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VOLUME 9, NUMBER 6 October 2011 Published by

Cape Fear Publishing Company 109 East Cary Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219 Telephone (804) 343-7539, Facsimile (804) 649-0306 Publisher

John-Lawrence Smith EDITORIAL STAFF acting editor Erin Parkhurst Art Director Sonda Andersson Pappan assistant editor Lisa Antonelli Bacon assistant editor Daryl Grove CONTRIBUTING Editors

Bland Crowder, Neely Barnwell Dykshorn, Bill Glose, Caroline Kettlewell, Sarah Sargent, Julie Vanden-Bosch CONTRIBUTING writers

Mary Burruss, Suzanne Gannon, Jessica Mesman Griffith, Clarke C. Jones, Daisy Khalifa, Kendra Bailey Morris, Peggy Sijswerda, Ben Swenson, Joe Tennis CONTRIBUTING photographers

Robb Scharetg, Jeff Greenough, Kip Dawkins, Glen McClure, Sarah Cramer Shields, Jen Fariello, Amy Carroll, Meghan McSweeney CONTRIBUTING illustrators

Tristan Elwell, Robert Meganck, Rob Ullman editorial interns

Grace Albritton, Katy Lovin, Peyton Manchester, Mari Pack, Meredith Rigsby art intern

Kevin Edwards Advertising executives central virginia

sales MANAGER Torrey Munford (804) 343-0782,

Christiana Roberts

(804) 622-2602, eastern virginia

Kerry Harrington

(757) 450-1335,

Mary Beth Neal

(804) 622-2614, Northern Virginia

Blaise Yanick

(804) 622-2603, western virginia

Tiffany Tucker

(804) 622-2611, richmond guide advertising executives

Eliza Blackwell

(804) 622-2609,

Sean Clark

(804) 622-2613, OFFICE STAFF OFFICE MANAGER Carolyn Birney assistant oFFICe managER Chenoa Ford Creative Services director Jason Sullivan circulation manager Jamilya Brown Web content manager Daryl Grove COrpORATE SPONSORSHIPS Torrey Munford Groundskeeper Melwood Whitlock Activities & Morale Director Cutty Assistant Activities & Morale Director Rex

Thinking Big Fearless, that’s how I’d describe Williamsburg-based freelance writer Ben Swenson. I say fearless because the Newport News native and high school history teacher for Williamsburg-James City County Schools is never afraid to tackle the big story. Ben has written a number of fine feature-length pieces for us, including the October 2009 cover story on Virginia peanuts. In it, he covered the 160-year history of this iconic food crop, which has deep roots in the state’s agriculture industry and with the families who have cultivated it for generations. He has also taken a top down look at Naval Air Station Oceana—one of the country’s most important military installations—and limned the Newport News Public Art Foundation’s 10-year effort to enhance citizens’ lives through art with the installation across the city of 13 monumental sculptures. All monumental subjects indeed—the kind that require a wide lens and a lot of reporting muscle. Ben’s story in this issue about the history of coal in Virginia is no different (page 82). This is a broad topic—expansive really—when we consider that coal’s history in the Commonwealth stretches back more than 300 years and has a deep culture. Ben, who earned a master’s degree in American studies at the College of William and Mary and a bachelor’s degree in history at Christopher Newport University, came up with the idea for the story one night, he says, while rocking on his porch swing, “listening as a distant coal train blared its haunting whistle while passing through Williamsburg.” How could we resist? And who better to write this story, we thought, than Ben, who has lived in various cities across Virginia, most always, he says, within earshot of the coal trains that crisscross the Commonwealth. Ben spent a lot of time traveling across the state reporting the story; a time he describes as a “wild ride.” He flew in a helicopter through a river gorge, peered into a 3,000-degree Fahrenheit boiler, dined in complete strangers’ kitchens and was offered (and partook of) “the best moonshine I’ve ever had.” But it was the people he interviewed—from the mines of the Southwest to the power plants of Central Virginia to the terminals of the Southeast—who made the biggest impression on him. “They were all competent, friendly and, most of all, passionate about their livelihoods,” he explains. “It was, perhaps, the most compelling human interest story I’ve yet put together.” We certainly think so, especially when combined with images shot by talented photographer Robb Scharetg (whose work has lit up many issues of Virginia Living). New York-based journalist Suzanne Gannon, who earned her bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Virginia, has also written some knockout stories for us in the four years she’s been contributing to the magazine. In addition to a 2009 story about some of the toughest terrain there is to hike on the Appalachian Trail, she has profiled interior designer Charlotte Moss, and Willie Drake, Virginia’s antique timber “go-to guy” and founder of Charlottesville-based Mountain Lumber. Last year, she interviewed Sandy Lerner, co-founder of technology giant Cisco Systems, who is today stumping for sustainable farming at her Ayrshire Farm in Upperville. In each, Suzanne wrote about her subjects with brio, deftly distilling the breadth of their experience and ethos into this shorter-form story without skimping on the details that make these folks so intriguing. For this issue, Suzanne wrote about Lexington-based furniture designer Phillip Welch, whose off-beat designs are as smart as they are playful (page 33). When she met with Welch at his studio to talk about his career, she says she was “bowled over by his ability to articulate the fine line between humility and arrogance that an artist of any kind must walk…you’re taught not to be selfimportant, and yet you must believe that your work is important if all that you’re doing is to have meaning,” adding, “That really struck a chord.” It must have, because it is just that dichotomy in Welch that comes through in Suzanne’s story. She is particularly adept at describing a gesture, a posture or a setting so that readers get a physical, even tactile, sense of person and place that a simple string of biographical facts can never convey. Ultimately, Suzanne’s work evinces that oh-so-hardto-articulate thing about each of her subjects that makes them worth reading about. Her work has also appeared in publications including Town & Country, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and her latest project is a book about New England gardens. Better add versatility to the list of her strengths. Also awaiting you in this issue is our food story (page 58), which will show you how to pair two of Virginia’s best assets—its wine and cheese—and, we hope, induce you to uncork a bottle (we did) and host a party en plein air this fall. Our feature story on Charlottesville (page 78) will guide you to the “Hook’s” most happening restaurants, wine shops and arts venues, and we offer you weddings again (page 45), done in grand Virginia style. There is a good read waiting for you inside this issue. We hope you enjoy it.

