Thursday, February 28, 2008

Small Town Girl

I was so excited because Luke and I were listening to Kellie Pickler's Small Town Girl this past weekend when suddenly Luke exclaimed, "Sarah, this could be you!" I never found a country song that sang me life's story, but when I payed more attention to the lyrics of Small Town Girl, I agreed with Luke that this one came pretty close!

I grew up where I could see the stars
Drinkin sweet tea from a Mason jar
Dogwood trees like leaves through the pine
People on the porch watchin fireflies
And drivin 'round the Wal-Mart on a Friday night

I do have such a fascination with the stars and I have a particular love of the Orion constellation. Whenever I arrive home in the dark, the warrior and his blazing belt always greet me from the sky.

And on the subject of tea... I never knew that anyone besides me drank tea from Mason jars. My family will never let me forget that when I was home-schooled I would often start the day by heading to my room with a quart Mason jar of tea that would be consumed by lunch. I felt so affirmed that Kellie Pickler thinks it is okay to drink tea from jars and not tea cups.

Hmm, the Wal-Mart connection is a little harder to apply to my life. Let's just say I would rather spend my Friday nights driving around somewhere else.

I'd rather be fishin' with grandpa on the lake
Then getting all glammed up,
Fake eyelashes on my face
Cut off jeans and an old ball cap
A town so small you don't need a map
That's where I'm from and there ain't no changing me

My girlhood contains many memories of fishing at the back pond, and, yes, I don't think that I cared how I looked when I was fishing. I did care about the worms and my empathy often made it very difficult to fish because I found it very cruel to string the worm on the hook. This made it necessary for me to always fish with someone, preferably someone who didn't mind putting the worms on my hook. (Surprisingly I don't remember ever feeling too badly for the fish that got caught. Maybe that was because I always put them back in the pond when I was done catching them.)

Oh, and about eyelashes... I have never worn fake eyelashes and never plan to try. I think that the first date scene in Yours, Mine and Ours (that old wonderful movie with Lucille Ball), convinced me a long time ago that fake eyelashes are never a good idea.

I'd rather ride in a Chevy truck than a Ferrari
Give me a cheeseburger
I ain't eatin no calamari

Yes, our family's Chevy Suburban is far better than any Ferrari that I have never even sat inside. The unfortunate part of Kellie Pickler's description of me is that she forgot that I actually like fried calamari, maybe even more than cheeseburgers. I think the lyrics just didn't rhyme that way.

Coca-cola and apple pie
Dirt roads and old clothes lines
Familiar faces and dandelion bracelets
You never meet a stranger
And everybody helps out
Soft green grass, Sunday school and wild flowers

Nail on the head! I inherited my father's love of clothes hung neatly on a line to dry. And how did Kellie Pickler know that right beyond the clothesline where I have hung many loads of laundry, there is an old dirt road that leads to fields full of dandelions? Oh, and on the subject of dandelion bracelets...when I was in fourth grade I had to be in a talent show at my school. My talent? I taught my classmates how to make bracelets and crowns from flowers (I used daisies because they were in season).

I'm just a small town girl
And that's all I'll ever be
I'm just a small town girl
Hey, that's all right with me

Yes, it is a fulfilling day when a country song finally sings your story.

Well Worth the Read

An interesting article, Faith Without a Home, appeared in the Washington Post today. The article was written by Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President Bush, and briefly analyzes the growing political trends among young evangelicals. I found the last two paragraphs particularly helpful.

But there is something essentially countercultural about Christianity that should make evangelicals restless in any political coalition. Christianity indicts oppressive government -- but also the soul-destroying excesses that sometimes come in free markets and consumerism. It teaches enduring moral rules -- and an emphasis on justice for the least and the lost. It is often hard where liberalism is soft, and soft where conservatism is hard.

