Sperryville: It’s Mother’s Day once again

French author Honore de Balzac said, “The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” Mothering, whether by birth parent or those who choose to mother, is a primal bond that molds and shapes one’s life. Today we celebrate that connection and honor our mothers who live forever in our hearts. Columnist William D. Tammeus observes that “You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” Happy Mother’s Day.

The park, revitalized

Did you have to nail your shoes to the floor after watching the Ken Burns series on PBS about the development of our national park system? I wanted to load our grandchildren into our car filled with camping gear and just take off! How lucky that Sperryville is the gateway to Shenandoah National Park and just in our back yard. Revived interest in the park and the efforts to renew interest in it as a destination is taking many forms. In Sperryville, one of our long-term weekenders, Kevin Heanue, helped launch a new Web-based guide to the park, found at guidetosnp.com.

Weekenders do come and go, but many sink roots and feel deeply connected to the village, county and region. Heanue, a weekender for 18 years, is one of them. One of his projects during his retirement has been to work with the Shenandoah National Park Association. (SNPA was founded in 1950 to support interpretive and educational activities; current president and board chair is Sperryville’s master gardener Jack Price.)

The new site is the result of five years of work and is dedicated to Henry Heatwole, author of the popular “Guide to Shenandoah Park and Skyline Drive” first published in 1978, on which the online guide is based. With all the advantages of a Web resource, this guide is not only comprehensive but also beautiful, and will meet the needs both of first-time visitors and those familiar with the park. Contact Heanue at kheanue@comcast.net or 703-549-7039.

Celebrate National Trails Day with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) at Shenandoah National Park on Saturday, June 6. The PATC invites new hikers and experienced backpackers to learn new trail skills at PATC Trail Patrol’s “Beyond the Trailhead” event at Byrd Visitor Center (milepost 51 on Skyline Drive).

The event is designed to give novice hikers the information they need to venture beyond the trailhead to enjoy hiking and nature trails. Even experienced backpackers can learn new skills at the information tables and discussion groups on Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, hiking techniques and equipment.

Hands-on demonstrations of traditional tools, such as crosscut saws, used to maintain trails will be offered by Shenandoah National Park trail crew. Come participate in hikes, demonstrations, and presentations throughout the day. For information contact  Laura Buchheit at 540-999-3500, extension 3723.

The staff of Shenandoah National Park has begun planning for a year-long celebration of the park’s 75th anniversary. The mission of the anniversary celebration is to inspire the public to value the park resources in Shenandoah’s Blue Ridge Mountains and infuse surrounding communities in the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia Piedmont with a sense of ownership and pride in the park and region. County Administrator John McCarthy chairs the finance committee for this year long event, while Rappahannock resident and tourism consultant Laura Overstreet is on the marketing committee. County resident and park public affairs officer Karen Beck-Herzog also serves on the committee.

Here is a thought for Sperryville businesses and residents: The increase in visitors to SNP will benefit to our economy. Shall we design and display a flag that celebrates our village as the gateway to the park? Just a thought.

Photo by Ray Boc

A 69-year friendship

Sperryville resident James Russell and his friend Evan Banks of Chicago first met at Hampton Institute in September of 1941. An annual April reunion for 69 years to celebrate Russell’s birthday has nourished and sustained the friendship.

Banks, who worked for a newspaper as a linotype operator in St. Croix after military service in World War II, had his own printing shop in Chicago for 59 years. Russell expects a July release of his fourth book, “My Two Grandpops,” documenting information about grandfathers James Engham and Daniel Russell.

In-depth research by the Rappahannock Historical Society’s John and Judith Tole, according to Russell, have provided the help and data without which the information would have been sorely lacking. We look forward to the book release and to next spring when we can celebrate the birthdays of these two men who will officially become nonagenarians.

In the meantime, Happy Birthday!