written by David
pictures by Stephanie
The weather on Sunday, two weeks past was positively spectacular. The sky, azure blue and filled with puffy white clouds. The temperature, in the low 70’s, would drop to a slight chill when the sun slid behind the clouds. Autumn was in the air and a perfect day was on tap.
For several weeks we had planned to spend the day with our good friends the Leconte’s, Brice and Stephanie. Perhaps just relaxing on the back patio and maybe throwing a little something on the grill for dinner. But, with such an amazing day before us we all decided to pick up some eats and head to our favorite local winery, Otium Cellars, for a bottle of Cabernet and a light lunch. Every thing was fantastic…the friends, the food and the wine. After lunch with still over half a bottle wine and lots of day left it was decided that we would head back to our place. From there we would take the leftover wine (add another bottle) and go on a little walk-about down Williams Gap Road.
Williams Gap Road is the “photo-op” gravel country road that fronts our log home. The road is lined by pre-Civil War Era field stone walls, 3-board fenced pastures filled with horses and cows, several amazing stone spring houses, a young vineyard and many beautiful homes including a fantastic 1750’s stone farmstead that includes a magnificent stone house, several wood-frame and stone barns and incredible stone spring house that rests the shadow of a 300 year-old sycamore tree.
Armed with a full glasses of wine, a camera, jackets to ward off the approaching chill and a bag with 2 bottles of wine (extra glasses in the chance we met a neighbor willing to imbibe) we: Brice, Stephanie, Easton, Scarlett, my Stephanie and I, headed west toward the mountains and inevitable adventure. Our first encounter was a jogger, she paused long enough to let us know that just up the road, past the second barn and in the middle of one of the pastures, a pair of bald eagles where dining on a small deer they had just killed. The excitement among our children was palpable. Our pace quickened just a bit not wishing to miss this sight. Rounding the first big bend in the road is the lovely stone farmstead. We stopped at the driveway to admire the magnificent stone buildings and were greeted by a gentleman who poked his head out of one of the stone sheds. It was the owner, Les Goldsmith DVM, Ph.D. Following introductions Mr. Goldsmith asked if we would like a tour of the barns. Forgetting the eagles for the moment we readily accepted and were then treated to a viewing of one of the few local pre-Civil War Era barns lucky enough to have escaped the wrath of Sheridan as he burned his way south. Inside the main level of the barn Les houses his 1950’s era McCormick Farmall Tractor…for the record, it started on the first turn of the key.
“Goldsmith Stone Barn, circa 1750’s”
“Brice with Les Goldsmith on his Farmall Tractor”
As we exited the door we were shocked to see a fruit bearing fig tree. Les had planted the tree on the south-side of the barn protecting it from weather while ensuring lots of sunlight. As we sampled the “fruit-of-the-fig”, I remembered my manners and offered Les a glass of wine. He accepted (our first victim), clearly it was a fair trade.
Our next stop on the farmstead was the recently re-pointed spring house. This lovely stone building rests in the shadow of an enormous 300 year-old sycamore tree and the spring actually flows out of the roots of the tree. The farm had once been a dairy farm and the spring was used to keep the milk cold while waiting for dairy pick-up. Now days, said Les, it’s only used to keep his beer cold.
“Goldsmith Spring House, a.k.a. Beer Cooler”
“Spring House – Room With a View”
After thanking Les for a fantastic tour and bidding him farewell, we resumed our walk. A little further down Williams Gap Road, just past the next barn, we came upon an amazing sight. There in the pasture standing tall atop his downed prey, with his mate close at hand, a majestic and proud American Bald Eagle! The open pasture, usually filled with cows, appeared empty until we noticed all the cows deep in the tree line well back from the dining eagles apparently not wishing to be next on the menu.
(Stephanie made me become the eagle’s next potential victim. She handed me the camera and sent me out into the pasture to capture a photo of this majestic bird! There were actually 4 eagles circling overhead!)
As the shadows started to lengthen we made our way up a small lane, at a bend in Williams Gap Road, hoping to get a view of the Blue Ridge before we started back. In the waning light of the afternoon as it gave way to the approaching evening we paused beside the lane for some photos, poured the last of the wine into our glasses and toasted a truly memorable day.
It was almost time to turn back when we passed through a wide hardwood hedgerow that arched over the gravel lane like a gateway. Groomed pastures spread out before us and the land began to roll and rise toward the west, inevitable ending at the ridge line of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. A perfect way to end a perfect day…
…. it’s just another day in the life of log cabin living.