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.
“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” —Hal Borland
As a frigid breeze blew across my front yard Monday afternoon, I decided to take my camera and snap some pictures of our blooming plum and cherry trees because snow was moving in later in the evening. The temperature had dipped into the teens over the weekend, already causing blossoms to fall to the ground, limply piled up under the trees, but enough were left on branches to get some decent photos. Icicles were on the wind and I shivered as I reached out in the stiff breeze to steady a branch with one hand while focusing my camera with the other.
Pink and fragile-looking, these little guys are hardier than expected. The blooms in these pics had withstood the teen temps but I wasn’t sure they could withstand snow along with cold. So I clicked away, walking around the trees to try differing angles to showcase them in the best way possible.
Monday night the snow showed up right on time although we only saw about three inches instead of the 4-8 inches that had been in the forecast. However, what we got was pretty and so I returned to the trees Tuesday morning, again with camera in hand, to get pictures of soft pink blossoms covered in fluffy white snow.
For a scenic drive while traveling north-south in western Virginia, historic U.S. Route 11 runs from Winchester at the northern border of the Commonwealth to Bristol in the south. Built in the early 1900s, it runs parallel to I-81 and provides a slower pace that showcases life away from the fast lane. Traffic is light and tractor-trailers are rare. It has become my preferred route between Staunton and Roanoke so this week I once again found myself on this back road while leisurely driving to the Star City for lunch with friends. Leftover snow from a few days earlier covered fields and mountain ridges, and along river and creek banks.
With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and Appalachians to the west, the views are breathtaking any time of year. In Botetourt the James River meanders along Rt. 11 for a short distance. In Lexington I crossed over the Maury River. Along the way I passed historic and quirky sights such as the Pink Cadillac Café, Natural Bridge, vineyards, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company in Lexington, Virginia Gold pear orchard, 30-acre sunflower field in Botetourt, Virginia Safari Park, and many more.
As Rt. 11 heads north, the tiny village of Buchanan in Botetourt County marks the entrance to the Shenandoah Valley.
God’s palate of colors filled the evening sky … the field was dotted with a neighbor’s hay bales waiting to be stored in his barn … the sky was on fire as the sun disappeared behind the mountains. The air was quiet … even the birds had hushed for the night. I still marvel at this place I call home.
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.” -Psalm 121:1
It’s late summer and, I don’t know about you, but our tomatoes are rolling in from the garden. They were about two weeks later than usual this year due to our wet, cool spring in the 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 and end up in the trash. 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.
In 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 not to use the oven on 96-degree 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
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
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
Why would anyone ever drive a straight route from Point A to Point B when there are roads to be explored? I-64 is a boring straight shot through the Virginia countryside and a track my husband and I have taken countless times over the years.
With that in mind, we decided to meander Route 6 to return to the Shenandoah Valley, picking up that Virginia Scenic Byway to follow the James River from Richmond to Afton Mountain. Along the way we passed farms and vineyards and small river towns on the partly overcast day. My husband reminisced about canoeing the James with friends in his younger years, taking a weekend to drift from Columbia to Powhatan.
Here are photos of our meandering drive back to the mountains….
“The eyes of the world are upon you … free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.” –General Dwight Eisenhower (Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe on the eve of Operation Overlord)
See Part 1: Remembering D-Day 72 years later for more photos of the June 6, 2016, D-Day commemoration at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Below are more pictures from Monday’s event. “This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever occurred.” –British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
“Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.”
–President George W. Bush (at National D-Day Memorial dedication, June 6, 2001)
Monday, June 6, 2016, was a day for sights and sounds and memories and stories from some of the few remaining veterans who survived June 6, 1944. It was the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord — the allied invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day — that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
Exiting the four-lane highway in Bedford and turning onto Overlord Drive, it is a quiet drive through open fields up the hill to a place of reverence and thankfulness. Surrounded by the peaceful Virginia countryside with the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Sharp Top and Flat Top mountains that form the Peaks of Otter in the distance, the National D-Day Memorial provides an opportunity to learn and reflect on a pivoting event in America’s — and the world’s — history.
The overwhelming extent of the sacrifices made as well as the huge operation that involved 150,000 Allied troops, 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, and huge losses of more than 9,000 Allied soldier who died, including 2,499 American soldiers, in the largest amphibious landing the world has ever seen, was sobering. The liberation of Europe began that day and, though the war would continue for almost a year longer, the Normandy invasion gave Allied forces an opening to begin working their way across Europe to defeat Hitler.
My husband and I arrived early on Monday and stayed into the afternoon — attending the 11am ceremony, strolling the grounds, reading the historical plaques, and listening to the roll call of names. We left with a renewed appreciation for the Greatest Generation. Below are photos that capture a small part of the day. May we never forget.
