Author: Mary Ann Zehr

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Total Eclipse

It was no small miracle that seven people in my family–ages 8 to 91–and I viewed the total eclipse together from the same spot on a grassy bank at a service plaza of the Ohio turnpike on April 8. The four minutes of collective awe we experienced while viewing an uncommon celestial ring of light affirms that we can be joyful as a family.

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Tiller Strings: sales, rentals, repair, sheet music, accessories.

Solace and joy during pandemic (head to the woods now if you want to see mountain laurel blossoms)

In May, I’ve had minimal part-time work, so I’ve spent hours in the mountains. It’s all been at one place, Hone Quarry Recreation Area (in the George Washington National Forest), a gem for its diversity of flora and fauna. My personal project of noticing and learning the names of plants, insects, birds, and other creatures there has provided purpose. It has also been a source of solace and joy.

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An entrepreneurial, adventurous local couple has charted a new & mostly gravel bike route across Virginia

For their latest “experiment,” serial experimenters David Landis and Anna Dintaman have mapped out a 550-mile bikepacking route across Virginia. The new TransVirginia Bike Route—or TransVA—connects Washington, D.C., to Damascus using existing rails-to-trails and rural dirt or gravel roads, often on public lands.

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For some kids this fall, back to school will mean back to nature

The kid pack a lot into a July morning. They pick and eat wild raspberries, jump off a big rock (they call it a “diving board”) into a creek and run around. They observe a field mouse, and eat a snack. They shriek while bouncing up and down on a fallen log. Soon this kind of summer fun will end for most children in the Shenandoah Valley ­– at least on weekdays. For kids in the area’s two new “forest schools,” however, the creek splashing, centipede study, hiking, picnicking and everything else will carry on.

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Music from a local pre-Civil War hymnal is still ringing out

On New Year’s Day, about 370 people gathered to sing at Weavers Mennonite Church just west of Harrisonburg, and several hundred more listened in by phone. While most participants arrived by car, some Old Order Mennonites came by horse and buggy, helping keep alive the area’s long tradition of a capella singing from a hymn book called the Harmonia Sacra.

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