What is this? ObserVA will take me, the writer, and (hopefully) you, the reader, through a year of observing the natural and semi-natural world of central Virginia, through text and photographs. I will try to add something every day, or as close as possible, to note the changes in landscape and vegetation, and to teach myself to look closer, to really notice what’s going on in the natural world.
Where am I? Mostly, my wanderings will take place at Twin Oaks Community, an intentional community (commune) in Louisa County, Virginia. There’s loads of info about the community itself at http://www.twinoaks.org, but for the purposes of this project, here’s what’s important to know: Twin Oaks sits on about 450 acres of land in the Virginia Piedmont. About half of our property is forested, primarily hardwoods. Our forest is mostly mixed oak/maple forest, with some stands of beech, and a few pine groves. Most of the forest is less than 50 years old, although there are some stands of large trees, and a number of individual enormous trees. We’ve got two creeks defining the eastern and western borders of the property, and the South Anna River on the north side of our land. Much of the non-forested land is pasture for our cows or hayfields. So I’ve got plenty of acreage to wander around in, with plenty of variety of habitat and terrain. There are also several planted gardens, both ornamental and food-producing. While this journal is primarily concerned with the more natural areas of our property, I will also be observing and noting somewhat on the goings on in our gardens and orchards. Inevitably, I will be taking trips away from Twin Oaks, whether it’s day trips to Richmond, C’ville, or Shenandoah National Park, or longer excursions to West Virginia or New England, and intend to continue observing and updating wherever I find myself–although I’ll mostly be right here:
Who am I? Although I’ve had little to no formal naturalist training, I’ve spent a whole lot of time hiking, camping, observing, and enjoying the outdoors. Over the years, I’ve been obsessed with identifying plant, tree, bird, and mushroom species, and in general learning to notice, identify, and appreciate the variety of life forms that I share my rural Virginia home with. I’ve lived at Twin Oaks for 12 years, and although the beauty of the deciduous woods was one of the initial things that kept me here, I sometimes forget to take the time to wander around and fully enjoy my proximity to the forest (which, after all, is just outside of my door). I’m hoping that this project will help me to fill in some of the many gaps in my knowledge, as well as developing somewhat of a writer’s discipline in forcing myself to write a little each day. Thanks for reading, I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org