Category Archives: Shenandoah Valley

Ku Klux Klan Recruits With Flyers in Shenandoah Valley

Word began circulating on Facebook Tuesday as Shenandoah Valley residents posted about Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyers showing up on vehicles up and down the Valley. In Waynesboro, Mt. Crawford, Staunton, Broadway, Winchester, and on Mary Baldwin University’s campus, the paper circulars were found tucked under windshield wipers.

The 336 area is North Carolina and includes the north-central, mainly Triad Piedmont, region of the state, as well as the northern foothills and mountain regions. I didn’t call it but a Facebook commenter reported that it went to a recorded message. A search online found this video from 2014 of a phone recording at that number.

The Winchester Star wrote earlier this month that the same thing happened in their city on Halloween. In Leesburg, as reported by WTOP, KKK literature was stuffed into baggies along with candy and left in yards on Halloween. Other localities have reported the same.

This morning The Recorder, the news source for Bath and Highland counties, posted on Facebook that they had received the flyer in the mail and had heard of readers finding them tossed out in baggies with birdseed. They were asking if others had received the recruitment circulars.

Seeing the hate-filled words is a reminder of the tiki torch march/alt-right rally in Charlottesville in August, just a few months ago, when a young woman was run down and killed by an alt-right march participant.

Just this week Rick Sincere posted a movie review of “Charlottesville: Our Streets” that premiered over the weekend at the Virginia Film Festival. The movie documents the violence that occurred in Charlottesville on that weekend just a few months ago, the clashes between alt-right members and other groups, and the tragic turn it took.

Background:

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Shenandoah Mountain 5 Years Later: What Happened to Missing Hiker Bobby Fitzgerald?

Shenandoah Mountain / Confederate Breastworks Overlook on Rt. 250 along the Augusta County/Highland County line looks over the Appalachian Mountains in Highland.

What happened to Bobby Fitzgerald on that fateful day in November of 2012?

Traveling west from Staunton along Rt. 250 as it climbs up and over Shenandoah Mountain, I cannot help wondering what happened to Robert “Bobby” Fitzgerald, the Staunton hiker who went missing in that isolated part of western Virginia on November 11, 2012, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Searches have turned up nothing. Some wonder about foul play. Others have questioned whether he fell into the steep ravines.

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October 2017: 20 Things To Do In and Around Staunton, Va

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Historic Wharf District in downtown Staunton.

It’s autumn in western Virginia.

Voted as one of America’s Top 20 Main Streets by Travel and Leisure magazine, the central Shenandoah Valley city of Staunton was also recently named one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America by Smithsonian magazine. Known as the Queen City, Staunton was founded in 1747 and was named for Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife of Virginia’s Governor William Gooch.

With views east toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and west toward the Appalachians, Staunton is an historic slice of Virginia that offers restored Victorian homes, cozy downtown shops, and small-town atmosphere.

There are many things to do during leaf season that peaks in October so here are some places and events you may find interesting. Enjoy!

1. Trolleys
A great way to get around downtown, Staunton’s two trolleys are inexpensive — 25 cents — and pick up and discharge passengers at stops located throughout the city. Check here for parking around Staunton. More information can be found at the Visitors Center on New Street.

2. Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
This unique hands-on outdoor museum in Staunton brings the past alive with costumed interpreters and farm animals that can be seen along a two-mile trail that connects the English, Irish, German, and African farms with the New World’s American homesteads. They tell the story of America’s settlement. Picnic tables on the grounds.
 Octoberfest – Oct. 7: Enjoy a traditional Oktoberfest celebration at the German farm with music, children’s activities, self-guided tours of this hands-on museum, and your favorite brew.

3. Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market
Voted one of the best farmers markets in Virginia, the Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market offers fresh, locally grown produce, flowers, herbs, eggs, fruits, meats, and more from the convenience of the Wharf parking lot in downtown Staunton. Free parking. Open Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon.

4. King’s Gourmet Popcorn at Afton Mountain
It’s not just an October thing but if you have a snack attack while around Afton, be sure to stop by King’s Gourmet Popcorn and say hello to Ron King. He has kettle and caramel corn, and many other flavors along with pork rinds, hotdogs, cold beverages, coffee, and more. Umbrella-covered picnic tables provide a respite during a day of sightseeing. Located at the top of Afton Mountain on Rt. 250 where I-64, Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Appalachian Trail all cross. Look for the bright yellow food truck.

