I’m writing this on April 1st and the low tonight is 33 degrees. This has been one hell of a winter. I’m hoping that this post about March will cover the last of it.
In early March, Spring flowers keep trying to appear but then they get smacked down with snow and lows in the teens.
But on March 2nd it was actually warm enough for the Wednesday Book Pair, which usually meet over zoom or facebook during covid or when I’m on the road, to meet outside and in person for lunch. Of course 10 days later it was snowing.
But on this day Laurie and I had a grand time being outside in short sleeves. Including super sized chocolate chip cookies for dessert. If the food looks yummy, it was.
We had two things other than lunch on our agenda for this lovely warm outside day. The first was to finish our discussion of the book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May. This is a book we’ve been discussing on the first Wednesday of the month since November so I’m sure I’ve talked about and probably shown it before. It’s chapters are named after each month as it explores how wintering enters our lives at different times and stages but often in these dark days of the year. The book and our discussions finished with the chapter March and we are hoping winter is finished as well in March
Then it was time to open one of our Traveling Reader Boxes since we’ve chosen to read that book for next week. Laurie is looking over the information which tells us that this month we’re going to Drogheda Ireland.
Here are a couple of close ups of what was inside. The brochure on top is what Laurie is reading above. The book is always wrapped in red tissue paper and is below the brochure. This month the treats were tea, as always, along with bar of chocolate on the right and a candle and what they are calling bath soak on the left.
The book always comes with a bookmark on top which is a panorama of something or some place in the book, as well as postcards inside the book.
It’s SO MUCH fun to get these surprises in the mail. IF they don’t have trouble arriving. More on that later.
And here’s the book for discussion next week.
On March 7, exactly one month after Carrie’s birthday we met again, as we had for my birthday, at Haymarket Virginia and had lunch at Hidden Jules Café in Haymarket Virginia which is about half way between both our homes.
And again they generously gave us a complimentary cinnamon roll because this time we were celebrating Carrie’s birthday and they didn’t care that this was not even the exact date. Great place!
Although it was a bit windy and thus chilly, we elected to eat outside on their patio. We had to hold on to our napkins and tie our hats down.
After lunch we went to a nearby Silver Lake Regional Park for a short a hike before heading back home.
We didn’t see any beavers but we saw their lodge and lots of evidence.
Another great day in early March. Carrie was in no sleeves. We are both so ready for the spring warmth.
On the way home, this was what I saw. Not sure I’ve ever paid $4 for a gallon of gasoline before.
But I’d rather do that and stop the environmentally damaging oil and gas drilling. Global Warming is no joke as we are seeing in the extreme weather patterns.
The cost of gasoline may change how people RV and maybe cause some people to rethink the whole thing which would be great in my opinion. I’d sure like less competition for campsites and maybe even eliminate the need to make reservations so far in advance. But I’m likely just dreaming.
Mid March brought snow again. Not so much this time but low temperatures continued to be below freezing. Back and forth – sleeveless then snow.
Here’s what I’ve been doing when it’s too cold to be outside for long.
It’s been kind of poetry month for me. These are 3 of the 5 poetry books I read this month. The majority were by Native American Poets. Joy Harjo actually came to talk and read at Sweet Briar College which is south of me. Her presentation was open to the public but started at 7:30. I’m not much for driving in the dark these days so I watched on Zoom and really enjoyed her.
The Naomi Miller is a previous Travelling Reader selection.
Laurie and I have chosen A Country Year: Living the Questions as a book we’ll read periodically like we did Wintering. Though it’s an older book, published in 1999, its beautiful writing and descriptions are timeless. This book is organized by Seasons. So for our get together closest to Spring Equinox, we read and discussed the spring chapter. We’ll do summer at around the Summer Solstice when I hope to be in the Mountains of North Carolina. Love Zoom! Or actually we’re using Facetime now because it seems to take less bandwidth for me. I don’t have wired internet obviously. I hope my signal is good enough in the mountains.
This picture is just to remind me when I reread this post NOT to shovel snow for more than an hour at best and to push the snow, not lift the snow. In January I shoveled for 3 hours and ended up hurting my lower back and ultimately having to go to the chiropractor. It’s still not 100%. A price of getting older. I keep forgetting.
