Friday, November 23, 2012

Over the River and Through the Woods

Recently my husband and I took one of my favorite Virginia day trips.
We crossed the southern branch of the Elizabeth River,
and drove through the countryside in Isle of Wight County
and Surry County, Virginia.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera or my cell phone,
so I didn't get any photos.

I love this drive in the autumn. The weather is usually spectacular.
And on our recent trip, we were not disappointed.
The sun was shining, the sky was deep blue and cloudless,
and the fall leaves remaining on the trees provided a rush of gold.

photo courtesy of

This drive takes us right through peanut and cotton country.
Both remain a novelty to me even after years of living in the South,
probably since I'm rarely out of the city.
A cotton field ready for harvest is so dazzling white, 
it looks like a blanket of snow.
Years ago when I lived in Little Rock for a brief time,
I remember seeing tufts of cotton that had blown out of trucks
all along the shoulders of a Delta highway
and wondering where the snow came from. 
It took me a moment to realize the white drifts were cotton.

Another thing I like about the drive is seeing
old farm houses and former sharecropper cabins, 
most all with their original tin roofs, still standing near the fields.
Simple and neat, many were decorated with pumpkins and chrysanthemums.

Closer to Surry County, the land rises 
and the road curves around through the forest and along open fields. 
After the harvest, birds will flock to feed on what remains.
One harvested field was so full of starlings, 
they had actually stirred up clouds of dust.
I suppose it's possible they were indulging in a group dust bath,
but knowing how greedy starlings can be, 
I think it's just as likely they were eating.

Finally, we stopped at Chippokes Plantation 
and walked along the James River.
The water, reflecting the sky, was a delicious blue color.
And hundreds of white sea gulls floated together.
Compared to the noisy starlings in the field, 
the gulls could have been asleep, they were so quiet.

We walked up to the River House Mansion 
on the original part of the Plantation before turning back. 
There were still a few dandelions here and there,
and I couldn't resist plucking one with a cottony seed head
and blowing all the little puffs into the air.

photo courtesy of

On our way home,
we drove by an oak tree that I had photographed two weeks ago
because it was afire with autumn color.
And I hardly recognized it. All of its leaves were gone,
its bare branches stark against the sky.
It seemed to say autumn is nearly over 
and winter is but weeks away.
And so it is. 
Makes me glad I got to see autumn unfolding in the country.

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