I can hardly believe my good fortune to have been granted another residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and so, when I arrived and temperatures were in the high 50s (as opposed to below the freezing point in my hometown of Chicago), I just had to venture out on my beloved walk through the VCCA woods. How happy I was to find one of my favorite spots again – the bench in the woods.

Finding the path, however, proved not to be so easy. A recent derecho, as I later learned, had felled a great number of trees and destroyed the entry to the trail, see photo above. I had to climb over a pile of logs and tangled barbed wire to reach the path, only to have to duck under clingy brambles and march across squishy muddy swampland to finally arrive at what looked like the old path.

The view from the bench
I am really here – in the crisp Virginia woods where the rustle of the dry leaves on the ground sounds like autumn rather than winter.

The view from the path farther on.

Whimsy like this – a white shell basking in the middle of a foot bridge – confirms I’m at the VCCA. In a community of artists, there’s no telling what wonders you might happen upon, even in the woods.
Right above the shell, a live branch is utilized as a railing.

Swampland in the late afternoon winter sun.
Winter trees straight up…
…or hazards along the way…
or a bit forbidding… (The earth is red! I am in the South!)
…and I among them.
PS: The Internet connection at VCCA is spotty and it took me way too long to upload the photos for this essay. So it might be a while before you hear from me again here. But, I shall be writing, and I shall be wandering the woods! Fallen logs and all.