The grand finale

I took this photo from the deck in back of our new home, November 2018.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”Lauren Destefano

The weather here is finally cooling off enough that we are getting some splendid fall color, though it was still over 70 degrees several days this week, with perfect sunshine for at least part of the day each day. The combination of sunny, short-sleeve weather and striking autumn foliage is an unbeatable remedy for the blues. Come for a virtual visit with me and let’s enjoy the glorious autumn sunshine as seen from my windows.

Our new home is surrounded with forest views on three sides, which is why I chose the lot I bought, and why I still have no window coverings on the main floor rear windows or doors. When it gets really cold I might have to give up and get some insulating shades, but for now I’m enjoying the fall colors even more than I loved the leafy greens of summer. Here are views from two of the family room windows, and from the main floor guest room. You can see a faint reflection of the bed in the lower half of the window:

Β  Β 

Just as I hoped, there are some vivid shades surrounding our home, including the bright red leaves I so love to see in the landscape. If you never tire of seeing photos of autumn foliage, scroll on to see views from various windows. But if you have a “seen-one-seen-them-all” boredom with too many similar photos, you might want to exit now. Consider yourself warned! I can almost hear Jeff saying “Julia, how many photos of leaves do you think they want to see?”

My bedroom is just above the family room, so the views from my windows are upper level views of those above. Matt has a corner room, with good views in either direction. The golf course is visible in the first photo taken from his front window:

The views from the craft room, the library and the loft are pretty good too:

If you’re feeling energetic, we can walk the half mile to the gym and view the Potomac River from there. You can see the construction on the shopping center which will supposedly one day feature a riverfront area with restaurants, along with a VRE commuter rail station. In fact, we can walk right up to the riverfront now (just beyond those red trees in the distance), if you want a closer view. There’s a nice paved road lined with magnolia trees, leading past the clubhouse and ending in a circular viewing area. You’ll be able to see where the train station is supposed to be built. If you take the train to see me, I can walk down to the station to meet you!

I snapped this photo on the walk back from the riverfront to our home, November 2018,

I guess we should quit goofing off and get back to work– after one more virtual cup of hot tea or coffee before you go. Thanks for visiting me today!


  1. Chris

    Great views, Julia! There are things I like in each season; and Autumn’s turning of the leaves is on top of the list. So, why did you move to this new place? Sounds nice, and still in progress, I guess.
    Have a great week. I’m ready for my second cup of coffee, then to work. 😊

    • Hi Chris, I sold our Alexandria townhouse because we didn’t need to live so close to DC anymore, and all Matt’s services (day program, transportation, etc.) are in Prince William County. Yes, it’s very much “in progress” in the sense that I still don’t feel at home there, but I’m taking my time getting settled and gradually trying to talk myself into selling the York home. That will be much harder to part with!

  2. Thanks for the beautiful photos! Looks like an excellent place to visit. πŸ˜‰ Barb WintersIn the Midst . . . blogsiteHope Community Church, Wildwood, FLFollow me on facebook

    • Barb, it is! Now you know why I want to get you and Ann down here (or now in your case, up here) for a “She Musketeers” reunion! πŸ˜€

  3. MaryEllen Davis

    It’s just lovely, Julia!

    • Thank you, Mary Ellen!

  4. Carolyn


    • Thank you, Carolyn!

  5. Beautiful fall pics Julia! We didn’t get much of one hear this year. I copied the one from your back yard and will add to my fall pics for my computer next year. Fall pics never get old.

    • Alan, I’m surprised you didn’t get much color. I think of New England as the epicenter of fall foliage. Our fall colors were late this year but it was a very warm fall with lots of rain. It’s still pretty warm, at least off and on. In fact, in York County today it’s 76 and rainy! I actually got HOT outside while raking leaves. I agree with you that the autumn scenes never get old.

      • Yes our summer was quite hot this year late into the Fall. Hope it doesn’t mean an extreme winter!

