ONE SIP AT A TIME: Take a winter distillery tour AT HOME: A place built around pictures
ANN BEATTIE Exclusive New Fiction
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Winter birds of Virginia Page 50
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60 Jenkins lane, speryville
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| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 1
VIRGINIA’S NORTHERN PIEDMONT IS AN EXCEPTIONAL PLACE. Located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Piedmont is beloved for its scenic beauty, unparalleled in its significance to America’s history, and valuable for its productive family farms, PEC’s primary area includes nine counties in the Virginia Piedmont. Our work often benefits communities outside of this region as we join in productive partnerships, provide a model of grassroots engagement, and improve policies at the local, state, and national level.
Photo by Bruce Jones
Piedmont Environmental Council
FEATURES January/February 2017 • VOLUME xI • ISSUE 1
38 “Pale Male” Short Fiction by Ann Beattie
Introduction by Morgan Hensley
The Piedmont’s Distillery Trail Spirits to celebrate your new year BY PETE PAZMINO
Favorite Bed & Breakfasts on AIRBNB Cozy, comfy cottages (and a treehouse!)
BEATTIE © SIGRID ESTRADA
BY ERIC J. WALLACE
Right: Modern & Historic The Home of Merry Foresta and Andy Grundberg BY JACLYN DYRHOLM
ON THE COVER Sparrow in the Snow BY PATRICIA TEMPLES
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BELMONT FARM DISTILLERY, BY SHELIA R. LAMB
18 HAPPENINGS p. 12 • CONTRIBUTORS p. 9 • DESSERTS p. 60
Fry’s Spring Station’s Winter Comfort Foods
Of Time and the River
Modern Architecture Meets a Historic Home
Pizza & Fried Oysters Life in the Piedmont BY WALTER NICKLIN
Home Profile BY PAM KAMPHUIS
Photo Contest The Winners Revealed
School of Rock: Charlottesville’s The Front Porch BY JAMES WILKINSON 4 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
Birds of Winter
Children of the Shenandoah
Resources for Birdwatchers and Conservationists
BY KIT JOHNSTON AND KRISTIE KENDALL
BY PAM OWEN
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
MONOTYPE BY TUCKER HILL (LEFT), BY JIM GEMMEL (CENTER), COURTESY OF THE FRONT PORCH (RIGHT)
FOUNDING EDITOR: Walter Nicklin
圀栀攀爀攀 攀瘀攀爀礀 昀爀愀洀攀 椀猀 愀 眀漀爀欀 漀昀 愀爀琀⸀
CO-FOUNDERS: Arthur W. (Nick) Arundel, Sandy Lerner
PUBLISHER Dennis Brack EDITOR Pam Kamphuis DIGITAL MEDIA AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Morgan Hensley SENIOR EDITOR Gus Edwards
䘀愀爀洀椀渀最琀漀渀 刀椀瘀攀爀 戀礀 倀攀琀攀 䈀攀爀最攀爀漀渀
PHOTO DIRECTOR Jacki Dyrholm ACCOUNTING MANAGER Carina Richard Wheat
䔀愀猀琀 䴀愀椀渀 匀琀爀攀攀琀 䈀攀爀爀礀瘀椀氀氀攀Ⰰ 嘀椀爀最椀渀椀愀 ㈀㈀㘀 ⠀㔀㐀 ⤀ 㤀㔀㔀ⴀ㌀㤀㌀㤀 椀渀昀漀䀀瀀栀洀椀氀氀攀爀⸀挀漀洀 眀眀眀⸀瀀栀洀椀氀氀攀爀猀琀甀搀椀漀⸀挀漀洀
ADVERTISING MANAGER Tom Spargur CIRCULATION MANAGER Pam Pulawski CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jordan Koepke, Doug Lees, Hardie Newton, Jonathan Yates BEAGLE MIX Angel
Experience Assisted Living Like You’ve Never Seen Before!
The Piedmont Virginian is published Bi-monthly by Rappahannock Media, L.L.C. P.O. Box 87, Amissville, VA 20106 540.349.2951, 540.675.3088 fax firstname.lastname@example.org All editorial, advertising, reprint, and/or circulation correspondence should use the above address, or visit the website: www.piedmontvirginian.com The editors welcome but accept no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts and art. Reprints or bulk copies available upon request. Single-copy price, $5.95. One-year subscription rate, $24.95. Two-year rate, $45.95 © 2017 by Rappahannock Media, LLC. ISSN # 1937-5409 POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to The Piedmont Virginian, P.O. Box 87, Amissville, VA 20106.
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| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 5
Looking for Your Dream Home?
EDITOR’S NOTE Starting the New Year with Original Fiction by an Acclaimed Storyteller
e here at the Piedmont Virginian have always had one mission: to chronicle the “Good Life” as it is lived in the Piedmont in a way that is as informative, entertaining, and as relevant as possible. Sometimes that means including new features. We’re beginning this year with an original work by one of America’s foremost storytellers, Ann Beattie. To say that we’re honored to have Ms. Beattie—widely recognized and highly praised for her talents— inaugurate this project with her story, “Pale Male,” would be understatement. Learn more about her connection to the Piedmont and merits as a writer of literary fiction in our author profile (pg. 38). As you may have noticed, we love exploring Piedmont’s homes! Old ones, new ones, old and new ones (such as End of State Maintenance Farm on pg. 32), each home tells us something, connects us with this spectacular region just a little bit more. Talking with owners and architects enlightens us and helps us better understand what makes the Piedmont so special. Therefore, we’re committing to including a home profile in every issue in the hopes that you readers share our delight in learning more about the people, homes, and history of this treasured region. This past December, frequent contributor and history teacher par excellence Richard Deardoff was awarded for his lifelong commitment to education by the Mosby Heritage Area Association. This magazine’s founder Walter Nicklin was similarly recognized by the Association in 2012, though that’s not all the two share in common. Both share a reverence for legends past and present, as Walter muses in his meditative piece “Of Time and the River,” which you’ll find on the final page. One final side note: this issue is best enjoyed with a glass of Copper Fox whiskey (pg. 18) and some fried oysters (pg. 23). And with that, happy new year!
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6 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
Pam Kamphuis New Millennium 540.349.1221
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
t of Depart men ct ions orre c d n a s t n e at onem
Follow our blog and social media, and join our weekly digital newsletter for our weekly roundups. This is a helpful weekend planner, with a taste of everything the Piedmont has to offer in the way of things to do to enjoy our region! It also includes a summary of our blog posts and news from the Piedmont Virginian.
Snapshots from the end of the day
Foxfield Fall Races Charlottesville
PHOTOS BY CAMDEN LITTLETON
Chef’s Plate Training Flat Race Finish line and grandstand
Brendan Crowley on Misfortune, Elizabeth Wiley
Willie McCarthy on Show King is about to pass Darren Nagle on Formidable Heart and Gerard Galligan on Beau Who for the win.
Jimmy Day, Sondra LeHew, Emily Day, Jeff LeHew, Karen Dick, Lindsay Lehew, Willie McCarthy
Mrs. Bruce Smart, Keri Brion, Mayor of Charlottesville, Michael Signer, Autumn Marshall, Dave Holmes, Ashley Vermilya, Emily Day
Premier Middleburg Gallery Opening Virginia Artist Marci Nadler Launches Unstable Arts at Gallery on Madison
Marci Nadler, Jill Garity, Barbara Sharp, Gail Guirreri Maslyk
Barbara Sharp, Jennifer Scott holding her Sheltie, Caylie, Margot Blatmann
Oz Tombakoglu, painting by Jill Garity Nancy Milburn Kleck, Gomer Pyles 62
COURTESY OF MARCI NADLER/UNSTABLE ARTS/GALLERY ON MADISON
In our November/december 2016 issue, the Foxfield Races were incorrecly referred to as the Montpelier Races. The editor regrets the error.
Barbara Sharp, Rooster Morning by Gail Guirreri Maslyk on the wall.
| NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016
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SOCIAL MEDIA FAVORITES Our most popular posts from November and December at facebook.com/piedmontvirginian and instagram.com/thepiedmontvirginian
Views of Montebello
A stunning view
The Avett Brothers
Fry’s Spring Station
The Gobbler, Foster Harris House
BY PAM KAMPHUIS
BY JACLYN DYRHOLM
Fall hikes in the Piedmont
BY JACLYN DYRHOLM
BY G. MILO FARINEAU
COURTESY OF THE AVETT BROTHERS
BY JACLYN DYRHOLM
Celebrate a Fresh New Year with Experience & Taste! Locally-inspired delicious food is
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Piedmont Virginia 7.25x4.667 HP Jan/Feb 17 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
8 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
Corporate Social & At-Home •
Party 2 Go
OUR CONTRIBUTORS Kit Johnston For over 40 years, Kit has freelanced on a wide variety of topics for a wide variety of clients and publications, including but not limited to Ladies Home Journal, Virginia Wine Gazette, New Scientist, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, Piedmont Virginian, and several local newspapers, including The Rappahannock News. She loves to travel, most recently in the Ligurian Coast of Italy and France and the Duoro River Valley of Portugal, teaches yoga, and owns and operates La Bella Terra, a solar-powered farmhouse bed and breakfast in Madison County. Kristie Kendall holds a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in history and a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Maryland. She is a native Virginian and works for the Piedmont Environmental Council, where she focuses on land conservation and historic preservation issues. Pam Owen Writer, editor, photographer, and passionate nature conservationist living in Rappahannock County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Two favorite quotes: By E.O. Wilson, who coined the term “biodiversity,” “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction”; by Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they pass by.”