5. Hands & Harvest Festival in Highland County
October 6-8. While enjoying the spectacular autumn colors and crisp mountain air, drive an hour west of Staunton to Highland County for their Hands & Harvest Festival. This event grows bigger every year. Visit area sugar camps for apple butter and cider making, BBQ and other food, pumpkin carving, wagon rides, farmers market, and entertainment. A complete list of activities and locations throughout the county is available at the website.

6. Myers Pumpkin Farm
Myers Pumpkin Farm offers pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, chrysanthemums, and other seasonal decorations at reasonable prices. There is a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and corn maze to round out the farm experience. Myers Farm is located east of Harrisonburg off Rt. 33.

7. Fall Foliage Festival Art Show
The weekend of October 14-15 will see the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival Art Show take over the streets of downtown Waynesboro as they are turned into an outdoor art gallery. More than 200 booths of fine arts and fine crafts will line Main Street and Wayne Avenue featuring artists from all over the country.  It has been named one of the top shows in the East with paintings of all kinds, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, and more.

8. Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival
October 20-22. At the peak of fall leaf season for the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains, the Fall Foliage Bike Festival based out of Staunton will be held the third weekend in October. Enjoy warm days and cool nights riding the back roads through scenic vistas of rural beauty.

9. Blackfriars Theater
The Blackfriars Theater was built in downtown Staunton in 2001, the world’s only exact replica of William Shakespeare’s indoor theater, and is home to the American Shakespeare Center. What a great place to catch a play, tour the facility, or get involved in their camps for young and old alike. Check their website for current plays and activities.

10. Staunton’s Ghostly Evening Tours
What better way to see the architecture of historic downtown Staunton than with the Ghosts of Staunton Tour? Spooky historical tours of the Depot train station, Mary Baldwin College, and other downtown buildings. If you are looking for something different and unusual, this is the tour for you. Reservations strongly recommended.

11. Shenandoah National Park
Nature’s calling! Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains east of Staunton, Shenandoah National Park offers 200,000 acres of wilderness, campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, horseback riding, lodges, and visitor centers along the 100-mile-long Skyline Drive. Big Meadows Lodge and Skyland Resort and several campgrounds provide overnight accommodations. Escape to the quiet beauty of the mountains.

12. Humpback Rock Farm Visitor Center, Picnic, and Hike
A mountain homestead much like the ones from the nineteenth century, Humpback Rock Farm is located at Milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Afton and I-64. Costumed interpreters and musicians are on hand weekends throughout the fall to answer questions and demonstrate crafts from a bygone era. Farm animals, a working garden, mountain music, and more round out the experience. Visitor Center and picnic tables are available on the site. Hike to the top of Humpback Rock, grill out in the picnic area, or go back in time at the farm.

13. Dayton Farmers Market
A favorite with visitors and locals alike, the Dayton Farmers Market is located on Rt. 42 about 30 minutes northwest of Staunton. Featuring the “best big soft pretzels on the East Coast,” it also has a restaurant as well as a variety of shops offering goods plus fresh produce with apples and pumpkins. Outside is a hitching post for the Old Order Mennonites to park their horse and buggies when they stop by to do a little shopping of their own.

14. Green Valley Book Fair
Open September 30-October 23, the Green Valley Book Fair offers hundreds of thousands of books at up to 90% off retail price that include classics, children’s, political, novels, fiction, history, health and self-help, religion, science, sports, cookbooks, home and garden, crafts, art, reference, computer, nature, and outdoors. Convenient free parking, no admission charge. Located in Mt. Crawford 20 minutes north of Staunton, it’s a bookworm’s paradise.

15. Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale
The Mennonite Relief Sale is September 29-30 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds located on Rt. 11 south of Harrisonburg. Each year, thousands of volunteers come together to raise money at Relief Sales for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for the relief of suffering in the world. Entertainment, quilts, crafts, food, baked goods, antiques, silent auction, live auction, farmers market.

16. Nichols Apple Barn
Located in Middleburg, Nichols Apple Barn offers a wide range of apples right at the orchard. Walk in the barn, get a bag or box, and start picking out your favorites straight from the wooden apple crates a few steps away from the orchard where Staymans and other juicy varities grow.

