roller rink! (Thank you Papa Gene!) This year there were a few rolls of hay in the barn, and the TRACTOR. So Farmer Ralph had to fire up the tractor and move it. I HAD to get a picture of that!
Sunday morning Ian read Luke, we listened to Christmas CD’s and munched on deviled eggs and ham. The kids took a last skate, Ralph and I packed up the cottage. We always hate to leave. On the ride home we enjoyed the fresh fragrance of white pine, nd the sounds of Christmas jazz alternating with a few final chapters about the incomparable Nathaniel Bowditch. (Even Ian wanted to know how the book ended!)
As we approached Norfolk via the downtown bridge tunnel from Portsmouth, the waterfront came into view reflecting a skyline of manmade steel and glass neatly outlined with Edison’s best - proclaiming man’s attempt at lighting the night sky - and we were thankful for time spent at the farm, spending time together, enjoying the harvest of local farmers, surrounded by mountains, under a blanket of Heaven declaring the Glory of God (Psalm 19).
The next morning the leaves on my oak tree were just starting to drop…