Pete Pazmino is a writer based in Rappahannock County. This is his second feature article for the Piedmont Virginian; his fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Gargoyle Magazine, JMWW, The Rappahannock Review, Memorious, and others. He has also been the recipient of two Claudia Mitchell Arts Fund grants from the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and Community. To contact Pazmino, email him at petepazmino@gmail. com. Eric J. Wallace’s writing has appeared in Canoe & Kayak, Adventure Kayak, Modern Farmer, All About Beer, Twisted South, Scalawag, and other national magazines. Presently, he writes a travel/outdoors column for The Daily Progress. www.ericjwallace.com. James Wilkinson is a writer and environmental consultant based in Charlottesville.
Serene, natural and one-of-a-kind, Airlie is just 50 miles from Washington D.C. and 33 miles from Dulles airport. The convenient location, picturesque surroundings and personal service make it a perfect venue for productive meetings, unforgettable weddings, special occasions and unique weekend escapes. Warrenton, Virginia | 540-347-1300 | airlie.com
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 9
The Piedmont in Pictures Winners Announced!
Every year, we ask our readers to enter photos that show us what is special to them about the Piedmont. Our purpose with this publication is to give voice to this special, even magical, place with the hope that it remains so. The Piedmont’s uniqueness and essence are easily captured with a camera. Whether it’s our naturally beautiful scenic vistas, the people, our beloved animals, the quaint old towns, the architecture, the sporting life, the farms and open spaces,
old buildings or modern homes, side roads or main streets, our finalists have captured our nature, places, and ways of life. It’s not only about the photo, it’s about what your photo celebrates about the Piedmont as you see it. We had a fantastic turnout this year, both for entries and for voting. Thank you to Great Harvest Bread Company of Warrenton for sponsoring our contest and to all who sent in their beautiful photos. Congratulations to our winners!
Blue Truck 2.0, Marshall, by Laney Weyman 10 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
After The Storm, Washington, by Kevin Adams
Sky Meadows State Park, Paris, by BBarnes Photography PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017â€ƒ 11
HAPPENINGS More information and events at piedmontvirginian.com Submit your event and find an extensive online calendar
BY RICHARD TERMINE
PHOTO COURTESY OF TEDXCHARLOTTESVILLE
“Across 211,” a Rappahannock landscape by Kevin H. Adams
PRINCE WILLIAM • THEATER
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| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
BY RICHARD TERMINE
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile. January 22, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas. Book a one-way ticket on this Nile cruise and see if you can solve this whodunit! Aquila Theatre, in its 25th anniversary season, stages Murder on the Nile, by one of the greatest mystery writers in world literature, Agatha Christie. Set aboard a palace steamer traversing the Nile River in 1940s Egypt, Christie’s classic murder mystery follows famous heiress Kay Ridgeway and her penniless new husband, Simon Mostyn, as the newlyweds take a honeymoon cruise down the Nile—a recipe for foul play. Also aboard the steamer are a spurned lover, a protective uncle, a troubled doctor, and a slew of other colorful characters, including the world-famous Belgian investigator, Hercule Poirot, who must call on all of his intuition and investigative skills to solve this baffling mystery. Adapted from her novel Death on the Nile, which the New York Times Book Review praised, writing, “You have the right to expect great things of such a combination as Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot and you will not be disappointed.” Christie’s masterful mystery is matched by Aquila Theatre’s brilliant direction, superb acting, thrilling physicality, and stunning set designs. Will you be able to sift through the motives, alibis, and lies and separate fact from fiction? Who can be trusted? Who holds the truth? Who is a suspect? Whodunit?
STALKED BY SUZANNE SCHERR
DUAFLEX III BY ADAM DESIO
FREDERICKSBURG • ART All Members Exhibition. January 3–30, Opening Reception Jan. 6, Art First Gallery, Fredericksburg. This exhibition at Art First Gallery celebrates its 25th anniversary by displaying the work of its 25 members of dedicated artists. Located in the heart of the downtown district, the gallery was founded in 1992 as the first artists’ cooperative. Twenty-five artists across various media comprise the gallery’s distinguished membership, a selective bunch that culls from the top of the region’s artists. This gallery celebrates those individuals, as without deeply committed artists, there would be no Art First Gallery. Contemporary, traditional, abstract, hyper realist, prints, photographs, ceramics, fine weaving, sculpture, jewelry—these forms, and so many others, are kept alive by artists and organizations PHOTO COURTESY such as Art OF FRANK WALLACE First. Here you can view pastoral images filtered through Ed King’s Expressionist eye and deft brushstrokes; Ariel Freeman’s watercolors and pastels, each an attempt to capture the colorful, vivid beauty we encounter and overlook on a daily basis; the acrylics of Carol Coffman, layered with color and line to create a whole that is emblematic of an understated symbolism; the influence of Pollock in Jessica Cannon’s textured, nearly sculptural abstract paintings; and the delicate balance of chaos and order, formlessness and shape, in James Lyman’s Virginia landscapes. Fredericksburg is home to so many amazingly talented artists, and for years, Art First has been its home for fine art. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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HAPPENINGS FAUQUIER • MUSIC
Happy Hours • Wine Tastings • Wine Pairing Dinners 100+ Bottles of Wine • Rotating Seasonal Menu • Chef’s Table Roof-Top Patio • Roof-Top Grown Herbs & Greens
29 Main Street, Warrenton 540-349-9339 • www.thenewbridgewarrenton.com
14 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPITOL STEPS
BY EMPTY SOUND PHOTOGRAPHY
Bryan Elijah Smith, Solo Acoustic. January 29, Fox Meadow Winery, Linden. Bryan Elijah Smith is perhaps best-known as the frontman of Dayton’s alt-Americana group, the Wild Hearts. This January, he steps away from the band, picks up his acoustic, and lets forth his unabashedly genuine songwriting and storytelling croon. His compositions and aesthetic as a producer create a unique amalgam of Americana that is peppered with mainstream sensibilities and a wide array of genres. The raw, rollicking energy that has garnered the Wild Hearts critical acclaim and an adoring fan base is lifted; in its place is Smith’s tender, intimate performance. Their most recent album, These American Hearts, made year’s end best-of lists in 2014 and highlighted Smith’s songwriting over the course of 11 tracks. The album is a self-portrait, a story that unfurls, digs deep, and revels in the joys, sorrows, loves, and heartaches that manifest during long tours and time spent on the road. Beyond the poignant, insightful lyrics, the album soars sonically, at once distinguishing itself from and fitting itself into the untamed, backcountry sound that the Wild Hearts have developed.
JAMIE VANBUHLER DBA: VISUALLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
ALBEMARLE • MUSIC Greensky Bluegrass. January 24, The Jefferson Theater, Charlottesville. For more than 15 years, the members of Greensky Bluegrass have created their own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock and roll: a collection of opposites, full of dark psychedelic swirls, bright bursts of acoustic guitar, soundscapes, solos, freethinking improvisation, and sharp, focused songwriting. The quintet—replete with dobro, banjo, mandolin, guitar, and an upright bass—has showcased its wild, wide-ranging, and diverse repertoire of bluegrass on stages nationwide. "You can call us an acoustic ensemble, or a drumless rock band, or a rock-and-roll-bluegrass band," says mandolinist Paul Hoffman, who, along with guitarist Dave Bruzza, handles most of the group’s songwriting duties. "All of that shifting identity has taught us to cover a lot of ground. There are some aggressive, rocking moments. Some bouncy, funky moments. An acoustic think-piece or two. It's a balance of moods and textures that we create as a band, almost like a mix tape.” Formed in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Greensky Bluegrass kicked off its career playing living rooms and open mic nights across the Midwest. By 2005, they were touring nationally, and in a year’s time they had made it to the revered stage at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, a highly esteemed music festival in Colorado. The group spent most of the following decade on the road, fine-tuning a live show modeled not after the toned-down production of traditional bluegrass music, but
the full-on spectacle of rock. "We play two sets of music every night with a big light show, and really care about creating a large-scale production," says Bruzza. "The goal isn't just to play important music. We want to cultivate an experience, where people can escape from their everyday lives for a minute and put their worries aside.” Playing as many as 175 shows per year, Greensky Bluegrass have graduated to headlining status at some of the country's most iconic venues, selling out amphitheaters like Red Rocks and world-class auditoriums like the Ryman. They've become a regular name on the festival circuit, too, adding Bonnaroo, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Austin City Limits, Forecastle, and Outside Lands to their touring schedule. Supported by a grassroots audience whose members often travel for hours to see the band, Greensky Bluegrass are still a proudly independent act, enjoying the success of a major-label act without sacrificing artistic control. As Bruzza says, “We're trying to explore the textures and sounds we can make, while still having the instrumentation of a bluegrass band. There aren't many rules. We'll run a dobro through an amp on a song like 'Past My Prime.' We can get pretty epic. [2016’s Shouted, Written Down & Quoted] is a crazy carnival one minute, and it's a psychedelic Pink Floyd jam the next.” Equal parts dark, driving, and dynamic, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted is Greensky Bluegrass at their best, fusing the fiery fretwork of their live shows with the focus of a true songwriting outfit. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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COURTESY OF NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF UKRAINE
PRINCE WILLIAM • MUSIC National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. February 25, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas. Founded in 1918, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine is one of Eastern Europe's most esteemed orchestras, earning international acclaim for its virtuosity and precision. Deeply rooted in the rich musical traditions of Eastern Europe and Russia, the orchestra is celebrated for its adventurous, high-energy repertoire and vibrant performances. Under the baton of Conductor Laureate Theodore Kuchar, the orchestra performs Dvořák's “Symphony
No. 9” and ballet music by Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych. Alexei Grynyuk—one of Europe’s finest pianists—joins the orchestra to perform Schumann's “Piano Concerto in A minor.” Throughout its history, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine has premiered the works of many classical giants including those of Prokofiev, Lyatoshynsky, and Shostakovich, and has produced more than 100 acclaimed recordings, garnering the ensemble several Grammy nominations.