—erin parkhurst, Acting Editor

impressed with his knowledge. It’s awesome to visit a National Park and be served such healthy food! I hope to come back again soon, hopefully during fall foliage!


We welcome calendar items; to ensure consideration, printed copies of information must be sent four months before publication via U.S. Mail to our Editor at the above address. POSTMASTER Send address changes to VIRGINIA LIVING

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Cindy Gifford


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Virginia Living is a registered trademark of Cape Fear Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 2008, all rights reserved. Reproduction without written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. IDENTIFICATION STATEMENT VIRGINIA LIVING

(USPS) ISSN 1534-9984 VirginiaLiving is published bimonthly by Cape Fear Publishing Company, 109 East Cary St., Richmond, VA 23219. Periodical postage permit 021-875 at Richmond, VA.

Masthead_Contrib_OCT11.indd 11

Dear Madame: Dear Madame: I have to say I totally agree with the article about Skyland Resort (August 2011 issue). It’s a beautiful place, and the views are incredible! Also the Pollock Dining Room food was delicious. I had the privilege to visit Skyland just recently and I also might like to add that I was pleasantly surprised to be served a delicious meal by the chef, Patrick Miller. He was kind enough to take the time to explain how he prepared the food. I was very

My mother served in the U.S. Army’s Signal Intelligence Service during WWII, and was posted to Arlington Hall (April 2011 issue). So when I was recently accepted into the U.S. Foreign Service in Arlington, she asked me to see if that building was still around: 70 years later, the place is still serving the needs of our nation! John Elliot

Department of Corrections In our August 2011 story on Shenandoah National Park (“Pretty, Remote & Quaint”), we mistakenly referred to the Barred Owl, which is one of the stars of SNP’s Birds of Prey ranger program, as the Bard Owl. We apologize for this error. Write

to us! Letters to the Editor We love receiving letters from our readers. Please e-mail us at Editor@CapeFear. com or write to us at Letters to the Editor, Cape Fear Publishing, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, Va. 23219. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. For subscriptions, see our website, Kindly address all other editorial queries to V i r g i n i a

L i v i n g

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Virginia Living - October 2011  

The October 2011 issue of Virginia Living is the tastiest yet, featuring our favorite pairings of cheese and wine, with every crumb and drop...

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