Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Tour of the Winter Woods

A beautiful, crisp morning today, and several Elderberry folks were planning to help me lay the pipes for the in-floor heating in my house, which is currently under construction.  But, alas, the contractors didn't finish the foundation work so I was left with a free day - perfect for a long walk in the woods. I decided to take the camera and share some photos of the beauty that surrounds us here at Elderberry.

We hope that those who are interested in Elderberry will fall in love with the community (the people!) but it doesn't hurt that we live in a beautiful place, and we haven't shared much of that on the blog thus far.  Elderberry is adjacent to Potluck Community Farm, a 25 year old intergenerational community.  We share several things between these sister communities - Potluck Farm uses the Elderberry common house, and Elderberry uses Potluck equipment (the tractor, most notably!) and 130 acres of beautiful woods and trails. In addition, the two communities jointly own a 12 acre parcel we call Bella Vista, named for the lovely view.  There are several people in the community who walk these trails daily, either on their own or with others (and their dogs).  It's a wonderful, peaceful and secluded area with plenty of waterways, wildlife and wildflowers.  Enjoy the tour!

 The creek along the S-Curve trail runs over several rock formations - the sound of water over rocks is so peaceful

 The creek along the Sacred Circle trail was so named because there is a stone circle that pre-dates our 25 year history on the land

 Winter is lovely in these woods - the beech trees hold their leaves and there is an abundance of green- in the form of holly, creeping cedar, pines and ferns

 Some of our trail signs are hand carved (above) - others (below) were carved by a friend who owns a Shop Bot (awesome carving machine!).  We have 9 named trails meandering through more than 140 acres.

 Riley loves the trails too!

 Many of our creek crossings are just rocks and ropes, but a new bridge is in the works.  Oak from Elderberry was cut into logs and transported by Cecil (Elderberry), then sawed into boards by Jim (Potluck Farm).  We plan to build the little hanging bridge this winter.

This is a view from Little Creektop Trail.  Little Creek empties into the Flat River, which empties into Lake Michie.  We have gone tubing on our creeks, but most of the time they are too shallow for a good ride.

 A lovely spot along the Perimeter Trail

 The bridge over Little Creek

 The Love Shack (named about 20 years ago when one of the community children was conceived here :)).  This past year, Dick started a new annual tradition of having a weenie roast here with both Elderberry and Potluck Farm.  It's now used primarily as a little retreat cabin complete with outhouse!

 One area along the Perimeter Trail has been pretty cut down by beaver, leaving a marshy wetland perfect for wildlife.  A few years ago we had 3 great blue herons nesting in the same tree here.

This is a trail we call Old Road Way because it was the original two-track through the property.

 Riley crossing one of the streams near the Creek Bottom Trail

 Michael isn't sure he wants to get is feet wet!

The rest of these photos were not taken today, but give you a glimpse of some of the other beauty in our back yard.  Below is the pond at Potluck Farm where Potluck and Elderberry folks can swim or fish for bass or bream.  Or just sit and relax in the gazebo!

The rest of these photos were taken at Bella Vista (12 acres of property owned jointly by Elderberry and Potluck Farm).  When the weather is nice, several of us often walk (or ride the 4-wheeler) up to the hilltop to watch the sunset and have a drink together.

 Sunset at Bella Vista

 The photos above and below were taken at the same time.  Bella Vista offers a 180 degree southern view, so just before the full moon each month, you can look right to see the sunset (below) and look left to see the full moon rise (above) at the same time.

 Another view from Bella Vista
 Hiking up the hill to Bella Vista in the fall

The gathering place for sunset watching - fire pit too!

The fall view.  Worth the walk!

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Holidays at Elderberry

Last weekend was packed with fun!  On Saturday evening we had a holiday party and also a 100th birthday party for Rose! We sang her some Christmas carols and made her blow out candles on two different cakes!  Check out the photos below- you would never believe she is 100 - she's so amazing.