ALBEMARLE • COMEDY
BY JASON GRINDLE
WellRED Comedy Tour. February 11, Southern Café & Music Hall, Charlottesville. This trio of Southern funnymen follows in the footsteps of a long, distinguished tradition of Southern humorists. There’s the satire of Mark Twain, the bumbling foolery of the over-educated Ignatius J. Reilly in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, and now Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan, and Corey Ryan Forrester. Smart, hilarious, and incisive, the trio tackles people's preconceptions about the South head-on. Equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and socially conscious, their show illuminates our own prejudices about a region known for its, well, prejudices. Trae Crowder has been performing his particular brand of Southernfried intellectual comedy in the Southeast and beyond for the past six years. Hailing from rural Tennessee, Drew Morgan draws on his experiences as a small-town son of a preacher man who has lived in Africa, Australia, Miami, Boston, and (currently) New York City. Weaving his stories together with observations on culture, religion, and identity, his stage presence is a mixture of Surrealism and Samuel Clemens. Corey has been writing and performing stand-up comedy since the age of 16— before he could legally work in a comedy club. His Georgia roots have given Corey an affinity for Southern wit and storytelling. He may often wear a Pabst Blue Ribbon hat, but don't assume there is anything blue-collar about him. “CoFo” has thoughts on everything from race to religion, politics, and gender. Come out and watch these lampooners take on the South (and maybe even the Piedmont!).
BY MARCO BORGGREVE
ALBEMARLE • MUSIC Cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras & Pianist Alexander Melnikov. January 24, Old Cabell Hall Auditorium, Charlottesville. Queyras enjoys an enviable reputation as a musician of exceptional versatility and integrity, equally as a soloist with orchestras, chamber musician, and solo performer. Queyras plays a cello made by Gioffredo Cappa in 1696, on loan from Mécénat Musical Société Générale since November 2005. He is a professor at the Musikhochschule Freiburg. Queyras is also an enthusiastic exponent of contemporary music and is committed to expanding the repertoire boundaries of his instrument. Pianist Alexander Melnikov graduated from the Moscow Conservatory under Lev Naumov. His most formative musical moments in Moscow include his early encounter with Svjatoslav Richter. Known for his often unusual musical and programmatic decisions, Alexander Melnikov discovered a career-long interest in historically informed performance practice at an early age. They will perform works by Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin.
on Route 50 in beautiful Loudoun County with convenient in-town parking
Discover our Traditions while creating your own... Shopping, Dining, Arts, Horses, and History
Relax and join us for a quiet day in the village... • Feb. 3–24
Middleburg Arts Council presents a juried show at The Byrne Gallery: “The Country Way”
• Feb. 17–19
Ultimate Winter Sale Great sales throughout town
• Mar. 4
Healthy Eating & Active Living Fair Community Center
• Mar. 31–Apr. 2
Shakespeare in the ‘Burg
540 . 687 . 8888
The Middleburg Business & Professional Association in support of the local business & retail community.
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 17
A Trek Along the Piedmont’s
Spirit(s) Trail Virginia Distilleries Are Thriving
By Pete Pazmino
18 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
ry Copper Fox Distille
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
BY SHEILA R. LAMB (LEFT); BIGSTOCKPHOTO (TOP)
ver the past few decades, Virginia’s wine industry has exploded, going from almost insignificant in the ’80s and ’90s to being the fifth largest both for overall acreage and grape production in the nation as of 2012. Beer, too, has gone through an explosive boom period, with craft brewers both large and small opening their doors all across the state. But what of distilleries? How are they faring in the Commonwealth? Well, it turns out that in 2005 there were only a handful of distilleries in all of Virginia. Today, there are more than 35 in the state, with still more waiting in the wings. This trend is a reflection of what’s happening nationally—while there were only about 40 distilleries nationwide in 2005, there are more than 900 now, with more opening or getting ready to open every year. So how has this trend manifested itself in Virginia’s Piedmont? For an answer to that question, we decided to take a drive. It would lead us over 90 miles of glorious country highways from Manassas, through Culpeper, and on out to Sperryville. Along the way we would visit four craft distilleries that together represent the entire range of the state’s offerings—distilleries old and new, modern and rustic, scenic and urban. We would sample a full range of spirits, as well: gin, whiskey, vodka, rum, even moonshine and some clever cocktails. We would learn, in short, that there is a lot to learn—and love—about Virginia distilleries.
KO Distilling 10381 Central Park Drive, Suite 105, Manassas 571.292.1115 • www.kodistilling.com
COURTESY OF KO DISTILLING
ocated a few minutes outside Old Town Manassas, KO Distilling, opened in 2015 by the duo of Bill Karlson and John O’Mara, whose last names combine for the initials, is one of Virginia’s newest. While the light industrial park in which it’s located offers little in the way of scenic views, inside is the cozy, welcoming feel of a neighborhood bar. We arrive as one of their monthly “spirited yoga” classes is ending, and take some time to admire an impressive painting that depicts the “feast at Manassas Junction,” where Confederate soldiers, low on supplies and desperate for food, managed to ambush a Union supply train. The Confederate soldiers who are toasting over a barrel are drinking from a bottle of KO gin. And no wonder, because it’s gin that is KO Distilling’s specialty. “Our founders are big fans of gin,” explains Sarah Christian, the tasting room’s assistant manager. She explains that their primary goal was to make a new “American” style gin that used less juniper than its British counterparts so that the gin would be easier on the palette for those who aren’t necessarily gin fans. The entire operation is very high-tech; their production room is an almost handsfree, highly automated system that is controlled from a single computer panel from which all aspects of fermentation and production are monitored. An ingenious chain link system transports grain through pipes and into fermentation tanks. And at the center of it all is their copper and brass still, a 600-gallon beast crafted by the legendary company Vendome. For our tasting, Sarah is joined by Alex Zahorchak, one of KO’s pourers. She and Alex explain that customers have the option of tasting cocktails made with KO spirits, or tasting the spirits themselves. Of the spirits, there are three kinds of gin: Navy Strength, Standard Strength, and Barrel Finish. There’s also a Virginia Moon White Whiskey. We start with the gins. “All our gins are actually the same recipe as far as botanicals,” Sarah says. “There are just different finishing processes to get the different flavors.” Botanicals, she explains, are the various ingredients that make up a gin’s flavor profile: juniper, of course, but also citrus, anise, licorice, cinnamon, and others. Alex pours a taste of the Navy Strength, and explains that the name comes from the British navy, where the gin ration served to sailors had to have a high enough proof that any gunpowder that the gin might be spilled on would still ignite. The gin has a strong, bold flavor, a heat that slides all the way down my throat. The Standard Strength, a lower proof, is much smoother than the Navy Strength, with less heat and more of those softer, botanical—almost floral—flavors. And the Barrel Finish is another animal entirely, a gin that’s been aged in used bourbon barrels for up to six months. The oak comes across clear as a bell, and instead of heat, you get honeysuckle.
