We spent Thanksgiving at my stepmother-in-law’s house in the Shenandoah Valley. Daniel’s dad grew up in this area, so he took my sister-in-law and I on a walk down to the river. The town was quiet, blanketed in fresh snow.
At about this point on the walk, I realized I couldn’t feel my toes.
They have a lovely dog I enjoyed petting while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking. Donna, the aforementioned stepmother-in-law, makes delicious brussels sprouts with bacon, which I greedily ate with a heaping mound of mashed potatoes.
I didn’t make it home for Christmas this year, but I came pretty close. We spent Christmas day at a family friend’s childhood home in tiny Woodstock, Virginia.
It was a proper country Christmas. We fed the hens, chased the guineafowl (that was mostly me), ate pot roast with mashed potatoes, and opened gifts by the fireplace. It was just how Christmas should be. I missed my family, but I’m thankful that another one welcomed us in as two of their own.
Hope you had a lovely Christmas day!
Daniel and I heard about the Route 11 Yard Crawl from my coworker, Jamie, whose boyfriend attends it every year. It’s an hour and a half trip to the start from Charlottesville, extending from New Market to Stephens City across the Shenandoah Valley. The trip was gruesome without air conditioning in our car, but we bravely pressed on. I bulked up my Agatha Christie collection at the New Market Library book sale, bought a 1920s-30s Ball Jar at a flea market, and stocked up on vintage at Search Thrift Shop‘s 50 cent sale in Mount Jackson. We had to pass a lot of typical yard sale junk to find the treasures, but it was a fun experience. If only they had a commemorative t-shirt available in my size!
I brought my camera to chronicle the landscape along Route 11.
Mockingbird Restaurant and Music Hall in Staunton, VA closed its doors at the end of last weekend for reasons unknown to the public. They’ve been very hush hush about its closing and didn’t announce it until the beginning of the year. They made all of their events free last week so Daniel and I attended both an open mic night and their final concert featuring local folk bands, The Winter Line and Hound Dog Hill.
The Winter Line is relatively new to the music scene. Their music is reminiscent of Mumford & Sons in both lyrical themes and instrumentation. It’s encouraging to see such a young banjo player. We saw them perform at both events and think they have a lot of potential.
Hound Dog Hill is a seven member bluegrass, blues, and country band from the Shenandoah Valley. They played an enjoyable array of covers and originals from multiple genres. Their high energy and casual demeanor on stage made them immensely enjoyable to watch. Daniel even bought a t-shirt!
(clearly, his arm was moving quite fast)
Since I don’t know the details of their closing, I don’t know whether to say goodbye or hope for a swift reopening. Rumor has it that there are a few buyers lined up to take over the place. We appreciate Mockingbird’s focus on local Roots music. We saw Ralph Stanley there back in August and we’d hate to never be able to visit again.
November is difficult to summarize because I can barely remember what happened before Thanksgiving. I think I’m finally at the point where calling these posts, ” …months in C-Ville,” is unnecessary; I no longer think of my life here in terms of my moving date, which is a sign it really feels like home.
Thanksgiving table, sans Turkey
Last month, I:
- toured Luray Caverns and Woodstock, VA with Daniel and his dad
- found a limited edition, made in Israel, art print for .50 at Circa
- went on an invigorating walk on the Saunders-Monticello Trail with two new friends
- had to wear a jacket every single day
- thrifted a ton of vintage (and a few things for myself)
- drove to Richmond twice in one week to pick up and return my sister to her Florida carpool
- took my car into the shop twice
- watched Waitress and sipped hot chocolate with a friend
- promoted Water Lily Thrift‘s first annual Black Friday sale
- edited a product information email for my boss
- got another raise at work
- finished ballet classes for the season
- wrote an article
- got halfway through The Autobiography of Malcolm X
- visited Carter Mountain with Daniel and my visiting friend, Andrea
- spent Thanksgiving week with two friends and my sister (who also happens to be my friend)
- hosted Thanksgiving
- attended the Tree Lighting ceremony downtown
- bought lots of Christmas gifts
- hosted a church mini-potluck (where everyone brought dessert!)
- bought my first real Christmas tree
- began an ornament collection
- tinkered with the blog layout
I’m so glad I sit down to make these lists. Without them, I wouldn’t realize how much I actually do and accomplish each month. It looks like we had quite an adventure after all! Guests, parties, outdoor trails, holidays. We’re regular Charlottesvillians, it seems – all settled in and welcoming people into our home.
December is here. It’ll be an exciting month.
After we visited Luray Caverns, we drove further into the Shenandoah Valley. At one point, we stopped on the side of a winding mountain road to fill up jugs with spring water gurgling out of a pipe. We stopped at my father-in-law’s friend’s family’s campground to park our car, then carpooled over to Woodstock, his childhood home.
Woodstock is a tiny town with a nearly 360 degree view of mountains. We ate at one of the only privately owned restaurants in town, then traveled a short distance to the church Daniel’s grandfather pastored for several years. We explored the small cemetery in the back. I have always enjoyed the stillness of cemeteries. They put life in perspective and reveal the universality of living across centuries and places. Everyone dies. Everyone grieves.
The next part of our journey required our tour guide to drive up a narrow dirt road with corkscrew turns and no barriers to keep us from falling off the mountain. I was glad I didn’t have to navigate it myself. We saw hang gliders and parasailers at their takeoff site on our way up. We parked the car, then took a brief hike up to Woodstock Tower. A narrow steel structure, it used to serve as a fire tower, but was later opened to the public. It provides a panoramic view of Woodstock and its surrounding towns and landscapes. The cold air numbed our faces, but I didn’t mind.
There are few experiences that can transport me out of the daily – the anxieties, the anticipations, the expectations. Looking out from the Woodstock Tower stands out as a moment I’ll continually cling to for comfort. I felt peace and liberty there. I felt refreshed and acutely aware of my body, of myself. Shutting down my internal dialogue – muting the white noise – and experiencing silence within myself, I looked out, my skin reacted to the chill, I was happy, I was fully aware of that happiness, what it meant, and how long it’d been since I’d felt exactly that way.
I came back to Charlottesville with a brimming-over love for the place I live. I am proud to live here. I love this town and its majestic, natural surroundings.