If evangelical Christianity were identical to any political movement, something would be badly wrong. It is supposed to look toward a kingdom not of this world, one without borders, flags or end. And by this standard, homelessness is a natural state.
- Michael Gerson

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Five Love Languages for Families

Although Dr. Gary Chapman has written books on the five languages of love for children, teenagers, spouses and singles, I don't believe that Dr. Chapman has yet written a book on the five languages of love for families. Apparently his unwritten book did not stop our family (Grandpa excluded) from taking his love language profile test at the dinner table last night. With the dinner dishes yet unwashed, we all began (for fun and laughs and curiosities) discerning the ways that we give and receive love.

For those not familiar with Dr. Chapman's New York Times Bestseller (The Five Love Languages), the premise is that most people prefer to give and receive love through one of the following five ways: (1) Words of Affirmation (2) Quality Time (3) Receiving Gifts (4) Acts of Service and (5) Physical Touch.

All of us agreed that we appreciate receiving love in whatever form it appears, but Dr. Chapman carefully explained in his book that we were not allowed to equally claim all five languages of love. I made the executive decision that we could profess the top two languages of love assigned to us by Dr. Chapman's profile test. Oh, how much fun we have had with the results!

Dad and Mom both claimed quality time. It must be an acquired love language given that "together time" is so sparse with such a full household.

Jacob made us laugh because his profile was the only one that included receiving gifts. He was not ashamed to make it clear that he does not mind presents!

Of course Rebecca, who always finds a way to squeeze on my lap for devotions and give me the best hugs and kisses whenever I am with her, found that physical touch was her primary language of love.

Hannah knows that I am so sensitive to words and found occasion to tease me for my high scoring "words of affirmation" love language.

Mom, who works so diligently on behalf of the family, found that she felt especially loved through acts of service. Hannah, very practically minded in her outlook on life, joined her on this account.

The oldest (Grandma) and youngest (Caleb) exam participants both scored a top "physical touch" love language. Good thing that hugs are in good order around here!

(Luke, having taken the exam, held his results in confidence. "I don't believe in it." I think he meant the test, not giving and receiving love!)

Anyhow, as silly as this all is, we are having fun growing in sensitivity to the fact that creating a family is about understanding a person and the way that they experience love. How grateful we are for community!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fascination with Faces

I have always found it amazing that our brains can recognize slight variations in facial features such that a quick glance at another person allows for immediate identification. Given that we all have eyes and ears and a nose and a mouth (imagine that!), I have always thought it simply intriguing that differences in facial structure can make such unique combinations. Anyhow, this is all to say that my mind is boggled by the following film and its transformation of actress' faces. If you haven't seen this Glumbert film yet, check it out here. It's better than the Oscars.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Psalm 62:8

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Luke 9

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat - I am. Don't run from suffering - embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.

What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?

(The words of Jesus from Luke 9, according to The Message.)

Joy Is...

...the satisfaction of the soul at attaining its desire.

Discard Neither a Moment or a Dream

Two things have I seen in conflict,
yet in harmony they should be:

The anticipation of a joyous dream yet to be consummated,
and the satisfaction of living the present moment in abundance.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Young Angells on Alexander Pope

"A man should never be ashamed to know that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words, that he is wiser than he was yesterday." - Alexander Pope

Caleb: When a man knows he is wrong, he can sometimes feel badly about it. For a man does not want to be found wrong. It takes a lot of grit for a man to admit that he is wrong to another man. But when you are wrong, you find out the real answer and learn more. Like the saying, "There is no use crying over spilled milk." If you have spilled milk, you know not to spill milk again.

So never be ashamed to admit you're wrong, for we as humans learn from our mistakes. And through life we learn things that are helpful to us, and we learn things that are not helpful to us. When we learn things from being in the wrong, we should not ever be ashamed of admitting that we were wrong.

Rebecca: In life one may face many embarrassments. One has to choose whether to live life with shame or to leave the past behind.

Even if you realize that you have done wrong, you can still go on in life with peace. When you announce that you have done wrong, all of your guilt and shame can be left behind. If, in your guilt, you get caught up in your doing of unrighteous deeds, they will never be forgotten. But, if in the present state, you find yourself learning from your wrong doings, you will change the mistake into a good lesson and in the future you will be wiser person.

