Time is a funny thing. Recently, more than ever, I have become aware of how relative our perception of each passing day can be, and how that perception can affect mood, outlook, and productivity.
I have no idea where June went.
In an effort to avoid wishing July away in the same mind blowing fashion, we've been filling our days and weekends with tasks and people to look forward to. Motivation to stay in the moment, and enjoy the summer that we'll wish we had embraced more fully once the chill wind of January burns our cheeks again.
We had an amazing Fourth of July weekend. Our wonderful wedding photographer, Fran, invited us to come down with the dogs for a visit. She and Roger live on 30 beautifully rolling acres in the Shenandoah Valley, just outside of Brownsburg, Virginia. Their house sits atop a hill, and through nearly every window, you catch a view of farmland and the Blue Ridge Mountains, their color muted by the hazy heat, but still as comforting as ever.
We arrived in our own time late Saturday afternoon, enjoying the winding country lanes and the splashes of red from wine berries hanging from overladen branches lining Dutch Hollow Road. Those same wine berries (actually a species of wild asian raspberries) cover Fran and Roger's property, and I spent a couple of hours on Sunday morning picking them to enjoy at a later date.
Saturday evening Fran put out a spread of cheese, crackers, and various other tasty things, and we sat in front of the house while the sun set across the valley, listening to the quiet music of a Rockbridge County evening.
She cooked an incredible organic chicken, which we enjoyed with salad and fresh corn on the cob. Afterwards we shared some of the blackberry/blueberry galette that I had made that morning (blackberries from my backyard garden patch--yay!)
The wine did flow, and once the sun had set, we took our beverages back out to the yard, watching the stars come out and shoot across a sky that felt like it was only an arms length overhead. We had planned to stay for just one night, but our hosts graciously asked us to spend another, and we were happy to oblige. I think it's probably the only time that my tendency to overpack has actually paid off.
The kids also had a wonderful time. Fran and Roger have 5 four legged children of their own--3 of them dogs. While Sophie and Evie weren't really up for a ton of socializing, the newest addition to their pack, Mojo, became fast friends with Jayden about five minutes after we got there.
They rolled around and played pretty much constantly all weekend. It was also a big event because this was the first time we had EVER let the dogs off-lead in an unenclosed environment. We were super anxious about it at first, but after the first few hours, we realized that River loved us enough to come back from her wanderings to check in every 20 minutes or so, and Jayden was so enamored with Mojo he wasn't going to leave her side. River chased two deer, got stained and sticky with wine berries, and was a magnet for pretty much every thorn and burr on the property, but she couldn't have been happier.
While is face is still as silky as the finest cashmere, his body hair is starting to get longer and coarser--something I don't recall happening to River until she was much older. He is such a sweet, sweet little gentleman. Always close, and always ready to cuddle.
There were a ton of butterfly bushes, and I used the telephoto lens to get in as close as I could, with exciting results.
While I'm not usually one for buzzing bees, I couldn't seem to stop trying to capture these little guys as they hummed around me. Their wings are exquisite.
After a delicious dinner, I rode with Fran down the road to pick up Evie at a neighbor's house. Evie is good friends with the dogs down there, and Fran and her neighbor have quite the unique arrangement--Evie gets dropped off in the mornings (if she doesn't wander down there on her own) when Fran leaves for work, and she picks Evie up to bring her home at the end of the day. They call it Evie's "second family". It was cool out and on the way back up the long winding driveway with the windows down, I heard a loud *ping!* against my glass of wine. I didn't think anything of it until I was back out on the dark porch, and took a sip of grasshopper. Even the bugs were into having a laid back weekend. ;-)
Monday morning we headed back home, sad to leave, but also feeling rejuvenated from the change of pace and hospitality we enjoyed there. Not to mention the fact that the dogs have pretty much slept the last two days straight. We will always think back fondly of the time we spent there, until the next visit! Thank you Fran and Roger!!!