Illuminated Hollow


Lights on Witchhazel ‘Diane’ (Hamamelis x intermedia) welcome the new year to the hollow.

My celebration of 4+ inches of rain last October was premature. Though we’ve had a few inches over the last week or so, creeping up on us on parched paws, drought still stalks our foothills. Here in the hollow we ride the line between severe drought to our west on the Waynesboro side and moderate towards Charlottesville.

Yet the creek continues to rush over its little fall down by the cherry bench and all seems well on the surface. I’ve often felt our little paradise down here is a secret haven somehow suspended from the woes that are consuming the planet, a portal into a parallel world the way it should be.

Early winter has brought sightings of the great blue heron, a pair of hawks, woodpeckers, bluejays and the ever-present crows who roost in the pines above the drive. I occasionally spy the mockingbird and cardinal in the forsythia tangle and across the road in a devil’s mix of privet, bittersweet and honeysuckle that inhabits the roadside ditch. Watercress is greening up there, too, and just today I saw fresh leaflets floating in the east meadow creek, washed down from last year’s sowing.

Paperwhites and Amaryllis keep us company indoors along with forcing branches of witchhazel and honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). I have long remembered the class project in elementary school where we brought woody twigs to unfold inside. I can still see the jars and bottles on the dining room table at eye level, that wonderful perspective childhood grants us.

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