        • Alan, I had the same thought. Or maybe “fear” is a better word. I have already read one local forecast of an unusually snow-laden winter. Bundle up! πŸ˜€

          • How prophetic! We have snow on the way today!!

            • Hi Alan, hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. From what I heard on the weather report, it sounds as if more snow may be on the way in some regions of the country. I guess we’d better brace for quite a winter season. Stock up on soup fixings and keep the kettle nearby! πŸ™‚

              • Thanks Julia, Thanksgiving went well. A quiet one. But what can one expect from “The Quiet Corner.” Snow…………….NO! But not much we can do but bear it…..and see the beauty that is there.
                Hope your Thanksgiving was enjoyable.
                Take care my friend,

                • Hi Alan, yes, I do picture Thanksgiving in “the quiet corner” being just that — quiet. If only there was a way to share that quiet with the unquiet corners of the world! As with so much in this life, it seems feast or famine is the rule of the day. I hope you are able to stay snug and cozy this winter. Based on what I’ve seen and heard so far, it looks likely to be quite a long one. We’ll just keep the kettle and the bookshelf ready!

                  • Thanks Julia. I’m sure we’ll help get each other through the stark yet beauty of winter until life again awakens in the Spring. In the mean time don’t fret the disorder of the world. It must be that way. But for those who have found hope in an infant soon to come, peace they will know that the world can never understand nor provide.

                    • Alan, so true, and one of my favorite things about winter is being reminded of that truth in the joy of the Christmas season. Your words call to mind the ominous but ultimately redemptive words of Jesus in Matthew 24. I am especially struck that he refers to the mayhem of the world as “the beginning of birth pains.” WOW. What we see as the end is, in fact, the beginning…

                    • Goodbye to the old and hello to the new. Some treat the world as a playground. Others as a proving-ground. That new beginning is made a reality by how we choose to treat the world.

                    • Alan, this is a comforting thought. I suppose there is no way I could see it as a playground at this point. I suppose treating it as a proving ground will give me something to keep striving for, and keep me from asking myself what the point is to anything now. Sooner or later I should be able to piece together some sort of new life, but it’s taking much longer for me to be ready for that than I thought it would. So for now, one foot in front of the other, day by day…

                    • Those who can’t see beyond this world treat it as a playground, spending their lives trying to gain all the pleasure they can from it. Only to find frustration when they seem to fall short.
                      Those who see a world beyond this one know that they cannot be completely fulfilled by the offerings of this world. So, they choose to treat the world as a proving-ground, living a life targeted toward the virtuous in preparation for what this world can never give: absolute truth, perfect love and life everlasting.
                      Hang in there my friend. As you have said…the longest journey starts with the first step. And with each step taken the journey’s end is that much closer. It applies to healing of all sorts.

                    • Alan, thanks so much. These words are a comfort and a timely reminder. It calls to mind a wonderful quote from the incomparable C. S. Lewis: β€œIf we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” I hope this finds you enjoying many blessings of the season!

                    • Julia, Love the C.S. quote. The Blessings of the New Born Savior be with you and all your loved ones.

                    • Thanks, and the same to you, Alan! πŸ™‚

  6. Just gorgeous!!😍 Our leaves aren’t turning yet. I dont think they will be as pretty as I have seen in my Quachita Mountains back home in Arkansas. I miss them. Love to you and Matt!β€πŸ’™β€

    • Cherie, as much as I loved Texas and had to be dragged away from there kicking and screaming, (ditto California, TWICE) I too really missed the definite four seasons of cooler climates. I didn’t realize just how much I had missed them until our first autumn in Virginia, in 2004. The fall was when I first began to quit being quite so homesick for California. Every place has its benefits and drawbacks. When the roads are icy and the snow flies, you might be happy to be in Texas! πŸ˜€

  7. HarryS

    Splendid splendour.

    • Thank you, Harry!

  8. Wow! Postcard picture perfect!! So gorgeous

    • Thank you, Denise! If y’all are ever biking up the Virginia coast, I hope you will stop and see me. πŸ˜€

      • That would be amazing!! πŸ˜‰ Same if you are ever in the Seattle area!

