Drinking in the surroundings

I snapped this photo just behind our townhome in our Alexandria neighborhood, November 2011.

I snapped this photo just behind our townhome in Alexandria, November 2011.

“I was drinking in the surroundings: air so crisp you could snap it with your fingers and greens in every lush shade imaginable offset by autumnal flashes of red and yellow.”
Wendy Delsol

I had never heard of Wendy Delsol until I came across this quote, but she described exactly what I was doing the day I took this photo.  I’ve written a lot about our York home and our beloved little patch of woods there, but our Alexandria townhome also has a lovely view from the back deck, or the patio below it, of the woods you see in this picture.

With surroundings like these, along with unlimited digital recorded books from my local library to keep me company, how could I NOT love to walk?  Some of the best things in life really are free. It’s often hard to carve out the time to put in my two or three daily miles, but I’ve learned to make it a priority.  I hope this photo may inspire you to do the same, even if your walks are much shorter.  You might not have fall foliage where you are, but you surely have something else beautiful, interesting or stimulating to enjoy.  Go out and drink in the surroundings — and then come back and tell us about it here!


  1. You’ve got a brother who would use one of your phrases, if he used a computer or smart phone: “Here’s to” drinking in the surroundings. Here’s to drinking in a dark, lonely room, for that matter.

    Sorry – just variation on the corny, old joke: What’s in the road? A head?

    • But, it’s not funny 😦 at least not to me. Sad. More tragic than the old lady’s foot!

      • Yes. I am sorry I led you into years of laughter over a truly tragic event. The rollbar of an overturned all terrain vehicle crushed my left foot over three years ago. That foot still swells up, when I walk too many miles. Believe it or not, I still laugh about my rolling vehicles (the first time, I broke my leg!)

        • Actually, I will paraphrase Dad and say, maybe we can hope that the lady was eventually able to laugh about it…as Carla reminded you once when you had a bad case of the flu, “Eric, your Civil War record says that the soldiers made jokes of their misery.” 🙂 I never, ever laugh about the time you fell off that very tall ladder onto the driveway while cleaning the gutters of your very tall house! Life is risky!

  2. I did just the thing the other day . . . posted pictures and wrote about it here: http://inthemidstof.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/gods-joy-found/

    I’m sure some of my inspiration to take more pictures and enjoy nature more comes from you and your blogsite. Thanks for the inspiration. Love ya, Lady!

    • Barb, thanks so much for sharing that beautiful post! The great thing about nature is, the more closely we look, the more astounding it becomes! Love you too!

  3. P.S. I scheduled a date with my family this afternoon to take a drive along the Mississippi River in an area where the trees are especially pretty this time of year. I’ll be thinking of you. 🙂

    • Sounds wonderful – if you take photos, be sure to post them so we can take a “virtual drive” with you.

    • Barb – be sure to notice the seemingly red flame of the Black Gum trees. They are ubiquitous along the lower (farther south) banks of the Mississippi. Also known as the Tupelo tree, they named a town after it.

      • Barb, do they have those up at the north end of the Mississippi? (Barb is from Illinois). I had never heard about that tree although I grew up hearing about Tupelo, Mississippi.

  4. Sheila

    Good Saturday morning, my friend! Bill and I have just enjoyed a beautiful two hour drive from Bristol, Tn., down to lower elevations. The cooler temps and changing foliage makes for delightful travel. Have a wonderful day!

    • Sheila, this would be a magnificent time to be in the Bristol area. Such a pretty part of Tennessee…uh, Virginia…I mean, BOTH!! 🙂 Hope you have a beautiful weekend!

      • Sheila

        Julia, we were so surprised on Wednesday that the colors weren’t there, as we had anticipated. A gentleman remarked to us on Thursday that the leaves were turning in the higher elevations. Higher? We live at sea level so we opted to take his word for it! I understand now how quickly the “peak” can come, because 48 hours later, and it was happening.The drive down the mountain was splendid. We are safely back at Willow Tree. Your surroundings are beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

        • Sheila, I’m so glad you were able to catch the colors! Having them change so quickly while you were traveling must have added to the drama. Catching the leaves is tricky and hard to predict. We went to New England in the fall a few years ago, as far north as Nova Scotia, but were too early for the bright colors. It’s a bit like trying to time the cherry blossoms, but isn’t it wonderful when you catch these seasonal shows? Have a restful Sunday at Willow Tree!

