The schools in the area surrounding the new house were reportedly very good and our future was bright. Sarah and Patrick thrived at this new house. We were in the middle of the Civil War [locally referred to as The War of the Northern Aggressors] battle area so there were many things to see and do. Our house was located very near a small river called Bull Run that is fed off a hill called Bull Run Mountain.
One of the things that the children liked was our long driveway. It was flat and 300 feet long and perfect for bike riding. The front yard was 100 yards long, 100 feet wide, and perfect for football, baseball, soccer, or any other activity. The winters were shorter and less severe here. We had a well-defined spring and fall every year but summers could be very hot and humid. This was the first place I had ever lived where you were treated to four distinct seasons each year. In New England, spring could be very short because of late snowstorms and the autumn would often slip into winter long before you were ready. I would give up my small power mower for a lawn tractor here. And after the blizzards of 1996, I would get a new snow thrower that would serve our neighborhood so well over the years.
We had made some sacrifices to get to this place. Of course, it wasn’t perfect but we knew that perfection was never the goal, living a good life was the goal, and we seemed to be on our way. We were 18 miles from everything. Two-lane roads took us to the market, to work, even to get a pizza. There were many 100-acre fields of hay, many farms growing corn, cattle ranches, and several 500-acre virgin forests around us. This was a good place to be.
I have previously written a post called “Grover” [only available in “Uphill Both Ways”] about a stray dog that came to visit us. And so now, we had the pet dog the children always wanted. But, that wasn’t the only animal here. I have written about the deer in “The Buck,” the hawks in “RaSHi,” the bears in “Big Yogi,” the owls in “Great Horned Owl,” and one of the many varieties of small birds in “Myrtle.” This is a wildlife paradise that included red and grey fox and opossum as well. But since we are in a warmer climate, we also have some snake varieties that I wrote about in “The Commute To Work.”
The children were getting a little older, and with that, a little more aware of the life around them. Sarah had turned 5 and shortly thereafter Patrick turned 3, so we dressed them up in their costumes and went ‘trick-or-treating’ for the first time. Holidays would become a big thing in our house from now on. Our stock of various holiday decorations grew every year and we tried to explain the importance of each one as they came along. There were many adventures of going to the local Christmas tree farm and cutting that very special tree. These things we always did as a family, never singling anyone out to make the choices.
The old Congregational Church’s of New England don’t exist down here so we attended the United Methodist Church. This church then, became the religious foundation for us and for the religious education for the children. Originally, we attended a very old, one-room church with a small congregation. But, as the needs of the children dictated, we moved to a larger church with more complete facilities for them. My wife, formerly a Catholic, began her religious education for the first time and discovered a new and wonderful world open up for her.
Yes, this was a wonderful place for families. We felt blessed and we would make every effort to experience everything this place had to offer.