The tree has been taken down, the decorations put away and another Christmas has come – but is not quite gone.
This year was different for many reasons. We are living in a new state, literally and figuratively. Virginia has been good to and for us. People just met are becoming acquaintances and acquaintances are now becoming friends. Our church has been especially welcoming; its members seem to embrace the command to “love one another”. Even folks we just meet are gracious and helpful in ways we don’t expect.
This past week The Redhead and I were driving throughout the north-west section of Staunton, exploring, once again, the very attractive neighborhoods of Baldwin Acres and Blue Ridge. This time, we carried with us letters we had printed and planned to leave at especially appealing homes, asking if the owners might be considering selling their homes within the next six months or so. Well, as luck or Providence would have it, as we drove past a particular house, a woman was spotted standing in her front garden. We stopped and Red approached her and told her what we were doing. After a few minutes of conversation the woman invited both of us to sit with her in the garden. Two hours later, we left knowing we would hear from her again. That evening, she called and said she actually had a few leads for us and would fill us in when we would meet for lunch later in the week (tomorrow).
And, so, this is pretty much how it has been for us since arriving in Staunton. Things are happening easily, naturally. There is a general peacefulness that reinforces our sense that coming here was the right decision.
Over the past two months we have thought and re-thought what type of house and neighborhood we wanted and would best suit us. We love the country with the rolling hills and nearby mountains. Red wants to pet every cow she sees – and there is no shortage of them here in the valley. But, the charm and convenience of in-town living has its draw, too, and may be more practical.
After much thought, prayer and late night conversations we realize that the best location for us is just outside of town center, the neighborhoods mentioned earlier, Baldwin Acres and Blue Ridge. Both offer views (some better than others), are within a few minutes of shopping and amenities, our friends at Paradise Donuts (to paraphrase Robert Duval, “I love the smell of donuts in the morning”) and our church. Also, living in an established neighborhood offers us the best chance to make friends and become part of the community.
It is this taking inventory of what your real priorities are that I think is very important for people moving and choosing to settle into a new area, especially when there is no built-in safety net of family or work.
Below are some photos of our adventures. Some were taken during our recent afternoon in Gypsy Hill Park that is close to both town center and the neighborhoods we’re exploring and some were taken in the town of Dayton which is about a leisurely 30 minute drive from downtown Staunton. Dayton is a largely agricultural community and has many Mennonite farms and shops. It will be one of our must-see areas for our friends.
Thanks for reading! As always, I’d love to get your Comments, Likes or questions.
They have quilts!!!! We have to go there when we visit.
We adding more to your itinerary every day!
I love the quilts, here is my ignorant question, what is a Mennonite farm? Is it like an Amish one?
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Hi Melissa. I had the same question when I spoke with a Mennonite woman at a furniture shop in Dayton last week. Basically, the Mennonite’s and Amish share much of the same theological beliefs. Both have a non-violent way of life and would be classified as Conscientious Objectors in time of war (at least here in the US). The Mennonites seem to have two sects: Old World and “regular”. Old World appear more like the Amish – horse and buggies, dark clothing, etc. Regular Mennonite (and I’m using this term to differentiate between the two and as I understood the explanation given to me) dress modestly, with the women / girls wearing long skirts and a lace cap, usually white. They are often seen in this area working in retail shops that may be owned by family. Both the Amish and Mennonite seem to be mostly agrarian/skilled craft centered. There is, according to the woman I spoke with, another group of Mennonites that do not dress differently and can’t be distinguished from anyone else. There are, I think, some home builders in this area that fall into this group. They are known for hard work, good building methods and honesty.
I think this might be a good topic for a future blog – after some more research! They are a vital and fascinating part of America and we feel lucky to be able to benefit from their skill and labor. Long answer, huh!
What do they have on their farm? Are they vegetarian if they are non violent? Do they have guns? Even the farmers here have rifles to kill feral animals etc and you know how anti gun Australians are.
The Mennonites grow several types of crops and are great dairy and beef farmers, too. Perhaps, I should have referred to them as being “Pacifists”, rather than being non-violent. They do harvest their beef cattle, poultry, etc. I’m not sure if they have guns to ward off predator creatures – there are bears, etc. here. They do have wonderful working dogs to herd and act as watch dogs. The nearby Mennonite farm has a pair of Pyrenean Mastiffs watching over the poultry flocks.
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