Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Burkes Garden

I have always been attracted to quiet places.  When I was a kid, I wanted to buy Round Island and live in the Lighthouse.  Not a very practical fantasy.

After living for years in crowded California, I moved back to Michigan and began my house search.  Once again, I was tempted by a quiet place, a home for sale with a 1/4 mile driveway, 30 acres and surrounded on 3 sides by state wildlife land.  But I came to my senses and bought a house with a bit of privacy, but still close enough to people so that I didn't become a hermit.

On a recent motorcycle trip, I visited a quiet place that manages to be both quiet and community.  It's called Burkes Garden in western Virginia and it starts out with rather unique topography.  As you can see from the photographs, it is a high valley surrounded by mountains with only a small gap for the water to flow out of the valley and into a narrow valley.  From the air, you might think its a crater from a volcano or meteor strike, but scientists tell us that the valley was formed when a massive cavern collapsed under the mountain.  Sometimes called "God's Thumbprint", it remains a remote and beautiful valley, especially because the valley access is a climb over a mountain ridge that drops into a valley far from towns and services.

On my visit, after climbing up the mountain and down into the valley, I came through the gap to a large pond held behind a dam.  My first clue that this was a quiet place was when I disturbed two bald eagles who had been fishing in the pond.  They flew parallel to me on the bike for 50 yards before turning away from the road.  Magnificent. 

The community living in the valley consists mainly of farmers, about half of them Amish.  Interestingly, the little general store that I stopped at for lunch is run by a friendly Amish lady who was originally from Reed City, Mi.

I mentioned it was both a quiet place and a sense of community.  While I was eating my lunch, a non-Amish farmer came into the store and I was privileged to overhear a conversation about Amish and non-Amish coming together to build a community meeting place and music venue.  It's cool that the valley is remote enough to be quiet and yet remains a friendly community with residents supporting each other.  The valley must be pretty isolated sometimes in winter.  At 3000 ft elevation, its high enough to get snow and I wouldn't want to go over that mountain on a snowy road.

What a nice and interesting place for a closet hermit like me.

No comments:

Post a Comment