September is one of my favorite months. School starts in full. Students and teachers are at work, both groups mostly rested and ready for new learning. Fall arrives. Beginnings are good.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2013, the Full Moon will be on the 19th. The Full Moon of September is the Harvest Moon. The Autumn Equinox will be on the 22nd. This month we can see the planets Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter. We can see the star Spica.
Where are the butterflies? Now only bees visit the phystogesia plot.
I spent three days with a friend who recently moved to Gloucester Point, Virginia. Here is a multiple choice question: Choose the best answer. We know we are in southeastern Virginia when (a) there are many sites of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War (b) we are near Jamestown and Williamsburg (c) we are near the great bodies of water, the York River, the James River, the Chesapeake Bay (d) a diner gives 10% off the bill on Sundays with the presentation of a church bulletin. Answer: All of these.
I do not recommend the interstate route from here to Gloucester Point, except for its speed and for the opportunity to drive over the James River on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge on I-64. It’s a magnificent and high bridge, worth the cost of the toll.
I chose an interesting but time extravagant route home on Sunday morning, down US Hwy 17 into Camden County, North Carolina. Most of the route is slow and congested with traffic, but on Sunday morning it wasn’t too bad. I would not choose to drive it during the week. It would be more than two hours of slow and tedious driving.
The glory of the route is crossing the James River. The bridge is low, giving a close and expansive view of the water.
As the drive crosses into North Carolina, through the area of the Great Dismal Swamp, there are open plains, great vistas of savannah. The North Carolina Welcome Station is a rest area, also the site of the Great Dismal Swamp State Park, a place I will plan to visit again and explore around, when the weather is cooler.
At the Elizabeth City area, I took US Highway 158 west to Roxboro, where I took a state highway home. It traverses much of the eastern and piedmont parts of the state through the north and goes through many small towns. It crosses Camden, Pasquotank, Gates, Hertford, Northhampton, Halifax, Warren, Vance, Granville, and Person Counties. The highway is two-lane, and the route presents scenery of farm land and forests, small farms and at least one large farm, small towns with traditional brick and wood-frame houses and business districts several decades old.
In Gates County the highway follows a large ditch to the north, filled with blooming water lilies. In part of Gates County is major road construction. The white dirt of the country is being scraped and piled. The land looks wounded. Pine woods on either side of the highway are being bulldozed down. I was glad to arrive at the “Road Work Ended” sign just after Murfreesboro. In Gates County is another state park to visit, Merchants Millpond State Park.
The proudest town is the little town of Conway, where the highway is lined with alternating American flags and banners which proclaim the town’s 100th birthday.
The town of Weldon is busy mid-Sunday morning. A major railroad runs through the town, and I was stopped to witness the passing of a long freight train.
Just after Weldon, the landscape changes from pine forests and sandy soil to more hardwood trees and orange, red clay soil.
I stop for lunch and a long walk in the town of Littleton. West of Littleton is Macon, the home of North Carolina writer Reynolds Price. The landscape of his early novels is here: hills, farms, woods, springs.
I love the names of towns. In addition to those named, Hwy 158 passes through or near Sunbury, Roduco, Mapleton, Jackson, Garysburg, Vaughan, Norlina, Ridgeway, Manson, Middleburg, Oxford, Berea, Surl, Brooksdale.
Though the trip was longer and the driving more involving, I was less tired upon arrival home than if I had driven the interstate highways. There’s something to be said for slowness in travel and the opportunities it allows to see the country and communities.
I hope you are enjoying the remaining summer weeks. Thank you for reading.