        • I’ll let you know! I loved Seattle the one time we went there, and have always wanted to go back. My Daddy, who traveled all over the country with his job, once told me that he thought that was the prettiest part of the country, except for upstate New York in the fall.

          • When it’s clear and beautiful, I don’t think there is anywhere prettier!! But we pay for it with the many wet grey days!!

            • Yes, everything is a trade-off, isn’t it? On the plus side, I’ll bet you have fabulous gardens just as they do a bit north of you, over the border. Those gorgeous English and Canadian gardens require a lot of rain. On a local note, every time it rains here I remind myself that the yards and gardens love it (as long as it doesn’t get too torrential).

  9. Ann

    Julia, What an absolutely lovely place! And what a nice location and nice amenities. Please send me a private message (or public-your choice) about the community you live in. We are looking for something similar in SC.
    Thanks for sharing the leaves!

    • Thanks Ann. I found it by searching online with the terms “master planned community” because I wanted some of the features of a planned community as I get older. This is a neighborhood for all ages, but there are many retirees who lives there, especially on my street. I’ll email you more details. Glad you like the leaves!

      • Ann

        Thanks. I’m looking!

        • Ann, let me know if you find anything interesting. πŸ™‚

  10. Julia, just sent you an email!

    • Thanks for the heads up Cherie, I’ll go looking for it. My email is very unreliable lately and just today I figured out what part of the problem is. There are actually two different spam filters at work and I was only checking the one on my computer – the ISP has another one that I just discovered today.

  11. How beauteous! Looks like an amazing spot and home. I didn’t know you had moved, Julia–this indicates, likely, how remiss I have been in catching up on various WP posts after more family losses the past 6 months…But am going to try to stick with yours the coming months. Thanks for sharing those lovely views. I do hope your Nov. has started off well and that you and your son are healing, enjoying more of your lives. God’s peace.

    • Cynthia, thanks for sticking with me! I too have been sadly absent from blogging in all the demands that have hit me since Jeff’s death. I haven’t really blogged much about my new home until now, though. I moved here in June but didn’t get the townhouse sold until months later. I’m still not at the “enjoying” stage yet, but trying to believe it will eventually come if I keep moving in the right direction. Matt seems to be doing well. Like me he has his bad days and good days, but on the whole I think he has far more good than bad. I hope to get to that point myself soon! Thanks for being here. I hate to hear of your losses in the past 6 months. My heart goes out to anyone who has to endure multiple crises, especially those that involve loss. I suppose that’s unavoidable in the mixed blessing of a long life, which we already can claim, at least relative to many others. I’m sending up a prayer for you.

      • Fairly good news overall, it seems–at least better than at some other times for you and Matt. I’m glad of it. Your new home appears restful and lovely. We accept– somehow and eventually–what ever comes, in faith and with a yearning for new beginnings here or beyond the end, do we not?
        Thank you for the prayer. I will say one for you and yours.

        • Cynthia, you are so good at putting these things into words. Yes, here or beyond, we are pilgrims in search of what often lies just outside our view. I’m so happy you are here with us. ❀

  12. Mike

    What a beautiful place. Hope to visit someday. How long are your bookings out? What is the VRE.? How far are you from Roanoke?

    • Mike, the VRE stands for Virginia Railway Express. It’s a commuter train that goes to the outer suburbs from Fredericksburg and Manassas, up to Union Station in DC, with a few stops in between. Our NoVa home is about 3.5 hours to Roanoke, and our York home is about 4 hours to Roanoke. So a fairly easy drive to either one. If we plan far enough in advance you might even manage to come at the same time as Raynard and Mary. πŸ˜€ I’m still working on getting them to come for longer than a quick visit like last time. Are you planning a trip to Roanoke?

  13. Connie Reed

    Wow…gorgeous photos!! Definitely looks like a collage of beautiful postcards!! Have a great fall!!