17. Paugh’s Orchard Roadside Stand
Located in a curve along Rt. 42 in Shenandoah County, Paugh’s Orchard offers an explosion of fall goodies including many varieties of apples, pumpkins, mums; mini pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn for decorating; jars of jams and jellies and other goodies. See Autumn afternoon road trip to apple country and Apple season in Shenandoah County, Va. They are closed on Saturdays.

18. Massanutten Fall Festival
The annual Massanutten Fall Festival will be held on October 14 with chairlift rides, arts and crafts, food vendors, beer garden, wine tasting, kids activities, entertainment, and more. Takes place at the scenic Massanutten Ski Resort east of Harrisonburg.

19. Dayton Days Autumn Celebration
One of the largest craft and food festivals of the fall, this year will be the 38th annual Dayton Days Autumn Festival has celebrated the arrival of autumn since 1980 by closing the small historic downtown area to all but foot traffic. Thousands of visitors enjoy crafts, live music, entertainment, exhibits, arts, children’s games, and food food food. If you’ve never been, you’ve missed a fantastic day. Dayton is located smack in the middle of Old Order Mennonite country.

20. Lots of Eats
There are plenty of places to grab great eats in the Valley. Here are a few: Depot Grille, Byers Street Bistro, Split Banana, Shenandoah Pizza Clock Tower, Kline’s, Green Leaf Grille, Wright’s Drive-In, Mill Street Grill, Emilio’s, and Sorrel’s in Staunton’s Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

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Chasing Autumn in Rockingham County in Western Virginia

Friend Barb and I took Tuesday to chase autumn and spend time together enjoying the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where we both live. Besides the fun of back roads and stunning mountain vistas that we both enjoy, we found all kinds of fall décor for our houses.

Our first stop was Myers Pumpkins just east of Harrisonburg, a family-run farm that provides already-picked pumpkins and gourds, chrysanthemums, pick-your-own pumpkin patch, corn maze, and corn stalks ready for decorating. This was a new place for me that Barb introduced to me, and they were well stocked.

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Autumn Flowers: What’s Blooming in the Yard Today?

It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley and the fall flowers are blooming in these days before cold weather descends. A sure sign of autumn is when the mums begin blooming, and mine are popping out all over the place.

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Summer Recipes: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

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It’s late summer and, I don’t know about you, but our tomatoes are rolling in from the garden here in the central Shenandoah Valley. The fun of having fresh vegetables and herbs is the abundance of recipes that are useful during these warm summer months.

With so many tomatoes — we have a variety of cherry and regular-sized tomatoes — it’s sometimes a challenge to find enough ways to use them before they rot. We share with everyone we know but still have plenty because Mr. Mitchell loves to work in the garden so there’s always enough for everyone.

DSCN4179In this recipe I’m able to use our cherry tomatoes and freshly harvested basil leaves from my deck herbs. For dinner tonight I tweaked this a bit by sautéing the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil on the stove top since I try to limit my use of the oven on hot days which, I suppose, could change the name to Pasta with Sautéed Tomatoes and Garlic. I added the kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and, wow, the flavors popped. Yum.

The pasta can be adjusted for gluten free diets. Nothing says summer like the garden-to-table freshness of a home vegetable garden. From MyRecipes.com … enjoy!

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

Ingredients

1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pints multicolored cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
1/4 cup small basil leaves

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt. Add pasta; cook 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 6 tablespoons cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan. Combine reserved cooking liquid and 2 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Boil 4 minutes or until mixture measures 1/3 cup. Add oil mixture to pan with pasta; toss to coat.

3. While pasta cooks, combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, tomatoes, and garlic on a jelly-roll pan, tossing to combine. Bake at 450° for 11 minutes or until tomatoes are lightly browned and begin to burst. Add tomato mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pasta; toss to coat. Top with cheese and basil.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)
Total time: 35 Minutes

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Stuarts Draft Company Adds Jobs for Augusta County

Stuarts Draft sits at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in southern Augusta County, a flattened out plain that is an ancient river bed, that is divided by the South River that floods during heavy downpours. “Draft” probably refers to the winds whistling down the mountain slopes.

Its main claim to fame is mountain man John Colter, born in the vicinity sometime in the mid-1770s. When his family moved further west, his skills in the outdoors help him become a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and to explore western lands where he was the first white man to enter the Yellowstone and Grand Tetons areas.