Alexander Pope gives us hope that each new day can be a better day than the one before it. When a wise man gets old, he will be able to look back on his life and realize that his mistakes helped him become a good man.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nature's Blue Prophets

This season of the year, while lacking in external beauty, is precious for the signs of hope that come with each new dawning day. Although another winter storm is predicted to come upon us again tomorrow, nature is holding out little prophecies of spring. Today the prophets came to us in the form of a pair of bluebirds, which are not usually sighted in our area until mid-March.

This week has been wonderful and quite busy for me, so I confess to the reality that the beautiful pictures below were taken by my little sister Rebecca, who actually had time to walk with Mom around the farm to remind the rest of us (or me specifically) that spring will indeed arrive. Yes, what hope!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Spring is Here (In Southern Virginia)!

We drove through seven states in fifty-five hours over President's Day weekend to experience the coming hope of spring in Southern Virginia. Mom and Dad and five of us children met up with my uncle, Sam, and his three boys to tour the James River, Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg. Jamestown and Williamsburg have been recreated to match their historical prime and actors have been placed at the sites to reenact the life of the village. The villages were a fun historical connection (we were searching for our great (x10) grandfather, William White, who arrived at Jamestown in 1607) but the true highlights of the trip were the lovely purple flowers, the bald eagles that soared above the James River, the perfect blue sky and the warm weather. At the end of the day, we stopped along the banks of the James River to collect sea shells and walk barefoot along the sandy banks.

We spent twelve hours driving home yesterday because we decided to take a circuitous route (we got to see the Blue Ridge Mountains, 2nd to last picture) home in order to attend Rockingham Friends (last picture) for meeting. The drive home took us through West Virginia, at which point we thought it appropriate to stop listening to Sinatra's rendition of New York, New York. Country music seemed more apropos for West Virginia, and we especially enjoyed singing Country Roads, Take Me Home along with John Denver!

(And this post would not be complete without a special thanks to Luke who stayed home to care for Grandpa. His resume for medical school is growing and we think Luke will make an excellent doctor.)

Quaker Names for Ladies

One of our favorite and completely ridiculous family conversations involves the discussion of names, no, not for cows, but for children. The fun of the conversation must have origins in the fact that there are eight of us, which meant that there were eight of us to name.

The trouble has become, in recent times, that of projecting into the future because eight children naming their own children unique names tends to cause conflict, especially because we all like the same names. The fact that usually a husband and wife are involved in naming their children and not an individual and their seven siblings doesn't ever seem to phase us. In fun, we have even proposed an auction for names, given that it would not be fair for one person to get all of the good names just because they happened to have children first!

We all have a lot of male names that we like (the top ranking are Silas and Obadiah!), but the real difficulty is that none of us really like that many names for girls, and so inspired by the trip to Jamestown in search of our ancestors, I pulled out the Angell family genealogy and wrote down all of the female names that I could find for the past ten generations (there were a lot of repeats).

Consider it the beginning of the auction.

Auction - First Round - The Good Old Faithfuls

Sarah Ann

Auction - Second Round - The Known, Perhaps Generational


Auction - Third Round - The Virtuous


Auction - Fourth and Final Round - The Unusual


Friday, February 15, 2008

Google and I

Apparently Google and I are on the same page because we both think that Valentine's Day models should be elderly. Go everything Google!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Old and Improved Valentine's Day Models

Why do all of the models that advertise love for Valentine's Day have to be so youthful? Well, I guess I know why, but if I was in the market for advertising love (and, I suppose there is a reason I majored in chemistry and not advertising), I would choose my models a little bit differently.

I would choose my models to look a whole lot older, maybe ninety. In fact, they would look a lot like Mr. and Mrs. George Loft, a couple that I knew from birth. They would look as tender and stately and lovely as George and Eleanor, but also as aged and weathered from real life as this endearing couple did. My models would just be finishing tea on their expansive back lawn and Eleanor would be knitting her gloves and booties for the babies as she always did and George would be adoringly sitting in his rocker, just watching Eleanor work. Over seventy years of marriage somehow made this couple experts in the whole work of finding true love that never fades.