Finally, we get to the white whiskey. “A lot of white whiskeys are so harsh because they’re made with corn,” Sarah explains, then goes on to say that theirs is made only with wheat, rye, and malted barley. This does, in fact, make it a very easy-drinking whiskey, and it’s a key ingredient of two of their most popular cocktails. One, the Manassas Mule, replaces vodka with white whiskey and was one of their most popular summer beverages. The other, a Spiced Whiskey Cider, is a dangerously delicious concoction that blends apple cider, ginger ale, white whiskey, and a chai-pear shrub—shrubs being fruit juices pioneered by the Colonials who added a touch of apple cider vinegar as a preservative. It’s hard to limit ourselves to only a small taste, but of course we’re only getting started. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Belmont Farm Distillery 13490 Cedar Run Road, Culpeper 540.825.3207 • www.belmontfarmdistillery.com
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been originally used for illegal moonshining during Prohibition before being seized in Yonkers in 1933. Their other equipment, too, is a testament to the enduring nature of old machines. There’s a bottle capper from 1932, a filler from 1946 that was originally built for soda, a labeler from 1968. Walking through the Belmont Farm Distillery production room is like walking back in time. But it’s not time travel we’re here for; it’s the tasting. Back at the bar, Cheryl presents the distillery’s formidable lineup of products. “We are the very first legal craft distillery within the United States,” she says. “It all started with Virginia Lightning, which is 30 years old this year. This is the actual legal moonshine.” It’s made from a recipe that belonged to Chuck Miller’s grandfather: 100 percent corn, then double-distilled to 150 proof before being cut back to 100. It doesn’t smell as strong as I’m expecting it to, but it definitely packs a kick. Our next several tastes are of flavored moonshines that Belmont makes by adding a juice concentrate or extract to the Virginia Lightning. First is a cherry-flavored version, made with maraschino cherries and reminiscent of cough medicine. Cheryl nods at hearing this, then pours a small amount of Sprite in my glass. “Try it
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now,” she says, and the transformation is astonishing. Their “Apple Pie” is next, and it’s a heavier, almost syrupy concoction that coats my tongue in a very nice way. Their Peach flavored-moonshine tastes much lighter than I’d expect, and Cheryl tells us that her favorite drink is Peach and sweet tea. Finally, there’s the Butterscotch, which smells and tastes like liquid candy. “We drink it with root beer,” Cheryl says, and after she pours some A&W into my glass, I can see why. But we’re still not finished. There’s also a vodka, dangerously flavorless in light of the fact that it’s 180 proof, and a gin, heavy on botanicals but not Navy Strength. We finish with a rum and two whiskeys. The first, their Apple Whiskey, is aged for two months in copper kettles with oaken apple chips, then barrel aged and cut to 80 proof using the same apple juice concentrate that makes the Apple Pie. It’s much sweeter and thicker than the Apple Pie, though—almost a dessert whiskey. Their Copper Kettle Virginia Whiskey holds the distinction of being the registered whiskey of Virginia, and is actually made in the style of a traditional bourbon blend. All in all, it’s a very impressive lineup. But we can’t linger; there are two more distilleries to go yet.
COURTESY OF BELMONT FARM DISTILLERY
rom KO Distilling, it’s a one-hour drive to our next destination, Belmont Farm Distillery, located right outside Culpeper. What KO might have lacked in scenic views is more than made up for here. Belmont Farm is a bucolic setting, complete with country house, barn, and pasture. It’s got something else KO didn’t have, too: longevity. Founded in the late 1980s by Chuck and Jeanette Miller, Belmont Farm holds the distinction of being the nation’s oldest craft whiskey distillery. Inside the rustic barn that serves as tasting room, gift shop, and production facility, we’re greeted by Brand Ambassador Cheryl Buys, a New Jersey transplant who’s worked at the distillery for two years. “You are standing in the Church of the Precious Blood,” she says, explaining that the Millers built this barn from the remains of a Culpeper church that burned down. The production room is another study in contrasts. There’s no centralized computer panel here, no automated system. Instead, it’s a crowded space, worn down in the way of all things related to labor. “We consider ourselves patinaed,” Cheryl laughs, and that description certainly fits their still: a massive, 2,000-gallon copper construction that is actually the oldest functioning still that remains in America, having
Old House Vineyards 18351 Corkys Lane, Culpeper 540.423.1032 • www.oldhousevineyards.com
COURTESY OF OLD HOUSE VINEYARDS
rom Belmont Farm, it’s a short hop to our next destination: Old House Vineyards, a 15-year-old winery that very recently earned the distinction of becoming the first winery in Virginia to also operate as a distillery. It’s a stunning setting: there’s a winding road up to, yes, an old house that serves as the winery. There’s also a lake, a small island, and a gazebo on the island that’s a favorite spot for weddings. The distillery is tucked behind the house. The first things we notice are the World War II ambulance and jeep parked outside. In the narrow tasting room are crammed all sorts of other artifacts: uniforms, helmets, belts, canteens, even a working dog-tag maker. We’re met there by Patrick Kearney, whose father, the owner, has a background of designing interactive museum displays and is working to make the distillery a World War II museum. On our brief tour, as we watch flames crackle beneath the 150-gallon Olympic copper pot that Old House brought over from South Africa and spent six months rewelding. Patrick explains the benefits of operating as both a winery and distillery. “We get to have our feet in both legislative doors,” he says, adding that having the winery as an anchor puts less financial pressure on the distillery. “It gives us a greater control over the products that we want to push out,” he says. “We’re okay waiting for that six-, seven-, eight-year mark for brandy and aged rums.” He’s clearly excited about their plans for creating a Virginia state brandy. “It’s the next evolution of wine,” he says. “Something that separates us from California, from France.” Although it’s still going to be a while—their oldest brandy has been in barrels for only two years, and is still at least another four or five away from being released. Back in the tasting room, Patrick walks us through what is available. First up is their Harvest Vodka, which is distilled from the winery’s grape residue. It’s the only spirit they serve chilled, he explains, and it’s quite good. It’s even better with a small splash of the various juices they have available for
those who want a miniature mixed drink. They have a new line of vodkas—Dude Spirit—coming out as well, and each bottle will come with a real dog tag made on their machine. Next up is a tequila, which Patrick explains can’t actually be called tequila because it’s not produced in Mexico. “It’s Tequila Mockingbird,” he laughs. I’m surprised at how smooth it tastes, much smoother than what I remember drinking as an undergrad. Patrick laughs at that, too. “It’s processed a little bit differently,” he says. We also sample a variety of rums, all of which started under their Rhino Rum label.
This, unfortunately, raised some potential copyright issues, and so they abandoned that name and instead chose Diceros, which is Latin for “rhinoceros.” There’s a spiced rum that’s quite good, with a citrusy flavor that makes it taste a little bit like a hard lemonade. But their Amber Rum, which is finished in used Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, is my favorite. “It’s our appeal to whiskey drinkers,” Patrick says, and I can easily see why it is. When we’re finished, it’s sorely tempting to hop over to the winery and sample what’s available there, but there’s still one more stop to go, and so we’re off.
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Copper Fox Distillery 9 River Lane, Sperryville 540.987.8554 • www.copperfox.biz
ur final destination of the day takes us back through Culpeper and north along 522 to the village of Sperryville, home of Copper Fox Distillery. The Copper Fox, or “Wasmund’s,” as many locals know it, was opened by Rick Wasmund in 2005 and prides itself on being the first in the world to offer an apple and cherrywood smoked whiskey. It’s located in an old juice plant that, back in the 1930s, was part of the thriving apple industry that was Rappahannock County’s backbone. Inside,
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BY SHEILA R. LAMB
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we’re met by David Camp, who not only has spent the past seven years working for Copper Fox, but is also Rick Wasmund’s brother-in-law. Our tour of the distillery starts in the malting room. “Probably the most important thing that we do here is malt our own barley,” Camp explains as he shows off what he describes as a “traditional floor malt.” Almost a third of the room’s floor is covered with a thick layer of barley seeds, which are spread there after spending three days submerged in water. On the floor, the seeds actually begin to sprout, which starts the process of converting their starch to sugar. David scoops up a handful, showing off how tiny white tips are beginning to emerge. “Malting is a stage of germination,” he says. “We don’t want it to go to full germination, which is where the sprout comes out after it eats up all the sugar. Then you end up with a bunch of chicken feed.” He shows us the kiln next, which is guarded by a knight named Sir Maltsalot. This is where the smoking happens—the barley is spread on a perforated floor above, while on the floor below a small Weber grill puts out smoke that fans pull up and through the seeds. The pourer for our tasting is Tom Junk, a Sperryville resident for 30 years. He starts us off with Wasmund’s Single Malt Whiskey, which was Copper Fox’s original product. Tom explains that it was after spending time in Scotland that Rick decided to go with the cherry and apple wood for flavor instead of the more traditional peat. The result is a whiskey that is both smooth and flavorful, with the undeniable taste of apple on the tongue. There’s also a special Blue Top single malt whiskey, which is made just like the regular single malts except that the Blue Tops are finished aged in port wine barrels from nearby Rappahannock Cellars. Next up is Copper Fox’s rye whiskey, also available as a regular or Blue Top bottle. The ryes, Tom explains, have become some of the distillery’s biggest sellers. “Rye is a very big, bold grain that’s had a resurgence over the last 10 years or so,” he says. Next, he pours us a taste of the Bell Grove 1797 Whiskey, named for a plantation south of Winchester. Tom explains that the date comes from the fact that Rick replicated from the plantation’s old grain records a whiskey that they actually made in 1797—corn, oats, and barley, all aged in used bourbon barrels. At 90 proof, it’s a very mild, mellow drink that Tom describes as “bourbon-esque.” And, finally, our day ends as it began—with gin. Copper Fox’s VirGin (for Virginia) is very floral. “There are about 18 different botanicals,” Tom explains, then goes on to list a few of them: mint, chamomile, star anise, black pepper, three kinds of citrus. It’s triple distilled at 173 proof, and it’s pretty easy to imagine gunpowder still lighting after being doused in it. And with that, our tour ends. Until, of course, the next one.