This is the manufacturing center of Augusta County, long ago agreed on by supervisors as the area to locate factories like Target, Hershey, McKee Foods, and Hollister. They like its proximity to a ready work force as well as the east-west I-64 and north-south I-77.

And it is in that area that Virginia’s governor made the announcement Tuesday about new jobs.

Draftco, Inc, a machine and fabrication shop, settled there in 1965, as a fully equipped precision job shop with highly skilled craftsmen who have the capabilities to meet most any need involving conventional machine work, Computer Numerical Control machine work, welding and fabrication work, sheet metal fabrication, and machine and equipment building.

The announcement that the company will invest $450,000 to expand its manufacturing operation and create 16 new jobs was good news for the local economy.

Tracy Pyles (I-Pastures District), Chairman of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, noted that local jobs are always welcomed. “With a rich history vested in Augusta County, Draftco, Inc. has served as a leading machine and fabrication shop since the mid-1960s,” he said. “Having the chance to have home-grown jobs harvested by our eager and well-prepared young people brings a great since of pride to the County Board.”

“Draftco exemplifies a long-standing community business that provides skilled manufacturing jobs, good stable pay, and economic growth opportunities for our area,” said Senator Emmett Hanger (R-24th Senate District). He continued, “I am pleased the Commonwealth can assist with this expansion and insure the company’s vitality for another 50 years of business.”

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Water hose, 1; SWAC Girl, 0

Ten years ago this week we were dealing with equally hot and dry weather so while looking back through the archives, I came across this adventure. From July 27, 2007….

It was hot today in the Valley although very breezy — a hot breeze. I was outside working in the yard most of the day … weeding and deadheading flowers, trimming forsythia bushes and getting sweaty and tired … and the sun was hot. A late-afternoon thunderstorm ran me inside only to leave us with only thunder, lightning, and wind while all the rain went north of here.

When I went back outside after dinner to water my flowers, SWAC Husband was watering the tomatoes in the garden. I noticed a substantial leak in the hose so decided to try and scoot the leaky section to the garden so all that water would go on vegetables … except the hose didn’t cooperate. It twisted and turned and twisted again like a snake … I jumped and screeched and tried to throw it over the fence … it twisted back on me — yowie, that water was cold! — and … well, let’s just say I’m watered from head to toe!

Next time I’ll turn off the hose first. Got my towel; now I need to go outside and get back to work….

Water hose, 1; SWAC Girl, 0.

Summer 2017: 40 Things to Do In and Around Staunton, Va

Voted as one of America’s Top 20 Main Streets by Travel and Leisure magazine, the central Shenandoah Valley city of Staunton was also named one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America by Smithsonian magazine as well as many others who have discovered this quaint corner of Virginia.

With views east toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and west toward the Appalachians, Staunton is an historic slice of Virginia that offers restored Victorian homes, cozy downtown shops, and small-town atmosphere. Patriotic holidays find Beverley Street, the main thoroughfare that is lined with restaurants, store fronts, the Dixie Theater, the city courthouse, and old-fashioned lamp posts, lined with American flags. Be sure and check the Staunton Convention and Visitor Center Calendar of Events for all the latest happenings including art exhibits and live entertainment.

There’s lots to do during the carefree summer months so here are some places and events, in no particular order, that may appeal to those visiting the area.

1. Trolleys
A great way to get around downtown, Staunton’s two trolleys pick up and discharge passengers at stops located throughout the city. It’s one of the best deals around, and offers a way to see the city without driving. Cost is $0.25 a ride or free to visitors with tokens from the Visitor Center. More information can be found at the Staunton Visitors Center on New Street.

2. Wright’s Dairy-Rite
Ever heard of the country group The Statler Brothers? They grew up hanging out at the 1950s-era Wright’s Dairy-Rite Drive-In, and it is very much the same today. Pull to the curb, order from the authentic call box, and have a carhop deliver your freshly-cooked meal while listening to 50s music — hamburgers, onion rings, ice cream goodies, fries, and lots more. Or go inside to the 1950s-decorated interior complete with tables, booths, and a historical display of those who have visited over the years including the Statler Brothers and Virginia Governor/U.S. Senator George Allen. It’s a local favorite.

3. Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room
Ox-Eye Vineyards is owned by John and Susan Kiers who lovingly renovated an historic building in the Wharf area of downtown Staunton. The Tasting Room offers wine tastings of their varied selections of reds and whites. Ox-Eye Vineyards displayed at the 2012 Shenandoah Valley Wine and Jazz Festival at the Frontier Culture Museum, and in April 2013 the Washington Post named them one of the Top 10 Mid-Atlantic wineries to visit. Where did the name “Ox-Eye” come from? It’s the name of the common field daisy with a yellow center and white petals that grows all around Ox-Eye Farm. Hint: If you like white wines, try their Riesling and White Ox.

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Festivals, Saunders Brothers, Blue Ridge Mountains … just another day in paradise

By Lynn R. Mitchell

[Editor’s Note: With the unofficial start of summer behind us, here’s a rerun column about the variety of events and activities available in the Shenandoah Valley.]

??????????It’s summer with all the festivals and events that are available in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond so today we decided to spend the day just going where the wind took us. We plopped our straw hats on the back seat — I burst out laughing when I saw them and had to take a picture — and off we went. Our first stop was at our friends’ house near Crimora for a garage sale. After visiting a while and paying for our purchases, we headed to Waynesboro where the first day of the 2014 Extravaganza was going on.

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We were fairly early to this annual event that features spectacular fireworks, ahead of the crowds that began showing up by the time we left. Crafters, artists, games, pony rides, carnival rides, food vendors, and live entertainment … there was plenty to do. We enjoyed talking with local photographer Brent McGuirt (www.brentmcguirtphotography.com) whose stunningly beautiful work showcasing the Shenandoah Valley and beyond was on display. (Check out his Facebook page for his latest works.)

It was great to run into Bill and Jean Ann Bolling who were spending the weekend nearby in the cool of the mountains.

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Memorial Day 2017 … Small Town Honors Fallen With Moment of Silence

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The annual Memorial Day tribute in front of our house from my Air Force Vietnam-era veteran husband.

On this Memorial Day weekend, a special memory comes to mind that epitomizes the meaning of the day.

It was Memorial Day in 2009 in the central Shenandoah Valley. My sister and I had made a last-minute trip to the local Food Lion in Staunton for a forgotten cookout item when now-retired manager Dan Pritchett’s voice came over the intercom at the Coalter Street store. In his soft southern voice, he addressed employees and customers:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is Memorial Day. The store will shut down for the next 60 seconds as we observe a moment of silence in honor of America’s fallen heroes.”

Perhaps this is one of the things I love most about living in a small town.

Dan Pritchett

News Leader photo

It was 3:00 pm on Memorial Day, the time of the national moment of silence. The cashiers stopped checking out customers. Muzak was turned off. Customers paused in aisles while employees ceased working. The store was essentially shut down and for the next 60 seconds all observed a moment of silence for America’s fallen military heroes. Among those was an uncle I never knew, a casualty of battle in Germany just six weeks before the end of World War II in Europe.

Thanks to Mr. Pritchett, the small town of Staunton in western Virginia paused to remember … this town that is home to the Stonewall Brigade, the 116th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army National Guard, founded in 1741 and active during the Civil War, World War II, and most recently deployed to Bosnia, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan … this community that turns out when troops deploy and return from battle.

It is also home to the Statler Brothers whose “More Than a Name on a Wall” is their own hauntingly poignant tribute to those who died for God and country, and returned home draped in the American flag: “She said, ‘Lord my boy was special and he meant so much to me. And oh I’d love to see him just one more time, you see. All I have are the memories and the moments to recall. So Lord could You tell him he’s more than a name on a wall.’ ”

Freedom is not free….

Staunton area community welcomed home the Stonewall Brigade in 2011 after deployment to Iraq.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Frontier Culture Museum ‘Pay What You Will’ on Memorial Day

On Memorial Day Monday, May 29, the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton will celebrate May Fair and, best of all, it will be a “Pay What You Will Day” so you decide how much to pay for admission: pay a little, pay a lot, or pay nothing at all.

During the 16 years that we educated our children at home, our one-income family lived on a tight budget and often could not take in all the historical sites we wanted to see so a “pay what you will” admission is helpful for families who are in the same place.

