Groundhog Problems

Don’t be fooled. He might be cute, but he’s a nuisance.

Let me back up.

We’ve always had a groundhog on our property. They’re very common in Virginia. The year we moved in, he was living under one of our outbuildings, and we’d see him poking around the yard and eating grass and just generally doing groundhog things. We didn’t think much of it.

That, apparently, was a mistake.

Six years later, he’s invited his friends to move in. Now we have three groundhogs. And one of them can climb trees. Did you know groundhogs could climb trees? Because I didn’t.

I did some Googling to see just how urgent an issue this is, since I generally don’t like to intervene with nature when I don’t have to.

The good news: Groundhogs are typically not aggressive or violent.

The bad news: They can wreak havoc on a property, and they’ve been known to carry fleas, ticks, sometimes rabies, and various diseases, though they’re more likely to cause property damage than to make people sick.

So, I think we need to make some phone calls. I don’t know if the situation we have here warrants their removal or not – they’ve stayed away from the main house, and from us and our dog. But, I think we’ve reached our groundhog limit, and I know there are ways to remove them humanely, if that’s necessary.

After all, you know what they say: Three’s a crowd.

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?

(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.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Bluebell Season

My other favorite sign of spring here in Virginia: the Virginia bluebell.

Just like the bright, striking pink of the redbud tree, the calm blues and purples of these little beauties just make so happy. And when you happen across a field of bluebells, it honestly feels a bit like stepping into a fairyland.

I wrote a poem about them last year, which I’ll share at the end of this post, just below.

I tell ya…there’s just something a little bit magic about Virginia in the spring.

Blue Belle (A Poem)

Lady Blue,
now ring your bell
through forest, field, and fairy dell,
from riverbank to village green:
the time has come for growing things.

April Showers

I think the weather today got a little…confused. It’s raining. That’s normal for April. It’s also cold. And sleeting. And just a few miles down the road from our house, it’s snowing.

Snow in April isn’t unheard of around here, but it was so nice and warm, just beautiful and sunny and breezy on Saturday, that the cold and damp today just feels a little like whiplash. I suppose that’s Virginia for you – Fool’s Spring, Second Winter, False Spring, Third Winter. Maybe by this time next week, we’ll officially have some actual, lasting springtime.

And I can’t complain. Or, I shouldn’t. I’d planned over the weekend to spend today in, reading and writing, and resting and generally just getting to work and keeping my head down. It was a busy, super fun, and ultimately very tiring weekend, and so I knew I wanted some quiet time today. So really, I suppose, the weather’s just cooperating with me. Because I certainly don’t want to go outside and play in the almost freezing rain!

So, onward, and hopefully soon, Real Spring. In the meantime, happy creating, y’all!

Redbud Season!

It’s officially spring here in my little corner of Virginia. Today, it’s lovely – warm and partly cloudy, a bit breezy, just wonderful. And, most importantly (to me, anyway): it’s redbud season!

That’s a picture from last year, when I posted about the beautiful little redbud tree in our yard. Right now, the blossoms are just getting started.

I love redbuds so much. I just think they’re gorgeous, and nothing makes me think of home quite like they do. And, super cool, the blossoms grow right on the bark.

I only noticed that a couple of years ago. Isn’t that funny? That you can look at something your whole life and still learn something new about it.

Anyway, I plan to enjoy the redbuds in bloom for as long as I can. Winter might be my favorite, but there’s plenty to love about spring, too.  

Third Winter

Or maybe fourth? Frankly, I’ve lost count. But it’s cold and flurrying in Virginia today. It was cold and flurrying yesterday, too.

And it’s sunny, and flurrying at the same time, which is very strange. It’s actually sort of beautiful, in a disconcerting way, seeing snow fall against the bright green buds on the willow in our back field. I’d take a picture, but I don’t think I can really capture it.

Suffice it to say: Spring in Virginia is weird, y’all.

*Also, this is a short post, because I’m focusing today on March’s short story, which will be posted on Wednesday. It’s a good one!*

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: On Virginia Weather

Today, it’s mild, bright and sunny. The crocuses are already blooming, and the daffodils are well on their way. The sky is bluest blue and absolutely cloudless. It’s a beautiful morning.

Hard to believe that just this weekend, things looked very different:

Oh, Virginia, you chaotic darling. I adore you.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: A Good Kind of Messy

A couple of weeks ago, we went to an oyster roast on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I don’t particularly like oysters, but man, I love an oyster roast. I love the smoky, briny smell in the air, and the gathering around the tables, and the sense that this is an old, beloved tradition that connects us to the people who came before, and will connect us to those who come after. And the mess. I love the mess.

Oyster shells everywhere, spilled butter and sauce, dirty knives and grimy gloves. I just love it. I think there’s something homey and comfortable about it, and about making that kind of mess with other people who appreciate the tradition, too.

And Graham does like oysters.

So, that’s a plus.

Fool’s Spring (Or, Some Thoughts and a Poem)

I don’t know if this is a thing that happens in other places, but here in Virginia, before we get on with actual spring, we usually have a first spring, or what some people call a “fool’s spring.” And, well, I think we’re there.

It’s beautiful and sunny and in the 60s (Fahrenheit) today, and will be tomorrow as well. But I don’t think winter’s quite ready to let us go, and it’s supposed to be cold and possible snowy on Sunday before warming up again next week. So, I guess we’ll see.

Virginia, y’all. She always keeps her people guessing.

Anyway, I wrote a poem about it, because it just felt like the right thing to do.

**********

Winter’s chill softens.
The sun and air and wind
turn gentle and warm
and the ground begins to thaw.
All around the sounds of new life –
a world rife with breeze and birdsong –
but first impressions
can be wrong
and beauty’s a fickle thing.
Here in Virginia,
it remains to be seen
whether this is truly spring.