FOOD AND DRINK
Fry’s Spring Station A Taste of the Mediterranean
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACLYN DYRHOLM PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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FOOD AND DRINK
In the exposed kitchen are Ben Thompson and Tommy Lasley, classmates at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and alumni of some of New York City’s finest, Michelin-starred restaurants. Despite their backgrounds in haute cuisine, the menu and decor at Fry’s Spring Station is deliberately understated, sophisticated without pomp. For Lasley, the ideal dinner begins with the ingredients: “Buy something that tastes great and don’t over-manipulate it,” sage advice (culinary pun not intended) from a master of Mediterranean cuisine. These recipes for fried oysters and pizza are not complex: any kitchen novice could tackle these with aplomb. That’s because, for this issue of the Piedmont Virginian, we wanted to offer you recipes for comfort foods. How do we define “comfort foods”? They’re those dishes that allow you converse with friends and family rather than focus on a lot of slicing and dicing, dishes that you share with each other in front of the fireplace.
Finocchio Pizza Finocchio — another word for Florence fennel — is a gastronomical staple of Italian cuisine. The leaf bases act as a vegetable instead of a seasoning, as fennel is often used. The taste is akin to a mild licorice, perhaps not what one would expect on their pizza, but delicious nonetheless, especially when paired with the puckering citrus of the lemon slices. This recipe makes two medium-large pizzas, so if you’d like to experiment a little with one of the pies, go right ahead!
Ingredients 1 lb. pizza dough (store bought or homemade) 1 bulb Florence fennel 1 lemon 1 lb. Italian sausage (mild or hot) 1 can (28 oz.) Alta Cucina peeled tomatoes (in a pinch, San Marzano will do) Ricotta cheese Extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper as needed Method 1. Preheat oven to 500°. 2. Thinly slice Florence fennel bulb, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper; spread onto sheet pan and cook in hot oven for 10 minutes. 3. While the fennel bakes, cook the Italian sausage, gently crush the tomatoes, and thinly slice the lemon. 4. Evenly spread the crushed tomatoes over the pizza pies. Add roasted fennel, ricotta, lemon slices, and Italian sausage. Follow baking instructions for pizza pies.
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hough Fry’s Spring Station now serves up delicious Italian fare—Margherita pizza, ricotta calzones, manciatta, and mezze plates—as recently as 2008, the building was a fully functional gas station and mechanic’s garage, with much of the floorplan unchanged today. Light pours in through tall glass doors, bathing the heart-pine tables and floors upcycled from old barns in a pool of sunlight. On warm days the doors are raised, treating guests to an al fresco experience, while during the winter months a hearth oven heats the dining area. A beautiful stone patio outside provides extra seating for diners and, with Scott Stadium just around the corner, turns into a popular hangout for football fans on game days. Pictures adorn the walls and tell the building’s history, including two rowdy brothers who filled the gas pumps with moonshine. A side door, dating back to 1931, its teal paint all but chipped off, provides diners with a tangible sense of history.
Fried Oysters with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette For the Oysters:
For the Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette:
Ingredients Jar of oyster selects, shucked in their own liquor Wondra flour Canola oil
Ingredients 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika 3 Tbsps. Sriracha 4 Tbsps. mayonnaise 3 Tbsps. water 2 Tbsps. sugar 3 Tbsps. red miso paste 4 Tbsps. + 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar 2 Tbsps. + 1 tsp. lemon juice ½ tsp. salt 1 cup canola oil
Method 1. Heat 3” of canola oil to 375° in a tall pot. 2. Toss oysters in flour to coat them. Their liquor—the liquid naturally found inside the oyster’s shell—adds flavor and helps the flour stick. (Feel free to relish in the confusion on your friends’ faces when you tell them how delicious oyster liquor is, too.) 3. Cook for one minute in the heated canola oil, using a strainer to remove the oysters.
Rumor has it that oysters are best in “r-months” (e.g. February, March). Call it an old wives’ tale. Call it a rule of thumb. Call it whatever you want, because to us at the Piedmont Virginian, it’s a great reason to eat tons of oysters over the next four months. With this recipe, we’re more than happy to indulge in a little superstition.
Method 1. Combine all ingredients sans oil in a blender. 2. Blend until smooth, then blend a little more for good measure. 3. Slowly add canola oil to mixture, continuing to blend.
The smokiness of the paprika, the brininess of oysters, and the kick of heat from Sriracha set this dish apart from other share plates. One thing to keep in mind: have the smoked paprika vinaigrette ready so that once the fried oysters have cooled enough to eat, you can dip them in this delicious sauce and pop ‘em in your mouth.
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of our favorite piedmont Bed & Breakfasts on Airbnb
The White Lotus Treehouse & Skywalk 26â€ƒ PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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PIEDMONT TRAVEL By Eric Wallace
ince its founding in San Francisco in 2008, Airbnb, Inc. has all but revolutionized the way we travel. In allowing homeowners to play innkeeper, the website has connected travelers to the kind of personalized accommodations previously enjoyed only by friends, family, and housesitters. At present, “hosts” in 191 countries and 34,000 cities are offering more than two million spare rooms, luxury condos, guest houses, farm cottages, airstreams, yurts, tree-
houses, backwoods teepees, and much more to anyone with access to the internet. With listings ranging from low-rent dives to castles, the site caters to budgets of all stripes. To explore the trend, the Piedmont Virginian sifted through local listings and put together the following list of five great Airbnb stays that you and yours can enjoy while close to home, including area highlights and local libations.
White Lotus Treehouse & Skywalk Stanardsville
COURTESY OF WHITE LOTUS TREEHOUSE & SKYWALK VIA AIRBNB.COM
The White Lotus Treehouse rests atop three stories of stilts. Surrounded by catwalks, the treehouse is a standalone unit with a small kitchenette area, bathroom, and bedroom with a queen-sized bed. Windows abound, with treetop views opening out to reveal 21 acres of surrounding farmland, including a large pond, numerous gazebos, wood-fired sauna, stone dipping pool and hot tub, and the property’s organic gardens. On the treehouse’s second story, there’s an outdoor dining and lounge area, perfect for a romantic dinner for two.
Selling Point As a part of the White Lotus complex, visitors to the treehouse enjoy privacy with all the additional amenities of a traditional B&B, and more. In the main lodge—accessed by a series of cool, hundreds-of-feet-long catwalks—there’s a meditation room, reading nook, movie theater, game room, communal kitchen, and more. Also, private yoga classes and massages can be arranged in advance. The property has walking trails aplenty, and canoes are available for use at the pond. ➤ airbnb.com/rooms/886469
WHAT’S NEARBY Mulberry Organic Farm. Take a tour with the farm manager, learn about their state-of-the-art, small-scale, sustainable agriculture operation and, if it tickles your fancy, buy some produce as well.
Kilaurwen Winery. After opening in 1994, Kilaurwen grew grapes for some of the Charlottesville region’s best wineries. Then, in 2009, this intergenerational family operation began making their own wines. With exquisite mountain views and nine wines to choose from, a visit to Kilaurwen makes for a perfect afternoon. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Grace Cottage Waterford
COURTESY OF GRACE COTTAGE VIA AIRBNB.COM
A restored nineteenth-century church lying in the heart of Waterford Village, this cottage is ripe with historic appeal. It features a big, single room with vaulted ceilings, king-sized bed, full kitchen, dining area, sitting area, full bath, wood stove, and floor-to-ceiling library. With all new fixtures, antique hardwood floors, and tons of windows, the open interior feels both warm and expansive, simple and immaculate.
With its copper cookware, full kitchen, and big dining room table, Grace Cottage is the perfect place to retire for a weekend trip with friends. Explore Waterford Village by day, cook and socialize over a few bottles wine by night. ➤ airbnb.com/rooms/9790848
Corcoran Winery & Cidery. Opened in 2004, with five ciders and 11 wines, this twofer features offerings that are sure to satisfy a broad range of tastes. If you’re in the mood for apples, why not try the apple wine and sample a flight of ciders? 28 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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The Sights of Waterford Village. A designated National Historic Landmark since 1970, there are many beautiful historic buildings within walking distance. Tour the restored, nineteenth-century mill town and find yourself transported to a fascinating bygone era. To deepen your experience, print out a detailed, historical map from Waterford Village’s website and take it along for the trip.
Muddy Run Cottage
COURTESY OF THERESA KNIGHT (RIGHT); VIA AIRBNB (LEFT)
Located on a 21-acre horse farm off Muddy Run Lane, this threebedroom, two-bath cottage is perfect for a getaway with a small group of friends or family. Inside, the cottage’s main floor features an open plan with a fully equipped kitchen and bar, as well as a sitting space lined with leather sofas. Ceilings are high, hardwood floors abound, and the decor is rustic and classy. Conveniently, the sleeping spaces are divided, with one bedroom located on the upper floor and the other below. And every window in the place opens onto bucolic treelined or pasture-rich views.