If you have never experienced the Frontier Culture Museum, or if you’ve been multiple times throughout the years, Monday will be a great time to join in the fun, enjoy hands-on history, explore the early days of 1600s England, 1700s Ireland, 1700s Germany, pioneer America, and 1700s West Africa. Interact with on-site historical interpreters dressed as the country they represent as they go about the daily tasks of the time — cooking, spinning, basket weaving, gardening, and other chores common to the time period.

Stroll the trail between the Old Country and pioneer Early America. Linger at the forge in Ireland and watch the smithy at work. Pause to talk with the animals — sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens. Explore the Indian village. Stop by the rustic 1740s log cabin, then discover how early American housing advanced with the 1820s and 1850s American farm houses. Peek inside the school house.

Bring the entire family from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm to experience the living history, enjoy lunch on the Museum’s Pavilion with live musical entertainment, and visit the Artisan Vendor Fair in the Courtyard throughout the day.

ARTISAN FAIR:  (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) 
Shop the artisan craft booths located in the Museum’s newly expanded courtyard throughout the entire day. Visit the caricaturist, face painter, and ballon twister too!

FOOD VENDORS:  (9:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Area food vendors will be on hand beginning at 9:00 am.

LIVING HISTORY ACTIVITIES:

  • Old World Exhibits: (9:00 – Noon)
    • West Africa: Drum and Dance/Gardening
    • England: Green Woodworking/Herbals in the Garden
    • Ireland: Natural Dyeing/Spinning
    • Germany: Games/Gardening
      .
  • Lunch: (Noon – 2:00)
    • Pavilion:  Take a lunch break under our covered pavilion or at the picnic tables
  • America Exhibits:  (2:00 – 5:00)
    • Ganatastwi: Clay cooking pot construction/ Fire Starting
    • 1740’s Settlement: Court Days and Militia Drill
    • 1820’s American Farm: Bread oven baking/Doll making
    • 1850’s American Farm: Basketmaking
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Bear Under the Deck

A bumping outside the window woke me this morning around 4:00. Edging over to the open window, I listened to the bump and then heard the snort.

Bear.

Our garbage cans are kept under the deck. Only one had trash — one bag — but the full-grown black bear was in the process of knocking them all over to be sure there wasn’t anything more than what he was able to drag out and spread all over the ground.

I shined my small flashlight out the window and caught the shadowy outline of our woodland visitor. Padding across the carpeted floor, I gently shook a sleeping Mr. Mitchell.

“Hmm?” he responded, groggily. Guys sleep through anything.

“There’s a bear in the trash,” I whispered. I wasn’t sure what he could do about it but it seemed only reasonable that I should share this pre-dawn moment by disrupting his sleep.

He stumbled out of bed and disappeared into his man cave, coming back with a handheld spotlight. Did I hear him say it was a million watts? Whatever it was, it was bright.

Positioning himself at the widow, he pointed the spotlight in the direction of the bumping and snorting. There it was … a full-grown black bear pawing through our discarded water bottles, empty cans, used paper towels, and all the other assorted odds and ends found in the family trash.

With iPhone in hand, I snapped some photos but the combination of darkness, the screen on the window, and distance made it difficult to get a clear picture. The bear ate. I took pics. The bear pawed through the pile. More pics. More pawing and eating.

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What’s Blooming in the Yard Today….

What was blooming in the yard today? After two nights with 30-degree overnight temps which required covering tender plants and flowers with plastic, everything not only survived but seemed to thrive in today’s sunshine and temps in the mid-60s. Purple salvia continues to bloom into its second week while the pink and white peonies blossomed under the hothouse-like plastic.

Irises

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Ox-Eye Vineyards Offers Wine Tastings and Fun in Downtown Staunton

A hidden gem to Staunton is being discovered by visitors as well as locals. On Saturday we joined friends for the Sears Hill Bridge dedication in downtown Staunton and enjoyed lunch at the Clocktower Restaurant before walking to the Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room on Middlebrook Avenue. The day was beautiful so we sat outdoors on the patio and enjoyed a tasting and glasses of award-winning wine from Ox-Eye Vineyards.

 

Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room is located in the Historic Wharf District of downtown Staunton in a 1904 building designed by noted architect T.J. Collins. After sitting vacant for years, it was carefully and tastefully renovated by the Kiers.

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