I spent this afternoon with six other officers and advisors of Write by the Rails, a nearly three year old organization for and about promoting and supporting writing and writers. We were fresh from the Tacketts Mill Poetry and Jazz Festival the Saturday before, where two Poets Laureate for Prince William County were named (Robert Scott, an English teacher from Osbourn Park High School and Zan Hailey, an undergrad English major at V.C.U., an artist and a French speaker. Well over 500 people attended and were treated to jazz by Common Ground and a live broadcast hosted by Garfield High School grad Guy Lamberton on WPGC 95.5 which included announcement of the laureates in attendance. Local writers were well represented with about 20 in attendance.
With these memories fresh in our minds, we met at the richly beautiful and serene 95 acre tract of land of Windy Knoll Farm in Nokesville. The 75-year-old farm historically has raised beef cattle and traditional crops, but has moved under the direction of Don and Helen Taylor to agritourism. The Taylors generously offered space for us to meet to evaluate the previous year’s work of Write by the Rails and to plan our programs and emphases for next year. We spent a profitable afternoon doing just that, and plan to return soon for meetings and workshops.
Facilities at Windy Knolls include paths, a playground, two ponds (one natural and one managed). They welcome families, business and other groups, fishers, hikers and campers, among others. They host country weddings, birthday parties, tour groups and business conferences. Children under 6 are free to visit; all others pay $10 each.
This quiet spot is a rare gem of a setting, and a sorely needed venue for the community. Prices are reasonable, and I was impressed by the passion and compassion of the Taylors. They want to give back to the community, and they certainly have done that. Here’s wishing them all the best with their endeavor!
One final note: while we were there I saw a bald eagle fly by. I thought this was especially propitious for us as we planned our future since many Native American tribes associate the bald eagle with strength, courage, wisdom, illumination of spirit, healing, creation, an ability to see the overall pattern, and a connection to spirit guides and teachers. The eagle represents great power and balance, dignity with grace, a connection with higher truths, intuition, a creative spirit, grace achieved through knowledge and hard work. All these qualities are involved in being a writer as well.
Here’s a link to their website, http://www.windyknollfarm.com/#contact, , and one to the Center for Environmental Education: http://www.ceeonline.org/