Category Archives: Virginia

31 Days of October, Day 23

October’s full moon, this year on Wednesday, October 24, is commonly known as the Hunter’s Moon, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. This year the full moon will be visible from Tuesday through Thursday, October 23-25.

The Hunter’s Moon is always the first full moon after the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, and is usually seen in October but once every four years it falls in November. It will be in the sky all night, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise.

As the full moon rose from the ridge behind our house, it began with an orange glow caused by rising near the horizon at sunset.

The Almanac gave background on the name:

The Algonquin Native American tribes referred to October’s Moon as the Full Hunter’s Moonbecause time to go hunting in preparation for winter. Since the harvesters have reaped the fields, hunters can easily see the fattened deer and other animals that have come out to glean (and the foxes that have come out to prey on them).

The earliest use of the term “Hunter’s Moon” cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710. Some sources suggest that other names for the Hunter’s Moon are the Sanguine or Blood Moon, either associated with the blood from with hunting or the turning of the leaves in autumn. Other Native American tribes, who tied the full Moon names to the season’s activities, called the full Moon the “Travel Moon” and the “Dying Grass Moon.”

It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Full moon appears to rise through the trees on the ridge behind our house

31 Days of October, Day 22

President George W. Bush picked through a patch of pumpkins at a roadside stand with owner Bill Gaulmyer in Richmond, Virginia | October 2006

White House photo by Paul Morse

31 Days of October, Day 21

On top of the world…. Several years ago my favorite travel partner and I were roaming the back roads of Highland County enjoying the fall leaves when we came across cattle grazing in one of the high pastures. The view behind them was stunning. I’ve shared this pic in the past but it never gets old.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 20

“The road to a friend’s house is never long.” –Danish Proverb (Blue Ridge Parkway, October 20, 2018)

Today was what makes us enjoy this time of year. With cool temps and overcast skies that turned partly sunny in late afternoon, along with a robust breeze, Mr. Mitchell and I traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to visit friends.

The overcast skies made for some muted photos but there was a little fall color along the Parkway. Last year color was late because it had been so dry so, because we had so much rain this year, we all thought the fall colors would be spectacular and possibly early. Nope. It’s been an odd autumn.

Warm temps continued until a few days ago when we had our first frost and overnight temps in the 20s. Views of House Mountain west of Lexington were clear from the Parkway. The crisp air of the past few days made the mountains sharp against the sky.

We were curious to see what the fall color was doing at higher elevations but, whatever time of year, the backroads of Virginia are always beautiful.

Americana on rural roads.

Colors are muted and many leaves have turned brown and fallen.

The clouds….

Sharp Top Mountain at Peaks of Otter.

The “Golf Ball” high atop Apple Orchard Mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway. For six decades it has been a landmark for folks on both sides of the mountain.

The James River, looking west from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The James River looking east from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the lowest elevation of the scenic drive. On the north bank is the James River Visitor Center with interactive walking trail along the locks once used in river navigation. On the south bank Route 501 will take you to Lynchburg or Buena Vista.

Dusk was falling as we returned home at the end of another glorious day. It’s autumn in Virginia….

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 19

We had the first fire of the season in the woodstove yesterday even as Mr. Mitchell continued to split firewood. Today he finished the entire two cords of seasoned hardwood, split and stacked and ready for winter. Once a large dump of wood (above) …

… by today the pile was finished.

With temps in the mid-60s (after an overnight low of 33 degrees) and a blustery wind, it was comfortable working in the yard this afternoon as we dug and separated plants to share with a friend. Tonight will be mild, tomorrow will be low 60s over 30s, and Sunday will be the coldest day with daytime highs in the 40s and overnight lows possibly in the upper 20s.

It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley….

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 18

Brrr. We woke this morning to a brisk 38 degrees in the Shenandoah Valley, the coldest morning so far which led to the first fire of the season in the woodstove. What a cheerful sight! What is it about woodstoves that makes the house extra cozy?

As of today, the leaves around Staunton are still pretty green. There are a few splashes of color here and there, and the dogwoods have a burgundy blush.

There are cold overnight temps coming up during the next week so perhaps another week will get the full autumn show going for those of us who live here, and for the many tourists who come to the mountains looking for the leaf show.

It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley….

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 17

Halloween 13

Date: Halloween 1982.
Location: Midlothian, Va, in the Richmond suburbs
Event: Costume Halloween party

Tonight I had the most delightful phone conversation with my mom who brought up a Halloween party that Mr. Mitchell and I hosted at our house in Midlothian oh-so-many years ago.