Why Bedford for the national memorial? As explained in the video, the memorial is a reminder of the extreme sacrifice the small Virginia town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains made during the invasion on June 6, 1946. They lost more men per capita than any other location in America. Of the 30 Bedford soldiers in Company A, 19 perished that day and four others during the war. That sacrifice by the Bedford Boys was the reason their town was chosen as the site for the national memorial. For photos of the memorial’s tribute to the Bedford Boys, see 72 years later … the Bedford Boys.
For the first time ever the roll call of the names of the 2,499 Americans killed on D-Day was read by volunteers whose voices could be heard throughout the memorial’s grounds. The honoring of the fallen continued for three hours into the afternoon with names read by veterans, families, volunteers, and dignitaries.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.” –Laurence Binyon
The Bedford Boys seemed to come to life Monday.
Visitors began arriving prior to the 11am ceremony. Veterans were seated under shady awnings out of the sun’s glare.
The 29th Division Drum and Fife band and honor guard.
Members from the French Embassy were there to award France’s highest decoration, the Legion d’Honneur is France’s highest decoration, to a Frenchman who was liberated with his family because of the D-Day invasion. Decades later he moved to America only to see there were no commemorations like were held in his country to honor the men who were part of that liberation, and so he began working with them. Now a Roanoke resident, he has continued to honor and serve the vets as they grow older. After many American soldiers received the Legion d’Honneur throughout the years, he is the latest recipient. See his entire story by reporter Matt Chittum in the Roanoke Times.
D-Day veteran Norword Thomas of the 101st Airborne. It was amazing to hear his remarks about that day.
The future looked to the past as World War II veterans were recognized and thanked.
We sat in front of the names of these brave Allied soldiers.
My yard is in bloom including this vintage iris grown by my grandmother, aunts, and mother. As I moved throughout the years, it moved with me. #Family
The red hot pokers are a smorgasbord for the plentiful goldfinches. These came from my mom. Heirloom plants are a connection through the years with family members who may no longer be with us, an annual reminder of those before us who loved to be in the garden. Memories are in the flowers around me….
For those who don’t like winter, rejoice! It silently crept in just past midnight, the earliest spring in 120 years. It’s the way they figure these things, and it’s only by hours that makes it the earliest in so long, but the method is fascinating, nonetheless:
The reason why goes back to Pope Gregory XIII, who created the Gregorian calendar in 1582, according to the website EarthSky. Each year on Earth lasts 365.242 days, and the existing calendar in Gregory’s time accounted for this fraction of a day by having most years be 365 days long, with leap years every four years, where were 366 days long.
But under this system, with one extra day every four years, the average length of a year was 365.25 days — still a hair longer than the actual length of a year.
And so Pope Gregory XIII declared that years ending in “00” should not be leap years unless they’re also divisible by 400, EarthSky reported. That means that the year 2000 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not, and 2100 won’t be either.
Stick around … spring 2020 will happen on March 19. Now that’s early.
St. Patrick’s Day 2016 in western-northwestern Augusta County was windy, partly sunny, temps in the 60s, and lots of very interesting clouds. The back roads were calling so, with camera in hand, we set out to go wherever the road took us. Emerald green fields, cattle and sheep, mountains, full rivers and streams, farms, silos, old abandoned homes, signs of spring in blooming flowers and trees … it was a delightful day in rural Virginia. (See more photos: Riding the back roads of the Shenandoah Valley.)
In the past I have attended the West End Assembly of God’s Christmas productions in Richmond but today was the first time experiencing Thomas Road Baptist Church’s Christmas spectacular celebrating the birth of Jesus. With more than forty years of productions under its belt, TRBC pulled out all the stops once again for an entertaining, music-packed, two-hour production with an underlying message of faith while pastor Jonathan Falwell bumpered the event with inspirational remarks and prayer.
My husband and I were invited by long-time friend Kurt Michael, who is managing editor of this blog and an assistant dean at Liberty University, and his wife Pam, to attend the production. We were not disappointed. For some the show has become a holiday tradition; for others, it was a first-time experience.
The entertainment included plenty of toe-tapping, hum-along music, dancers, jokes, soloists, and talent galore. Props and costumes were outstanding, and the 37-foot living Christmas tree filled the air with the voices of a 100-member chorus that was accompanied by a 30-member orchestra and 60 members of the children’s choir.
The night was perfect for a Christmas parade … clear, a seasonably cold 35 degrees, and a small town in the mountains of western Virginia. It was the Winter Lights Festival and Christmas parade in Blacksburg as crowds lined the streets to watch the show … and entrants didn’t disappoint.
I walked out of the house and left my camera behind so had to use my iPhone for photos. Sorry for the blurry images and sometimes-poor lighting … but the merriment of it all comes through in the looks of happiness on children’s faces and the festive atmosphere. It was perfect.