Sunday, May 17, 2009

. . .It's Like Watching Your Dream Come True

It is after dinner on a Saturday. We are about to go upstairs to give the kids their bath when we look outside and see the new families who have just moved in outside in the alley. The kids are playing and people are talking, drinking beer, eating ice cream, and considering their new place with thoughtful eyes. We all enthusiastically head outside. The alley has become the central meeting place. Hooray for Caty Lane! I meet the new neighbors behind us for the first time and then engage in play with the children. Hoola-hooping yeah! I am gonna get good at that, I say to the children. They laugh and hoop around every part of their body! I can barely do it.

The four-year olds wander about doing things together, the little dog runs about seeking affection from everyone, the beautiful mother next door chats with me and laughs when my husband can hoop better than I can, and I help my neighbor with his aching back as we sit on the stoop of his carriage unit. My son goes as fast as he can on his scooter. My husband shows his juggling skills with the lacrosse balls the girls have been playing with. I can see we are going to need bounce-back in the alley. When I pick up the stick and ball it is almost irresistible to want to throw it. All over is just this vibe of health, connection, vitality, fun, tired-at-the-end of the day feeling. We are all sharing in it.

The storm that has been threatening all day starts to break. As we head up the stairs my husband joyfully narrates the alley's activities, and ends by saying ". . . it's like watching your dream come true."

Go Belvedere!

Monday, May 4, 2009

We're Certified!

We knew our house is well-built, but it is still nice to have these:

A special thanks to Eagle Homes for following through on getting these certifications.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Belvedere Adventures

As I go around here in Cville, people find out I live in Belvedere and then ask, Are you the blogger? So, Yes, I say. Well, you haven't written much lately. No, I don't get to the blog as much as I would like for sure. I run a business and have two small children. I travel with my work. It definitely is a juggling act. But that doesn't mean I don't have loads of blogs swimming around in my head waiting to appear. Here are a few of my adventures:

Everything is Working Out
With four new homes about to be built or in the process of being built, I have this feeling that Belvedere is on the upswing after surviving through the nuclear winter of the new housing market. Workers are everywhere again, buzzing all over the townhomes, finishing them! Yay! Trucks and supplies are running back and forth to the two homes in progress. One of the City Homes has broken ground. And then joy of joys, we learn a family with kids is moving in next door, one is a boy my son's age! I mention this to my son and he says, Don't obsess about it mom.

The other day, the four of us (Bret, myself and our two kids) hopped on our bicycles after dinner and cycled all around Belvedere and Dunlora. As we arrived back in our garage, I lifted up a tennis racket and said, Tennis Anyone? My son yelped with delight. Well, it was late so we didn't end up going down to the tennis court, but the point was we could have. As I lay in bed that night I thought, this is exactly what I wanted: A neighborhood and an active lifestyle. It was just what Belvedere promised, too, and it delivered. I have never in my life lived in a place where I could ride around safely on a bike with my kids the way we do here. I can't believe that I got exactly what I wanted, even if it was just in that moment there.

Nature Adventures Belvedere's forests never fail to offer me nature encounters worth remembering. I savor them.

It is a Saturday. I am just back from a business trip, tired but really wanting to run through the forest even if it is just a little. Bret is working in the yard, and I sit on the steps and watch. Well, I say, I am heading out. It is 6 pm. I had put dinner on the table for the kids. Bret and I would eat later.

On this evening, I head down the sewer line at the far end of the property to the flood plain and turn right along one of the Rivanna Trail lines. As I run a long, I feel better. Then suddenly up ahead I see a huge set of wings lift off the ground and into a tree. It is the biggest Bard owl I have ever seen. It sits in the tree looking down at me with huge dark eyes like a ghost on the limb. I call to him but he does not respond. Instead, he heads over to another tree higher up and stares down at me again. I pause. All around me the toads start up. What is it about 6 pm in the forest in spring? Toad happy hour? The trills are everywhere and deafening, vibrating this corner of the woods. I smile. I live for this.

. . . . .
On this morning, I can't wait to get out for another run through the forest. I want to go down the new trail and out through the Zone to the railroad bridge. I love that trail. It is amazingly hot for early in the morning. As I head down the road/trail to the tall three oaks, a large bird lifts off and into a tree. It is a vulture. It stands on the limb and stretches his wings out. I stand and stretch my arms out, mimicking him. He must have been in the water there, a small stagnant pool in a rut that is now home to many small frogs. I run on. Further down, I scare up a big red fox that had been resting in the woods next to the trail. He is muddy so I figure, he, too, was in the water, this time the creek that runs next to the trail. He runs up the hill a little then stops and watches me. I stop and watch him back. He runs on. I have seen him before, chance encounters on the trail. There are two large foxes here. I have been looking for their den.

As I run, I hear the birds. The wood thrush's flute-like call is a balm and lifts my spirits. I follow the trail along the flood plain and out the brown Rivanna Trail. This small lovely trail takes me through the woods. The forest floor is alive with scurrying beasts, a small flock of sparrows, a few blue-lined skinks. Farther along the trail, the mayapples sprout up and I see that dutchman's breeches are also here like along the trail next the river in River Run. I turn and run back along the railroad and back up the sewer line to the house, very grateful that such a resource is available to me just out my door.

. . . .

It is evening around 6 pm, and raining lightly. I head out the door in my raincoat and stop at the neighbors to see if one of their dogs wants to go with me into the forest. I don't feel like running and I want to go slow. I figure it will give the dog a chance to really sniff and look around. This night, Louie comes with me, a tall dark dog. His companion is left behind whining but my neighbors counsel me to just take one at a time. I head down the Dunlora trail. The light green new leaves against the gray sky and brown earth are lovely, and the forest smells wonderful. Once again, the thrush sings softly in the twilight. I feel grounded and present, lightly happy to be alive in that forest. We walk down the trail, and then back up. As I look at the old trees and the creek bed, I think, this forest begs timelessness. Then, I realize, it is not the forest that begs that. It is within me, this human.

For the forest, I am sure, timelessness is its baseline. The forest doesn't say, let's hurry up and grow. There is no rush. There just . . . . Is. Within me, I yearn for the same timelessness, but I know I have to get home and help Bret give the kids their bath and put them to bed, then there is my own bedtime and tomorrow, the relentless schedule starts again. We don't live in a timeless way. In the nature classes I teach, I weave in wandering on the landscape with the hopes of imprinting some of the timeless forest on the children. For myself, I am thirsty for the timelessness. I also know myself well enough to say I like having stuff to do, too. Here in Belvedere, I can strike a balance.

. . . .

There you go readers! Stay tuned for more adventures!