What does community mean to you?

I know this is the second question I’ve posted this week, but it’s one I’ve been pondering lately.

Graham and I live in a tiny village. But that village is part of a county split between a busy, suburban east and a quiet, rural west. And that county is part of a state full of large metropolitan areas and even larger swaths of coastline, mountains, and small country towns.

By way of example, this is Virginia:

This is also Virginia:

And so is this:

In our village, we stay involved in civic and volunteer organizations, we support the businesses and the small school operating here, and we try to help our neighbors when they need it. We feel safe, and very happy. And in the next town over, we’ve got a whole second community – we play trivia every Thursday, we’re regulars at several businesses, and it’s pretty rare to walk down the sidewalk on any given day and not see someone we know. We feel connected here – to the people around us, to our local government, to the history that we’re becoming part of – and when we think about what community means to us, that’s it: connection.

Or perhaps it’s something a little deeper than that.

It’s feeling rooted, I think.

And I never thought I’d feel that way after I left my childhood home in southwest Virginia. I think many people worry about that, too, and I feel really lucky that I’ve found this place.

So, that’s community for me, then: people, place, connection, and roots. But I know that my world isn’t the world, and there are all kinds of ways to be part of a community.

Now, backing up.

I’ve been pondering all this of lately because I’ve been kicking around a new project idea, something that would explore where I came from, through the lens of where I am now, and with the wisdom and knowledge that I’ve gained as I’ve grown up (and continue to grow up…it’s a process, y’all). I’m not sure if I’m ready to write it at all, but I know that in order to write it well, I need more perspectives than just mine. I need to understand what people think of when they think of community. In order to really tell the story that I want to tell in a way that resonates, I think I need to know more about the people who will read it, where they come from and how they feel about community, and what their experiences have been in whatever places they’ve chosen to call home.

And so I put it to you, my wonderful readers, from so many different places, and with so many different passions and ideas:

What does community mean to you?

What are you reading lately?

One of my goals for 2022 is to read a fiction and nonfiction book every week. So, two books a week, essentially, trying to branch out into new topics and push myself to read new things. I’m a little ahead of the game right now at 56 books read. (Not a contest, but yay! That’s three more than I was able to read during all of last year.) But as you can imagine, I’m always on the lookout for my next read.

So tell me, what are you reading? What have you read lately? What should I read next? And if you’re looking for recommendations, too, feel free to leave me a comment! I’ve read lots of good stuff this year. 😊

Want (A Poem)

I want to be
wild –
to roar at the sky
and sing with the wind,
to bloom alongside the flowers
and reach like the trees.
I want to be
free –
to think in cycles
and centuries,
and dance with the darkest memories,
and shine like the brightest stars.
I want to
see –
to feel it all,
hold it all,
to cradle it
here in the palm of my hand,
and know that I know
so little,
and everything.

Drenched (A Poem)

Rain, rain, rain
through April to May –
could it be you’re here to stay?
It certainly feels that way.

************

Yes, friends, it’s yet another rainy day, and it’s set to be a rainy weekend. I like rainy weather – it’s good for book-reading and tea-sipping and nap-taking. But…it would be nice to see some blue skies for more than a few hours at a time between rain clouds. I shouldn’t complain, though. Everything is so lusciously, livingly green.

If the weather keeps this up, it’s going to be a very vibrant summer.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: A year without fox kits?

For the last two years at around this time, a family of foxes has taken up residence under our barn. I’ve written about them beforea few times, in fact.

Mama and babies, and we’ve had the privilege of watching the kits grow and play. And y’all, they grow up so fast!

We’ve not seen them this year, though we do regularly catch glimpses of an adult fox hunting in our back field, and over the weekend, Graham saw her poking around near our barn. So maybe they’re just moving in a little late.

We shall see! And in the meantime, I’m glad we have cute pictures and sweet memories.

The Happiest Cat

Is there any happier creature in the world than a cat in his favorite sunny spot?

