Autumn 2016 … Winter Woods Return, Thankgiving Blessings

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Autumn was late arriving this year and warm temps hung on into November. Leaf color was about two weeks later than usual and, like past years, when it began, it went fast. This past weekend a cold front passed through the Shenandoah Valley complete with below freezing temps and extremely blustery winds. Any leaves clinging to trees were no match and flew away, leaving behind bare branches as the winter woods returned. It was a good time to walk the yard and woods to see the transformation from fall into winter.

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Flower beds are mulched in … sedum has taken on its winter color … frost-resistant chrysanthemums continue their splashes of yellow in the landscape.

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Bradford Pear leaves are some of the last to change color each fall.

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My grandmother’s boxwood waits to have its feet mulched for winter weather. This is a survivor, just like my grandparents who moved during the depression from the mountains of Grayson County in southwestern Virginia to Richmond to find jobs and begin new lives. Their two-story farm house in Chesterfield County burned to the ground in the 1970s but this boxwood, burned and scorched, survived. Today it thrives in my yard with the other vintage plants from family. It’s part of my need to be close to those who were there before me … plants, furniture, even my grandmother’s wedding ring that I wear beside my own as a reminder of where I came from.

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One lone bloom on the japonica bush.

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This splash of color was all alone in the yard surrounded by the brown of winter.

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The swing. The seasons change but it remains, a reminder of the years when our yard was full of our children and their friends.

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The apple and black walnut trees are ready for winter.

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The bluebird house reminds of a favorite poem that the kids learned while we were educating them at home. One of our favorite poets was Robert Frost who wrote “The Last Word of a Bluebird (As told to a child)” … daughter Katy memorized it and still recites it when prompted. Its emptiness reminds that fall is transforming into winter … firewood is stacked and the woodstove has been in overdrive the past few days. We will celebrate Thanksgiving this week with family, and then the Christmas season begins.

For those who have distances to go, safe travels on the roadways.  Family and friends … if we have both, we’re rich enough. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Last Word of a Bluebird (As told to a child)

As I went out a Crow
In a low voice said, “Oh,
I was looking for you.
How do you do?
I just came to tell you
To tell Lesley (will you?)

That her little Bluebird
Wanted me to bring word
That the north wind last night
That made the stars bright
And made ice on the trough
Almost made him cough
His tail feathers off.

He just had to fly!
But he sent her Good-by,
And said to be good,
And wear her red hood,
And look for skunk tracks
In the snow with an ax–
And do everything!
And perhaps in the spring
He would come back and sing.”

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 19, 2016

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