Being in Virginia in March means that I am able to actually attend the Virginia Festival of the book which I have not done in years. It also means I am able to see more of the March Madness than I can usually see when I’m on the road. I need someone to advise me about how to be able to have better TV on the road. Anyway…The problem for me with all this is too much of too many good things. I’m forced to choose when a book session I want to attend is at the same time as a basketball game I want to watch.
What a tough life I lead right? One of the games I watched early on was the Ohio State Buckeyes. I’m originally from Ohio, went to Ohio State and used to watch basketball with my dad. Actually the only thing we ever did together. The Bucks won this game but sadly the lost to Villanova in the 2nd round. I don’t think they should feel too badly since Villanova went onto the final 4 where they will play #1 Kansas. Still, it was great singing along with the old fight song which is TOTALLY a football song. Anyone remember Woody Hayes?
Back to books……. One of the things I always did in Charlottesville before Winnona was to attended many readings of the Festival of the Book which happens each March when now I am usually in much warmer places. Haven’t done it in over 10 years. Of course they didn’t have it when I was stuck here due to covid.
I was very happy to be able to do some of the activities this year. The festival runs for 5 days and there are book discussions, panels and readings all over town at all hours of the day and night.
It’s heaven for book lovers. You can find out all about it at https://www.vabook.org
The first reading I attended was poetry and held at the Main Charlottesville Library. I’d gone particularly to see Forrest Gander. He was talking about his latest book Twice Alive but also spoke about Be With, a book I admire which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and which came out after his wife’s unexpected death. I find it very powerful and was anxious to see the man who wrote it.
Gander is a poet, essayist, translator and novelist who grew up in here in Charlottesville though he now lives in Northern California.
The plates from Twice Alive showing the wood cuts were displayed at the book sale table. I don’t buy very many books. Traveling as I do, I mostly use a Kindle to save on the weight of books but I did buy Be With. It’s one I wanted to own.
You can see from this plate that Twice Alive also contains prose.
I’m not going to talk about all the sessions I attended on each of the 5 days but another that I greatly enjoyed was also held on another day in this same room..
Imani Perry discussed and read from her book South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation. Unlike Gander’s poetry I was not familiar with Perry or this book. I’d seen it described as ‘a meditation on the complexities of the American South - and thus of America - by an esteemed daughter of the South and one of the great intellectuals of our time.” Pretty hype I thought – until I saw her.
She is one of the most well spoken articulate women I’ve ever heard and living in a University town nearly all my life, that says a lot. She is currently the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton and has an undergraduate degree from Yale, a Law degree and a PhD from Harvard, and an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center. Her answers to questions from the audience were thorough and extremely articulate. I was as they say “way impressed”.
Among other sessions I attended were the Southern Environmental Law Center’s presentation of their Reed awards for Non Fiction and Journalism at which the author Michael Mann spoke about his book The New Climate War: the Fight to Take Back Our Planet and a discussion entitled Southern Landscapes: Real and Imagined with W. Ralph Eubanks author of A Place Like Mississippi:A Journey Through a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson author of My Monticello and the previously mentioned Imani Perry.
Back to Basketball. I’ll bet you’ve all heard of St. Peter’s by now. They made NCAA history for being the first ever number 15 seed to make it to the Elite 8. They were just fantastic to watch as was their coach.
They are a tiny school of 2600 students and 800 graduate students in Jersey City New Jersey and they and their Peacock were the darlings of the tournament until the East Regional Final where one of my favorite teams the North Carolina Tarheels ended their run. Still they beat #2 seed Kentucky #7 Murray State and #3 seed Purdue to get that far. AMAZING! And boy were they fun to watch. I just wish they could have played someone else for that Elite 8 game and gotten into the Final 4. What a coup that would have been. Glad the peacock didn’t have to wear a mask but how do you cheer with one??
Crossing my fingers that this was THE END OF WINTER, I was SO EXCITED to celebrate the Spring Equinox this year at Ivy Creek where they hosted a very interesting Book Festival discussion entitled Preserving and Using Native Plants with Kat Maier author of Energetic Herbalism: A Guide to Sacred Plant Traditions and Georgann Eubanks author of Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Bring of Extinction. (aside: you must have noticed as I have that book titles have gotten VERY VERY LONG)
The discussion was held behind the historic barn as the spring winds blew.
