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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fiery sunrise over Purcellville

The skies over Purcellville were "on fire" early Friday morning. After a week of frigid temperatures and stinging wind, a few inches of snow fell on Thursday. With the snow came an absence of the driving wind, making twenty degree temperatures seem quite balmy, sort of. 

Visual warmth on this stunning morning momentarily put aside a week of frigidity. While lasting only a few moments, these fiery skies warmed our eyes and hearts.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Loudoun Fall Photos - October 2010

Peak leaf changing season in Loudoun County occurred this year at the end of October, slightly later than in recent years. The leaf colors were fairly brilliant in 2010. While the predominate colors favored pale yellows and rusty oranges, the noticeable lack of red hues speaks to our dry summer. This newish vineyard helps to create a painterly setting at he base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Looking northwest in Round Hill, trees help frame a peaceful stretch of colorful turning leaves. The classic emerald greens, for which Loudoun is known, are under siege by the changing foliage. The hand stacked stone wall lazily defines a border unseen by most.

This colorful landscape is located along side Sleeter Lake in Round Hill. Chilly afternoon breezes makes dance the tall uncut hay. The mid-ground striping of trees offers a full range of color from the darkest green to fire red. In the distance, the sun lapped Blue Ridge Mountains seem alive as passing cloud shadows battle for visual dominance.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall sun spills across the ridge

I took this photo tonight as the chilly wind began picking up. Standing atop a hill north of Round Hill, I could see clear to the ridge looking west. Some of you may recognize this location from other photos I've taken.You should click to see it larger.

This photo almost didn't happen. I arrived with one weak camera battery. It ran out after two photos. It was not a happy moment as I was faced with driving home. Luckily I had a device charger in the car, which saved the day. A few minutes later I climbed back up (wearing slippers, another story) and took this shot. I call it Honey Locus Fall.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunset Hills Vineyard Tour

A good friend and I recently went on a tour of Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville. Located a few miles north on 287, the facility offers wonderful views of Loudoun looking west, the sunsets are spectacular.

The brief tour began in the spacious barn building, used mainly for tastings. After Mark, our Winemaker, introduced the process of making wine, we were led to the basement. Our group of roughly 30 wine enthusiasts filled the main fermenting room as premature wine was served from a large stainless tank. The sugar content is tested on a regular schedule to determine the how long the fermenting process should continue.

With glass in hand, I watch the Sunset Hills crew painstakingly sort berries from stems and leaves. The high tech playground slide (green) carries the sorted grapes into the stainless bin below. The vineyard sorts literally tons of grapes with each harvest type. Some strains require no sorting, as seeds and stems are included in the process (varies by wine type).

A truly wonderful day to be visiting the vineyard. I'm partial to the wine they make, and am rather fond of it. This is not an ad, but I do suggest you go.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Loudoun Bug Invasion

Loudoun County is under siege once again. The tiny odd-shaped, likely smelly, stink bugs are ravaging us once again. Clinging to screens and doors, they crawl about in large numbers, seemingly without care.  My kids are freaked out, but I don't mind them a bit. I don't crush them, they eat smaller bugs and they don't bite.

Here is one such fella...
Cute little stinkbug :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Are you ready?

Are you ready for winter once again? It's coming. I'm TallNDarkInVA, you found me. My email is here on this site, contact me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Loudoun County Fair 2010

The Loudoun County Fair never disappoints. Visitors can always count on seeing massive cattle, great entertainment and fair rides while enjoying a  wonderful community spirit. Many newer residents may not realize that just beyond the asphalt roads that connects us to places of shopping, farms still exist in Loudoun. Farming families can be seen at the fair proudly displaying livestock and prized vegetables. There is nothing like seeing a child farmer grooming their baby goats. Pride is displayed in the form of smiles and hand drawn posters donning cute animal names, many with ribbons.