On Sunday we had perfect weather for our workday.  What's with the 70 degree weather in December???  It is usually very nice in December in NC, but not quite this nice!  Some folks spent the workday putting a frost-free pump in at the garden, and others worked on raking and seeding an area near our newest path.  A few brave folks worked at tearing the old floor out of our little log cabin (the original farmhouse on this property).  We are beginning restoration of it, starting with new floor and roof.  Karolyn spent much of the morning planting daylillies.  She is quite the daylilly collector and has managed to find varieties that incorporate the names of most of our members - pretty great.  Unfortunately, the deer also think the lillies are pretty great!

This week we are having our annual Solstice Party.  This party was started by Vonda 20+ years ago at Potluck Farm (Elderberry's sister community - adjacent).  This year for the first time the party will be at the new common house.  It's a multi-course cooking party, so we cook all through the night - eating appetizers around 8pm and dessert around 2am!  Vonda plans the food and the rest of us plan the activities.... over the years activities have included games, bonfire, music, poetry slam, luminaries on the pond, chinese lanterns, dancing, caroling,  Shakespeare in a Box, and many more!  I have no idea what this year's event will entail.... watch this space!

 Anne, Joan, Rosemarie, Karolyn and Cecil feasting at the Christmas Party
 Joan was our bartender - she made some killer martinis!
 Carl and Cecil sampling the goodies
 Singing to Rose for her 100th birthday!
 Blowing out the candles - we didn't want to make her try to blow out 100 of them...
 Kelly, Meg, Marj, Joan, Kate and Dick singing Christmas carols (Dick wasn't really singing - obviously!)
 Karolyn planting lillies for the deer!
 Pulling the flooring boards out of the little log cabin to begin restoration
 Dave pointing out that windows in the cabin need replacing too!
 Cecil working on the roofing of their house.  SCARY (the job, that is - not Cecil.  Well, maybe Cecil too)
 Rosemarie moving gravel to a french drain.  She can do anything!
 Mickey and Mara yakking on Mara's front porch
 Mike moving dirt to fill some trenches.  It will be great when we're done moving dirt and gravel!
 Rosemarie, Mickey, Barb, Chuck and Mike - the raking/seeding crew!
Chuck and Jeff spreading straw over the new grass seed.  And YES, it rained for us the next day!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Productive Day at Elderberry!!

A beautiful fall day today!  The leaves have mostly abandoned the trees and the pasture across the little valley is emerging as our winter view from the Common House.

We started the day with coffee, fruit and donut holes, and came up with some great ideas for celebrating the 100th birthday of one of our residents in December.  Then we headed out to work!  Most of us worked on the path to the newest homes, and made great progress.  A few people learned how to fix a plumbing problem, and a few others planned and roto-tilled a new bed for herbs near the common house.

Then we headed in for our business meeting where we finalized our 2016 budget.  Lots of very great projects have been funded!  After all the work we've done over the last month on budget stuff, we decided that most of the meeting should be dedicated to FUN.  So we did an exercise where we all wrote something we've done that might surprise others to learn, and then tried to figure out who wrote what.  Pretty educational..... and hilarious.

After the meeting we enjoyed a tasty dinner prepared by chefs Kelly and Meg and we left a singing telegram for a member whose birthday could not be celebrated as planned tonight because she had to go to a work meeting.  But a highlight of the evening was that one of our members, who loves to carve walking sticks, brought in enough of them for all of us to choose one!  They are lovely!  And perfect to walk the 100+ acres of trails adjacent to our community.

Long and wonderful day!
 Pat and Joyce working on the path to Mara and Joan's houses
 Riley, being Riley
 Vonda - is she laughing or crying.... or praying???
 Pam tilling for a new garden
 Cecil working on his and Vonda's house
 Pat and Rosemarie moving the base gravel
 Jeff and Dick moving the Chapel Hill gravel
Jeff and Rosemaire - Team Gravel Moving!
 Joyce - doing the precision work
 All of the path-builders!

 Vonda working on a puzzle at the common house. She didn't want me to take this photo because she said people think puzzles are old-person activities (and she's not old, of course). But hey - they're fun!
 Checking out all the walking sticks that Dick made
 Hard to see in the photos, but there were many different and beautiful woods used to make these - all gathered from his daily walks on the trails here (and quite a few contributed by beavers)

Everyone with their beautiful walking sticks!!