My models would give young people hope that love doesn't die when you age, as so many cultural signs seem to express. My models would tell young people that a love-life can and will get better every year if emotion is not mistaken for the truly constraining and self-giving work that is really love.

There is no gift that us young people need more on Valentine's Day than hope. We need hope from those who have traveled down the pathway of marriage for years upon years and made it their first commitment to every day, week and year, make their love more sacrificial, more romantic, more tender and more special.

Too often the message that we young people are fed about love sounds a whole-lot less hopeful, "Enjoy love while it lasts."

My models for Valentine's Day, George and Eleanor, provide a different answer, "Enjoy love while it grows - better every day."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

As I have started to study piano more, I have found myself all the more appreciative of good orchestral piano arrangements. Lori Line's The Heritage Collection contains some of the most inspiring arrangements of the classic hymns (and a sad but beautiful love song, too - The River is Wide).

It is an extremely rare day where piano music is inspiring enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes, but Lori Line's rendition of Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee does it almost every time. It helps that it is my absolute favorite hymn.

So, here's in celebration of a God who wakes us every morning with even more reasons for joy than the day before, namely that we have had the opportunity to simply witness one more day of His immortal gladness! - Sarah Angell

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.
- Henry van Dyke

Let Us See What Love Will Do

School has been closed a lot this week as winter's last stormy hand is delivering its final blow. The quiet is refreshing and has allowed me to take some moments to simply sit on under the sky light and listen to the ice and rain that steadily beat upon the glass. I've finished up some reading and found particularly directing the following passage from A Life of Search by D. Elton Trueblood.

Somewhere in the world there should be a society consciously and deliberately devoted to the task of seeing how love can be made real and demonstrating love in practice. Unfortunately, there is really only one candidate for this task. If God, as we believe, is truly revealed in the life of Christ, the most important thing to him is the creation of centers of loving fellowship, which in turn infect the world. Whether the world can be redeemed in this way we do not know, but it is at least clear that there is no other way.

One of the most poignant stories that I have read about a society deliberately devoted to the task of seeing how love can be made real is enclosed in a wonderful book by Edna Hong entitled The Bright Valley of Love. The true story, about a crippled boy named Gunther who finds a home at Bethel (a Christian refuge for the handicapped), unfolds during World War II in Germany as Hitler makes obvious his plans to exterminate the physically disabled. For those who feel that a society, as described by Trueblood, is an impossibility, The Bright Valley of Love is a strong recommendation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grandma's Donut Factory

My grandmother is one of the most excellent bakers in the country. Not too many people can make donuts from scratch, but my grandmother can! Below is today's evidence of her extraordinary culinary skills!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Whom You Would Change

"Whom you would change, you must first love, and they must know you love them." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Locust Grove

We spent a good part of the afternoon hiking at the Samuel F.B. Morse Estate on the Hudson River (Samuel Morse invented the Morse Code). The biting wind off of the river kicked up a lot of snow and blew it in our faces, making the walk challenging at points.

We added to the challenge of the walk by getting off the beaten trail and climbing down a steep creek bank in search of a panoramic view of the Hudson. After descending the creek bank, we attempted to cross the stream by balancing on dead trees that had fallen across the creek bed. Eventually we did find the river and some ice-covered benches as well. Our dirty pants in the pictures below serve as a good reminder that none of us should plan on becoming trapeze artists any time soon!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

On Doing Good and Doing Well

What you have as heritage
Take now as task;
For thus you will make it your own.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It was famously said of the early Quakers who founded Pennsylvania, "They set out to do good and they did well." Not surprisingly, the characteristics of discipline, emotional stability, focus, determination, vision, integrity and perseverance that gave Quakers the hope of advancing the Kingdom of God at a societal level in Pennsylvania were the same traits that, in the end, were used to advance personal well-being and social status. The Quaker experiment in Pennsylvania suffered a tragic error when the vision for goodness was aborted for the pursuit of wellness.

