Posts Tagged 'Virginia'

Snowcake

Snowcake on the back deck

It was like driving through Siberia trying to get to my parents’ house from the airport. The South doesn’t really know how to deal with snow, so almost all minor/back roads are still require some sort of army vehicle to navigate. Apparently, Charlottesville literally shut down for two days– literally, the whole city. Silly.

In any case, staying with my parents for Winter Break: it’s good for catching up on sleep, blog posts, and for cuddling near the wood stove. I also have plans for finishing Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, working on my senior thesis, and (gulp) planning a future for after graduation.

I also returned home to a Lamy 2000 on my desk– a belated birthday gift that had finally arrived in the mail. Look for a review, or general pen updates, soon.

Summer in Fujicolor

What has my life been lately– a few low-internet, high-humidity months:

Blessed. Privileged. Hard work.

Saturated in history and dirt.

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A Roll of Film Developed

These were taken a couple weeks ago at the farm. The large contraption that appears in several of the images is an industrial water pump (or, at least, the hose)– a project that took up several days for me and my farming partner.

I made those!

Jamie. That's actually a river, twenty feet below.

Julie

unripe

In conclusion,

I love Virginia, especially Virginia farmland.

Rural culture is undervalued, and under attack.

Nonetheless, heirloom tomatoes are still shockingly delicious.

When growing food, one often also grows healthy in the heart.

Weather Forecast

Highs in the early nineties, sixty percent humidity

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It’s a good thing I’m a hundred yards from the Rivanna River.

Five Really Good Things

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Festival of the Photograph

Last weekend my native town (Charlottesville, VA) was covered in urbanite photographers here for the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph. I’m not nearly serious enough about photography to warrant paying for some of the workshops or lectures, but I did manage to browse some of the galleries, and spend a wonderful Saturday night eating hot fresh doughnuts and watching the photographic projections at the Charlottesville Pavillion. I did take some notes during that event, so look for more on that soon.

(p.s. I yanked those images from the LOOK3 website, which didn’t have a photographer credited. But all credit goes to them and the site!)

Rhodia

Rhodia Drive Raffle Giveaway

I was lucky enough to be one of the winners of the Rhodia Summer Raffle Giveaways over at RhodiaDrive! I’m looking forward to a box of notebooks, stationary, and inks– what more could an art supply fetishist ask for?

 

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Financial Aid Increase

I received my financial aid package for this upcoming year at Kenyon– an event which, for the past two years, has ranged from “highly disappointing” to “oh shit I’m going to have to sell my eggs.” Needless to say, I spent much of last year pushing the school to give me the aid that I deserve– and it looks like it paid off! It’s not as though I’ll be financially comfy this year or anything, but it does feel SO good to know that my work has gotten some recognition.

trailer

Leaving the Tiki Trailer

Some friends of mine are spending a few weeks in France, so I’ll finally be able to move out of the ugly tiki-decorated trailer that I’ve been inhabiting for the past two months. I’ll be taking care of their house and organic garden, the fruits/vegetables of which I can take freely. It’ll be nice to have some income, and to be a little closer to town. 

 

Virginia

Central Virginia Farms

I spent all day yesterday driving around central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, picking up food from the famous Polyface Farm, Cherry Ridge Farm, and others. Of course I didn’t have any camera except a phone on me, so the pictures are sub-par. At Polyface, we were lucky enough to arrive on slaughter day. I’ll elaborate more on this later, but if you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma you know that this is a very fun day to visit. What Michael Pollan didn’t mention, though, is that the farming Apprentices aresome seriously handsome young men.

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If I hadn’t already fallen back in love with my homeland, I certainly did yesterday.

Scene 1: Summer. Hot and Humid.

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The internet connection here at the farm is sporadic at best, nonexistent in general. Posts will likely be less frequent now that I’m spending more time in the sun and less on the internet, but I’m aiming for once a week.

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Holly Tree Farm is essentially the remnants of one of the earliest settlements in the area, and is several hundred years old (more about the history of Advance Mills here). Here’s an excerpt about where I’m working:

The Fray family occupied a still-existing house beside the river, now called Holly Tree Farm. A portion of this house may date to about 1790, although it has been added onto numerous times during its history. It is a typical Federal period house with finely detailed brickwork and some original fireplace mantels. A collection of nineteenth-century outbuildings remains on this property. These outbuildings include an ice house, kitchen, smokehouse, several sheds, and a barn. The house and its outbuildings are significant for their association with the Fray family, as well as for the wide variety of building types and functions they represent.

The article fails to mention that these “outbuildings” also include the slave quarters, which is right next to the trailer where I’m staying. On a side note: it’s fascinating to note the (sometimes excruciating) pains that Southerners go through in order to avoid talking about slavery. Most of these old farms were plantations, complete with racial oppression and exploitation. I’ll need a few more days (or weeks, or the whole summer) to collect my thoughts about that building, but it’s far too overwhelming to leave as a mere side note. 

The owner, Dominique, is hard to pin down. He’s made it rich through D.C. real estate, and I can’t quite tell if he’s approaching the farm as a business venture, a hobby, or what. He’s certainly knowledgeable, and has a lot of contacts and resources for the various projects happening on the property, but he’s also a bit spontaneous and indulgent, with a slight hint of obliviousness about some of the details. Not to mention, he has terrible decorating taste– the trailer that I’m staying in right now is tiki decorated, like a trashy 70’s porn. 

The gardener– young, blond, a local –lives in the old schoolhouse and has two tiny blonde kids, who play around with Dominique’s five kids. This adds up to a total of seven androgynous, barefoot, dirty children. Between the river, the house and barns, the woods, the pastures, and the chicken coop, I barely see them.

I’m excited about this summer, but to be honest also a little apprehensive. Gardening and farming is a way for me to feel a little more stable in this world, but the truth is that farming at this point in history has become a lucrative business. Which is unfortunate, because no matter how “advanced” we see ourselves being in science and technology, we are still going to have to partake at some level in the biological exchange between our bodies and the natural world. 

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Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

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