The outside experience. Surrounding the cottage is a series of quaint, landscaped terraces from which to enjoy coffee, wine, a book, or a glass of brandy. The property is gorgeous and, with its many trails, meant to be walked and enjoyed. ➤ airbnb.com/rooms/6024957
Venture into historic downtown Culpeper (left) and enjoy the local sights, sounds, and fare. For a special treat, dine at Flavor on Main: the chic, Prohibition-era decor and New American cuisine won’t disappoint. Far Gohn Brewing Company. With a vintage, down-home atmosphere, a perpetual lineup of German-style staples— Kolsch, Hefeweizen, and Altbier—and alternating specialties including British, Belgian, and American-style brews, Far Gohn is a great place to sit back and soak up the local culture. To up the pub-crawl ante, try hoofing it to nearby Beer Hound Brewery afterward.
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Downtown Cottage Charlottesville
COURTESY OF DOWNTOWN COTTAGE VIA AIRBNB.COM
With chic, modern decor housed in a private, 1940s-style brick building, the two-bedroom Downtown Cottage is cool and classy and has space enough to accommodate a family or couples retreat. Inside, there’s a beautiful, fully equipped, open kitchen with everything you need to make a stay-at-home meal. Unlike a studio option, this offering features a separate dining room, den, and sunroom, making it easy to stretch out and relax without feeling cramped.
Located in a quaint, quiet neighborhood, you’re within easy walking distance of downtown Charlottesville’s popular outdoor mall. At the cottage, you have the luxury of enjoying a respite from the nightlife’s bustle and din. With a full backyard, replete with a patio, you can laze away the afternoon relaxing outdoors with a book and a glass of wine before hitting the town for dinner and a dose of evening culture. ➤ airbnb.com/rooms/12284338
WHAT’S NEARBY For a full day’s worth of historical, outdoor adventure, visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Follow that up with dinner at The Local, one of the city’s finest seasonal, farm-to-table restaurants, or Fry’s Spring Station (featured on pages 23-25). After dinner, catch a show at the Jefferson Theatre, one of Charlottesville’s premier music venues.
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South Street Brewery. This place has the sort of ambiance that bar hoppers and beer lovers go out of their way to indulge. Lots of hardwood, a fabulous bar, high ceilings, and, yes, a live fireplace help to set the mood. (Not to mention a tasty array of brews crafted right there onsite).
Horse Country Cottage
COURTESY OF HORSE COUNTRY COTTAGE VIA AIRBNB.COM
This cottage, “The Wee Dram,” is just minutes away from Middleburg’s Main Street and Great Meadow polo fields. Like a proper country cottage, the home features vaulted ceilings, original exposed brick, hardwood floors, and a deck as well as equestrian decor—a polo mallet here, a saddle there. A gourmet kitchen provides visitors with an opportunity to stay in with a delicious home-cooked meal and enjoy the serenity of the countryside.
Location! A gorgeous drive is all that separates you from Hunt Country’s finest restaurants and retailers. At Wee Dram you are surrounded by wineries, fine dining, and antique stores. Spend a day touring Middleburg, The Plains, and Marshall, pick up an á la carte dinner, and return to the cottage for good conversation and a restful night’s sleep. Once the warmer weather returns, drive down a country road and admire the rolling hills and their untouched beauty. ➤ airbnb.com/rooms/12052372
BY JACLYN DYRHOLM
WHAT’S NEARBY Field & Main. This is the perfect brunch spot. Just minutes away in the town of Marshall, the restaurant’s farm-to-table cuisine exposes diners to the freshest, tastiest local flavors with menu items like French toast with caramelized pear and bourbon syrup. Happy Creek Coffee & Tea. With so much to do, you’d be wise to start your day off with an excellent cup of coffee while reviewing your itinerary. The gluten-free café is the perfect place to sit, sip your coffee, see local artwork, and plan out a wonderful day in the Piedmont. Great Meadow. From May through September, Twilight Polo welcomes tailgaters and spectators to view polo matches held every weekend. There are activities for children as well, and an after-hours dance party for the adults. The 95th Virginia Gold Cup takes place this May, as does the Great Meadow International in July. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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HOME & GARDEN
The fireplaces in the older, original two-story cabin have been preserved. The one on the first floor is functional, with a fireplace insert installed. The dividing ceiling/ floor has been removed, resulting in an expansive vertical space with skylights for even more light and a 32â€ƒ PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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spacious feeling. The second-floor fireplace (visible just below the main beam) has been preserved as a visual nod to the history of the house. The walls to the right of the fireplace are constructed of repurposed chestnut wood from the old cabin.
End State Maintenance Farm A Piedmont couple and their architect tackle the challenge of renovating and enlarging their rural historic home to accommodate the property’s history—and owners’ contemporary architectural tastes.
Story by Pam Kamphuis, Photography by Christopher Odusanya and Jaclyn Dyrholm
PHOTO BY JACLYN DYRHOLM
hen Merry Foresta and Andy Grundberg were considering renovating and building an addition onto their historic Piedmont home, two factors weighed heavily on their minds: their art collection and their modern architectural tastes. Foresta and Grundberg both have backgrounds and illustrious careers in art and photography—not as photographers, but as curators, analysts, and authors. In a nutshell, they are authoritative experts on the role photography has played in our culture since its inception. When they were first married, Foresta and Grundberg lived in D.C., thoroughly relishing the fast-paced city lifestyle and the proximity to their work. Merry bought the property in 1991, before meeting Andy, as a weekend escape from the city, a place of respite and downtime with her dogs. She was, admittedly, a bit naive about houses. It was a charming old farmhouse; although the exact dates are not known, estimates date the construction of the two-over-two cabin section as far back as the early 1800s, while the “newer” farmhouse section was constructed after the conclusion of the Civil War. She recalls, “I just thought I could sweep out the snakeskins and move in.” It wasn’t quite that easy. The house had no foundation, minimal electrical work, and an outhouse. She was told the house was “uninsurable” as the insurance company declared it had no value—it was considered a tear-down. The property is in Slate Mills, a spot that is visible only on the most detailed of local maps. The driveway is in Culpeper County, the house in Madison County, and the road to get to the house is in Rappahannock County. Their mail comes to Sperryville. There is sparse cell phone reception there, and even spottier internet. The road past the home is not state-maintained, hence the informal name, “End State Maintenance Farm.” But the seclusion is a price they consider well-worth paying. The couple has always had a reverence for the history of the house. They marvel at the hardiness and tenacity of the original builders of the cabin, who were most likely former indentured servants given land that no one else wanted on what was then an almost-frontier location. To move out so far into the country and live as subsistence farmers required a blend of determination and grit seldom as evident in our population today. The second stage,
the farmhouse, was built so close to the original cabin that it could be considered an addition that sprang up after the crisis of the Civil War. More recently, the house served as a “group house”—Foresta stops just short of calling it a commune—during the 1970s. Many of these residents are still in the area (or have moved away for careers and returned) and are frequent guests of the couple. They delight in telling stories about the “wild times” had there. For years the couple enjoyed the property with their dogs on weekends away from the city, at that point calling it a “reconstruction and reclamation” project as they continued gradual improvements. Grundberg’s “jack-of-all-trades” talents were put to good use. When city life started wearing thin and they decided to retire (although both still work as consultants), they moved out full-time and went to work in earnest. It was time to consider an addition and some further updates to the home. Their goal then became a renovation that would fully modernize the property in keeping with their contemporary tastes and needs while maintaining respect for the home’s past. The couple never had in mind a large-scale formal addition; Grundberg estimates they enlarged the size of the existing house by only 50 percent. Rather, their focus was to establish a comfortable living space for small, informal gatherings with guests. The goal was not a historically accurate restoration, but rather to create the space they needed with a nod to the history of the original structures, principally expressed by the discovery and repurposing of materials. The modern addition had three purposes: to provide a more comfortable and spacious master bedroom and bath, accommodate an additional small living room, and, perhaps most importantly, to provide a place to display their photography and art collection. Exhibiting photographs requires a delicate balance of light—too much and the picture deteriorates, too little and the picture’s beauty goes unnoticed. The architect they chose for the job was Norman Smith of Norman Smith Architecture. They became acquainted through mutual friends, and over a dinner at the home, the subject of the renovation and addition came up. They just “clicked,” Foresta says enthusiastically, and the conversation and ideas flowed freely that night, and further. Smith has done many renovation and addition projects in the PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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ABOUT THE OWNERS... Merry Foresta is an art historian who worked for the Smithsonian for nearly 30 years. She was the first curator of photography for the American Art Museum, and later became the Director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative. She now is an independent curator and arts consultant. Andy Grundberg is an art critic, author, and curator who was chair of photography and Associate Provost at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. He has been an art critic for the New York Times and other publications since the early 1980s. He has also authored books and essays on the subject of photography and organized numerous photography exhibitions. His essays, according to Aperture, “offer interpretations and critical opinions that have helped shape the broad understanding of photography’s complex roles in art and the media. … [He] questions the nature of photography and how we perceive it.”
Above: The house circa 1960s Below: The house in 1991, shortly after Merry purchased it. Visible is the circa 1800 cabin section with the original stone chimney. At this stage, the insurance company considered the structure a tear-down.
