Search This Blog

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Seasons (Blog 209)

Recently, one of my Creative Writing students at Lord Botetourt High School asked me what my favorite season is.  When I was younger ( I am 62) or even just a decade ago, I would have answered the summer.

But now, I no longer have a favorite season, enjoying them all equally.  Fall has officially arrived, and I enjoy that pleasant "nip" in the air some mornings.  I am preoccupied with deer hunting and West Virginia's and Virginia's fall turkey season both start soon, and I will be afield on opening day in both states.  This month Elaine and I have gathered summer grapes for jelly and walnuts for cookies.  In another month or so, it will be time to pick persimmons.

Winter, too, has its charms.  There is no joy like waking up in the morning and finding six inches of snow on the ground.  Elaine and I will stay home and play scrabble, and she will bake a blackberry pie for lunch.  Later in the late afternoon, we will take a walk on the seeded logging road that encircles our property and observe what creatures have left their prints in the snow.

Spring means spring gobbler season, trout and river smallmouth fishing, and the woods bursting forth in every shade of green imaginable.  Any morning I hear a gobbler sounding off - well nothing can be finer.

And then summer.  The unhurried rhythm of a summer day: writing in the morning, walking three miles, lunch with Elaine, and an afternoon nap, then more writing and then stopping work for the day at dinner.  Then that long summer twilight of birds singing and the stars coming out.

I like all the seasons.

Friday, September 19, 2014

(Land Saver Award from Blue Ridge Land Conservancy (Blog 208)

Last Sunday, Elaine and I received the 2014 Land Saver Award from the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy at its annual Conservation Celebration.  Quite honestly, it was one of the most touching honors we have ever received.

At the event, I was supposed to address the attendees, and I had planned my talk.  I was going to talk about how when I was 12, my Grandfather Willie showed me the family farm, now houses in Franklin County, Virginia, and how he cried when he told me how the family had lost the land.  "We used to be landed, but we're not anymore," said my grandfather as he was convulsed with tears.

Then I was going to talk about how I promised my grandfather that I would save my money and buy rural property and one day the Ingrams would be "landed" again.  That the main reason I became a writer was so that I could have a second job and use the money earned to buy rural land in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.

Then I was going to thank Elaine for taking care of all the daily chores of shopping for clothes, buying groceries, and taking the cars for inspection and repairs so that I could write and teach school.  And last I was going to end up quoting Scarlet O'Hara's father Gerald who said in Gone with the Wind:  "The land is the only thing in the world worth working for... because it's the only thing that lasts."

But I only made my way part way through my talk, not even being able to praise my wife for bringing joy into my life and being such a perfect spouse and helpmate, before I broke down in tears. So, Elaine, even though I didn't say those things last Sunday, I will say them now - thanks sweetheart.

If you live in Southwest Virginia and believe in the precious nature of land, here is the conservancy's website for you to learn more:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday No. 2 of Urban Archery Season (Blog 207)

Today was the second Saturday of Virginia's Urban Archery season, and the second day I've gone deer hunting.  I was unable to bowhunt all week with a heavy work load from school, plus meetings, and magazine work as well.  So I had looked forward to going afield on Saturday.

However, I awoke to rain falling, and not liking to bowhunt in the rain because of the difficulty of following a blood trail when precipitation is occurring and the danger inherent in climbing a tree in the rain and dark, I decided to stay home and write.

I have this theory that deer move immediately after a prolonged rain stops, but the rain stopped around noon, and I was unprepared to leave for a stand then.  When I did climb into a stand around 4:45, I had this feeling that the deer would not move again until after dark.

Which turned out to be true, at least no whitetails meandered by my stand before I climbed down at sunset.  Next Saturday, I am going to hunt on a flat that has trees dropping acorns.  I feel better about my chances - providing the wind is right.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Virginia's Opening Day of Urban Archery Season (Blog 206)

Yesterday was opening day of Virginia's Urban Archery Season, and I spent much of the morning  watching squirrels and wondering why the mosquito spray seemed powerless to ward off the beasties.  I did not see a deer during the morning sit and went home for lunch and a nap.

Returning to the same Roanoke County woodlot around 4:15, I soon discovered that the mosquitoes were worse and even the squirrels were elsewhere.  But I decided to proverbially "tough it out," and sometimes that is the right decision to make.

For about 40 minutes before dark, five deer began making their way toward me, and I was able to send a bolt from my Parker Thunderhawk crossbow through the lead doe's lungs.  Ninety minutes later, my son-in-law David Reynolds helped me quarter the doe, and this morning Elaine and I began the process of canning the venison, minus the tenderloins and roasts that we froze, and the heart which will form the makings of school lunches for four or five days.

I am very glad that I stayed in the woods all evening.