I just loved the book seller at this event. Isn’t this GREAT! I took these pictures before she was totally set up outside thinking I would get more later but all the other pictures were photo bombed by the dozens of people buying books.
After the talks, I took a 4 mile hike on the trails. It is still very wintery looking but I saw some signs of hope.
High above the Rivanna Reservoir.
Looking down on the creek bridge
It was not what one would call a cheerful looking day down in the bottom though the skies were blue with puffy clouds.
The sum total of wildlife was these canada geese and a log line of turtles.
Signs of spring are coming one at a time. I’m obviously very impatient.
It’s only when all the leaves are off the trees that you can see this is a horseshoe bend.
Striped Wintergreen showing above the deep layer of leaves.
This is one of my favorite spots in the Natural Area. It is another look this time from the side of the horseshoe bend.
I also spotted Wild Ginger.
And of course winter, spring, summer or fall, there is important tree hugging. Missing David as always.
I probably have not yet mentioned my Fed Ex horror story since it hadn’t quite turned into horror at the point I wrote February’s post. You’d know it in great detail if you were Laurie, Pam or Mary. But here’s a synopsis.
The Travelling Reader sends me the boxes you’ve seen me talk about several times. They usually come with no problem and arrive in reasonable time and in good shape delivered by our USPO. This month they were sent out on February 22nd and didn’t arrive thanks to Fed Ex until over a month later. The number of phone calls I made to Fed Ex and times I checked the tracking number to find out no information and emailed the poor girl at The Travelling Reader are no doubt legendary by now.
Here’s what the package looked like when it finally arrived. My advice, try not to have Fed Ex deliver anything especially from overseas. Their right arm has NO IDEA what the left arm is doing.
Inside bent and crushed.
The Travelling Reader has agreed to make sure nothing is sent to me by Fed Ex in the future and I told them not to bother to replace the bent and bruised since the contents were OK and so was the hardback book in the box though without the rough and ready outer red bag it would have fallen out the box bottom. I do hope TR gets a refund of the postage it paid and so do I.
Pam and I had another Spring Equinox Celebration by going over to the UVA grounds Pavilion Gardens. If you aren’t familiar with UVA, the original University was founded and designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1819.
The main building of the College was The Rotunda which is the center piece of what is known as the Academical Village. It housed the library and was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. This is the back of it which faces “the lawn”. It is flanked on both sides by Faculty Pavilions connected by student rooms. Thus it is a U shaped terraced lawn with the library at its head and faculty and student housing, dining areas and classrooms running down its sides.
The picture below is taken from the steps above looking down the lawn. You can see the Pavilions and and rooms on either side. Originally there was no building at the foot of the lawn just a view out to the Southwest Mountains. But times change. Not sure what Jefferson would think and that is usually a BIG consideration in anything that’s done around here.
Two of the ten Pavilions connected by student rooms between them.
Each of the Pavilions has a garden behind it and they are all different. You can see the Pavilion behind Pam sitting on the bench. The gardens often are terraced as this one is or at least have separate “rooms” running away from the backyard of the Faculty Pavilion. All the bricks for the serpentine walls around the gardens were made here. Everything was done with Slave labor of course. Nothing to take pride in.
We were here to get a breath of spring before it snowed again.
This lovely spring ephemeral was really blooming. It’s a red trillium but I’ve always called it wake robin.
Another ephemeral I was thrilled to see was this Trout Lily named for its speckled leaves.
None of the following are wildflowers and weren’t labeled but I thought they were lovely. If you know what they are, let me know and I’ll label them.
Pam and I got a kick out of this flower bower. Can’t you imagine what might go on in there?
I just love the way they redid this wall to accommodate the tree roots.
One of the last gardens we visited obviously had a resident canine in the Pavilion and his/her toys had been left out on this piece of sculpture to dry from the rains.
Seems a fitting thing to end with until next time.
Did you watch basketball, read or go hiking in March?