It was our pre-kids years and we often hosted parties for friends. That year we had invited everyone over for Halloween, and costumes were, of course, required. You can’t celebrate Halloween in your street clothes.

The music was blaring (we had very understanding neighbors), there was a spread of good eats on the dining room table, adult beverages were flowing, and all kinds of costumed characters were dancing in the living room.

For some reason — and all these years later I’m not sure what prompted it — we decided at 10:00 at night to call my parents, who lived about 10 minutes away in Salisbury, to come join us. Many of my friends knew my folks and we took turns on the phone trying to talk them into coming to party with us. They had already gone to bed and begged off. We hung up and went back to our party.

Not long afterward the doorbell rang and when I answered, an M&M and a lady walked in the door. Mom was in a colorful M&M outfit and Mr. Lucy walked in wearing a wig and one of my mother’s older outfits. We howled with laughter.

They stayed and danced and partied with us. I asked Mom tonight, “How many grown kids want their parents joining them for a party?” Kind of neat and a fun memory of our younger years, and theirs.

Halloween is on a Wednesday night this year and only two weeks away. We will be looking forward to treating the little goblins.

It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley….

IMG_5573 (2)

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 16


Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 15

A favorite pastime is driving the back roads of western Virginia. In October 2015 we found these stunning views from Jack Mountain in Highland County, Virginia.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 14

It’s apple season in Virginia….

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posed at

31 Days of October, Day 13

The redbud leaves are beginning to turn….

Today was the perfect Virginia October day. After an overnight low in the 40s, temps topped out during the day in the low 60s with bright sunshine, low humidity, and deep blue skies. That meant we could finish the yard work we had begun the day before. My goal: finish the flower garden.

What a jumbled, overgrown mess it was after a season of rain rain rain. It was time to cut back the spent flowers and put them to bed for the winter with a layer of mulch, so that was my task.

A layer of mulch and it was done.

One down … several more to do.

I worked in the shadow of Albert, our huge spruce tree that is dying from a fungal disease that is affecting many spruces across the country. He was only about four feet tall when we moved here over 20 years ago, and I would decorate him for Christmas, share pictures of him, and even wrote about him.

His lower branches began to die a few years ago so I went looking for cures, checking to see what could be done to make him well. Sadly, I was told there was no cure, and so we have watched as his branches have slowly died from the bottom up. This winter will be hard on him and I think we’ll end up taking him down next spring. For someone who grew up in Richmond where cooler weather trees such as spruce could not survive, Albert was my mountain tree living at 1,300 feet in the Shenandoah Valley.

For now, fall has definitely set in with cold nights and we’re on leaf alert for surrounding areas. It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley….

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 12

Today felt like fall. Low, cool temps, low humidity, breezy … sweater weather. It was perfect for outdoor yard work preparing for winter. Until our first frost, the garden will continue to produce but cold weather is on tap for the next week with overnight temps in the 30s.


A renegade limb on the maple tree beside the deck is turning burgundy while everything else is still green.


Leafless aspen tree

“Gentle Heat”

Herbs, chives

Late season bloom … it will never make a pumpkin.

Fall tomatoes

The autumn garden, played out and ready to be put to bed for winter

Almost the last of the jalapenos

This afternoon I tackled this flower garden while Mr. Mitchell mowed….

… and got it halfway finished before we stopped for the day.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at

31 Days of October, Day 11

West of Staunton we had rain today so I dug into the archives and pulled out more pics from Highland County, the nearest thing we have to New England with its bright reds and burgundies and golds. It doesn’t look like this yet but temps in the 30s this weekend should help speed up the process.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at


Rain 5 (2)

Dark is coming earlier and earlier these days. Tonight it’s even sooner because of the clouds and rain, presumably outer bands from Hurricane Michael. The outdoors lights are on and I’m sitting on the front porch rocking with my laptop, feet propped on the railing, and listening as raindrops fall on tree leaves and shrubs and splat onto the fallen leaves on the ground.

It’s even a little chilly as the slight wind whooshes across the porch. It’s dusky, not quite dark yet, and quiet.

Ever since I was a little girl rainy days have been a favorite, something I’ve written about in the past, and I’m not really sure why but there’s something cozy about listening to the sound. As I look out the leaves on the redbuds and ash trees are beginning to turn golden. Some are already on the ground. Beside them the maples are still green, waiting their turn to show off with reds and burgundies.

