Unwasted dawns – Maple Festival 2013 and more

25 March, 2013    Unwasted dawns – Maple Festival 2013 and more

St. Patrick’s Day, the Maple Festival, other spring rituals

I watched the sun rise in my rear view mirror as Jim Morrison and The Doors sang “…no ‘Eternal Reward’ will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.” (The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat), 1971). This particular dawn was not going to waste. I was on my way to pick up three of my nieces to attend the Highland Maple Festival in Monterey, VA for the sixth time in as many years. We arrived at The Highland Inn – “Pride of the Mountains” since 1904 – in time for breakfast, as usual. I cannot recommend it highly enough; it’s excellent every year. Casey (perhaps Kasey or KC) was our waitress for at least the second year in a row. She remembered us as soon as we sat down. She also took our picture:

Best travel and dining companions EVER!

Best travel and dining companions EVER!

She’s a great photographer. Of course with nieces like mine, all pictures look great. Another person took a picture of us in the lobby:

In the lobby

In the lobby

We’ve taken a picture by this sign each year:

Great food, even greater companions

Great food, even greater companions

We went to Duff’s Sugar House, also as we do every year; they make syrup the  old-fashioned way. They tap the trees themselves, boil the sap over a wood fire, very little automation. Great tours too. There’s a pond outside that has a statue that catches my eye every year; I call her The Maple Syrup Fairy. Doesn’t she look serene?:

A picture of serenity

A picture of serenity

This old piece of John Deere farm equipment was near the pond. It’s a little bit difficult to read, but on the pedal near the center it says “John Deere – Moline, Ill”:

John Deere farm equipment - from a LONG time ago

John Deere farm equipment – from a LONG time ago

On the way home we stopped at The Depot Grille in Staunton to meet Mom and our friend Liz for dinner. We stop there every year on the way home. Last year (and in years past) we ate dinner there with Mom and Dad. Before we went in the restaurant this time we met Mom and Liz in the adjacent Rachel’s Quilt Patch. If you click that link, at the top left of the web site you’ll see a handsome cat. Scroll down a little and you’ll see three pretty ladies. Not as pretty as my nieces, but pretty. The one on the left in the pink top was curled up in a chair with the cat. When I asked her the cat’s name she said “Sweet Blue Eyes!” It was a fun place. The food was great next door as well.

There’s a neat caboose outside of The Depot Grille (two, really). Here’s one:

Old caboose

Old caboose

And a sign from the Norfolk and Western Railroad inside, the railroad that ran past the cabin when we were growing up:

Old Norfolk & Western sign

Old Norfolk & Western sign

It’s a sure sign the seasons are changing at my house when I have my first hyacinths and my last load of firewood in the driveway at the same time. I took this picture on the first full day of Spring:

The sight in my driveway at the end of winter/beginning of spring

The sight in my driveway at the end of winter/beginning of spring

I didn’t waste the dawn Tuesday either. The dogs and I got to the river early and I got this lucky shot of a flying female bufflehead. It was a gray, cold day and she’s very beautiful:

Isn't she gorgeous?

Isn’t she gorgeous?

In the afternoon – same day – I found myself with some free time and made my first trip to Colonial Shooting Academy on West Broad Street. For those of you who don’t know, we did a lot of shooting growing up. Dad taught us to shoot and we got to do it very often at the cabin. I felt like I was reconnecting with a part of myself that’s very close to Dad. Here’s what it looks like:

Colonial Shooting Academy

Colonial Shooting Academy

I hadn’t shot much in a long time but it was fun. This was a pistol target I shot. I’m glad Dad’s not here to see this awful group! But I enjoyed myself immensely, and that would be plenty for him:

Lack of practice makes imperfect. But I had fun!

Lack of practice makes imperfect. But I had fun!

I’ve also gotten a few more nice images of the moon on these cold, clear late-winter and early spring evenings. I stood in my driveway and pointed the camera up and took this one:

The moon from my driveway. So beautiful.

The moon from my driveway. So beautiful.

Many of you (more all the time, fortunately!) know my friend Evie. You may also know she is a blogger. Look here to see her blog: The Hippest Part of Nowhere

Enjoy this early spring. Although it’s very snowy here in Richmond! Have a great day,

Jay

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Flowers, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Trains and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Unwasted dawns – Maple Festival 2013 and more

  1. Clare says:

    learned something new about spring and the buffleheads – did not realize they didn’t stick around ……. love learning new things especially through beautiful pix …..

    your family is really growing up – traditions are great!

    speaking of wood…..:-) …. well, i may want to buy a few logs from you…….i’m scrapping the bottom of the barrell lately – i bought about 3 bundles from my woodman 2wks ago, but it didn’t last…..but wasn’t the snow beautiful!!!! i was out yesterday afternoon watching 2×2″ flakes falling from the sky and watching Bobby (my black cat) dashing thru the white snow like a John Deere tractor on hi test!

    i know that dogs love the snow, but this was a first for me to witness a cat who actually loves snow and who makes snow angels in the “drifts” LOL 🙂

    great blog – another postscript – i had to turn in the old saturn horse for a newer model 😦 i really miss that vehicle, but at least i have a reliable mode of transportation now and the fear of getting in the car wondering when its going to break down is gone. i have a grey car now – and its not a station wagon…….but it has 4 wheels and zoe seems to enjoy it too 🙂

    hope to see you guys soon! keep up the great work!

  2. Pingback: “We can discover the wonders of nature…” | NEWFAZE

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