  5. Virginia Duran

    Beautiful! Love the colors!

    • Thank you, Virginia. I never tire of colors, anywhere they can be found. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  6. merry

    Beautiful picture. Thanks for sharing it.

    • You’re welcome, Merry!

  7. Gorgeous colour to enjoy from your windows and patio. My goodness! Yes our leaves have mostly fallen, hard to keep up with the clean up now. My porch baskets are looking very, very out of place, LOL.

    • We have lost our cherry blossom leaves (always the first to fall) but everything else is just starting to turn. Our next door neighbors in York have a beautiful Japanese Red Maple that’s a real stunner when it goes pure scarlet – today I noticed that it is only now beginning to turn golden orange at the top. Our leaves will probably be at their best in 3-4 weeks. My container plants are looking scraggly and very much in need of trimming before bringing them in for the winter! I spent about an hour today clearing an overgrown flower bed of the Bermuda grass that invades every summer.

  8. I really wish we could grow the Japanese Red Maple here, they’re absolutely a stunning addition to any yard. Unfortunately, we typically are a Zone 3. I followed a link off the image site with a really good Zone Map. It indicated Japanese Maple would grow in Zone 4. So maybe in a very sheltered yard next to a garage we’d have some success. It’d be worth a try for the beautiful fall colour. I looked up Bermuda grass too. Looks like it’s a weed that grown with purpose? Is it used for lawn?

    • Hee-hee, “a weed” is not far off – given our current circumstances (and on the advice of our lawn care company) Jeff and I decided not long ago to throw in the towel and go to a Bermuda grass lawn, something more and more people in our area are doing as a way of saving water– and because they are tired of trying to fight it off when it aggressively encroaches on the fescue or whatever else is planted. Bermuda loves hot weather and sunshine that burns out other grasses. The disadvantage to Bermuda grass is that it turns brown in winter. Once it gets well-established, it is possible to over-seed with a cool season grass, although it takes time to get the two really working evenly and looking good together. Bermuda is so thick it really keeps down the weeds, though. Jeff and I were always arguing over the weed issue as I did NOT want to use toxic herbicides (especially while Pasha was alive) but hand weeding just wasn’t cutting it. Bermuda pretty much chokes them off, once it gets going, and needs very little watering. Eventually after we retire we will either over-seed or just re-sod the entire lawn, but for now, with our limited time (and his limited stamina) Bermuda has been a good option for us, at least for now. The lawn looks far less “patchy” and I’d rather have a consistent carpet of golden brown in winter (at a much lower year round cost) than a mostly failed attempt at cool season green.

      • Makes sense to use less water and do less weeding. I’ve seen a lot of new homes (with very very small yards just go with artificial. It’s pretty realistic looking and you (LOL) vacuum it with a shop vac hahaha.

        • You are KIDDING! I might go for the rustic “just let it get good and dirty” look – maybe it would add to the realism? Wonder how the critters like it?

  9. LOL, It’s the real-deal! After a pick up, I guess you just run a garden hose to wash away do-do residue 😀 Sorry, that might fall under ‘to much information’ LOL

    • Actually no, I was wondering about that very thing. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem as yukky to think of animals using real grass to “do their business.” At least not to me. I guess one gets used to it; probably not that different from cleaning bird poop off the outdoor cushions and swings.

  10. I don’t think enough people appreciate the beauty of the world around us, which is sad. Even on wet, miserable days like today there is beauty to be found out there.

    • Yes, some of my favorite “virtual walks” I’ve taken on your blog with Jez and Max are on the overcast or even wet days. I just love going to your blog and getting a few minutes of the English countryside. You capture it very well!


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