COURTESY OF MERRY FORESTA AND ANDY GRUNDBERG
...AND THEIR DOGS Merry and Andy share their home with their three dogs; Wren, a retired Australian Cattle Dog, Aroon, an Australian Cattle Dog (both pictured on page 32), and Meigs, a retired Staffordshire Bull Terrier. All three dogs have AKC obedience titles, and at right is Aroon after his first novice agility trial in November 2016. BY JACLYN DYRHOLM
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BY JACLYN DYRHOLM (ABOVE); BY ANDY GRUNDBERG (TOP)
Above: The front of the house as it looks today, showing principally the Reconstruction Era farmhouse with the period-style second-story porch. Merry is a perennial gardener; many of the plants were transplanted from her childhood home. Right: The downstairs living space in the old farmhouse section. The historic feel of this section has been preserved in the low ceilings with wooden beams, wood floors, period doors, and original fireplace which throws a significant amount of heat. The effort in this section was to maintain the intimacy and coziness of the space.
past, but this one was unique in several ways. The prospect of combining the historic with the modern, coupled with issues of solar orientation and topography, presented not only the opportunity, but also the necessity for novel and creative solutions. Normally, a renovation and addition project might produce three or four architectural concepts to be presented to the client. The firm drew up between six and eight concepts for the couple. Paramount to the owners, who were intimately involved in the
planning of the project, was that the design pay particular attention to the spatial experience of moving through the house, the flow of rooms from the old to the new. Smith refers to their “finely attuned aesthetic senses,” developed through their immersion in the visual arts, which directed the design and renovation of the home. He also notes that they were “opinionated, but open minded”; they knew conceptually what they wanted, but were open to considering different methods of implementation. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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The architectural vision that clicked for these clients resulted in the old cabin section, housing the kitchen and dining room, serving as the transitional area between the old and the new sections of the house. The kitchen, for which the clients wanted a modern feel and appliances, was built from reclaimed space on the south side of the dining room and with an additional
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The addition climbs up and out of the topographic “bowl” in which the house sits. Since the windows in the modern addition are so large, the outdoor landscaping also came under scrutiny to become visually part of the experience and flow of the house, almost as much of a work of art on display as any of the photographs on the walls.
PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER ODUSANYA © NORMAN SMITH ARCHITECTURE
The flow of the house is visible from the exterior; the farmhouse section at left, the cabin section in center, and the modern addition at right (above). The exterior view of the west side of the house (above right), shows the living space portion of the modern addition; at far right is the bump-out for the kitchen range.
bump-out to the west for the range. The cabinets’ unique surface is wheatboard, a panel product that uses recycled wheat stalks. The black countertop is paper-based material impregnated with resin, resulting in an extremely durable work surface. In this renovation, the couple was not solely pursuing recycled materials, but chose materials that were attractive, beautiful, and eco-friendly whenever possible.
PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER ODUSANYA © NORMAN SMITH ARCHITECTURE
The modern addition was built off this transitional area, with its center hallway serving as the photo and art gallery (above). It also includes small niches to display small figurines from Africa. The wide hallway consists of low steps moving upwards towards the light from large glass doors and the landscape and rolling fields beyond (bottom right). It was important to them, says Smith, to have the gallery space “dynamic and participatory, as opposed to being static.” The treasured artwork is in the normal flow of the home, passed through and enjoyed regularly, rather than tucked away in its own space like a museum. The lines along the hallway are purposefully horizontal, to complement the large vertical space in the
adjoining transition area. The living space in the addition (right center) also houses further artwork, and the large windows and enclosed porch off the west side of the house were positioned to be warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and afford a place to watch the sunsets. The stairs are made from heattreated mild sheet steel that has been treated with linseed oil, and two sets of walls in the gallery portion of the addition are made from split-face masonry block units to recall the rough stone masonry of vernacular chimneys. These masonry walls are then clad in white horizontal paneling to create hanging lines for the artwork.
On storytelling, writing for ‘The New Yorker,’ and the Piedmont
ward-winning author Ann Beattie, whose spare but sparkling prose is most closely associated with the pages of the New Yorker and other estimable literary publications, actually has strong ties to the Piedmont region. She grew up in nearby Washington, D.C., and attended American University there before earning a graduate degree at the University of Connecticut. Later, she served for thirteen years as the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, where her papers are held. Beattie now divides her time between Maine and Florida, but in this issue of Piedmont Virginian, she touches base again with the region, however obliquely, in her short story, “Pale Male.” We are honored that she inaugurates our magazine’s foray into short fiction. In Beattie’s stories we encounter Baby Boomers as twentysomethings, a rebellious generation torn between the traditions of their parents and their newfound liberation. Over the course of her oeuvre she chronicled the “Woodstock Generation” as they progressed from young discontents to retired grandparents and all the twists and turns of life between the two. These stories were told in her signature prose: a minimalist blend of irony, wit, detachment, and compassion. “Pale Male” is classic Beattie, that “seamless combination of biting wit and mordant humor, precise irony and consummate cool” the New York Times wrote of her 2010
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anthology, The New Yorker Stories, which was selected as one of the newspaper’s ten best books of the year. The story takes its name from the red-tailed hawk that has roosted on a luxurious art-deco condominium on Fifth Avenue since the early Nineties. Beattie was inspired to write the story while renting an apartment in New York City for a week. “It was one of only two or three stories I’d kept in my files, because something hadn’t quite materialized for me, something beyond my conscious intent (which I find out about only as I write the rough draft—though by the time it emerges, I’m onto myself ). I went back into it and really enjoyed re-exploring its world from a further distance.” The story examines some of Beattie’s preferred settings and themes: a party in a chic Manhattan apartment, estrangement between lovers, midlife introspection, and the transience of youth, all told with that wry, keenly observant tone that has become her trademark. At the center of the story is Byrd, a UVA alumna who is at a crossroads, torn between the nostalgia for the South and the progressive life of a Manhattanite. “I do think there’s a bit of self-consciousness, or almost a distance from oneself that comes in when you’re part of a tradition that represents the old order more than the new, yet you remain a little caught in the past,” Beattie says of her character. “She’s not exactly radical, but she doesn’t fit in easily anywhere.” We don’t want to spoil the story. Without further ado, here is “Pale Male.” — Morgan Hensley
© SIGRID ESTRADA
“Pale Male” is classic Beattie, that “seamless combination of biting wit and mordant humor, precise irony and consummate cool”
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Pale Male By Ann Beattie “You can’t be home when people start coming,” Jennifer said to her stepmother. “Nobody wants to be announced like it’s some big thing. Could you at least keep your clothes on so people don’t think you’re part of the sleepover because you’re greeting everybody in a robe, when you could be anywhere else in the entire world, like it’s a party or a masked ball or something?” Byrd looked over the top of her glasses and dropped the magazine she was reading on the bed. Jennifer’s eyes seemed to be all pupils—the result not of drugs, she supposed, but of the numerous energy-efficient bulbs now glowing in the apartment’s monstrously large ceiling fixture that hung almost directly over Jennifer’s head. The super, who’d replaced the old bulbs that afternoon, had staggered down the ladder almost blinded, as if he’d had an epiphany and changed his mind on the way to Damascus. Byrd still had trouble believing she’d married a man whose first wife had named her only child Jennifer. If she’d had more, they would have been named—as Jennifer’s friends really had been named— Courtney, Allison, and Zoe. “I could pull the sheet over my head and lie very still the entire night. Come practice with me. We’ll see who can stay perfectly still longest.” Byrd slid lower in the bed, under the sheet, but of course it would not cover her head because Marta had made the bed correctly. Turning into a mummy would also require putting her wet glass of San Pellegrino on the coaster.
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“Please, thank you so much, I’m glad we understand each other,” Jennifer said, turning away. Byrd could see that Jennifer wanted to have the courage to pull the door shut. She lacked it. “Close my door,” Byrd said tiredly. “Please.”
