For eight years, Mark and I have lived 10 miles from Manassas National Battlefield Park, where the two battles of Bull Run were fought in the American Civil War, and in fact we drive through it all the time on Lee Highway, but I’ve never visited it. I’m not interested in wars, and if I were to pick a war from American history, I’d be like Mark and choose the Revolutionary War, because a fight for independence is something I can get behind, whereas the Civil War just makes me sad. Moreover, I couldn’t grasp how a battlefield could possibly be anything but hot, overly bright, and buggy – from Lee Highway I can see people trudging along the grass under the glaring sun on hot summer days and I just picture them hot, sweaty, and bored. And really my perception isn’t all off because the vast majority of it does look like this, minus the interest of the trees on the right:
Then one day last week it was raining after work and, annoyed, I was procrastinating getting on the treadmill, which I hadn’t had to resort to using in days because the weather had been so gorgeous, by scouring the internet for new bluebell stands, when I came across people talking about some stone bridge on the battlefield. This interested me: water, old bridge, bluebells? I was deep in bluebell ecstasy at the time and committed to heading there straight after work the next day, when, lo, the gray clouds suddenly parted, the rain stopped, and the dazzling sun streamed into my eyes. Tomorrow, I asked myself? HECK NO! I grabbed my camera bag and was out the door two minutes later. And what do you know, but 20 feet from Lee Highway, I DID find bluebells by an old stone bridge!
It turns out that the area directly around Bull Run itself is wooded and the Stone Bridge Loop trail, though short, is actually pretty idyllic.
Especially when the bluebells are blooming.
I was so happy that night I was literally running through the trail – camera gear and all – trying to take it all in before the sun went down when the next thing I know, A BARRED OWL FLEW OVER MY HEAD!! I’ve only ever seen one owl in the wild before but I’m ALWAYS looking for them so I was beside myself with excitement…though slightly annoyed the longest lens I had with me was a 24-105mm, as I was expecting to take bluebells photos, not wildlife. But he did land on a tree and pose for me for several minutes and I went home totally elated.
Turns out the boring old battlefield DOES hold some interest for me!