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And since all this loveliness can not be Heaven,
I know in my heart it is June.
~Abba Goold Woolson (1838–1921)
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Ah June, among the fairest of all months.  Here in the valley, June came in like July with hot humid temps and we await thunderstorms for needed rain.  Yesterday, Memorial Day, my home-from-college daughter Elise and I worked far too hard in the vegetable garden, but we’d gotten behind and were under a flash flood watch.  Not a drop fell from the searing sky, OK, maybe one or two.  Not even enough to dampen my nose.
If I predicted the weather with such reckless abandon as the weather people do, I would lose all credibility, but still they go on prognosticating.  And we listen. I prefer to read the signs in nature and often do so with accurate results.  Last winter was a hard one which I foretold after observing several entirely black woolly bears–those fuzzy little caterpillars are more accurate in telling the weather than anyone.  Normally woolly bears are ringed with reddish-brown and black bands, the brown denoting milder winter weather and the black harder.  And in late summer I noted the unusually high assembly of swifts gathering at our farm pond earlier in the season than usual.  Then they all flew away.  Getting the H—out of Dodge.  It wondered me why, as the Pennsylvania Dutch say.  Bad winter coming, I concluded.  And I was right.
Another indication of winter snows are the number of foggy mornings in August.  Each one signifies a snowfall.  We had a number of those misty mornings when the white haze hangs over the pond, and I can just see the blue heron at the edge.  The hills up above the meadow are veiled and the Alleghenies shrouded in white.  Then the sun comes out, the fog lifts, all sparkles in the dew, and I chalk up another snowfall.
****
But I digress.  Frequently.  Back to June.  On the Sunday before Memorial Day, our family took a drive up into the breathtakingly beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains along the Parkway and had lunch at the Big Meadows Lodge.  Glorious.  Mountain laurel was in in bloom and many other wildflowers.  Butterflies fluttered about, though not nearly as many as you see later in the season.  It feels as though you’re on top of the world up there.  That knob is the epicenter of the universe.
If you’ve never visited the Blue Ridge Mountains and toured the Parkway, you’ve missed out on an amazing experience.   The Park maintains trails varying from short walks to arduous hikes for the more athletic, many with ferny streams tumbling along.  I adore the sound of a mountain stream.   There are lovely places to dine like the splendid lodge.  Rustic in a welcoming, homey way with an enormous stone fireplace. The windows look out over spectacular vistas.    An ideal vacation spot for families or simply stop by for an excellent meal.
For more on the Big Meadows Lodge click here:
Big Meadows also has a fascinating museum depicting the life of the mountain people and nature displays, plus a wonderful nature based gift shop, perfect for families.  On a nice day, a stroll through the grassy meadows is enjoyable without being overly wearing.  Deer sightings are common.  Bear much less frequent, but it happens.  We once saw a mother with two cubs and spotted others from time to time.  These are the normally docile black bears.  Caution is to be observed, but attacks from black bear are rare.  One time, a bobcat sprang across the road and paused momentarily.  Shy creatures, it fled.   We’ve spotted wild turkey.  The abundance of birds in the Park makes it a haven for bird lovers.  I’ve never seen so many varieties.  The woods resound with their calls.  If you’re a horseback rider, the Park maintains idyllic trails, and the same for bikers…
Some areas of the park are home to living history exhibits of life from the past that include a preserved old log cabin, craftsmen at their looms, farm animals in log pens, a mountain garden…hands on stuff for children.  If you’re up for a dip in an icy stream, or swimming hole, they have those too.  I’ve opted to dabble my toes.  And there are waterfalls of all sizes. 
I love the smaller one called Dark Hollow Falls at Milam’s Gap.  It’s small enough that the more adventurous, including kids, slide down into the pool beneath.  You can even tickle trout, should that appeal to you.  It holds no charm for me, but some of the men in our family have braved frigid pools and done just that.
When I’m in the mountains my spirit soars.  The beauty of the valley and surrounding mountains, my absorption in nature and passion for the past, has an enormous influence on my writing.

