A Pleasant Sunday for a (Civil) War in Buchanan

The cavalry charge was not full speed, but it was fun.

Re-enactors Beau Robbins and Lynn Price.

Margie and I drove up to Buchanan early this afternoon after I accidentally bumped into an internet page that told us there would be a reenactment of the tiny Civil War Battle of Buchanan. I’m anti-gun and anti-war, but these faux battles can be a lot of fun and the people who take part in them are careful to be historically accurate. They spend a lot of time and love on their interpretations.

We ran into some interesting characters during our two hours or so at the battle, including Gregory Newsom an African-American artist and writer from New York who  was spreading his gospel of Stonewall Jackson (who defied Virginia law to teach black kids to read in Lexington) and Nathan Bedford Forest, founder of the KKK, who left it when the group turned truly ugly.

Gregory Newsome defends Southern Generals.

There was also the re-enacting couple of Beau Robbins, a professional re-enactor (didn’t know there was such a duck) and his partner Dr. Lynn Price, a University of Virginia history professor, in period dress.

I was truly surprised that the crowd was tiny, maybe 150 people, mostly relatives and friends of the re-enactors. This was the third day of the re-enactment, but it was the day of the battle, something I would have thought a highlight.

There were no food vendors at the site and the only stuff for sale was the suttlers’ gear for the re-enactors. Margie and I went over to the Burger King/convenience store where I had two of the best hot dogs I’ve eaten in a long time. Great chili. And a truly enjoyable day (especially since it gave me the opportunity to be a war photographer, which I’ve always wanted to do).

Soldiers camped for two days.

Mr. Anti-Gun with his new cannon.

Not everything was historically accurate.

Soldiers awaiting battle.

Young soldier slips on his boots.

Recruiting poster urges men to “Jine the Artillry.”

Rebs lined up to fight.

The calm before the battle.

Some soldiers were quite young.

Rebel line faces the Yankees.

The boys in blue fire a volley.

Probably not a lot of women in the Confederate cavalry, but there is one here.

Northern artillery makes a lot of noise and smoke.

The crowd was surprisingly sparse.

This sweet-faced kid carried the Confederate battle flat.

Union officer rides hard and shoots high.

Southerners bunch up their defense.

Johnny Reb rescues his buddy.

North and South going hard at it.

The North won and the dogwood bloomed.

An Easter in the Mountain Sun

Susan finds peace with a yoga pose overlooking a lovely valley from the Parkway.

This new trillium was simply lovely.

As has become our custom over the past three years or so, my friend Susan and I spent yesterday’s religious holiday celebrating the spiritual side of our lives by spending time outside in the sun and on a mountain.

This time, we drove up to the Peaks of Otter in Bedford County and sought out Fallingwater Cascades and its lovely, long, loud waterfall and accompanying steep hike. It was just about perfect for the hike of hike we needed on this day, one that is brisk, challenging (over a two-mile course) and full of the new life of spring, spectacular in its light green foliage and its occasional new flowers.

Here is some of what we saw on the way to the Peaks (Fallingwater is about a mile past the Peaks of Otter Lodge) and on our life-affirming hike.

This creek was tricky because the rocks were mostly wet and the fall to the right was dangerous.

We sat on a rock at the base of the falls to eat a little lunch, my boots taking a little cooling water (which was quite tasty).

The views along the Parkway yesterday were simply spectacular because of the clarity of the air.

The first half of the hike is a steep downhill. The second half of the loop trail is a steep uphill, which is backwards for hikers.

Susan crosses the creek, stepping lightly.

Views like this are 30 minutes from my front door. You want spiritual? We got spiritual.

Susan pauses to enjoy the beauty of this wondrous place.

The colors of spring are apparent all around this falling water.

The waterfall is just behind me here.

This shot by Susan might be my favorite of the 300 we shot yesterday.

This is Susan’s “watercolor” of the falls (actually a photo).

Susan found this image of a cross etched into a rock. Rock of Ages …

This sluggish young fellow–a water moccasin, I think–ignored us completely.

The light covering of leaves let us see through to the mountains beyond.

Another (Bradford Pear) Bites the Dust

The Bradford is an instant from coming down here as Bruce saws and his buddy pulls with the truck.

The nasty wind we endured last night took half of what was left of my fully-grown Bradford pear tree at the back of my yard. Today, I called in a guy named Bruce Rainbow–who looks like a Civil War veteran and works like a Louisiana convict–to clean it up. That meant cutting up everything on the ground, then cutting down the rest of the tree and getting rid of all of it.

Burce and his pal did the whole deal in a few hours and charged $400. I bargained with him and got him to go up to $500 (because I thought he deserved it). A steal at the price.

The Bradford pear was a popular tree for urban landscaping in the 1970s because it simply eats pollution, is pretty, well shaped and grows fast. There was a little problem with it, however. It is so brittle that it falls apart on the mere forecast of bad weather. Find a whole, mature Bradford pear and you’ve found a rare species.

These are photos of the duo getting the last piece of the tree to topple, using their pickup truck and a chain, along with the chainsaw. Nearly crushed my Staymen apple tree, but didn’t quite damage it. Thankfully.

The tree crashes to the ground here.

Awards for Two Exemplary Journalists

Dwayne Yancey: His mind is not as cluttered as his office.

I’m working on a story about journalists bailing out of the profession, often to go into public relations, and a little while ago, I noted a story in the local daily about some of its journalists winning state awards last night.

The two most decorated are Dwayne Yancey, who won the Virginia Press Association’s highest award for the second straight year,  and Laurence Hammack, reporters from the old school who, I don’t expect, will never be among those seeking greener pastures. They are dedicated to this profession and they’re damn good at what they do. I say that hopefully, rather than knowingly. Journalism has tended to eject its best in recent years.

Laurence Hammack

Dwayne has the highest profile of the two for a number of reasons, foremost being his position as the editorial page editor, the voice of the paper. His is the most conservative overall that I’ve seen at The Times since I moved here in 1971 and Harold Sugg was in Dwayne’s spot. Sugg was a 5-foot-6 square little man who wore white suits, bow ties and spoke precisely, when he spoke at all (especially to young journalists). He liked to pontificate in a thick Southern drawl once he got started.

Dwayne is disheveled, singular, attentive, removed and he seems completely non-partisan. He writes good plays, very good plays that are produced all over the world. I’ve seen him cosey up to former far right Congressman Bob Goodlatte on a personal basis, but my guess is he doesn’t share many of Goodlatte’s political beliefs, which are extreme. Dwayne is not extreme and his conservatism plays better in this region than my liberalism. He is a heck of a researcher and asks the questions others don’t even know about. He figures things out and explains them in words we can all understand. He–like his colleague Dan Casey–almost always sides with the underdog.

Hammack is like Yancey in that you can’t tell where he stands. He has covered–in some depth–the ungodly Mountain Valley Pipeline without ever (at least in my experience) stepping into judgement. He gives facts, lets others give opinions–often based on those facts.

Although I am not, never have been and won’t be the equal of these journalism specimens, I feel good that I know them, know their work and share their profession–even if at a much lower level.