High Valley Community Forum

This blog is a venue for the occasional contributions submitted by members of the High Valley Community--however defined. It is a forum for us to maintain connections.

Here, members of the High Valley Community may submit posts (via email through the Contact & Links page--see navbar to the left), but they can be no longer than 499 words.

Apr 18, 2014

High Valley For Sale

High Valley: For Sale

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Aug 21, 2013

High Valley For Sale

Announcement of High Valley for sale

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Jul 30, 2013

High Valley's Calendar

Calendar of events at High Valley

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May 08, 2013

Occasional Notes

Occasional Notes added by members of the community from time to time

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Jan 04, 2013

High Valley Newsletter

High Valley Newsletter summarizes last year's events.

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Aug 28, 2012

Elizabeth Cunningham's Books

Elizabeth Cunningham's books are show-cased here, as well as some of her poems relevant to High Valley.

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May 20, 2012

Goose Bumps

There are goose lakes up here, and people lakes. The two often don't mix. If a lake is big enough, it can accommodate both, but if it's a small lake, or a large pond, it's one or the other.

A goose pair settled on our lake about three springs ago, and pretty soon they had five goslings swimming along between them. They looked very proud and were very protective of their brood. But seven geese (the goslings grew astonishingly fast) make a terrible mess for people also using the pond. Goose goo all over the beach, the surrounding lawns, the dock and the float made swimming or sunbathing unpleasant.

The lake wasn't safe for the geese, either. Only three geese survived to fly south. Foxes or coyotes must have killed the others. We have both.

Three geese returned, but if they came back for sentimental reasons, they were silly geese. There are lakes that are safer, with islands, inaccessible to predators. Those nearby lakes are also preferable, because people rarely use them, except to admire from afar.

Those three geese had more goslings, but this time they were lucky, in an ironic way. A film crew came to film a Fourth of July party, staged here before the Fourth, and of course, they shot off fireworks. Being careful, they set them off on the float in the middle of the lake.

That set off the geese parents and their nearly grown children--in an explosion of wings and honkings. They didn't come back.

Now I knew how to drive them off.

Last year and this Spring, I did. A 22 rifle wasn’t loud enough, but a 20-22 makes a loud bang, and the rifle has a telescopic sight. So, shot precisely between the goose pairs, they take off. Serially, there must have been ten or fifteen pairs landing this Spring. Only one threesome--the original one?--needed a second shot to be persuaded. A few ducks wouldn't be a problem and wouldn't overwhelm the lake: two geese that become seven would seriously do so, just as the exploding global population of humans overcrowds the ecosystem.

Am I like the anti-immigrant vigilantes that patrol the Arizona and Texas borders with Mexico? In contrast to the geese, immigrants contribute a lot. If there is any hope of maintaining Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs, it is immigrants: they bring youth, new energy, new muscle, inspiring cultures and pride in their new country.

Without immigration, our population would decline and our economy, as well. The US has gained from both the initial exploitation and the ongoing energy of new arrivals since before its founding. The only huge financial success I know who did not inherit, is a naturalized immigrant and a member of our community; she's an example of what hard-working, ambitious immigrants bring to this country.

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May 24, 2011

My Ancestor, the Rake

When my great-grandfather wrote pulp fiction, a newspaper gave him a $10,000 literary prize in 1895, (worth $251,041.65 today), for A Fool of Nature. Only a Nobel pays more now.

Julian's novels, today, are unreadable: florid, artificial, prolix and ultimately banal. But Julian Hawthorne had class--and bore the name of America's greatest novelist--his father. There is even a charming children's story that Nathaniel wrote about Julian.

Julian wrote a little of everything: romances, travel stories, detective novels, a biography of his parents, essays, magazine stories, and newspaper pieces. After Julian quit writing, he went into business--and ended up in jail.

When he won the literary prize, Julian had the hair-brained notion that he'd make his fortune. He bought a plantation in the hills of Jamaica, carted his whole family there (seven children, one of them my grandmother, Beatrix) and planted tomatoes. He was ahead of his time, but impractical: he grew tomatoes for New York's winter market, but ships weren't refrigerated in 1896 and air-transport hadn't been invented. Oops! He left behind a number of black babies surnamed Hawthorne in Jamaica.

