March 31, 2024

Now Blooming

In Shenandoah County.

It’s the end of March, and we have so many flowers blooming right now. I don’t recall ever seeing such a variety of blossoms this early in the spring. All my spring bulbs are blooming at once.

Perennials are blooming too. The creeping phlox that Lynn and I planted two years ago has spread nicely.

I was surprised to see this little orange flower bloom so early. I think it’s a wallflower.

Trees and shrubs are blooming around the neighborhood. They look pretty. 

Linkups: Floral / Garden / Mosaics

March 30, 2024

Cows, Charlie, Bunny

My town is in the Shenandoah Valley, and there are farms nearby. The cows in the first picture are just outside of town. The second picture is from the county park at Maurertown, and there is a farm adjacent to it.

Since I suspect that some people look at my Saturday posts in orders to see pictures of Charlie, here he is.

Today’s final pictures are computer-generated bunnies. Even though I’ve got a blog now for my AI images, I’ll post some that are seasonal. Tomorrow is Easter, and somehow our culture has associated bunny rabbits with that day. I think it has to do with springtime and the seasonal bursting forth of life. 

March 29, 2024

Dining Alone

In New Market

Black and White / Weekend Reflection

National Vietnam War Veterans Day

March 29 was chosen to honor veterans of the Vietnam war because the day in 1973 was when the last U.S. combat troops departed from Vietnam. It was an unpopular war. 

This memorial in the town of Fairfax honors local people who died in that war. One of them was a high school classmate, Cleveland (Butch) Harvey. I remember him as a good-natured and nice-looking boy. His mother owned a local gas station, and my boyfriend at the time worked there for a while.

That war was horrific, and very hard on my generation. Not only were many people killed, but many soldiers came back with severe injuries, illnesses, and PTSD. Some felt disrespected, because our presence in that war was not supported by most young people. I am understating this in order to cover the basic story without trying to explain a history that I will probably never understand. 

March 28, 2024

Charred Mountaintops

Massanutten Mountains and the Blue Ridge

A week ago, Virginia was hit with a number of fires on a very windy day. Some of these fires were started by power lines that collapsed when trees blew over on them. At least one fire was started by a vehicle accident. The news reported that in the region from Maryland through Virginia and West Virginia, there were over 100 fires! Although many were put out promptly, some continued to burn for days. In the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, the fires were difficult to contain because much of the terrain is hard to reach, and our lovely wilderness areas had dry underbrush that fueled the fires.

Firefighters did a great job under difficult circumstances, and managed to protect most structures, although some homes were lost near Strasburg. No fatalities were reported because people evacuated ahead of the flames. Finally, heavy rain came through the area, helping the firefighters to get things under control.

Route 211, the main road from New Market to Luray, was closed to traffic for several days because of a wildfire that burned right up to the edge of it. On the other side of Page County, another fire burned in Shenandoah National Park, causing closure of a 10-mile section of Skyline Drive. 

The first picture shows a burned area along US 211 at the top of Massanutten Mountain. (The green sign marks the county line between Shenandoah County and Page County.) The road formed a fire break, and the firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to the other side, at least in most places.

The rest of today’s pictures are from Shenandoah National Park. They reopened the closed area yesterday, and I drove up today, although I knew it would be painful to see. The park is very special to me and I go there frequently. 

Along Skyline Drive, I found a one-mile stretch that showed severe burn damage. It was between mileposts 27 and 28. Although more of the park was burned, that was mostly in wilderness areas. Similar to what I saw on Route 211, the paved road had served as a firebreak, giving the crews a place to stop the spread of flames. 

The trailhead for Neighbor Mountain Trail was scorched right up to the parking lot. There was a strong smell of burnt wood. 

Just north of there is Jeremy’s Run Overlook. The pretty view is looking west. The foreground is blackened from the fire, although there is a strip of green grass next to the parking lot. The Appalachian Trail runs below here and was closed for almost a week. The park service checked the trails to make sure they were safe before reopening them.

The wayside and picnic area at Elk Wallow were not damaged. The final picture is from Little Devils Stairs Overlook, which was not touched by the fire.


There is so much that I could say, but I’m almost overwhelmed by sadness. I am not good at pretending that disaster is not upon us. I don’t like to use this blog to lecture, and my style is usually to present things and let them speak for themselves. But here we are, seeing the effects of climate change. And this is just the beginning.

On my Unreal Images blog. I made a post about Mother Nature. She may not be real, but there is a balance in nature that has been disturbed.

March 27, 2024

Geese and Woodpeckers

I think I've shown you these particular geese before because they live at a home next to our state park. The one with rather raggedy feathers is a Sebastopol goose. The other may be a graylag goose, or it could be hybrid. It does look like it has a few curly feathers.