    • Thank you, Connie! The same to you. ❀

  14. MaryAnn Clontz

    WOW! WOW! & WOW! Yet another thing we have in common: FALL! My joy goes into overflowing when fall sunsets start their presentations! God shows us His spender!
    Such marvelous views from your new home! Sending much love!

    • Mary Ann, when we lived in Solano County we used to head toward the Gold Country (in the direction of Lake Tahoe) to get our foliage fix. Fresh apples, too! I hope you will be able to come see us here sometime. Matt and I would be overjoyed to have you visit!!

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        On My Bucket List: Visit Julia & Matt!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Great idea!! How many months can you stay? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  15. Sheila

    Julia, to say I needed my β€œFall fix” is an understatement. Your views are just so beautiful and that’s just one season! 🍁🧑 I think it would be exciting to choose a new community and enjoy it through the developing stages. It looks lovely! Bill has been in the hospital and on Monday, when I saw these photos, they really came as quite the boost that I needed. Little did you know! πŸ§‘πŸ™πŸ» He’s home and recouping, even walked Jack today! 🐾 Thinking of you and Matt tonight! Sheila

    • Sheila, I’m so sorry to hear that Bill was in the hospital. I hope that he is still home and continuing to feel better. Yes, being in a new community is exciting, although I can’t feel the excitement yet; I can just acknowledge it in a sort of removed, intellectual way. I’m still some distance from being part of anything, and I don’t really know how long it will take to get over that. But going through the motions seems better than slumping down into despondency and doing nothing. Meanwhile, it makes me smile to think of Bill walking Jack, and you sipping tea there in your seaside home. Thanks for thinking of us, and being here! ❀

  16. You’ve moved to a spectacular lot, Julia. What an amazing view.

    • Thanks, Alys. Of course it’s not perfect, but with photos we can edit out all but the prettiest parts. πŸ™‚ Let’s just say that the lawns (front and back) are a work in progress, hee-hee. The leaves are under much better (non-human) management! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  17. Judy from Pennsylvania

    The wooded setting of your new home and the plans for the community sound absolutely ideal. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos. We went to northern NY state mid-October to see the fall colors and were disappointed that they were just beginning to show in a few places. Maybe the warm summer delayed everything. Our colors in central PA were a lot less ‘showy’ than last year (love that word that’s part off the local language around here). Seeing the spectacular bright colors of autumn outside your windows made my eyes smile with delight! Thanks for taking the pictures and sharing them!

    • Judy, I’m so glad you liked them. Oddly enough, the photos I took in late afternoon were much “brighter” in color than the ones taken when the sun was shining. It’s really funny how photographs render things differently than our eyes see them. Foliage is hard to time, just as the cherry blossoms are. We took our New England cruise, many years ago, at supposedly peak foliage time, but by the time we got to Nova Scotia, we still had seen hardly any colors. I can’t remember now if we were too early or too late, but I remember that my disappointment at missing the legendary Northeastern autumn was tempered by the other beautiful sights — lots of lighthouses and colorful, historic towns. Maybe some day I’ll make it up there and see the leaves in their full glory. But Virginia is hard to beat, and I don’t have to worry about timing here! Thanks for being here and sharing my fall fun.

  18. Mike

    We could take the train up to your place from Roanoke? Other nephew is in Norfolk. We are t hinking about a train trip – ending up in NYC to see Kris.

    • Mike, you could take the Amtrak Northeast Regional to Union Station in DC. Then you could take the VRE from there down to my home (or close to it — until the station is finished in early 2020, you would need to get off at Rippon Landing, about 5 miles north of us). I think train trips are great fun. I like being able to face huge windows and watch the countryside go by. I think only the super liners have those viewing cars, but even a regular train is fun. I wish we had as many trains as they have in England and Europe.

  19. Mike

    Did you ever get up to Helen,Ga.?Fall color is s upposed to be amazing. And ther is a sister town in Wash.state, Leavenworth with the same German/- chalet theme.A big tourist draw..

