Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Country Drive With My Valentine

Randal and I had a wonderful day planned to visit several natural areas not far from home, recommended in the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail book for the Piedmont. Seemed that since we lived here over 10 years it would be quite appropriate. The area we chose was the Green Springs Loop although we were only going to cover stops two, five and six.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - View From U.S. Highway 15
Green Springs Historic District, Virginia
Well, it was a pretty day as promised although cloudy now and then and a bit cooler due to the wind. We set off with high hopes of seeing a loon at our final stop along with a few more water birds that we'd never seen before.

We knew it would be a nice country drive and that we would find out what the Green Springs Historic District was all about. We'd seen the sign on the highway that we had traveled many times. We learned it encompasses over 14,000 acres in the piedmont of central Virginia. The homes and farms are a continuum of Virginia rural vernacular architecture, reflective and respectful of their location, preserved in their original context with little alteration. Here the landscape has been enhanced, rather than despoiled, by the presence of civilization.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Brackett's Farm, circa 1790
Green Springs Historic District, Virginia
The highway that goes through it, U.S. Route 15, was always the area of the highway that we loved the most. When you passed the sign for the historical district, there was so much open beautiful land interspersed with forests and obvious historical estates at a far distance which enhanced the view of the whole scene.

Our first stop was Brackett's Farm which was established in 1790. As we entered it felt like we were riding on somebody's private driveway although it was part of the Trail, but when we came to the house and parking area, a sign did say something about Monday through Saturday, so we turned around and left. Much to the chagrin of a lonely-looking dog that had walked part way over to our car while we stopped to assess the situation.

So ... nothing at stop one.

We then proceeded through the towns of Louisa and Mineral skipping the town parks offered on the Trail, not expecting to see much in the winter there. When we arrived at the second stop, we realized that we might stay on the trail too long to really get a good long time at our third and most exciting stop, so we decided to skip that trail that led to a beaver pond and keep moving while we still had good light and it wasn't too cold.

We arrived at Lake Anna's Dike 3 which was a holding area for a nuclear power plant, so the water was warm which is why it attracted migratory birds. It was obviously full of fish to attract the birds also since the parking lot was pretty full of cars and it didn't take long to realize their weren't any birds to be seen. We crossed the bridge, with fisherman lined up even there to fish, and pulled off the road where there was a cove off of the main lake. I saw some birds in the water and our new binoculars told us they were Canada Geese.

Oh well ... at this point we were wondering what the celebration was for Valentine's?

We decided to head back home to cook our Valentine's meal, going back a different way than we had come, thanks to the GPS taking us in the wrong direction. But God brought some giggles into the ride and a feeling of His gift of love for Valentine's Day.

The first Valentine's God indicator was when we thought we'd gone too far on a gravel road. Since we were traveling slowly on the gravel, we felt like it had been enough time, so when we came to an intersection that wasn't the county road we were to turn on, we wondered if we'd passed it and decided to turn around. Then we saw what the road name was: Valentine Mill Road.

Sweet Heart Farm For Sale
Of course at the time, we didn't know this was going to be a first of others, so when we saw a farm for sale with a sign that had a heart on it, we had to pause and take a photo.  They had the same heart above the barn doors also.  Within the heart were the initials JAJ.  We wondered what it meant.  John and Jean?  Jack and Jill?

Then we noticed the actual name of the farm was also above the heart.  It was called Sweet Heart Farm.  How sad!  Were they having to sell because of our current economy?  Had they grown old together and died and now those who inherited it were selling?  All my possible answers only increased the sadness.  But we traveled on.

Although we had no bird photos that were acceptable from our Birding and Wildlife Trail excursion.  The geese were too far away for a clear picture and a lone seagull on a lake we passed by was also not very clear.

Our last surprise before we took a faster route home by the interstate, was a Valentine's bear in front of a house along the road.  The bear had a message to us from God which is our message to you also:

I Love You! 

Hoping you had a special day with people you love.  What are some of your traditions for Valentine's Day?  Let me know about them and/or how you spent this year's Valentine's by leaving a comment below the post.  If you're getting this by feed or email, click on the title of the post to go to the website.

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