Autumnal Reminiscence

Well, now that it’s almost December January and winter is fast approaching here, I suppose it’s about time to tell you about Dan’s parents visit way back in… October. We headed straight from Dulles airport to good ol’ West Virginia, where we’d rented a cabin in the Shenandoah mountains. We followed the steep, serpintine road up the mountain to arrive at the cabin just in time to see the golden orb of the sun set the valley ablaze before slipping beyond the horizon.

The cozy cabin, lined with wood and windows that offered views of the entire valley, was the prefect locale to cook up a storm, catch up, relax and plan our next adventures.

D+P and DnA along the C&O Canal

Over the next few days, we explored the cobbled streets of Harpers Ferry, hiked up the steep trail of Maryland Heights to view the great Shenandoah and Potomac rivers from the cliffs that rise above them, and hiked along the Appalatian trail. Dan, whose health seemed to be improving overall, had overdone it running 26+ miles on our holiday in Maine. He now had a stress fracture on his foot and did all our hiking in a cast! Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sprinkling of red and orange that was just begining to dot the leaves of the highest branches in fall color. The weather, though, was more suited to spring than autumn, with sun and temperatures up around 75°F / 24°C.

All too soon, our jaunt in the mountains was over, but we took our time driving back to Reston. We stopped for delicious farm-fresh treats at Stoneybrook Farm, a sampling of local wines at Hillsborough Vineyards, and poke around some old houses in the village of Waterford, and finally a simple yet delectible lunch of butternut squash soup and grilled cheese with apple sandwiches at The Market Table in Lovettesville.

The rest of the week, I had to return to work, but each evening I returned home to a delcious meal and fun outing with Dan, Dee & Pietro. While I was at work, they cycled round Reston, museum-hopped in DC, planted flowers in our garden and met our work collegues.  The weather kept up its brilliance and much time was spent simply enjoying all the paths, lakes and pockets of wilderness our backyard has to offer. The grand finale was a “Stalcup Family Reunion” at my uncles farm where D+P sang a Sicilian song about a donkey in which the audience was required to “hee haw” their contribution.

Thinking back to October, it seems so warm, so sunny and so green. Wheras now brown is the dominant color and we run in the dark with our headlamps. Still, the Winter Solitice is now behind us and the days are getting longer. Plus… we both bought full-spectrum lights which have done a lot to hlep us fight the winter blues (especially when you work in a windowless basement office!) And, best of all, we’re on holiday w/D+P once more…. this time, we’ve hoped across the pond to them in England!

may flowers

Anna, Buddy & Clifton

The month of May we were delighted to have many visitors. First Yas from Japan, then a lazy day of picnics and wine in the countryside with Clifton, who’s working for the amazing NGO Wholesome Wave up in Connecticut.  And also a chance to catch up with fellow CDT thru-hiker, Stretch, who we hadn’t seen since hiking in Wyoming back in July.

Nat, Stretch, Buddy & Dan

But we saved the best for last – Dan’s sis, Nat, visited Memorial Day weekend. We had a brilliant time with her… Sticking our noses in wine at posh vineyards, strolling round the cobblestone streets of Waterford, mingling with huge leather-clad Harley riders in DC during Rolling Thunder, enjoying sushi and chili mango ice lollies at Lake Anne. But irregardless of what we were doing, everything was better with Nat. Even just biking round town and running errands was great. And she put up with the heat wave that struck like a champ (we were also saved by the opening of the pools).

Dan, Fala, Buddy & Nat

Nat’s charming and at ease whether she’s at a five star hotel in Cannes (yes, a few weeks back, and no, not on her dime) or being interrogated while dumpster diving at night (yes, no, yes of course, delicious). Buddy loved her immediately and it was so great chat chat chatting about EVERYTHING!  We’re going to have to get strategic with operation bring Pizzos west.

And to step #1 was to go see the brilliant Peeps dioramas at the Artisphere. Nothing says “US of A” quite like neon-colored sugar-coated marshmellows in the shape of bunnies.  Especially when they’re riding broken escalators on the metro!

5*

Recently:

Schmoozing with R.E.S. at Lake Anne. He was very sweet and also impressed by our cross-country hikes. What a legend!

Fighting a cold in which my snot rivaled the colour of glorious baby leaves that have burst from their branches. I’m finally better, but it was a long time coming!

Party round the campfire in our backyard… but I was sick in bed 😦

Dumpster diving glory.

Walker Educational Nature Center celebrations… free b-day dinner courtesy of Whole Foods (oh the asparagus!) and Environmental Film Night friday about the gorgeous Green House.

Billy Collins Book Club.

Dan rescues someone from being swept down the flooded, muddy and thrashing Potomac River. And, yes, he was upstream from Great Falls.

A gorgeous (but windy) picnic at the Willowcraft vineyard with our dear Italian neighbors.

And the sweet scent of hyacinth and day lilies.

Spring

is

here.