Tag Archives: virginia

Miles in Sky Meadows (again)


I spent a week in Virginia over the holidays and made a point to walk every day, either in the large field behind the church or in Sky Meadows. I didn’t have my camera the day that everything was encased with ice–shards falling all around us–and the trees were glittering and creaking. But it’s enough to remember the sights and sounds, and to be relieved that even these grasses made it through such an ordeal.

Back in New York, the winter has not been so picturesque, but, yes, there are lights and the ocean remains close, and, as ever, I hear the sounds of the little resilient birds who are staying put.

trees and grasses

Miles in Sky Meadows

Every time I go home to Virgina, I take a trip to Sky Meadows. If I’m lucky, the sun lights up the grass and milkweed strands coat the fields in some places. Despite the cold, I love this landscape in winter. All the colors are muted, the trees are reduced to striking shapes grasping the sky, and all the hunting birds are visible. The wind, though, whips across this rise with some forgotten strength, and I’m always happy for some warmth to return to.

A few walks in Virginia

My favorite things in the summer are unexpected fruit trees and green cemeteries, thistles and Queen Anne’s Lace. And I found them all in Virginia this weekend.

On the train ride down, I alternated between reading “The Awakening” and “The Power Broker,” two books that both reference characters who, upon occasion, are early risers, emotional striving figures, and impulsively drawn to the sea. In other words, people after my own heart, for all that implies.  For the two deeply flawed protagonists of those books–Robert Moses and Edna Pontellier–the allure of nature and the sea is overwhelming. Moses would swim for over an hour off the beaches of Long Island whenever he could, while the fictional heroine of “The Awakening” lives in New Orleans, a city made languid by sea currents and the threat of flood, and ends up searching for answers to life’s more difficult questions on the shores of the Gulf.

None of these similarities really relate to anything that I saw in Virginia, except that it became clear to me that it is only upon escape that the feeling of being stifled becomes completely apparent. Writing this at my desk near the window, where the rain has turned my apartment humid and languorous, I can barely think of wide fields and wildflowers.

Of course it is a funny Victorian conceit that, in conflict with wild Nature, man exists only to impose order. But I found these gravestones that have been patched up and re-aligned, as if to contradict the very idea that below the ground are the remains of those who died young and innocent, or old and troubled, but with lives untidy, all the same.

4 miles on December 26

I need a new tactic for my blog post titles. I will think on this.

Anyway, I was sick for a few days and didn’t run. Also, it was Christmas, and I was involved with my family and cooking and the thought of running seemed so foreign to me from the comfort of my home in Virginia. My Brooklyn life is somewhat spartan, which means, I suppose, that my freezing early morning outings seem less insane than simply bracing and restorative.

When I finally did drag myself out of bed in the morning hours a few days ago, I ran as fast as possible down Rt. 50 in order to reach the long stretch of road among the fields that I thought might replenish my desire to run every day. Wearing a balaclava that my parents gave me, I looked more like a Zapatista than a citizen of a small Virginia town, and my attempts to smile broadly at everyone I passed were met with two large roadblocks, namely, there were no passers-by, and my face was invisible.

The run was beautiful, and there was mist rising off the fields and the woods were deep and spindly. The water froze along the side of the road in shards of ice and I watched the mountains emerge in the distance. When I took off my strange head covering, it was so quiet out there in the country.