This weekend was the start for our week long vacation. We decided to start it off by spending Saturday and Sunday at the plantation. After a restful night’s sleep, I rose for a walk around the plantation. This time I ventured farther into the farm fields. The farmer that leases the fields planted corn and soybean this year. He has harvested the corn and I am sure will be harvesting the soy bean soon. I walked along the road way that once lead to the barns. The barns are long gone and all we have left are three silos. From what I understand, those will be coming down some time this winter to improve the view of the farm. After passing the silos, I walked along the wooded area between the farm field and the river. I could hear several birds calling to each other. I am not really good at identifying birds at the plantation with the exception of the osprey, eagles and buzzards that we see so often flying overhead. But I am sure as I spend more time there, I will be able to identify them better.
Just a little ways into the fields, I made a turn onto a farm road that headed towards the middle of the field. From what I understand, these dirt road ways are as old as the plantation and were used by the slaves and later the field hands as they worked the fields. I was told that there was a slave quarters that use to be located in the middle of the fields for the slaves that worked the fields. I haven’t been able to confirm it yet.
As I reached the road way that lead to the front gate, I could see the manor house and caretaker’s house in the distance. Suddenly above me I could hear the screaming of eagles. I looked up to see two bald eagles flying over at a very high distance. I wasn’t able to get a good picture of them, but you could see them riding the wind currents. It was just amazing.
I made my way back to the front gate and stood in the shade of one of the trees located there. As I looked at it, I tried to image who may have sat under this very shade and what they may have been thinking. I looked towards the manor house and at the trees around the bowling green. One thing about this plantation is the beauty of its trees. I image that when John Moore, step-grandfather of James Madison named it Belle Grove, he must have had the same feeling.
Our trees haven’t really started to turn yet for fall, with the exception of one. But I am sure they will soon. I thought about that change and about when they would be green again. I could feel my heart jump as I realized the next time they were green again, we would be open for business. What a great way to start!
I made my way around through the house and stopped at the dining room window to see we had a “visitor” on the riverside of the house. A small groundhog was enjoying his morning salad of dandelions. Our yard is filled with them. Too bad our little “gardener” couldn’t eat more. One day, we will have a beautiful yard of green grass and our guest will have to find another location for breakfast. But for the time being, we are glad to see that we can provide him a hearty meal.
After he scampered off, I walked out on to the riverside porch and sat down on the craved stone steps. The sun was bright and warm and it danced off the Rappahannock River as it passed by the plantation. The sun’s light was like thousands of little diamonds sparkling on the surface. The warmth of the light was just so relaxing. I tilled my head back and just sat there absorbing the light and feeling the rush of my busy life just melting away.
After spending another wonderful night at the plantation, we headed out on Sunday morning to Fredericksburg. We wanted to spend a night at our favorite Fredericksburg bed and breakfast, Schooler House in the Historic Downtown. Andi, the innkeeper and her trusted side kick, Enzo makes staying there great joy. Enzo has been to “puppy boot camp” and had just returned over the last week so we wanted to welcome him home.
After we arrived, Brett crashed in the room to watch some football and nap while I head to a book sale I saw as we drove in. This sale had been going on over the weekend, so I was sure I missed some of the good books, but I was delighted to see that there were still some very nice selections still to be had. We have a library at Belle Grove that I will need to fill so book sales are always good. I was able to find fourteen books that covered literature and one autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Most were printed in the 1940s and were in wonderful shape.
After my purchase, I made a stop at a local bakery called Eileen’s Bakery. Andi had told me that it was one of the places we needed to stop at when we returned last time. I was so glad I did! The bakery is in an old church and has such a wonderful atmosphere. It serves both bakery items and has a small deli counter. I wanted to get a little something for Brett and me to have after our dinner, but when I arrived at the bakery case, I found it impossible to select just two. So I just ordered one of everything they had! When I got them back, I showed Brett the selections. He said we should just skip dinner and eat dessert.
But we didn’t. We headed over to the Capital Ale House on Caroline Street and enjoyed a wonderful meal. You may remember us talking about this place in two past postings.
This morning, Brett and I got up and headed to the first of several meetings we have set up on our vacation. I know, it’s a vacation, but it these meetings are important too and it helps being able to do them during the week while we are off. The first meeting was at Stratford Hall with Jim. Stratford Hall is the home of the Lee Family and Robert E. Lee. It is located just 29 miles from Belle Grove. We talked with Jim about how we could work together with Stratford Hall and how we could be of benefit to each other. After our meeting Jim was gracious in showing us the gardens of Stratford Hall. I have been viewing gardens at different locations to get ideas for our landscaping and walking gardens at Belle Grove. We viewed three gardens today at Stratford. The first was the east gardens which were the formal boxwood walking garden and the cutting garden. Then we walked over to the west garden which is more of the working garden for the kitchen. I got a lot of really good ideas for our kitchen garden there.
After our meeting at Stratford Hall, we headed over to Westmoreland Berry Farm to get more details on their vendor service for the local fruits, vegetables, jams, preserves and sauces they have. It is our goal at Belle Grove to use as much locally grown produce in our dishes as possible. We want our guest to be able to experience all that Virginia has to offer. We tried one of their samples they had on display, Apple Salsa. It was very spicy, but yet had a sweet under tone to it. It was very good.
From here, we headed back to Chesapeake to regroup and get ready for our trip and meetings in Richmond and Charlottesville on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Thursday we will celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary as well. Then it will be back to Belle Grove for the end of our glorious vacation on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It may be something of a working vacation for us this year, but what a wonderful “job” it will become!