Fall has arrived

Fall has arrived

I have been dreaming about it for weeks, months even. I have indulged, bemoaned and anticipated it here, here, and here.

Hot tea on a chilly fall day.

But this weekend, it arrived.

I mean really arrived.

And I am so amazingly excited.

What am I talking about? Fall, of course.

Saturday was a beauty, I have to admit–86* and super sunny. Husband and I set to work preparing the porch for fall, and it was nice to be outside in the warm sunshine in tank-top and flip-flops.

Preparing the porch for fall.

And Ginger spent her day lazing out there.

Ginger sleeping on the porch.

We even harvested a bit of our fall garden to eat with lunch…

Fresh Swiss chard

But Sunday dawned dark and wet, a mere 62* and that would be the high for the day. I even wore a coat to church.

As always, rainy days help me slow down. So while Husband worked, the puppy and I cuddled up in the living room with hot tea and a warm blanket. As the rain pattered on the roof and lovingly soaked the garden, we watched Little Women and worked on some knitting…

Yellow yarn
I know a special little girl who loves yellow…

This morning I rose with a shiver in the darkness. Yes, it’s dark when I wake now. Which means my battle with mornings returns.

But for now, I am choosing to embrace the chill in the air and the icy breeze wafting in the open windows as I search for the socks and slippers Puppy re-located during the night. I put the tea kettle on not out of habit (although it is that), but because I crave the steamy mug that will warm my hands and heart.

Husband and I may have to search our upstairs storage for the mini-heater that takes the chill off the bathroom in the mornings, but for now, I’ll just warm my fingers under the faucet.

I donned a favorite sweater and even pulled on my trusty trench coat before I walked out the door to head into work.

Welcome, dear fall. Please, take off your hat and coat and sit a while–join me for a cup of tea, won’t you?

Adventure: Crabtree Falls

Adventure: Crabtree Falls

There are few ways I would rather be spending a rainy Saturday. Right now I am holed up in a warm(ish), dry tent with a (mostly) dry puppy at my side, a mug of hot tea, a (purple) solo cup of wine. And I have my iPad to write on. It’s heaven.

Sure, it’s raining outside, it has been all day. It’s wet and muddy and just plain yucky. But I am dry and warm and listening to the rain kersplat on the tent roof with confidence that I will remain dry and warm. Husband is cooking hobo packs over the fire (yes, in the rain) and we couldn’t be happier.

A few days ago we learned that husband would not have to work this weekend, so we made semi-last minute plans to head for the mountains. And head for the mountains we did.

We booked a camping spot near a hike we had talked about taking for months and we headed out in the wee hours of the morning.

The Blueridge Mountains.

Four and a half hours later, we were there. In the glorious mountains. Someday we will move to these mountains, or other mountains, somewhere. We will make our living off the land, cattle, hay, horses, produce, B&B, anything.

For now, we will savor them while we are here, knowing our time is short.

There was a lull in the rain, just long enough to allow us to set up camp. Then we headed for Crabtree Falls, the tallest waterfall this side of the Mississippi.

It sounded like a great idea and I had been wanting to see it. It wasn’t until we were halfway up the climb that I realized that if these were the tallest falls, we would be hiking, vertically, for a very long time.

Crabtree Falls

The hike wasn’t difficult exactly, but definitely steep (and slick). When my heart began pumping so hard I could feel it pounding out of my chest, I knew we were in for a good workout. As I struggled to keep up with husband and puppy I was reminded of a very specific request I made to God when I was still single.

Hiking Crabtree Falls.

In college I was often the one to take the reins, plan the adventures, spur my friends on toward camping trips and hiking and snowboarding and many of the lovely things we did. But in truth, it is not in my personality to be the spark plug, to instigate others toward adventure.

I had asked God to give me a husband who would take that burden off of me. You see, it wasn’t that I wanted to give up the adventures. Quite the contrary–I was determined to continue having adventures after marriage or I wasn’t interested in being married. Specifically what I told God was that I wanted someone that I had to work to keep up with, not someone that I would have to drag around with me. Yep, God heard alright.

I was booking it to keep up with husband and puppy. Neither heat nor chill nor rain slowed us down!

Bright orange mushrooms along the trail.

I have to say though, I don’t think there’s any better way to spend a rainy afternoon than on a waterfall hike. Sure, it was wet, and slippery, and muddy. But we were laughing and chatting and getting our hearts pumping. And the view from the top was gorgeous.

