Rocking on the porch enjoying the sweet Virginia breeze

FlowersBy Lynn R. Mitchell

I’m rocking on the front porch as a brisk breeze with a cool edge blows across the yard, and the sky is clouding over during the late afternoon in my corner of Augusta County. Leaves are rustling in the trees … it feels and looks like rain … so I had to come outside to enjoy the comfortable 70-degree weather.  Newly-planted summer annuals are happily blooming in the windows boxes on the porch railing and in terra cotta pots scattered on the steps and around the porch, beautiful reminders of summer blossoms that will fill the landscape with waves of color as the season progresses. Their purple-pinks and whites and yellows, blues, and reds make a rainbow of awe as the weather turns hot.

In the safety of the porch, I’m hidden from the view of anyone who may pass by on the street, tucked away behind trees and shrubs and flower boxes. It’s a lovely hideaway.

We’re enjoying late spring in the Shenandoah Valley. The official start of summer is three weeks away although that’s only on a calendar. For those of us who live with the cooler temperatures in the shadows of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, the intense heat generally holds off until July.

Numerous song birds are filling the air with their calls to one another, their distinct trills and chirps entertaining as I listen and watch.  In the distance a lawn mower drones. Trees are fully leafed out after the long, cold winter and everything looks lush and green.

Richmond entertainers Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett wrote a song in the 1970s called “Sweet Virginia Breeze” and this Richmond girl can hear it playing in my head as the wind blows my hair. I’m in love with the state where I was born, a Virginian through and through — in love with the history, the landscapes that range from ocean beaches to mountaintops to Shenandoah Valley, back roads and large cities.

The steady hummmm of a hornet is near my ear after he checked out the flowers. If I sit still, he will go away.

The vintage wisteria vine that caresses my porch and shades us from the hot summer sun is leafing out, and is exhibiting only one beautiful purple grape-like cluster. There will be no overabundance of blooms this year, that’s for sure, because the long cold winter combined with our severely pruning it last fall probably resulted in it’s lack of a big showing. That’s okay … next year it will probably be more beautiful than ever.

The snowball bush has huge white balls of blossoms … deep blue salvia plants brighten a border by the white picket fence … purply-blue obedience flowers are starting to bloom. By the gate, bright red geraniums are ready to greet visitors.

My quiet solitude has been interrupted by the loud squawking of two crows in nearby oak trees over some dispute that they are determined to settle at a volume that the entire neighborhood can hear.  Meanwhile, robins hop in the green grass listening for worms.

All the while I’m rocking with feet propped on the railing and laptop perched in my lap, pausing to listen, looking out at the landscape, then typing a few lines before again looking and listening. The hornet has now moved on to investigate the solitary wisteria bloom … the crows can barely be heard now far off in the field. Three robins started down the yard toward the porch and I was eager to see when they would notice me but they distracted each other and flew away. Looks likes a little scuffle going on there.

We used to have a bench that looked out over the garden and mountains in the distance. One day as I sat on the bench looking out at the mountain ridges when my kids were younger, I asked them, “How do you spell heaven?” They looked at me quizzically — they knew how to spell it and they knew that I knew how to spell it — and then I responded, “V-i-r-g-i-n-i-a.”

After a busy day out and about, there’s nowhere to go tonight and dinner is in the oven. I think I’ll just sit here a while longer in my little piece of heaven and enjoy this sweet Virginia breeze.

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