“After a debauch of thundershower, the weather takes the pledge and signs it with a rainbow.”
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich
“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments – there are consequences.”~ Robert G. Ingersoll
“Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.”~The Bible
 
“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile, some have a sad expression, some are pensive and diffident, others again are plain, honest and upright.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

*I totally agree with this poetic observation.

“When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

“By nature’s kindly disposition, most questions which it is beyond man’s power to answer do not occur to him at all.” ~ George Santayana
“The bluebird carries the sky on his back.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

*I absolutely love blue birds.  The Shenandoah Valley is blessed with an abundance of them.  They flash blue in the sunlight and are quite busy little birds.

“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before. “~ Robert Lynd  *To this I add, so could Native Americans.
 
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
~John Muir

*Several of these pics were taken by my mother and husband. The rest are royalty free images from i-stock of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

11 comments

  1. Mona Risk // June 8, 2010 at 2:53 PM  

    Beth, beautiful pictures. You describr a nature that I almost forgot here in Florida. For us Floridians, it is hot, very hot during the day with blue skies, and a few clouds. The ocean is calm. The gorgeous beach beckons to come and swim. I listen and swim every day. But by three o'clock, the clouds turn black and we are soaked with pouring rain. Yesterday it was a real storm all evening. But today the sky is blue again. And so on every day.

  2. Judy // June 8, 2010 at 4:05 PM  

    Your photographs are always so beautiful, Beth! It's such a beautiful area!! And I loved the picture of the blue birds. They're so neat. We had a blue bird house for years but after the first batch left, the squirrels took over and we could never get the birds back. Thanks for sharing

  3. Mary Marvella // June 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM  

    Mona, you and Beth paint such wonderful pictures! Beth, you writing sings! Thanks for sharing your songs.

  4. Beth Trissel // June 8, 2010 at 6:14 PM  

    I'm so glad you enjoyed sharing my green valley and mountains with me. :) Mona, I love to visit the beach.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 9, 2010 at 12:47 AM  

    Your wonderful pictures make me want to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains again. Such a lovely place. Little bit of Heaven on Earth.

  6. Pamela Vee // June 9, 2010 at 2:35 AM  

    I always love your pictures, Beth. Looking at them is like admiring a Claude Monet painting. He painted some of the most romantic landscapes.

  7. Cyrano // June 9, 2010 at 8:19 AM  

    What lovely words and gorgeous pictures. I love June too.
    Inspiration and art. Can't think of a better way to start my day.
    Have a wonderful morning,
    Tamara

  8. Beth Trissel // June 9, 2010 at 8:38 AM  

    :) Having a lovely June morning here today...soft rain is moistening the new lettuce and beans in the garden. Last evening we went for a walk in the meadow, heard the ever elusive meadowlarks trill, small frogs squeak and plop into the pond, water birds make their high pitched 'squeeeee' and fly over the water. Purple martins shone iridescent in the evening light as they swoop and dip. Red wing black birds call. The cows amble after us. Follow the leader. It couldn't have been more pastoral or more perfect. The mountains rise in the distance beyond the wooded hills.

  9. Autumn Jordon // June 9, 2010 at 10:33 AM  

    I love reading and viewing your posts, Beth.

    Last night while watering my flowers, I noticed some cuttings had fallen out of a pot. I freshen the cut and stuck them back into the starter soil, only to have the ground move. Here a huge toad had made a bed in the pot. LOL

    The grandkids had a ball staring at him, or her, as my husband maybe she had laid eggs inside.

  10. Beth Trissel // June 9, 2010 at 12:02 PM  

    Thanks Autumn. How kewl finding a toad and unusual. Although they do like dark moist places.

  11. Joanne // June 10, 2010 at 1:07 PM  

    Beth,
    Beautiful post and breath-taking photos. When I was younger and liked to sunbathe, I loved the beaches. Still love the ocean, but I love the serenity of the mountains more.