to a quiet part of the Manassas National Battlefield Park last Sunday. We tend to avoid crowds these days, but we went to an area where we thought it would be very quiet, and get some exercise at the same time. When we got to this particular parking lot it was full of cars, with only one or two spaces left. We decided to turn around and go back the way we came.
On the way down the hill we looked to our right and saw the shell of one of the homes built on this land. A little further down a sign, also on our right, telling of an old family cemetery. No people! When we stopped and I got out of the car, in my peripheral vision I saw something and looked down in front of my feet. I think it must have been a lizard scurrying faster than my eyes could focus, and the grass covered its body. It disappeared into the undergrowth in seconds. My only inkling that it was a lizard, was the way the grass moved, weaving from side to side in a flurry of movement. My eyes could not pick up any shape. It was bigger than a frog and a frog would jump anyhow. Recollecting the way lizards move when I see them scurry in the desert - on nature shows - this is where my mind went to.
Just as we parked on the side of the road (no proper parking spot but safe enough), another car pulled up behind us. A couple got out and we all put our masks on and we waited for them to pass, putting plenty of space between. We were too busy avoiding each other's space to even think of saying hello, very unlike me but I was nervous. A new norm? I hope not! I will make more of an effort to at least acknowledge people I come into contact with next time. We stayed apart by a whole lot more than the recommended six feet, so it made casual conversation impossible. None of us got close enough to say one word. This Pandemic is having more of an effect than I realized, as I truly have not been around a lot of people since this all started, and that was several months ago. I immediately went back into my introverted shell. Oh well!
They were maybe ten years younger than us, and we let them look around before we entered the small cemetery (there was only one gravestone in those walls that we could see). They didn't stay long and walked back to their car soon after.
It gave us a chance to take our time. The day was glorious and we didn't want to miss a minute of this lovely weather. Hardly any humidity. It is as though September has flipped a switch.
I asked Gregg to smile and he jokingly said, "How would you know?" He had a point!
Our car is the one on the right. As you can see, pathways had been mowed for visitors. The grass at each side was well over waist high and it looked beautiful!
This area is called Chinn Ridge, and that solitary grave belongs to Bernard Hooe Senior, as you'll see below.
We found the following on the Manassas Battlefield Trust Facebook page, dated January 22nd, 2015.
"Captain Bernard Hooe (pronounced Hoe) Sr was born in 1740 and was a member of an old prominent Virginia family. Three generations of Hooe were patriots in the American Revolution. Captain Hooe's grave is located within the National Park.
"Bernard's father, Howson Hooe, served on the Committee of Correspondence and Safety in 1776. Howson Hooe married Anne Francis Harris in 1724. Her father, Nathaniel Harris, obtained the land in 1717. Howson and Ann then deeded the land to Bernard who built a large two story home in 1809 and called it "Mayfield". Then in 1853 a descendant of the Hooes, William T. Downman sold the property to Benjamin Chinn. Today we know this land as Chinn Ridge or the Chinn Farm."Gregg reminded me that those wispy clouds are called Cirrus. It certainly was a lovely sky that day.
I found a poem called "Grass" by
I grow in places
where wind is high
and water scant.
I drink the rain,
I eat the sun;
before the prairie winds
I see, I sprout,
I grow and creep
and in the ice
and snow, I sleep.
On steppe or veld
or pampas dry,
beneath the grand
I make my humble
And where there's level ground,
Lovely, both poem and grass.
We were coming out of the cemetery and as I started making my way up the hill to another area, Gregg called me back and pointed to this little guy.
Yes indeed, totally fascinated and mesmerized, as you can see by all these photos!
The other thing that amazes me is when I take photos with my cell phone and they come out better than any other point-and-shoot camera I have ever had. I cropped a few for a closer look.
The photos below were taken with our larger camera with the zoom lens and are Gregg's.
I cropped a few of these also to get an even closer study.Again, truly amazing creatures.
Back to the cell phone now. This is the view while still in the small cemetery, and that was the hill we wanted to climb, which would have led us to other areas where homes had originally been built, the shells of homes at least.
As we walked up the hill there were grasshoppers jumping everywhere, and dragonflies flying over our heads. We were all enjoying the sunshine.
When we heard the sounds of laughter from several children just over the hill, out of sight but on our path, eventually seeing a large family heading our way, we decided to walk back to the car.
We also remembered we would have been heading to a more crowded area, which we were trying to avoid. The family of happy youngsters was a sign, and they certainly deserved to be out in this beautiful weather, except that the old fogies ran for cover, and yes I am joking just in case you thought I was serious. We didn't run, we just walked very quickly. Yes I am still smiling and yes I am still joking but with point made.
We had a wonderful time and look forward to other walks. It will be quieter during the week and we will come back.