Featured: Uncommon Wealth: Essays on Virginia's Wild Places

To Love a Place: Cross Mountain

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“To Love a Place: Cross Mountain” is an essay that appeared in Uncommon Wealth, published by The Nature Conservancy, 1999.

“I have learned to watch for the occasional day on Cross Mountain when nature shows her most murderous face. It happens only every few years. The last flare of autumn in fallen leaves is first extinguished by sodden winter. Then temperature and moisture may conspire with evil intent. The dark hump of mountain through my western window turns deathly pale in a fine mist. Raindrops gather at the ends of bare twigs, to freeze into blades of ice. Ice dulls the green of the cedars to the color of doom. Sometimes the air is still and suffocating. Some­times there are gusts of wind like tracer bullets across the forest floor, tossing up helpless leaves. If I ventured out unprepared, Cross Mountain would kill me with hypothermia in a few hours. On such days, I feel mostly deeply my love for this place.”

Uncommon Wealth - Essays on Virginia's Wild Places


“When I began to read about the place in my home state now owned and protected by the Nature Conservancy, I wanted to join this environmentally concerned organization. Who knew, for example, that they own part of the Great Dismal Swamp and have even constructed boardwalks so a visitor can walk through part of it and see rare birds and cypress knees? I knew where nearly every wild place was in the state, which made me want to travel and take my grandchildren so they will grow up knowing, too.”
— Elizabeth Snead

“Great writing about some places I’m familiar with. I learned a lot about my home state, but this book could be enjoyed by anyone because the writing is so good.”
— Vita Jones

“This is an excellent book, especially if you live, or have ever lived, in beautiful Virginia. Even if you have no ties to Virginia, this book is an excellent collection of essays for the wildlife and nature lover–and the wild at heart. Highly reccommended.”
— Jan Downs