“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir
June has been a satisfying, healing month in Lynchburg, Virginia. I have found shelter in a rich environment and am proud that I am at last finding my way around the community. I have made connections with such lovely people. Tomorrow I will pack the car and start for my July House in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Floyd, Virginia. I had a momentary feeling of sadness as I said good-by to my very new friends this morning. We met for their traditional Friday morning breakfast at the Common Grounds Cafe a mission project of The Church of the Covenant. I could easily enjoy living in Lynchburg, and will very likely find my way there again. Before I leave, I do want to tell you about a little road trip that my sister, Shelley, and I took to Raccoon Ford, Sperryville and Walton’s Mountain.
When Shelley and I were little girls, our family (parents, brother Phippy, and little sister, Marcy) often visited our grandparents, at their Civil War era home at Raccoon Ford, Virginia. As we set out to visit the family that now owns the house, we played “do you remember”
- the steep stairs?
- the blue paneled dining room with shelves of milk glass?
- finding cannon balls on the grounds?
- being trusted to go down the very steep drive to collect the mail?
- the view across the valley to the Blue Ridge mountains?
- the fearful walks across the Rapidan on a suspended foot bridge?
- “diving” into the gentle rapids created by the remnants of the old mill dam?
- gatherings of family and visitors under the old tree at the side of the house?
We were warmly welcomed by the current family. We toured and reminisced; asked and answered questions and shared stories of our lives. When they purchased the house it was in very bad repair, and they are lovingly restoring it as time permits. They are a busy family of parents, four children, birds, turtles, rabbits and 11 horses and ponies – a marvelous, loving home for children to grow and thrive. We felt we made new friends and have been invited to visit any time. The old house is the same and different. The tree is bigger and, of course, it is much smaller. And we now know about the resident ghosts. It is much loved and is perfectly suited to the needs of the moment and of the future. In 1734 Raccoon Ford on the Rapidan River was the county seat of Orange County, VA, which at that time stretched all the way to the Mississippi River. There have been mills at the site since the early days. The house was built as a home for the resident miller in 1861. With its long outlook across the valley, it served as a Confederate outpost during the Civil War. See the Battle of Raccoon Ford drawing from the perspective of the Union Soldiers headed south toward Raccoon Ford. (Last picture on page.) The house was on the mountain beyond the river.
A blinding downpour accompanied us north through Culpeper, but the skies soon cleared allowing us to enjoy mountain views on our way to our bed and breakfast – the House on Water Street at Sperryville. We ate scallops and crabcakes at the excellent Thornton River Grill and then took a bit of time to explore the village. In the morning, we set out for visits to Triple Oak Bakery for gluten free goodies (they do mail orders) ; the Coffee Brewers and the Coterie, which features wares of many local artisans. We especially enjoyed our visit to the Glassworks Gallery. Owner and Glassblower, Eric Kvarnes, created the gallery on the site of an old wrecking yard. He purchased it for the excellent location along Lee Highway between Sperryville and Luray, Virginia which gives access to Skyline Drive. He created the bridge to span the creek from parts of an old Ferris wheel found on the site. The gallery features the amazing works of a number of local artists and we did not leave empty handed.
On our drive back to Lynchburg we took a winding mountain road to Schuyler, Virginia, the boyhood home of Earl Hamner, creator of the television show, The Waltons. The series is based loosely on his family and his experiences growing up in Schuyler. He was one of eight children – producers of the show didn’t want to hire another male actor, so two of his brothers were combined into one character. Earl, of course, was John Boy. We arrived too late to see the museum which includes sets from the show, but we did have the opportunity to visit Hamner’s childhood home. We were given a key and were free to explore the “real house” and compare it to the television home.
Very satisfied with our trip we arrived in Lynchburg in another downpour, which stopped in time for us to go to Fresh Market for supper supplies. We went back to my “June House” to create fresh pizzas made with gluten free crust from Sperryville, fresh tomatoes and basil. Quite a lovely adventure.