The crickets are humming, their sound mixed in with the rain and the slight sound of wind. Bullfrogs in the nearby pond are calling with their deep-sounding croaks … the bark of a far-off dog can be heard in the distance. If I stay here much longer there will also be the sound of my teeth chattering since I’m barefooted and have no sweater.

This weekend promises to finally usher in the cooler weather we’ve been waiting for to help the fall colors pop. Forecasts hint that we may even see some temps in the 30s, the first of the season. Cold weather is late this year … no first frost yet, no hard freeze.

Think I’ll go grab my jacket and some shoes and then just sit and listen for a while. It’s peaceful, and that’s something I’d like to hang on to a bit longer.

It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley….

31 Days of October, Day 10

It’s autumn and the spiders have been extra busy. The past two mornings we’ve noticed their half-moon webs in the coreopsis and on shrubs.

We left in the morning to take a drive to Highland County to check on how the fall leaves were coming along (slowly), and then continued on into West Virginia to check our some other favorite leaf peeping areas (no big changes yet). Taking the back roads that made a big block from Staunton, we ended up at Green Bank, Cass Railroad, and Snowshoe Mountain.

Highland County west of Monterey.

A high valley bog in western Highland County.

Rt. 250 entering West Virginia.

A favorite leaf peeping spot along Rt. 28 north of Thornwood in West Virginia.

Deep in the West Virginia mountains off a gravel road on the edge of a forest with a roof covered in moss and sprouting trees, do you think we found a troll’s house? #MonongahelaNationalForest

Green Bank … the whispering place … home of the huge satellite dishes that listen to the universe, plainly visible against the West Virginia mountains.

“The trailblazers of American radio astronomy called Green Bank Observatory home over 60 years ago. Today, their legacy is alive and well. Nestled in the mountain ranges and farmland of West Virginia, within the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), radio astronomers are listening to the remote whispers of the universe, in order to discover answers to our most astounding astronomical questions.”

Wonder if anyone is out there listening back….? 🙂

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is a reminder of West Virginia’s logging days. In addition to the town’s lumber history, in 1955 the Cass General Store was the largest in the U.S.

“Take a trip back to an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of every day life. Trips to Cass Scenic Railroad State Park are filled with rich history, unparalleled views and the sights and sounds of an original lumbering town.

“The town of Cass remains relatively unchanged since its founding in 1901 by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company. Cass was built as a company town for the loggers who worked in the nearby mountains. Construction of the railroad started in 1901. It was used to haul lumber to the mill at Cass.

“The railroad track was eventually extended to the top of Bald Knob, the third highest mountain peak in West Virginia. In June 1942, the Cass operation was sold to Mower Lumber Company, which operated the town until July 1960, when the mill and railroad were shut down due to rapid decline of the timber industry in the region.

“In 1961, Cass was brought into the state parks system. In 1977, the company town also was made part of the parks system. Over the years, the railroad was turned into a tourist line and the town was repaired and restored. Today, the railroad is still in full operation, but is managed by the Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad.”…/cass-scenic-railroad-state-park/

Sorry about the raindrops on the windshield as I took a pic of the historic sign. Rain and fog moved in while we were there.

One of the snow ski resorts Mr. Mitchell and I skied in our younger days, I hadn’t been to Snowshoe Mountain since having kids.

Since we were meandering the back roads in that area today, we drove up the mountain but, sadly, rain and thick fog moved in. Unfortunately, from a mountain where the views are outstanding, we saw … nothing. Guess we’ll just have to go back.

P.S. Opening day is November 21.

Back in Highland County where sheep outnumber people.

This goat cracked me up. I don’t know what he was doing … he seemed to be communing with the building.

Route 84 in Highland heading toward Vanderpool.

I found love in Monterey with their colorful “Virginia Is For Lovers” sign that celebrates the rural landscape and heritage of the scenic community. Each location’s love sign is individual to the area.

In recognition of the many barn quilts located throughout the county, the LOVE letters used traditional quilt block patterns to highlight the many special features in Highland.

“L” uses Maple Block to celebrate the maple products and popular festival in March, “O” uses the Double Wedding Ring to recognize family heritage and sense of community, “V” is painted in Flying Geese to show a love of wildlife and farm animals, and the “E” uses the Log Cabin block to represent a country style and love of home.

#HighlandCountyVA #LOVEworks #VirginiaIsForLovers

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at News

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