|Buffalo Mountain as seen from our property in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South West Virginia.|
On Mondays, I am offering excerpts from my personal journal. The past weeks entries are as follows:
I walked the property yesterday morning before it got too hot. Our pastures at our Rural Retreat are currently rented out to a neighboring farmer whose property line adjoins ours. This is a great arrangement for both parties as he has the ground he needs for his livestock and our pastures don’t become overgrown and unruly. The land here at our mountain retreat is so different from our land in the Shenandoah Valley. Both are breathtakingly beautiful. The Valley land is more groomed and while it inclines and rolls, it is more flat and suitable or crops and hay. Our Southern Property is steep and only at the very top does it offer a section of semi flat land. Planting crops or hay on that flat spot might seem like a good idea at first, but with the amount of rains that we can get in these mountains, disking up the soil would not be wise as it would lend itself to quick erosion. Both properties offer views. Our home in the Shenandoah Valley sits on top of a knoll and is open, offering views of both the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges. Sunrises are particularly spectacular at our home in Central Virginia. At our Rural Retreat, we sit within the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and we don’t witness those glorious sun rises from where I our home sits at the bottom of a “holler”. As I walked yesterday, I thought about how the old timers built close to the road and how the roads took the path of least resistance through the hills of the Blue Ridge. These homes were also placed near water because who wants to haul water any further than necessary? In addition, it seems to me the homes were intentionally placed so that they did not utilize prime property that was necessary for farming. Today, we mostly want to build houses where we have a view, but I can appreciate the fact that our Rural Retreat is nestled at the bottom of the “holler” on a piece of the property that isn’t otherwise functional. The spot farthest away from where our house is built is where most people today would put a home. From that vantage point, when I take my morning walks, I am high enough in elevation that only the peaks of the blue ridge are higher. Buffalo Mountain sits distinct, beautiful, and close. In the Shenandoah Valley, I see house after house surrounding ours, hear the traffic, and the trains going through Verona. From my vantage point at the top of our Southern Property, I can see but a couple of houses and they are distant. I can hear the cars passing on the black topped road down below, as the sound carries up the “holler” and while it is a well-travelled road, it does not begin to compare to the traffic outside our front door in Staunton where the Valley has built up with people even in the last dozen years that I have lived there. My Mike was raised there in the Valley his entire life but I come from mountain stock, my paternal family having dwelled in the mountains of Northwest Georgia for generations and my maternal family transferring and living there for approximately a decade. Those mountains of Georgia are where my parents found each other and started a life together. Maybe for that reason, the mountains are in my blood. I find flat lands suffocating. The times I have travelled through the flat, western states, I could not wait to get see the land rising once again and the hills and mountains beginning to form. In the mountains, I have always found peace whether that was the Alaskan Range, The Canadian Rockies, The Rockies, or the Appalachian.
How is it that life can be so sweet and yet be filled with such hurt? How is that we as humans can allow so much love to flow through us, only to be instruments of hurt and destruction? The pain we see on a grand scale, the kind that promotes death by war, or murder, and abuse of every kind are but a concentration of the selfishness we see in ourselves and others. How we dare to hope that there is a human who will not disappoint and hurt and while we cling desperately to that hope and pray that the love of another will be strong enough for them to be our hero, our knight in shining honor or our pure and untouchable Princess; but it is a false hope. Broken pieces of human flesh is what we are. All of us having been worn and used like an old piece of pottery. Some of us have been stomped so badly that we have had to be glued back together. It seems that every time I trust, I am disappointed and hurt in some way.
It seems Grace is the only thing that will save us. I am not exactly thinking of the Grace of which we were taught in Sunday School, although those stories of Jesus do serve as a model. I’m talking about the grace we give each other. Perhaps we are only truly able to give back grace in the measure in which we recognize what we have received. When I hurt someone and they offer forgiveness and I recognize that grace and it changes me, then I am able to offer grace to someone else when I am hurt. I’ve had to offer a lot of grace recently but I have received a lot as well.
How are time flies when we are at our Mountain Retreat! No matter how many days we are here, it is never enough. I am so thankful for the changes we have made in our life to intentionally slow down and take time for each other. One of the things Mike and I enjoy doing is going to public auctions. We sort of fell into a joint venture with a friend selling antiques, vintage items and collectibles. Our friend lives out of state and needed someone to help him with a booth he has at a local antique mall. Mike began helping him and although I swore last summer that I would have no part of their crazy obsession with buying and reselling these timeless treasures, they sucked me into it. When Mike had rotator cuff surgery, he was unable to use his arm adequately for a good while and a lot of things were left up to me. As I began helping pick up items that had been purchased, research, and price them and eventually attending auctions, I began to really enjoy it. I’ve always loved antique and vintage items but I have never been interested in reselling them and I definitely wasn’t interested in the additional work it put on my already full plate of responsibilities. However, over the last year, we have found that the auctions we attend and the antiques and vintage items we sell are a wonderful hobby that we enjoy together, and one that we have been able to manage so that it supports itself.
We have a couple of favorite auction houses close to our second home and one of them has multiple auctions in a week. Part of the fun for me, as an introvert, is to sit back and watch people who attend the auctions. Those attending the auction clearly represent the divide of individuals who reside in the area: a portion having been born and raised here and the remainder coming to the mountains as a retreat or place to retire. We fall into the later category of transplants. Unlike some places I have been where outsiders are treated suspiciously, the folks born and raised here in the Blue Ridge Mountains are accepting, welcoming, helpful and friendly. As I interact with people here, I wish I had the talent of Mark Twain to describe people, places, local mannerisms and dialects.