View from the falls.

View from the falls.

And now we are sipping wine in our dry tent, or at least I am, while dinner cooks over the fire.

Camping.

Lovely.

Keeping up and slowing down

Keeping up and slowing down

I spent the past 7 days just trying to keep up.

Husband was away, house-sitting on the other side of the city. Which left me with the house, garden, and animals to care for on my own.

The fact is, Husband and I have created a wonderful life for ourselves, but it is a life meant to be lived and stewarded by two. It was hard to do it on my own. Some days felt like I was on a hamster wheel–one that never slows down and never stops.

The workdays all sort of ran together, and responsibilities outside of work were a jumbled mess–barn cleaning, picking tomatoes, picking up and delivering produce, making meals, feeding the animals, etc., etc., etc.

It seemed a lifetime as I slogged through the week, but eventually Friday evening rolled around and with it came time.

Time with Husband. Time with friends. Time to sit, relax, enjoy. We spent nearly five hours Friday night picking crabs, talking and laughing with dear friends. Some pretty heavy thunder storms raged around us, but since the house we were at is on stilts, we were dry and safe underneath. The night air was lit with a dozen citronella lamps, keeping the mosquitoes at bay and adding a special summer ambiance to the evening.

Citronella lamps set the ambiance. I would have more photos, but my camera battery promptly died after taking this one.

It was hours before anyone even thought to look at the time–which is exactly the kind of evening I needed.

It was past midnight by the time I got home, patted the puppy on the head and literally fell into bed.

Saturday morning dawned early, but I stayed where I was–curled up with the pup beside me. Oh how glorious it is to sleep in on Saturday!

It didn’t last forever though, there were things to do, more to keep up with. The house was an utter disaster after the week I’d had and it was time to face it.

But first, I made a cup of tea and a pot of coffee and snuck over to the blueberry farm where Husband was pruning blackberry bushes. Some might say that 15 minutes of small talk isn’t worth the half hour drive each direction. And some days, I’m one of them. But after a week of hardly seeing Husband at all, those 15 minutes were well worth it.

Blackberries.

As I drove home, I mentally ticked off the things I had to do. And it was a long list.

I got started at once, finishing one chore after another–methodically working my way through the house and down the list. By early afternoon, I was beginning to wane.

But once again, the rain saved me.

It started slowly, just a few drops here and there as I trimmed the front bushes. Then the thunder rolled in and the lightening started. Before long, it was all out storming again.

The puppy and I opened the front door and let the fresh air in the house as the rain cooled off the muggy heat. We watched with fascination as the storm pounded down outside our porch. Then we sat down and it wasn’t long before I was fast asleep.

I woke up refreshed, but the world around me was still soggy and thunder continued to shake the house. I lit a candle just for the fun of it and spent the next few hours organizing the study and cataloging my library (while that may seem dreadfully boring to some, to me it was delightful bliss).

That evening, Ginger and I watched a 1969 version of David Copperfield and enjoyed the sound of rain on the roof.

Ginger and I watched a movie by candlelight as it rained.

It seems the rain is my link to slowing down. When it comes, I’m forced to forget all those things that “need” to be done, and instead focus on resting, slowing, being, living.

Maybe I need more rain in my life…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday,
I can’t say that I was looking forward to your arrival, but with the new leather bag Husband bought me to carry all my work “stuff” in, I am pleasantly surprised by my delight in packing my things to leave for work this morning. Amazing how an over-sized handbag can turn a day around.

Dear Chappy,
Oh, what a wonderful ride we had! Let’s hope it stops raining sometime soon so we can do it again…

RainDear Rain,
Thank you for holding off on Saturday so I could line dry my laundry, and thank you for arriving on Sunday. There’s really nothing like rainy day to make you stop all the craziness and just enjoy. Even if we did get seriously wet running in and out of stores yesterday. But at the same time, I’m not sure I really love the weather report…another week of you might be more than I can handle.
 

Dear Husband,
Thanks for Sunday. I know that I have to share you with the rest of the world Monday through Saturday, but I’m so glad that we set aside Sunday for us.

Dear Charleston, SC,
We might be meeting soon…

Sincerely,
Holly


Linking up with Happy Day.

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday,
Please be a calm, quiet day. I think I need to ease back into the workweek…

The puppy Ginger.

