Beauty for Everyone

Louise - Rural Retreat, Virginia
Entered on April 12, 2005

Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: environment
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I live in Rural Retreat, Virginia, in the middle of the Blue Ridge, this country’s oldest mountains. Every morning, Monday through Friday, just as the sun rises, I load my three dogs into a 1989 Chevrolet wagon and drive them to Rural Retreat Lake to walk a quarter mile loop up past the picnic shelters, around the swing set and down the road back to the car. In the winter we have the place to ourselves but as soon as the promise of snow is gone we share the place with hardy fishermen, some on the shore and others trolling the lake in small boats.

Jets leave their trails across the clear sky like temporary comets crossing over from Tennessee, North Carolina and Washington. Mournful dairy cows can be heard from the farm behind the fair grounds and the Labradors who belong to the sheriff’s officer who lives in the double-wide up on the hill bark and bark. I cherish this quiet time, alone with the dogs, where I experience the movements of the seasons and the accompanying transformations in terrain and wild life. No subtle changes here or wrenching transitions, just weather in all of its beautiful diversity.

We move through the cycles, the trees lining the drive mutating to vibrant red, yellow, and orange, then dropping and stripping the slender branches bare. Soon there is snow covering the landscape and the sky is a soft white grey with the trees like etchings against it. Spring comes with wind gusting up to sixty miles per hour and rain driving into my face as I make that turn down the hill and then there are tiny buds turning into leaves that will shade you as you walk beneath them while the sky once again bleaches in the summer heat to a different sort of white blue.

So I believe in the dogwood, the magnolia, the forsythia, the primrose, the antique roses, the cattails, the sunflowers, the daisies, the maples, the elms, the spruces, the barn swallows, the redwings, the yellow wings, the bluebirds, the jays, the robins, the wrens, the sparrows, the woodpeckers, the flickers, the mockingbirds, the doves, the ruby throats, the owls, the ospreys, the round tails, the grackles, the martins, the geese, the mallards, the skunks, the possums, the porcupines, the muskrats, the red foxes and the grey.

I believe in the jerseys rubbing against the fences and nursing their calves, and the fat mares ready finally to give birth. I believe in my life in the bowl of these blue hills. It is a life far removed from Fear Factor, HGTV, What Not to Wear, The Bachelorette, CNN, Nick and Jessica, Pimp my Ride or The Apprentice and, yet, this life is only one working day’s drive from Washington, DC. It is a life where it doesn’t matter if you forget to use your turn signal because the person behind you knew you were going to turn there anyway. It is a life full of beauty, ready for everyone.