This past Sunday, my klezmer band was invited to perform at a music festival at a goat farm far out in eastern Virginia called Goatstock. It was a lovely afternoon, and a fine time was had by all. Even more importantly, it gave me an ironclad excuse to spend an entire day away from my computer and the infernal index which has been sucking the soul out of my body.
Part of the afternoon was spent performing, but for the rest of the day I was free to hang out, listen to music, and wander around the premises, observing the delightful natural setting. In no particular order, here are a few of the things I noticed:
The front yard of the farm had some truly impressive trees growing– it’s hard to get a sense of scale in this photo, but this tulip poplar must have been almost six feet across at the base, and it (like all the other tulip poplars in the area) was absolutely covered with flowers.
The most dramatic visual aspect of the landscape was the mountain laurel plants which were coming into flower. The forests were absolutely full of these bushes, and they were laden with bloom. Here are a few photos to give a sense of just how purty the mountain laurel was on this unseasonably cool and lovely afternoon:
Last night, after I came home, I was looking at the Wikipedia page for mountain laurel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalmia_latifolia), and, looking at the map on the page, noticed a couple of things– first, that the range of this plant stops just short of central Maine and north central Florida where I grew up, and also that Virginia is the largest state that has mountain laurel growing over the entire state–it was certainly thriving in this spot!
There was a patch of forest along one edge of the farm, and I spent a little while poking around to see what I could see. This forest was unusual in the number of large holly trees in it, which you don’t often see in our area. I was glad I had shoes, as the ground was covered with spiky leaves and would have been impossible to walk on barefoot. The holly trees were covered with tiny flowers (see below), many of which had fallen from the trees, carpeting the forest floor. The whole forest had a strong, unmistakable odor of holly flower, sweet and pungent.
The farm also had two enormous fig trees, far larger than any I’ve ever seen at Twin Oaks. The woman in charge of the farm suggested that they grow so large because the sandy soil of the tidewater area is closer to the Mediterranean soils that they are native to. I’m not sure if that’s the reason, but they were impressively large, and already at this early season, were covered with figs the size of my fist. Thinking about it now, I realize I should have taken a cutting from these impressive specimens to plant in my back yard!
And, last but not least–goats! This farm had (in addition to dogs & cats & chickens & llamas) lots of goats, some of which had given birth in the past week. So there were a bunch of baby goats, just a few days old, and they were so CUTE!! Just look at those cute baby goats:
we left to drive home just as it was getting dark. After a few minutes in the car, we drove into another rainstorm, so intense that I had to slow way down, face pressed against the windshield, wipers on full blast. It was like trying to drive through a waterfall. When I got back to Twin Oaks, the ground was soaked and the trees were dripping after yet another day of rain. My word, is it ever wet here in Virginia! Maybe if I can finish this damned index, I will have a chance to go out looking for mushrooms later this afternoon…