Dear Power Company,
Will you please get my electricity back on? Putting on mascara in the dark was an experience I would rather not go through again tomorrow.

Rainy Sunday

Dear Rainy Sunday,
Can I just say thank you? You were exactly what Husband and I needed. A day of church, browsing through Trader Joe’s, picking movies, resting, snuggling on the couch and eating homemade sticky buns… Basically, we just didn’t do anything at all. And it was great.

Homemade sticky buns with tea

Chappy

Dear Chappy,
We had the best first ride of the season yet! I’m so proud of you for remembering all those long hours of training that we’ve had together. I’m delighted that you even remember the more advanced maneuvers that we just started learning last summer. Let’s keep up the good work and make some real progress on your training this summer, shall we? Maybe by the end of the season we’ll be trail riding at Northwest River Park!

Dear Graduation,
You’re only two weeks away…

Dear Friday,
Please come as quickly as you can. I cannot wait for our little road trip up the Eastern Shore in celebration of Husband’s birthday. And if you don’t mind, bring some sunny weather with you =).

Sincerely,
Holly


Linking up with Happy Day.

Thunder storms and other lovely ideas

Thunder storms and other lovely ideas

Thunder storm

There are some days that I really wish I didn’t have to work. Not many, I love my job. But today? Today we’re getting thunder storms in Virginia Beach.

I love storms, of just about any variety, but thunder storms especially. The best thunder storms are accompanied by a warm, muggy rain, usually in the dog days of summer.

I can usually smell them coming. Yep, storms definitely have a smell…a sweet, subtle hint of refreshment in the air. A promise of things to come.

As a child I lived in a community built atop an old junk yard. Big hunks of metal underground = lots of lightning. My friends and I would sit on the curb and watch the colorful streaks light up the sky… by morning the “lightening tree” in our yard would probably lose another branch as the lighting struck ground…

Alas, in Virginia, we get a lot of cold rain–pretty much all winter long (which is enough to drive a snow-lover like me crazy!). But even in February today’s temps are exceeding 60* and I can hear the water pouring onto the roof of my office building. I can even hear a few deep rolls of thunder, every now and then the walls of my office shake with the rumbles.

I wish I had a window in here, but since I can’t very well put a hole in the wall, I think I’ll spend my lunch break with my eyes closed, imagining that I’m standing in the middle of a parking lot, one that’s so hot it sizzles when the rain drops hit it… I lift my face to the skies and spread my arms out wide welcoming the rush of moisture and the smell of musty blacktop.

That’s the best kind of storm.

And umbrellas? Umbrellas are for the unimaginative, the boring, the busy (and sometimes me, when I’m late to work).

Sopping wet clothes, muddy shoes, dripping hair, and a freshly washed face are evidence of a storm truly appreciated. And right now I would give just about anything to be out in it.

Happy Leap Day, I hope it brings some lovely storms your way!

TC 3: Umbrellas

TC 3: Umbrellas

Am I allowed to be thankful for something as simple as umbrellas?

For many people, umbrellas merely mean rain, drizzle, bad traffic and things like that. And umbrellas mean that for me too. But umbrellas also bring back memories of the first kindling of love in my life.

You see, before I moved to Virginia, I really had no use for umbrellas. In undergraduate school I lived in Montana, where its so arid that it rarely rains. And then in Ohio I was working as a reporter, so I was already lugging around my messenger bag full of notebooks, recorders, camera, etc. I certainly wasn’t going to add anything as unnecessary as an umbrella to that.

Then I moved to Virginia just in time for fall. And Virginia in the fall is, well, wet. Especially that first fall, I think we broke a few records for rainfall those months…

I had commented to one of my new friends, a chef at the university, that I needed to get an umbrella to deal with all this rain. But, I told him, I didn’t want just any umbrella, I wanted a cute umbrella, a unique umbrella, an umbrella with style.

I don’t remember if it was days or weeks later, in fact, I’m not even sure if it was before or after we officially began dating, but sometime in the fall of 2009, we had one of the worst nor’easters I’ve ever seen. And it poured.

To my surprise, just before I had to walk out the door to head to class and work, a knock sounded. Do you know who it was?

It was the chef, holding brand new, brown striped umbrella.

And you know what? I smiled all the way I walked through the rain that day.

And today, as I walked through the rain into work again, carrying my brown striped umbrella…I thanked God for Husband and his thoughtfulness.