    • Mike, the photo of me at Anna Ruby Falls was taken near Helen, Georgia. But of course we didn’t get to see the fall color there. There are several little Bavarian-flavored villages scattered across the country — Solvang, CA is Danish but it’s similar. All the ones I have heard of are very popular with tourists.

  20. Good morning, Julia!
    Wow! I wish I’d been there to see that in person! Spectacular!

    • Susan, you can at least say you saw it first, while this house was being built, and spotted the baby foxes playing in those same woods. I can’t remember whether I told you that the foxes are quite a common sight around here. A large silver fox ran right past my glass doors downstairs one night when I turned on the outdoor light. It was quite a thrill to see it. Now and then a neighbor will post a video capture of a fox visiting their front porch and being photographed by their doorbell cam. I imagine they must be pretty tame. But I would be careful about letting a kitty or small dog outside.

  21. My O’ My ! You do enjoy million dollar views πŸ˜€ Look at the colours, they’re stunning. I wish we didn’t live so far north. We don’t get the beautiful reds here. The famous Maple you see on our flag, doesn’t grow in my climate well. I can see why you’ve not gone with draperies yet. Your community sounds really well planned too. What with shopping, restaurants, trains, rivers, golfing and forests ! Have I forgotten anything? Oh, you mentioned a gym and clubhouse! It’s Disneyland for grown-ups. I sure hope to visit next year, I miss you xo K

    • K, I never thought about the fact that much of Canada doesn’t see that glorious Red Maple. One thing is for sure, though, you all seem to have those incomparable spring and summer gardens! I guess it all balances out. PLEASE DO come to see me! The shops, restaurants and train station are a long ways from being finished, but no matter, we can chat and drink tea until the wee hours again, and maybe even get lost in DC (in the daytime hours this time, hee-hee). I miss you too! ❀

  22. It’s a deal…<3

    • πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  23. Mike

    Yesterday I went by the UGA garden at the senior center in Canton on Univeter. Road They have several rows of beautiful lettuce growing quite happily it seems.Arugula I think. Also some beets and an ornamental Kale. Very pretty and a couple of trees in bloom I have not been able to identify. One looks like a white geranium and also a red fowering maple- Abutillon i think.

    • Mike, I have probably learned more about plants from you than from anyone else. Natalie Goldberg wrote of the importance of learning the names of the trees and flowers that surround our daily lives, and her words rang true for me; it’s part of being aware of the richness of earthly existence. I’ve been amazed by the beauty of ornamental leafy greens and other edible plants. I hope you are getting some glorious fall colors there. The Dogwoods are magnificent in fall with their flaming leaves, and then are among the first to flower in the spring. Dogwood trees used to be plentiful in the Atlanta area; I hope they still are.

  24. Mike

    Actually I meant white Hydrangea.

    • I think white hydrangeas must be what many people around here call “snowball” plants.

  25. Mike

    One of my favorite trees here I have found here is the Vitex or Chaste Tree with its purple blue flowers, that I thought was a butterfly bush as flower look similar. Quite a little beauty and does not get that big. The Crape Myrtles,-rare in Seattle, are so numerous to be deemed boring? No not really with beatuful winter bark. Unfortunetly, I see a lot of Crape murder going on. As you know, the Mimosa silk trees also rare in Seattle are here called invasive pests. Weeds are in the eye of the beholder.
    Then there is the,” vine that ate the south”- Kudzu, which creates these massive green deserts. A truly scary plant. Another cool tree I have discovered is the “Tulip Popla” with its amazing flowers which you don’t see readily as they are way up in the canopy-like 50 or 60 feet up.