I don’t have any new birds for Wild Bird Wednesday, and the ones that I photographed recently are the same species I’ve been showing for a month. I went back in my collection of unused pictures from a couple of years ago and found these downy woodpeckers. The one with the red patch on his head is a male.

March 26, 2024

Sculpture of Willa Cather, Writer

Behind the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

Tuesday Treasures / Wordless

Willa Cather (1873-1947) was born in nearby Gore, VA.

March 25, 2024

Mural at Hunter’s Woods

Reston, VA

This mural covers the Colts Neck Road underpass. Reston is outside my usual daily travels, but it’s not far from a place where I was going shopping so I decided to locate and photograph the mural. It decorates these walls along the walking path. I did not photograph every part of the painting in the dark area of the tunnel, but it is all similar in style. 

Let’s start with a look at the path. It is well utilized. Reston was a planned community with plenty of walking paths. I can remember when it was rather rural and quiet, but now it is a city with high-rise buildings.

Mosaic Monday / Murals
I decided to photograph the mural on my right side as I walked through, and then turn around and photograph the other side on my way back.

I found a sign on the other side of the underpass telling about this mural by artist Ben Volta and community members. You can read details on the CODA website. It also has pictures of the mural when it was new. The name Thoreau’s Ensemble refers to a quote by Henry David Thoreau to, “Pursue some path, however crooked and narrow, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

March 24, 2024

The View from St. Mary’s Pine Lutheran Church

Near Mt. Jackson

I posted photos of this country church before, but it was six years ago. This time I ventured behind the church to take in the view.

The last picture shows Middle Road as seen from the front of the church.

Sunday Best

March 23, 2024

Charlie’s Post on National Puppy Day

Hi, Charlie here! Sometimes I get to write a post to let you know what’s going on. There were some strange things this week. When we went for a walk yesterday, there was a smell of smoke. We didn’t see any fires though. We saw blue flowers by the river in the state park.

(Virginia Bluebells)

On the day before that, there was a lot of wind. It made noise and it blew a long thing off the house. Today Lynn came with a guy who fastened it back up. They call it a downspout.

The smoky smell is gone now. That has something to do with the rain that we had this morning. It was raining hard, but Mom didn’t even mind. She put on her hat and we took a walk like we usually do. 

We take walks a lot. I like walks better than riding in the car.  We even walk at night, but not very far. 

I like other animals. Mom made a picture of a cat, but it is not real.

The squirrel is real, but there’s a screen on the window so he looks a little funny. I don’t bark at him because I am a quiet dog and mostly I am curious.

I  like seeing birds but they won’t let me get close. And one thing I do like about the car is that I can look out the window and see other animals.

Did I tell you that Mom takes my picture all the time? I don’t like to pose. Well, it’s time to go to bed. Be nice to animals, especially dogs.

March 22, 2024

Spidery Roots

Winchester, VA

This pond is on property of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. As I started to compose this post, I realized that it’s hard to tell what is a reflection and what is not in the black-and-white picture, so  below is a slightly different version. 

Sharing with H2O / Reflections / B&W

March 21, 2024

Tears for the Sunset

Shenandoah County

Tonight‘s sunset brought tears to my eyes. This is partly because I felt sad and worried, and partly because my eyes smarted from smoke particles. It was the smoke particles that gave the sunset dramatic red tones.

The second picture was taken earlier. Normally, I don’t shoot directly into the sun without blocking it, but I really wanted to show the smoke. Wildfires are still burning in West Virginia, that’s where this particular smoke is coming from.

I exited from the interstate to take this earlier photo along Route 55 (US 48). The sun was about to go down, so I didn’t have time to search for a viewpoint without wires. Actually, they are appropriate here because most of the fires were started by power lines that were felled by trees in yesterday’s high winds. 

By the time I reached Woodstock, the sun had gone down, leaving us an orange sky that would be delightful if it weren’t for the tragedy of fires. Several homes were destroyed west of Strasburg.

I saw a map yesterday showing the fires in Virginia. I didn’t count them, but there were over 20. Some were contained by firefighters after the wind died down, but there's one to the east that is still uncontrolled. It’s on Massanutten Mountain in Page County, threatening to cross into Shenandoah County. It has burned 2000 acres and destroyed several structures. Much of it is inside George Washington National Forest. Route 211 remain closed on the mountain and it’s a main road. 

I just heard on the weather report that there are still 15 active fires in our region. We may get rain tomorrow night. I wish it would arrive sooner.

I worry that this is part of our “new normal” of disasters caused by climate change, and that it is too late to regain the balance of nature that developed over centuries. Perhaps we can slow down the damage enough to be able to adapt. I don’t know.