Miss Loudoun County Fair 2010 waits for the smash up derby to begin. It seems that a throne would be appropriate here. She is required to stand with the masses and endure the heat. Royalty would seem to be a thing of the past .

In the end, isn't this what the fair is all about; fried batter and confection sugar? Sure, the kids love the rides, ribbon recipients brim with pride and audiences cheer smoking wrecks that were previously autos. But we all love fair food. Where else can you get a huge order of fries that come in a big gulp cup?

This year I was honored in being asked to help judge the fair photo contest. Myself and two others (NOVA instructors) wend our way through hundreds of photographs in dozens of categories. This was harder work than I expected, but quite rewarding. It took nearly three hours to review the incredible array of submitted photos. I was most impressed with the creative work submitted by the youth of our county, and look forward to the opportunity to judge again next year. See you in 2011!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Pie Post - Round Hill Town Festival

The 2010 Round Hill Town Festival was filled with friendly neighbors. We had record attendance this year.

Preparation for the pie eating contest ensues. Hungry hopefuls linger on the sidelines just ahead of the competition frenzy.

Hmmmmm...dunno about this.

The peak of pie ingestion. The situation looks precarious here.

Note the colorful technical approaches. Some come out swinging with mouth agape, others slide in from the side.  

The gentleman on the ground caused the creation of a new pie eating rule this year; Jumping over the table is no longer allowed, serious stuff folks. His pie slid off the table and he quickly followed. Without missing a beat, the eater proceeded to finish the pie.

Serious dedication can be seen in the eyes of competitors. Another successful year of pie eating at the Round Hill Town Fest.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Photos featured in Loudoun County Library publication

The recently published Loudoun County Library Pages booklet features a couple of my photographs. The publication highlights library events scheduled for throughout Loudoun County. The image above was captured from the publication. To get your own, see the PDF document provided by the county here:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sherando Lake and Blue Ridge Parkway

A camping trip last weekend afforded terrific views along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Sherando Lake campground is a nice quiet place to camp and features two lakes. The smaller, below, was a few hundred feet from our site. The photo was taken with a polarizing filter.

Monday, April 26, 2010

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Full swing spring with dandelion seeds

Spring is in full swing here in Loudoun County. The flowers are in bloom and the sweet smells are drifting through open windows. These dandelion seeds were surely sent flying during the recent April rain. There is no better place to enjoy the season than northern Virginia.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Rag Mountain Hike

Old Rag Mountain offers quite the challenging hike. The circuit loop one may take is roughly seven and a half miles. In the middle of this loop is a spine of massive boulders that one must climb and navigate their way though. While I highly recommend this incredible and natural obstacle course, do be prepared for a journey that will make you gasp, strain, become breathless and smile. Don't say I didn't warn you. Show up early (like 8 am) to get the most enjoyment, the crowds can run heavy.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Showing in Leesburg Fri 3/5 and Sat 3/6

This Friday my landscape photographs will be on display during the Leesburg First Friday event. They will be shown in the Photoworks studio located at the corner of Loudoun and King streets, second floor. On display will be framed photos of various sizes and matted prints, all for sale. Finger food and wine will be provided, feel free to stop by and say hello.

Display times:
Friday, March 5, 2010 - 6 to 9 PM
Saturday, March 6, 2010 - 12 to 4 PM

Leesburg's (Virginia) First Friday event consists of more than 35 downtown shops and venues providing live music, art, book signings, wine tastings, comedy and yoga.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Drifts On Guard

Western Loudoun received nearly three feet of snow over the weekend, a sight to behold. Two senior townies (expressed in the best possible way) told me stories today about storms of the past. One aged about 60, and the other 70, they separately suggested that this was the biggest storm they've seen. Oddly enough, both men grew up two blocks away from their current residences here in Purcellville.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Red Tractor

A lonely red tractor rests at the foot hills of the Blue Ridge. The fields have been long plowed and the ground hard from recent freezes. Canadian geese have settled in to nearby ponds. The cows now graze where grains grew just months ago.