This morning I worked with a neighbor on my Father's taxes (fully realizing the irony in the fact that I haven't begun my own) - going through medical and pharmaceutical receipts and bank statements - trying to help make sense of his last year, a year full of cognitive ups and downs. Afterwards, we joined my Mother's two younger sisters and her brother, as well as their spouses, for lunch. I enjoy being around them, each, on ocassion, displaying pieces of my Mother in an expression or topic of conversation. Everyone at the lunch table still misses her, and still acutely feels her absence at our gatherings.
After lunch, I settled my Father into his chair (for a nap), and I took off with my camera and Handsome Stanley - a respite from receipts and my Father's constant mishaps with the television remote (would it be cruel if I took it away from him?). I headed for the foothills of the Blue Ridge, territory both familiar and comforting to me. The farm above is one that I have always secretly loved - something about the small creek running between the homestead and the larger barn that has always seemed dreamy. The place belongs to a second or third cousin, and from what I've heard is rented out - of course there wouldn't be a job around for miles (and miles) for me but I can imagine roaming that place and sitting on the porch in the evenings. Of course the Pointer Sisters would just head for the hills, and probably wouldn't be seen or heard from by me again. Greene County residents would never forgive me for releasing those two into the wild.
I decided earlier today that it was time to go to my Mother's grave alone for the first time. I've always felt that there were two types of people: those who visit cemeteries and those who do not. I most definitely fall into the former category, and find solace in having a place to go. This place is so beautiful - a cemetery on a hillside across from the Evergreen Church of the Brethren. When I arrived, a rain shower had just passed through - and at one end of the cemetery an elderly man sat on the rock wall, near a tombstone, carrying on a quiet conversation with the deceased. We just nodded at each other as I walked by.
I took (what else?) daffodils from my Mother's garden - handfuls of them - and placed them on her grave, as well as those of her Mother, my Father's Mother, and my Mother's older sister. I'm not a fan of the artifical flowers that adorn so many tombstones these days, and I know that my Mother would - yep, shiver in her grave - if she thought her family left artificial flowers on her gravesite. On the other hand, she would be thrilled to know that her own daffodils, freshly picked, were on ocassion placed near her. I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but for almost 20 years my Mother took care of her Church's flowers, and she refused to put artificial flowers on the altar. After her death, we started a fund, "Madeline's Flower Fund", that raised a surprising amount of money for fresh church flowers each Sunday. You might say that I'm continuing the anti-artificial flowers tradition in our family.
After I left the cemetery, I took the long way home, which meant that I went over the wooden bridge below my Father's 'Home Place' (where his middle brother now lives). I stopped on the bridged - amazed at how much water was in the stream and how fast the water was moving, although not surprised at how muddy it was, due to the heavy rain showers that we had been having off and on all day. I didn't remember how straight the stream was as it flowed down stream - and I was tracing in my head the path it took after it made a sharp turn to the right.
Looking upstream, I realized that I had no idea where this stream began. All I knew is that my Father said that when he was young, they would dam up this part of the stream in the summer so that the water would collect in a pool so that they could swim. I like that concept, but then I've always been a fan of water.
I took a little detour instead of heading straight back to Earlysville - and drove through the lovely town of Nortonsville. I'm not sure that you could call it a town - perhaps a community is what it represents these days. However, after a quick search, I did come across some interesting information at nortonfamily. net:
Nortonsville is a hamlet located on the border of present day Albemarle and Green counties Virginia. There are several records and events that tie our Norton family to this little hamlet and it's possible this is the area that our Norton family came to settle after Christopher and Mary married in 1753.
The buildings of Nortonsville are very old. An expert who examined them said some of the buildings were made of recycled earlier materials including ship timbers. The main house consists of three sections built at different times. In fact one (the oldest) was supposed to have been moved there from another spot nearby. The land contains the old general store, a cottage, a farmhouse, “a smithy, grist mill, dairy, barn, cemetery and two schools - one for white children and the other for black children,” Some of the wood beams in the farmhouse appear to be recycled from a circa-1600s building and, before that, a ship.
(There's a wonderful circa 1862 map on the nortonfamily.net site that shows Nortonsville - the map was by Jed Hotchkiss, a cartographer for Stonewall Jackson. Also, a bit past the Nortonsville town center' was a sign for Moss Vineyards - I'm not familiar with those folks, but they have a fun flickr page and I need to find out more about them).
I think this is the oldest building in Nortonsville - and is the one that is part of three buildings. It's a strange structure - on it's own it might make sense, but to the left of it is a rather typical older farmhouse - there are numerous smaller structures around it. I remember stopping to look at this place once with my Mom, long before it had a fresh coat of paint on it.
I need to go back and look at my other photos from today, and see how they mesh with the text about Nortonsville I cited above.
This building is right across the street from the prior one - and must have been the original Nortonsville General Store. Something I've always loved about these little once-upon-a-time towns is that you can almost figure out what they were like by the rock walls that usually go right up to the road. Nortonsville had (has) some nice rock walls.
If I hadn't needed to rush back to my Dad, I might have enjoyed sitting in one of those rocking chairs for awhile - I must say I'm tired. My fear would be that if I sat there long enough, I might not have wanted to get up - for at least a few days or maybe even a week. I can see it now, me getting hauled off to jail for refusing to get up from a rocking chair on the porch of the old Nortonsville General Store. Oppositely, perhaps no one would have cared, and I could have just moved in. It's a lovely little place, I think I'd do just fine there.