    • I have heard of the Vitex tree in herbal medicine, but wasn’t aware that it’s ornamental as well. Crape myrtles are indeed everywhere in the south, but I could never tire of them. The blooms are profuse, vibrant and long lasting, the leaves are lovely in the fall, and the bark is attractive as well, plus they require pretty much zero care once established– what not to like? I have already had two of them planted in my new front yard. As a young child we had a lovely mimosa tree next door which I loved above all others, in part because the branches were low enough for me to reach, and the flowers were beautiful to me. My York back yard is full of tulip poplars (which incidentally is the Tennessee State Tree, as I learned while working in the Forestry Division in Nashville) and yes, you don’t see the flowers until they start to drop, but then there are plenty of them. In fact, the canopy they create is putting TOO much shade on my hydrangeas, rhododendrons, peonies and dogwood trees. I need to have an arborist come out and get rid of some of those lower branches. If I were to count the tulip poplars on my lot, going all the way back to the creek, there are probably at least 20-30 of them. We have hardly any kudzu around here, but its mythical status in the south is fascinating all by itself. I actually think it’s pretty, because it tends to grow over neglected bare ground, giving it a sort of otherworldly beauty. I sort of miss seeing it and would hate to see it disappear altogether. You might enjoy this article from the Smithsonian; I haven’t read it yet, but it looks interesting and fun to read.

  26. Mike

    I am pretty impressed with the Poplar trees and their flowers. When we first came upon one on a trail at Ronson park in Canton. I could not understand where they came from. I had to look them up and find out they are way up there, What do you say to someone who says-“Don’t buy me flowers- they only last a couple of days and are not worth the money.”
    A fleeting fancy. like ice cream- or cologne?
    I am not sure what to make of the article- I think what he is saying is that becasue of where and how it grows-on the fringes of things- it is not as bad as it looks. Yes, but it still looks bad and like the English Ivy inour back yard in Seattle it is not nice to look at. English Ivy also creates green deserts and is very hard to control. It is also parasitic on trees which apparently Kudzu is not, though it would certainly appear to suffocate anything under it.
    Flowers- a guilty pleasure. A fleeting pleasure-like ice cream and no one has to fight for ice cream. It goes without saying that ice cream is ne cessary, but I guess some can live without flowers, but very few can live without icecream.
    I guess you can also eat Kudzu which may be the ultimate answer and feed a few persons in the process.

    • To the person who says flowers only last a couple of days, I say “not necessarily.” Lately, I’ve had the good fortune to have several bouquets last as long as TWO WEEKS, allowing for the odd faded bloom needing to be pulled out here or there. Changing the water helps preserve them. But even if they don’t last long…I’ve come to realize that this idea of things lasting is largely illusory. So many of the lovely “permanent” things my generation inherited from our parents, or bought for ourselves– fine china, crystal, sterling flatware– as well as hand-stitched quilts, heirloom recipes, photograph albums and sentimental treasures– mean nothing at all to most of the younger generations I have known. So I use and enjoy them and don’t worry about what will happen to them when I am gone. I’m glad I lived when such things were valued. Flowers should be a guilt-free pleasure! Especially when one can pick up lovely bouquets for very little money at so many grocers and big-box stores. Hey, your remark about Kudzu made me think that would be a great premise for a dystopian novel. Instead of Soylent Green, people could eat Kudzu. BTW I love ivy and intentionally got it growing on lots of the trees on my York property, including the giant double oak that we had to remove to make way for the guest house. I never thought of ivy as a nuisance. In the home I grew up in, ivy covered most of the chimney and brick on one side of our home, and I loved the way it looked. Several of the homes in our neighborhood had the same thing. What I loved about it was that it stayed green year round, never turning brown and ugly. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

  27. Mike

    My favorite fall tree has always been the yellow leaves of the Ginko tree. And I am happy I have found some here. Right now I have several leaves in a fishbowl on the table and Norah and Jojo are making a collage of Fall leaves for their house.

    • Mike, I’ve never had any Ginkgo trees nearby. They do have quite a distinctive leaf, but I did not realize they turned yellow. How fun that Norah and JoJo are making a leaf collage. I hope they find lots of scarlet maples! Those are among my favorites.

  28. Mike

    I can send you a nice maple picture I took in Acworth. If I can download from my phone.

    • Mike, if it isn’t too much trouble, I’d love to see it. I was considering putting a Japanese or red maple in my new back yard.

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