We do well to take the lesson of the Quakers in Pennsylvania to heart. To no credit of our own, many of my young adult friends and I stand blessed with memories of a blissful and peaceful upbringing. It is so tempting to take the gifts of a stable upbringing and just do well. We did not struggle greatly to get an education, to find a secure job, and to make wise decisions regarding personal conduct. We have been set up to do well. Making money, succeeding professionally and relaxing in our circle of stable friendships is easily our lot through inheritance.

But may it not be said of us that we have simply done well. Instead, may we actively seek, within the context of community, to do good. May we not only profess with our prayers, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done," but possess with our actions and loves and desires the lived and worked reality and fulfillment of that prayer.

In A Child's Head

Our family recently started reading Spencer's Mountain by Earl Hamner. (The story was later the basis for the 1970's television show, The Waltons.) Following the tales of Clay and Olivia Spencer and their host of children has produced a lot of late night laughter in our home because the silly banter between the Spencer siblings reminds us so much of the humor of our own lives. [Editor's Note: If you decide to read this story to young children please be advised that some significant section-specific censoring may be necessary.]

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Bangall Country Store

In the little hamlet of Bangall (seven miles northeast of our home), Artie and Cynthia DiMella opened a small deli and shop twenty-five years ago. The Wendell Barry in me is lamenting this evening because tomorrow the locally-owned Bangall Country Store (or "Artie's" as all of the locals affectionately named the barn) will have its last day of business.

The red barn, nestled into the road bank and sitting adjacent to a classy old post office, holds so many memories for our family. The Bangall Country Store has been Mom and Dad's Saturday morning date destination for the last thirteen years. Artie, the epitome of a generous Italian, often sent home his fresh baked rolls, breads and pastries to us children and during the holidays he often invited the whole family to his store for breakfast, on the house. Artie served, by far, the best sandwiches this side of the Mississippi, most likely having to do with the fact that he made, from scratch, fresh rolls every morning at 3am. How I will miss those rolls! (Before I could drive, I would even bike with a friend to the Bangall Country Store for a meal - it was that good!)
Five summers ago, after I had just graduated from college, I worked with Artie at the Bangall Country Store. Spending forty hours a week in this small-town deli provided a window into Artie and Cynthia's irreplaceable occupation in the community. They seemed to know every customer on a first name business and they would often take a break from the work of the kitchen and simply sit and converse life with their lunch guests. The food at the Bangall Country store was outstanding, but the company of Artie and Cynthia was priceless. I cannot count the people that would stick their head into the kitchen on a given day just to be sure that they said, "Hi" to Artie before leaving.

The Bangall Country Store made us proud of our town - it was a destination where every visiting guest would feel at peace and at home. In a day when so many places of business seem institutionalized, cold and unpersonal, "Artie's" was an emblem of the past, a past where at the end of the day the person at the counter was more important than the possession of money.

Godspeed in your next journey, Artie and Cynthia! The Bangall Country Store will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Then You are Free

I had the privilege of attending church this past Sunday in the Washington D.C. area with an international group of Christians, many of whom originally hail from the country of India and the continent of Africa. In addition to feeling like a reunion (I had not seen many of these family friends for roughly twelve years), the fervor and passion of this small international community was directing and focusing.

All this week I have thought back to one small sentence that one of the brothers shared, "When your heart desires only God, then you are free; nothing else matters."

A Princetonian Ski Safari

Princeton has the oddest semester scheduling ever. When Nathaniel comes home for Christmas, he still has not taken his finals. He returns to college from Christmas break to study for his finals and then at the end of finals week, he has another week of vacation. Odd timing, but the schedule sure doesn't hurt the social life!

Nate and other friends from Princeton Faith and Action finished their finals and spent last week in Killington, VT skiing, pyramid building and playing snow football.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Alchemist

Did you know that the alchemists' dream of making lead from base elements has been fulfilled? Nuclear chemists in the twentieth century, like the famous Glenn Seaborg (Seaborgium, Element 106 was named after him), have been able to grant the alchemists' wish, although it is arguable if the accomplishment is the fulfillment of a dream or a frustrated end to a long search.