I really don’t think there is, y’all. And yes, this is an older picture, if you feel like you’ve seen it before. He is so very comfy and asleep right now that I just couldn’t bother him with the camera. But trust me, he looks almost exactly the same, just absolutely at peace, dozing in the sunshine.

At any rate, after several days of cool temperatures, clouds, and rain showers, the sun is out and shining today. It’s a nice change for all of us, but I think Gatsby’s enjoying it the most.

I hope it’s a sign of good things to come this week!

Sunday Supper #9: Celebrating Mother’s Day from Afar

Well, not too far. My mom lives about six hours away…

…and Graham’s mom lives about four.

Today, though, I wish we lived closer to both of them. Graham and I are lucky to have them, and I’d love to celebrate with them in person, but that just wasn’t in the cards this year. So, a blog post in their honor will have to do.

They are beautiful, smart, kind, wise, and so very wonderful. Today and every day, we love them both so much.

(Oh, and for supper? Leftover red beans and rice. It’s been a long week, y’all.)

Erstwhile Horse Girl

When I was a little girl, I wanted a horse.

Wanted isn’t even really a strong enough word. I needed a horse. I needed a horse like I needed to breathe air, like I needed the blood circulating in my veins and the cells regenerating in my body. It was fundamental to me, a building block at the very core of my being. I would sit awake at night, imagining morning rides through dewy fields, just my horse and me. Wild, together, and utterly free.

My parents had no interest whatsoever in owning a horse, and it broke my almost-a-Horse-Girl heart. Money, to me, was no object when something so very important and vital to my happiness – nay, to my life – was on the line. Alas, these are lessons we learn with age. Money is always an object. And so as a consolation, my mom put me in riding lessons, where I learned the basics of care and maintenance, and the ins and outs of entry-level equestrianship.

This did not fill the void, though I enjoyed the lessons and learned a lot, most of which I have retained, I think, in some dusty, rarely used corner of my brain.

I never got a horse. And eventually, my interest in (read: obsession with) horses waned. I moved on to other hobbies, and for many, many years, I didn’t think much about horses at all.

Then, we moved to Hunt Country. Here, I am surrounded by horses.

Here, I live alongside hobby riders and polo players, foxhunters and trainers, jumpers, grooms, farriers, rescuers, and all manner of people who love their horses.  Here, I’ve met one of my very best friends, who is fierce, powerful, and astoundingly unbothered by the various injuries one can sustain when falling from a large, moving animal.

Her fearlessness inspires me on so many levels, but it doesn’t inspire me to own a horse. I find this curious, that I, who so desperately ached to be a Horse Girl all those years ago, should now be so unmoved by the prospect. That now, when it’s entirely accessible to me and imminently possible, I should think about it and decide, “Eh, no thanks.”

I guess we really do become our parents.

I can’t help but wonder, though, just where that little erstwhile Horse Girl went.

I do still love horses. I find them beautiful, strong, and smarter than some people would like to think. To my friends who care for them, they are devoted companions. When I see a horse galloping through the fields or resting under a tree on a warm day, I do still feel a little twinge, the smallest, tiniest tug on my heart. And so I know she’s still in there, somewhere, that almost Horse Girl. I carry her with me. I’m not that girl anymore, but I’m grateful to her, that spunky little wannabe daredevil. She taught me to be brave, patient, and kind, and to crave adventure, and to use my imagination.

She isn’t who I am today, but she helped me get here. And here – writing in my comfy chair on a rainy day, listening to the dog stir in the corner, making up stories from this lovely little corner of Virginia – is pretty darn good.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Blossoms in the Rain

We had our first big thunderstorm last night. It started at around 11:00 and lasted about an hour, with lots of lightning, loud thunder, and heavy rain. Then it moved on, but it left the rain behind.

This morning, things are looking damp and cloudy, but there’s beauty in that, I think.

A gray sky against dewy, green leaves and blossoms – there’s something so peaceful and striking about that.  

And I figure, whether you like it or not, the rainy days will come. So, better to just appreciate them for what they are, and find joy in a darker sky.