A tale of two rivers

21 October, 2018            A tale of two rivers

James River at Pony Pasture in Richmond this morning. I hope you got outdoors!




Turner, Yuki and Mackey suggesting I do less photography and more hiking

No deer or buffleheads yet but I believe they’ll appear soon, as Hemingway put it, “gradually then suddenly.” There were lots of deer tracks on the riverbank this morning; there have been few before now. I also believe the buffleheads arrive on the first frost. I think that’s past but I didn’t see any buffleheads today. Probably next week.

Ernest (my flying instructor) and I took another long cross country this week – we flew to Blue Ridge Regional Airport (KMTV) in Martinsville, VA. While we were there we had lunch at Simply Suzanne’s Cafe (right in the airport) which was worth the trip by itself. The desserts looked spectacular but the lunch was so generous and delicious I was afraid we’d gain too much weight to take off! I took this pano at the airport:

Blue Ridge Regional Airport on a wonderful October day


I wish I’d taken more time and gotten a better picture of this gorgeous Pitts Special Biplane but this is pretty neat. I even got to talk to the pilot but we were just about to take off so our conversation was brief. Check this out:

Pitts high performance biplane. Gorgeous.


I got a million hawk pictures this week, although all Red-tails again and no Red-shoulders. I hear a Red-shoulder in western Henrico many mornings and often glimpse it in the shade but I haven’t gotten any pictures of it recently. Here’s a Red-tail:

Red-tail at Freeman HS


The “two rivers” I referred to in the title were the James River (top picture) and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Page County, where Kevin and I have a little piece of property we inherited from our Mom. There was a property owner’s meeting this weekend so I headed up there with Mackey and Turner. I spent part of the morning at the meeting then hiked with the dogs. Here they are near the river:

Mackey and Turner barely visible on the edge of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River yesterday


Looking back in this blog, I see I wrote a very similar entry a year ago. You can take a look at Shenandoah Gap. I posted it on October 22, 2017 – a year ago tomorrow. That blog post (if you’re interested) mentions Dad and me being pallbearers at an old friend’s funeral up there many years ago. I couldn’t find her tombstone last year, but I located it this year on the way home. And it had the date she died, so I found it in my journal – it was from June of 1999. Here’s an excerpt from my journal entry. Possibly in a future blog post I’ll elaborate on some or all of these stories. For now, just read and use your imagination:

“…[her] casket was open when I got there, and it was weird to see her lying there. Dad commented it was the longest he’d ever seen her with her mouth closed.

The funeral was kind of draggy and dull and meaningless; I should have gotten up there and told some really good stories about her. Like bringing that frozen kitten back to life, or making elderberry wine, or only being able to walk for thirteen steps, or making butter that tasted like onions. Her casket was heavy.”

I’m fortunate to cross paths with fascinating people more often than seems statistically probable. But she always stands out in my memory. She is unusual on a much different level than I normally encounter. I learned a lot from her.

I took this picture yesterday with my phone. To paraphrase Mark Twain regarding burial sites, “very few of the living complain, and none of the others.” My old friend MV says when you’re on long road trips, cemeteries are the best place to walk dogs. This one certainly is:

Dead people couldn’t care less where they are. But for living people, this place is awesome.


Man that trip brought back some good, fun stories from my youth. And young adulthood. I’ll jot some down and insert one or two on this blog but not this week. I ate a lot of watercress out of the creek (not the river), just like when we were growing up.

Here’s Mackey and Turner on the edge of a field at the edge of our property. One of my brothers or sisters will have to weigh in on this; we called it either “Comer’s field” or “Austin’s field.” It had an old stone house foundation in it and Dad and I used to hunt crows from there when I was growing up. Hunt for crows is more precise; we went through the motions but never saw any. We wore camouflage or blaze orange, depending on the time of year. We had little folding camouflaged stools. Dad had a Remington 870 12 gauge and I had a Harrington and Richardson single shot 20 gauge. We had wooden crow calls and we used them enthusiastically but I don’t think the crows heard us. It was so, so, so much fun. I’m always startled looking back and finding out just how much my Dad knew about so many odd things. He’d never hunted in his life before he took us hunting.

M&T near a field where Dad & I hunted. The stone foundation was at the edge of the woods just above Mackey’s back

Once years ago an introverted college buddy of mine named Nate spent the day with my Mom and Dad and me at the Maple Festival in Highland County, VA. It was a long and excellent day and at the end we got in our car and headed back to Richmond and Mom and Dad headed back to Bridgewater. As soon as we got in Nate said “I think your Dad just started reading the entire internet for the second time.” That was one of the things about Dad – he could hold up his end of an interesting conversation about anything. I never knew how he learned all this stuff. This was way before there was an internet. He read and read and read and read some more. Any subject. Never seemed to forget a thing. Anyway.

Here’s a kookaburra and a koala bear his dad brought back from the Pacific when he was in the Navy. Dad’s father was born in 1896:

A koala (L) and a kookaburra my Dad’s dad brought back from Australia in the 1930’s


A moon shot then I’m out of here – I need to start doing these things during the week! All best,


Oops – changed my mind – I stumbled across a shaded but not horrible picture of a bluebird I saw at Deep Run Friday: 

Uncharacteristically reclusive Bluebird at Deep Run Friday:

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 Birds, Cessna 172, Dogs, Fun, James River, Peppermint bark, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Shenandoah River, Shenandoah Valey, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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