Highland County Is…

Written By: Crysta Stephenson

Highland County, Virginia, Monterey, Meadowdale, Vanderpool, living, resident, mountains, country, farm live,

The View from my Home in Meadowdale on Sunny, Spring Day

Editor’s note: There is nothing like living outside of Highland County to give you great appreciation for what you have at home. I’ve spent most of my life in Highland with a couple of stints in neighboring Augusta County. These days, I reside in Staunton. And, most especially in the summer months, I come home to Highland as often as I can.

For those of you that don’t know me, I grew up in the Vanderpool/Meadowdale area of the county. My childhood was spent nestled safe in the arms of my relatives on the family farm. As a child, I really didn’t imagine there was a world beyond the farm because I spent copious amounts of time following whatever relative was nearby. (I basically got on their nerves until I was distracted by another family member that I could follow.) Through constant observation and question-asking, I came to know and love each one of my elders. As younger cousins came along, I delighted in their presence and loved watching them grow. The verses set below are my own interpretation of Highland County through the eyes of a little girl that grew up here and then came home to raise two girls of her own.


Highland County is…

          Meadowdale in the afternoon.

          A baby-faced boy about three-feet-tall, shiny brown hair glistening in the sun, lunch box and fishing pole in hand, overalls on and all bare-chested, Huckleberry Finn as can be.

Highland County is …

          Vanderpool on a quiet day.

          Thick shade and crowns of ferns growing flush on the forest floor hiding from the sun.

          The simple beauty of a freckle-faced, blue-eyed blonde in a calico dress bending down to smell the daisies.

Highland County is …

          Green mountains and lush pasture.

          Five Angus yearlings in a lot with one lonely, sorrel mare mothering over them.

          A short, beloved pony plucking the blooms off tall thistles and eating them like candy.

          Grandad striding from the barn to the house for lunch, posture straight as an arrow.

Highland County is …

          Watching the rain come up from Mill Gap.

          Thunder and lightning coming down from Blue Grass.

          Lantz Mountain ablaze in the fall.

          The hearth and the fire.

It is …

          A porcelain-skinned baby boy with eyelashes a mile long and the finest red hair, clinging to his mother while she carries him, her brown curls dancing.

          Homeplaces and homecomings.


          Snow cones and corn dogs!

         Winning prizes and bringing home ribbons.


It is …

          Church on Sunday mornings.

          Picnics at Pisgah.

          Orange lilies growing wild along the side of the road.

Highland County is …

          The sashes on the dresses of a little brunette and a tiny blonde laughing and chasing kites beneath white, fluffy clouds in a sky of blue. 

          Winding roads and mystical, mountain secrets. 

          Daddy coming in from the hayfield and the pint-sized, red-headed doll running to him with arms open wide.


It is …

          Mama in the kitchen.

          Her iced tea on the table.

          Strength and pure love and endless devotion.

Highland County is …

          Green hills dotted with white lambs.

          The smile that is always on Grandma’s face and the teen-aged brightness that glistens in her eyes … even now, in her twilight.

          The ancestors and the next generation.         

          Uncles with long hair and long beards going hunting and bringing home their kill for the whole family to see.


Highland County is …          

Hay laying down neat in rows.         

          A ivory-skinned, blue-eyed, toddlin’, smilin’ blonde boy, as happy as any child ever was, being lifted up onto a John Deere tractor by his lean and muscled, bronze-chested, dark-haired Dad – each with the same set of curls.

          Purebred Herefords that grazed lazily in the fields.

          Lighting that takes down another ancient tree.

          The hugs and the kisses and the tears when your beauty queen aunt departs from her visit home to go back to her life in the city.


It is …

          Golden, pink, red, and blue sunsets that no words or photographs can adequately capture.

          The cool evening air offering blessed relief from the sweaty, humid heat of the day. 

          Square bales stacked neatly on the wagon.

          A full moon coming up over Jack, lighting the night sky, and giving comfort to all.


Highland County, Virginia, sunset, country, living, here, resident, mountains, mountain


Highland County is …

          A soft bed and airy pillows that cradle your weary, homesick head.

          Safety, comfort, and all things Home.

          The place where I long to return each time I leave.



About the Author

Crysta Stephenson
Editor & Writer

Crysta Stephenson grew up in the Meadowdale and Vanderpool areas of Highland County. She loved it so much that she returned to raise her daughters on the family farm, Glenwood. She received a B.A. in mass communications with a minor in history from Mary Baldwin College. For 13 years, she honed her journalism skills as a staff writer and editor at two small Virginia newspapers. Her second career - also lasting 13 years - focused on managing two small historical museums here in Virginia. These days, she juggles lots of odd jobs including writing and museum assignments that give her time to enjoy life and admire the accomplishments of her daughters, Rebecca and Suzanna, and play with her grandmutts, Alex and Snoopy. She splits her time between her family home in Highland and her apartment in Augusta County.


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