Tag Archives: Write by the Rails

A Quiet Place Apart

Windy Knoll Farm

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/


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Friday’s Poem of the Week

Manassas Train Station

A while back, I wrote this for my friends in Write by the Rails. It seemed particularly appropriate the week my first novel was released. Here’s to you, my friends and compères:

Write by the Rails

a poem of appreciation

Here’s to you, my colleagues, my friends,
My companion toilers in silence and solitude,
In appreciation for a shared vision
A shared divine madness
For this most peculiar enterprise.
For times and ideas shared
For afternoons spent talking at tables
For nods of comprehension
And smiles of recognition
Stories shared, pasts remembered
Futures imagined
We who are so different
Who animate our singular kingdoms
Of the mind and heart
And yet who move in a great swell
Together forward.

-Dan Verner, April, 2013

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A Fantastic Weekend

A poster for the event in which I held dual citizenship.

A poster for the event in which I held dual citizenship.

I don’t normally write about what happened to me over a weekend, because if would make for insufferably dull writing. This weekend, though, was an exception.

After wrestling with my printer for five hours Friday evening so it would print some things I needed for the next day, I awoke Saturday, practiced a little song I had written based on a poem by local poet Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, loaded myself down with guitar case, writer’s bag, garment bag with my tux in it and my music folder and headed off to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the campus of George Mason University for the 2013 edition of Arts Alive, sponsored by the Prince William Arts Council.

I was there as a member of Write by the Rails, an organization of local writers headed by two of the co-founders Cindy Brookshire and the aforementioned Katherine Gotthardt. (Neither of these ladies would claim leadership of the organization, but suffice it to say that they are darned good cat herders.)

WBTR (as we like to call it) grew from four members in August 2011 to its present membership of about 160 (if I recall correctly). We had venues for reading (and in my case singing) and also book displays by eighteen authors in the Center, and a good time was had by all. The festival included painters, photographers, performance groups, quilters and others I didn’t get around to see. Event organizers put the number of people who attended at 3000, and WBTR increased its representation from two authors two years ago and eight a year ago.

I did my song and hung out with my writerly buds, who are the best companions in the world. We talk about writing (shocker) and publishing and story conumdrums and thoroughly enjoy our time together.

I also sang with the Manassas Chorale at 1:30, and I’ve written about this group before. That’s why I had the garment bag with the tux in it. Then I changed back into my writer’s clothes, which look remarkably like my ordinary clothes.

I hung around the writers’ area until about 7:30 when I left, tried, but as they say, happy. We’ll be back next year, and I hope my novel will be published by then!

Sunday was good as well. Our worship service at church went well, and the choir did a passable job on the anthem. I taught Sunday School with some of the best people I’ve ever known and then we had lunch with daughter Amy her b/f Chris. I visited my dad for a while, and then came home and listened to the Nats lose to the Braves (boo!) on the radio while I prepared a rusty shed for painting. Then it was off to bell rehearsal until 7, home to eat and then at the computer to write this.

All, in all, a weekend filled with good things. I am grateful for writing, for my friends, for my family, WBTR, my church, my choir and my handbell group. Good, honest, real and talented people are at the core of all these experiences, and I am pleased to know each and every one of them! Thank you all!

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