Our lovely roses and most of our day lilies have been “deer struck!’ With the loss of our canine family, the large rodents are increasingly bold. I guess we’ll have to head for the garden center!
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Animals often arrive on our doorstep when we least expect it—and often when we just don’t have the time, the space, the energy to rescue them. But we take them in, because no matter what is going on in our lives, their lives are clearly worse. They bring their own needs, of course—for shelter, food, a warm bed, a scratch on the head. And we give them a better life…they love us, and we love them.
But every once in a while, an extraordinary animal shows up with as great an understanding about the needs on the other side of the door as they have of their own. They arrive with a purpose. And those are the ones who rescue us.
Today, we are laying to rest Lucy Rose, our gentle hound dog who arrived on our doorstep many years ago at Christmastime, a wounded and frightened puppy. While we take comfort in the fact that she had a long and wonderful life, and was loved dearly, we are also blessed and awed by the love that she gave back. She has been a constant, intuitive companion throughout our lives. She has laid her head in our laps and brought us comfort and security through the monumental events of life: the joy of weddings, the death of parents, the birth of a granddaughter, the scares of illness, and the sadness of moving on. She has also reminded us to appreciate the simple pleasures that happen regardless of our bigger worries: late afternoons on the back porch, snuggles in bed on cold mornings, the warm presence of another being, and the utter joy of being greeted by a loving and grateful dog no matter how late the hour.
As the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley said, “The psychological and moral comfort of a presence at once humble and understanding—this is the greatest benefit that the dog has bestowed upon man.”
Lucy Rose is one of the greatest benefits ever bestowed upon us. She will be forever in our hearts.
It is May and the babies have hatched! Four pairs of chimney swifts are busily feeding their young ones in our chimneys. Their hungry cries for more are audible in several of our rooms. Cardinals have nested in the boxwoods, and the blue jays are raising their young in the nearby trees. We suspect the pileated woodpecker must have offspring nearby – he certainly is noisily proud of something!
The winter nears its end – it was really quite mild. Here at Chester our thoughts have turned to the greening lawns and the gardens. Warm temperatures and sunny days are luring us outside. It won’t be long now!
Our last post was a sad one… we continue to miss Suzy and her quirky presence in our midst. Lucy has stepped up to fill in the gap… yes, guests are still being properly greeted! Winter is a come and go event this year – so far! We still have a ways to go.Warm evenings by the fire are continuing – a romantic dinner still awaits at Chester.
Today, we lost one of our beloved dogs as we helped her into a better place, away from her pain. Suzy was a fixture at the inn, beloved by so many, and most of all by us. She will be greatly missed. One of our dearest friends once said she believed that when you go to heaven, all the dogs run out to greet you. Today, we find some solace in believing that Suzy got just as warm a welcome. We love you, Suzy. Thank you for coming into our lives.
The lawn was aglow with the gentle light from lanterns and campfires last night. It was a quiet ending to a hectic day. Twice the Yankees attacked the camp – only to be repelled by the Rebs – just a couple of casualties occurred. An afternoon speaker discussed the role of Albemarle County during the war. After dining on pork, beans, apples and cornbread, all were treated to an excellent concert of fife and drum music.
As the days shorten activity at Chester is increasing. The final fall leaves are being gathered and piled for mulch. Wreaths and ribbons are waiting to be hung; the Christmas tree is hanging in the garage awaiting it’s turn to be decorated with our collection of birds. The migrating birds have gone, and the winter residents are settling in for the winter. Firewood has been gathered. We are ready for the arrival of the Confederate troops on December 9th.
As the days grow shorter, we are settling in for the calm of late fall and early winter. The leaves are still falling – gathering them is nearly a daily chore. Firewood is in store and we are looking toward Thanksgiving with family. The preparations for the Civil War Christmas are continuing – it promises to be an engaging weekend.
We will be hosting A Civil War Christmas at Chester! December 9th, 10th and 11th and our grounds will be the camp for re-enactors as they recreate a holiday scene during the Civil War. There will be drills, demonstrations,a guest speaker and, of course, a skirmish. The Valley Fife and Drum Corps will give a concert in the evening. Period food will be served. We’re already stacking firewood in the yard for the campfires.