Here in beautiful Blacksburg, Va, where it rained the first two days of my visit, I was parked in front of friends John and Marquita's house, where they live in a lovely old area in the city. Behind their house is a hayfield and rolling hills and trees and far off mountain ridges. Just the scene to paint! Their back yard is as lovely as the scenery behind it and is designated a backyard wildlife habitat area, good for birds and bees and whatever feels like hanging out there. No, it's not a wildflower meadow, though John did try to grow one there. It wanted to grow in the front yard instead, which the neighborhood covenant wouldn't have appreciated. Still, John tried but the meadow declined to exist. Oh, well, the hay field has lots of flowers in it, as does their back yard, just not in one clumped area.
The part of the back yard under which John wanted to plant the wildflower meadow actually is a graveyard of unknown inhabitants. About 50 years ago when the developers were digging up the area hoping to put up another house, they came upon a change in the color of the dirt and in a squarish design and knew that they were about to encounter a graveyard. No one wanted to excavate these so the developer simply covered the whole area up and shifted to the next plot. Apparently there were and still are lots and lots of unmarked graves all over the place here with no documentation, so these graves could be landowners or slaves or Indians or what have you. Hence the land was left unmarked and remained simply a plot which John and his neighbor both purchased a part of to make sure that it would never be developed. Now there is merely grass growing there to celebrate the lives of those who's bones remain beneath.
Marquita wanted to know if there were ghosts in the area but although I could sense the outline of where the bones were, all I saw was one faint image of a black woman, most likely a slave, with rather tattered clothing on. She wasn't very happy, but she felt more like a thought form than a ghost. I picked up nothing else about her or anyone else so this is a peaceful cemetery with no lingering folks still ticked off over whatever it is that irritated them when they died.
On my second day here, John took me on a tour of Virginia Tech where he teaches engineering classes. He was teaching in another building when the students were killed by the mentally ill young man who ran amok. He took me to the memorial at the school and showed me the building where the shootings took place. We also drove by the building where he teaches and he swung by one of the painted and quite gaudy turkeys that are standing around town to remind everyone of the school's mascot - The Golden Turkey. Huh. The students also call themselves 'Hokies.' Interesting. That about ranks up there with the school in either California or Oregon, I fergit, that has taken the banana slug as it's mascot.
So Cincinnati has pigs, both winged and not, that have been painted and displayed by various artists around town; Chicago has cows, Lexington, Ky, has horses, and before Katrina, New Orleans had fish. Blacksburg, Va, has turkeys. John says there are a lot of wild turkeys hanging around the area so that could explain it. At least I hope that explains it.
The third edition of the textbook Marquita wrote just came out. It's called "Understanding Environmental Pollution" and the picture on the front shows a group of workers trying to clean up an oil spill on a coastline. Pretty farseeing when you think of what's going on in the gulf oil spill. Marquita is also a professor, which I think I failed to mention.
Marquita and I just returned from a Farmer's Market where we picked up cherries, two cinnamon roles, two oat cookies with lots of goodies in them and an orange ginger bread loaf. Yum! I can see dessert coming early in my future...
Tomorrow I'm departing and heading towards Raleigh where friend Al lives with an overnight stop near Winston-Salem. It's a little longer than I can handle to Raleigh in one drive so I'm breaking it up. I might stay a day and an extra night in Winston-Salem just to explore the area. And from there I shall stay for a short visit with friend Al. I'll get there, Al, I'm just very slow!
Tonight, to bed early and arising with the sun. And onward to more friends I love as I depart from other friends I love. No goodbyes, just 'until we meet again.'
My little air conditioner works but it's not really strong enough to keep the whole van very cool. It tries hard, though, poor little thing. I'll replace it when I get back.
The little mechanism I placed on the left back white light is supposed to start beeping when I put the van in reverse because the white light shines inside it and sets it off. Well, guess what. The sun shining on the white light also sets it off. Took me forever to figure out where that danged beeping was coming from this morning.
John and Marquita have a wee little cat called Jacqui or Jacky or however they spell it. She was rescued by them and has only one tooth and is completely deaf. Apparently she was also a ragged little scrawny thing when they found her and is much more healthy and fatter now. She's still very shy, however, though over these past couple of days she has come to tolerate me near her as long as I make no attempt to pet her. Getting a picture of her wasn't easy but I finally did it. The first 10 or so were just a blur of something exiting the frame. Sweet kitty, but just kinda shy.