Despite his failure, the family came back to a large compound at Sag Harbor, where he continued writing, and publishing, switching publishers frequently. In this period, he became a journalist, writing about famine in India, and Spain's depredations in Cuba, helping to incite the Spanish-American War. Meanwhile, my grandmother told me they had a pet crow in Sag Harbor; it would land on their heads.

And while Julian wrote, Hildegarde, the eldest, taught the children. The boys, afterwards, went to places like Harvard and Yale. Their mother, Mary Albertina "Minnie" Amelung, named the boys: Fred, Jack and Henry. Julian named the girls: Hildegarde, Beatrix, Imogen and Gwendolyn. Juxtaposing the two sets of names gives you an idea of the problem.

He was a man of his age: like the present era, everything was about money. In 1908, Julian lent his name to one of the many stock-watering schemes of the day: Hawthorne Silver and Iron Mines. Julian was president of Hawthorne Mines, but family-members still maintain he didn't know it was a scam; someone, not Julian, made $3.5 million from it; he was sentenced to a year in 1913.

Since his sister, Rose, was a popular saint, caring for terminally ill cancer patients, and as a nun raised funds from the best society, there were headlines like: "Saint and Sinner: Sister and Brother.

After prison, Julian left his family for California: he had dallied with his secretary, and in 1913 he ran off with her. He didn't marry Edith Garrigues, until Minnie died, however.

My mother remembers Julian Hawthorne, my father's namesake and grandfather, as a rakish old man, with a large white mustache and abundant charm.

Julian died in San Francisco in 1934; romantic to the end, his ashes were scattered by plane in the San Francisco Bay.

Continue reading "My Ancestor, the Rake"

Aug 03, 2009


High Valley has its own version of Lughnasad. I view the day as a celebration of summer, of the plenty that begins to overwhelm us in the garden at this time of year.

In the Virginia countryside, it's said that people lock their doors in August to prevent their neighbors from unloading their excess zucchinis.

At High Valley we made and decorated arepas (Venezuelan cornbread), then later we blessed them in ritual, before "eating the sun." Before that we wandered outside and looked for omens: I saw a very persistent and determined butterfly that kept on going back to a lush clump of tiger lilies overlooking "Lake Almosta." And I then ate some cloudberries, shiny red and a sweet distillation of the sun. Elizabeth watched a bee foraging among the beebalm and proclaimed "Pollination."

We were going to have the ritual outside, walk the labyrinth, convene around a fire, but it rained all morning, and didn't clear until about a half hour before the ritual (we've had rain almost every other day all summer), so Cait and Elizabeth adapted. We gathered inside, chanted, danced and tranced, and then went outside for finding our omens, a kind of walking, humming meditation.

When we came back inside, we chanted more, called out our omens, then concluded in a frenzy--and a surprise. Sue found her way to the center of the circle: she had an announcement. She noted that she and Rhianna had been together now for a year and a day; she ended down on one knee, asking Rhianna to marry her! Rhianna was completely surprised; then she said, "Yes!"

After that, there was cake and mead as well as wine and arepas, and a whole lot else, including a peach pie that didn't last long. It was also sunny and warm and picnickers spread out on the lawns.

About those zucchinis and the season of abundance: it is that time of year. Our two house-guests went back to the city with about three fresh squash apiece. I made the mistake in May of planting seeds on both the eastern and western ends of my garden; only the western ones are producing so far, but it's clear we're going to be overrun. Even with all the rain and clouds, the corn is almost ready, too.

Thanks be to the goddess!

Nov 19, 2008

Fall Color at High Valley

Fall color at High Valley

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Oct 13, 2008

Welcome to the Community Forum

Members are here defined as anyone who has been at High Valley, either as a visitor, as a participant in our events, or as a former student at High Valley School, or a camper at High Valley Camp.

What will be posted? Reminiscences, poems, ideas for the future (which might generate discussion), clarifications of other pages on this site, or anything that seems relevant to High Valley. This is a forum to help us maintain community.

Probably not all submissions will be posted. The selections will be made by me, the webmaster.