Did you know that the alchemists' dream of making lead from base elements has been fulfilled? Nuclear chemists in the twentieth century, like the famous Glenn Seaborg (Seaborgium, Element 106 was named after him), have been able to grant the alchemists' wish, although it is arguable if the accomplishment is the fulfillment of a dream or a frustrated end to a long search.

While different methods have been tried throughout the ages to transmutate baser elements into gold, the trick lies in understanding that the change cannot occur through chemical means - that is, through the rearrangement of electrons. When Alchemist Hennig Brand was searching for gold in the 1600s by evaporating mass quanitites of urine, he was simply causing simple physical and chemical changes to occur. (Brand actually isolated phosphorus which glows when its vapors come in contact with the air. Cool, but no gold.)

If lead is to be made into gold, upheaval must come at a more significant level than the tranferring of electrons allows. A fundamental change in the nucleus of the lead atom must occur to transform it into a gold atom. Specifically, the atom of lead must lose three protons. This is not as easy as it sounds because the nucleus is held together with a strong force (creatively called the nuclear strong force). It turns out that the cost of the energy required to kick three protons out of a lead nucleus to make a gold nucleus is so great that you are far better off mining gold from a streambed than collecting gold atoms at some cyclotron laboratory.

Eye Candy: The Alchemist, by David Teniers

Anyhow, I was reflecting upon the aim of the alchemist, as I recently encountered a little-known poem, The Alchemist by Patricia St. John. It was a beautiful sketch of God's work in our lives as a Master Alchemist. How well the analogy carries! The change that is produced as we are transformed from glory to glory, from carnal to spiritual creatures, and from base vessels to glorious vessels, is not a simple change that can be accomplished at some low-energy external level. The change is fundamentally inward, accomplished in our deepest, densest parts.

So here's to the Master Alchemist, who, as costly as it may be, doesn't abandon His process of transmutation! Thank goodness!

A Reflection to End Fat Tuesday

(I was once in New Orleans soon after their Mardi Gras celebration and besides wonderful memories of fresh pastries, trolley car rides and evening waterside strolls, I have this silly memory of a man coming up to my companions and me on the street only to place some left-over Mardi Gras colorful plastic necklaces around our necks. He put a green necklace on my neck, "because it looks like you really like money." Well, apparently he liked money, because as soon as he bestowed his gifts, he expected reimbursement and he wouldn't take the necklaces back. An odd way to do business!)

Do you want a sure way to think about food a lot?

Don't eat. Fast.

Isn't it ironic that as soon as we reject a normal part of our daily routine to turn our minds Heavenward, we find that our thoughts are more consumed than ever with our longings for the comforts of this Earth?

So why fast? Our Lord practiced the discipline regularly and thought it an important one for us. I guess that is reason enough.

Bishop John Allen (qtd. in E. Elliot's Discipline: The Glad Surrrender) adds other reasons to practice the discipline of fasting:

1. It helps us to identify with the hungry, who we are commanded to serve.

2. It reminds us to pray.

3. It makes us open to God's call.

4. It prompts us to reflect on the outworking of His call.

5. It is a mysterious instrument of the Holy Spirit's work.

I especially like that last reason. When we do without what we want most, the Holy Spirit somehow has room to form us, to mold us, to use us. Why or how? I don't know; it is a mystery.

May the Season of Lent open our eyes anew to the power and mystery of the Spirit's work that comes uniquely along the path of prayer and fasting.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Walk Into Narnia (Or Raven's Rock, VA)

My friend Katie and I enjoyed a very talkative and busy and encouraging and restful weekend in the small town of Purcellville, Virginia where she has lived for the past five years. We woke up Saturday morning to hike at Raven's Rock and delightfully discovered that the forest was covered in a beautifully thick ice coating that made even the brown branches glisten and shine. Never before have I felt so enveloped in a wonderfully majestic winter scene that could have come straight out of Narnia itself. Wow!