Rockfish River

Rockfish River above Schuyler

 

 

Rockfish Gap has been a natural gateway through the mountains for thousands of years, Once travelled by Indians and wildlife along a footpath from the coastal plain to the Ohio Valley, today a highway, four roads, two railroad lines, and the Appalachian Trail all converge on this spot. Black Bears still follow the route as they move from one valley to another, lumbering along on the shoulder of the road like pedestrians. The Blue Ridge Parkway begins here, heading south, as does Skyline Drive, going north. From the crest of the ridge there’s a view that stretches for 20 miles down the Rockfish Valley, and it’s one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. As many times as I pass through there, my heart still hurts when I see it. The Gap and the Valley both are named for the Rockfish River that winds below, and it’s astonishing to think the entire view was created by that little stream, small enough to throw a stone across. Continue reading “Rockfish River”

Scottsville

Mr. Cheek’s Pond

 

The Cheeks’ place is a few doors down, across from the old Presbyterian cemetery. They have a small pond between the hay field and the house, and it’s lined with trees. Neighborhood boys like to fish there in the summer. There’s a Tupelo Gum on the bank that, for a few mornings every fall, catches fire when the sun burns off the mist.

 

 

 

Cocke’s Mill

South Branch, Hardware River, along

The Plank Road runs west from Keene toward the mountains. It was a toll road, and the original toll house still stands, a private residence now. It’s a very old road, once paved in wooden boards, and along it teams of oxen rolled huge hogshead barrels and cartloads of good from over in the Shenandoah Valley, coming down the switchbacks through Rockfish Gap. Continue reading “Cocke’s Mill”

Mountain Orchards

Apple Orchard in Bloom, Blue Ridge

We drive through the little valley below Jefferson’s Monticello every day. Up above Monticello, along the ridge of Carter’s Mountain, is an orchard and vineyard with wide views of the Piedmont to the East and the Blue Ridge to the West. We’ve been going there since the kids were small, picking warm peaches in summer, pumpkins for Halloween, then apples and cider right up to first snows. In Spring, cycles of bloom sweep over the ridge like vast, slow moving clouds, starting first with the cherries. Continue reading “Mountain Orchards”

Road Along the Ridge

Forest Fog

 

Spring is taking it’s time getting here, like it lost its way, stumbling about.
Mornings are cold and damp. Not really raining; just steady dripping from eaves and limbs, buds closed up tight. Hills and valleys stay swallowed in fog.