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hese urban kids fetishized nature. In preschool, they’d observed too many tadpoles morphing in aquariums, become accustomed to white-noise machines mutely gargling the rush of waterfalls all night. Zoe—the first of Jennifer’s guests to arrive—had the distinction of living at 927 5th Avenue, where Pale Male, the red-tailed hawk, had become the media’s darling when he and his mate built a nest above the doorway of an elite building across from Central Park, at first upsetting the tenants but quickly winning everyone’s hearts. The birds were a natural gift; they’d blessed the building’s occupants with their magical presence. Tonight, Zoe had brought with her a camouflage tent. It popped open like an enormous diaphragm. Of course, these girls wouldn’t know what a diaphragm was. They would have thought it was a Frisbee for a Bichon Frise. The tent had sprung into place in the living room amid laughter, high-fiving, and the toppling of a red vase holding one yellow tulip. The crack lit up like lightning across the coffee table’s glass top. Jennifer and Courtney stared at Byrd, and—inexplicably—Jennifer ran behind her, where she centered her forehead in Byrd’s back, as if chaos
had suddenly erupted during a private moment of prayer. When Byrd met Jennifer six years before, the nine-year-old had run behind her father and tried to hide, also. Seeing the cracked glass, Zoe cupped her hands anesthesia-style over her big honker of a nose. “Why would you be putting up a tent in the living room, girls?” Byrd asked. “Byrd, it’s our fault and we’ll pay for it,” Jennifer said. “Even if you do, I think it’s within my rights to know what the plan was here,” Byrd said, hating how stuffy she sounded. Did they really need a coffee table? Wouldn’t a magazine rack have served the same purpose? “My parents got it to go to California this summer, and I wanted to try it out,” Zoe said. “I’m really sorry, Mrs. Hallaby.” “I brought glow-in-the-dark stars,” Allison said weakly. “This is so effed up.” “If we take the table down to the incinerator, maybe your dad won’t notice it’s missing,” Byrd said. “It’s a perfectly nice table,” Zoe said. Zoe was always good at upsetting herself so that you had to turn all your attention to her. Jennifer said, “I don’t think the solution is to dump the furniture, Byrd.” “Well, I do,” Byrd said. “I’ll call Mr. Egil and have him get it out of here. Let you have enough room to sprawl out and enjoy your new homestead.” “God, you’re like one of those people who’d drag the body out on a tarp, or something,” Jennifer said. “We said sorry. We can get new glass.” “I just want to go home and think none of it ever happened,” Zoe said. “I don’t think this requires time travel, Zoe,” Byrd said. “May I join you girls in a cold drink? I made lemonade this afternoon. Then I’ll call Mr. Egil.” “He’s gone with that St. Bernard,” Jennifer said. “They pay him to walk it about a million times around the block. He was going out when I went down to meet Zoe.” Zoe’s parents would not drop her off anywhere if a friend wasn’t there to meet her. Late at night, Zoe’s aunt had been abducted by a so-called security guard when she’d gone
back to the office building she worked in to search for her house keys. “My stars are, like, pathetic now,” Allison said. Courtney, kneeling silently where she’d sunk onto the Oriental rug the minute the vase hit the glass, did not make eye contact with Byrd, because Byrd was an adult. Also, when any of the parents knew each other from elsewhere— Byrd barely knew Courtney’s mother, because she’d been a sorority girl at UVA and Byrd hadn’t—the children acted as if prior friendships immediately indicated collusion. “I told Zoe it would be bad luck to put up a tent inside, like opening an umbrella indoors,” Courtney said softly. “You have all these superstitions that stop you from doing anything fun ever,” Allison said. “You told me not to buy stars! You acted like I was buying a bomb, Courtney.” “So I guess nobody wants me at their party,” Courtney said, eyes welling with tears. “There’s still time to go home and ride up to Hudson with my sister.” Her knees were red from kneeling. She was the only girl who’d come in a skirt. Since skirts reminded them of their school uniform, they almost never wore them. Which was a shame, Byrd thought, because their bare legs were so lovely. “Courtney, you’re punishing everybody because Allison said what she thought,” Zoe said, her voice octaves lower than when she’d first spoken. It sounded almost like Zoe was talking into a bottle. Byrd, barefoot, in her inexcusably saggy green chenille robe, padded toward the kitchen. Jennifer ran to her side, perhaps having finally decided that she should be a good hostess. Byrd was betting Courtney would stay. Zoe seemed to have stabilized. Allison was okay. Allison was always, ultimately, okay. In the kitchen, she took down stemless wine glasses. Silently, as the girls argued and giggled in the living room, Byrd poured. Byrd handed Jennifer a little dish of lime slices, which the girl cut into delicately with a knife and placed on the rims, like someone with newly pierced ears inserting earrings. Trays. Whatever happened to trays? She carried three glasses, Jennifer two. The girls were all smiles when they returned. From the bedroom, Byrd made the call to Dennis—it was Dennis at the front desk now: when Mr. Egil got back,
Courtney, kneeling silently where she’d sunk onto the Oriental rug the minute the vase hit the glass, did not make eye contact with Byrd ...
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The city’s pink haze floated like the prettiest area in a Rothko painting. The spires and rooftop water tanks, the bits of neon, the vertical blinds open in the new hotel ... would he please come remove a piece of broken furniture? “He and his dog friend might have gone to rescue climbers in the Alps, he’s been gone so long, Mrs. Hallaby,” Dennis responded. Three days a week, before coming to work, he was studying “advanced tap.” He said he’d leave a note about the problem for Egil, as he called him, if he, himself, had to go off duty before Mr. Egil returned. Byrd thanked him and hung up, went into the ensuite bathroom only to hear the phone ring again. It would be Dennis. She let it ring as she began to smooth Kiehl’s moisturizer on her face. When she’d been a student, she’d used so many creams and gels, hoping to keep her skin young looking. Now, she’d abandoned them for simple prayer, with the exception of the Kiehl’s. The voice control was turned on. Let the answering machine pick up. But it was John’s doctor! She ran to pick up the receiver, sticky-fingered. A glow-in-the-dark star had adhered to the hem of her robe, as if she’d been walking through celestial brambles. She was “Mrs. Hallaby” to this man also. This doctor was at least twenty years her senior. The antidepressant had had side effects, so they’d begun tapering John off, but the psychiatrist felt the next medication would work. But John seemed to think that Byrd was coming the next day to get him. Had he found a way to contact her? And was there any truth to that? He had not. No truth to it. She would tell him if they’d spoken, wouldn’t she? She assured the doctor that she hadn’t heard from John. Was the doctor saying that he’d taken a turn for the worse? She hurried to say what she always said: John hadn’t seemed depressed when he told her how much he secretly drank; he knew he needed help. (When he’d first said that he had something important to say, she’d of course assumed he had fallen in love with someone else.) He’d seemed his same stable, reasonable self—except for confessing to being an alcoholic. Which had so surprised her. She suspected that the doctor wanted to hear her say more so he could judge whether she was telling the truth. She was. She was the only woman in the world who checked her email once a week, and because John knew that—he found her, in so many ways, endearingly old-fashioned; he called
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her his perfect Southern debutante, though she’d never been that—it would be very unlikely that he’d try to contact her that way. But yes, yes, she’d call back if she was mistaken. When she hung up, she walked to the window and looked out over the skyline. The city’s pink haze floated like the prettiest area in a Rothko painting. The spires and rooftop water tanks, the bits of neon, the vertical blinds open in the new hotel ... it was drag-queen New York, all made up, counting on the same appreciative audience every night: the audience that liked impersonation better than originality; the people who believed in campy homage rather than looking toward the future: if it could speak, it would say, “Don’t you dare not smile; don’t you dare not love me.”
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hen she met John, she’d just graduated from Virginia, where she’d been an art history major, and had a summer job as the hostess at a SoHo restaurant: Byrd Rose Gilcrest, from Louisville, Kentucky. She’d gone to spend the summer with her cousin Bruce in New York, who let her sleep on the futon in exchange for cleaning the apartment and lying to his mother by telling her he dated girls. Soon everything changed: she didn’t see so much of her cousin, and she began staying at John’s. Such a dream of a bed John had slept in—pillow-topped, king-sized, the white duvet a happily settled cloud. Now the bed she’d first slept in with John had become her bed, too, though he was somewhere else, lost in the cosmos. Since she liked stars and the night sky, why didn’t she still take late night walks? Didn’t people do that, to sort out their thoughts? John had told her he was an alcoholic; it was the unspoken reason why his first marriage had failed. The reason he kept losing his cell phone, so many things, his own shirts, lost between the dry cleaners and home. And then, of course, he’d lost (in the cab, though he couldn’t swear he’d taken a cab) her favorite dress, the one her mother had sent her from a shop in Barracks Road. She’d burst into tears when John came home without it: not that, not the prescription he was supposed to pick up,
not with the pizza he’d promised, either. She’d been entirely oblivious to his drinking problem. She’d really thought he liked poisonous little mints that stung your tongue. She’d never thought about how often he brushed his teeth. A knock came on the door. She got up, surprised that the girls had fallen quiet. Feet protruded from the tent. The glow from within was probably an iPad. She opened the door and saw Dennis, wearing his improvised uniform of black jeans, white shirt, string tie, and thrift-store black jacket. “I can do it myself. What exactly is broken, Mrs. Hallaby?” he asked. “It’s the coffee table. The glass is broken, but I want the whole thing out of here. It’s heavy, Dennis.” “You want me to put it in the storage room and call somebody to repair it?” “I just want it to disappear. Like it was never here.” “Coffee table do something to offend you, Mrs. H.?” They stood looking at it. “Well, if you don’t mind, I might keep it for a while in storage,” he said, frowning at the glass. “Prince Charming?” came a high-pitched squeak from the tent. “Shut up, retard!” Jennifer said. The legs protruded further, feet kicked. There was laughter. A foot pushed into the tent’s side. “No, just Dennis, from the front desk,” he said. “Story of my life.” If he thought the tent was unusual, he didn’t let on. He had perfect New York manners, which much resembled Southern manners: you just took care not to notice. “Mrs. H., I’m going to bring a cart in. Just a sec,” he said, turning and walking down the corridor. “Somebody thinks Dennis is cute because somebody likes older men,” Byrd heard Jennifer say. “I do not,” Courtney said. “He’s the doorman, Jennifer!” “Shut up, stupid Cinderella with your size-nine feet.” “You think every man you meet is going to be your prince,” Jennifer sneered. “Okay,” Dennis said, returning. He had to bend over to pull the table on the dolly. Where had that old thing come from? Dennis always found a way to accomplish whatever he wanted. Everything but move out of his mother’s apart-
ment in Queens, Byrd though sympathetically. “No problem,” Dennis said, sliding the glass slowly onto the dolly. “I’ll get rid of this so nobody gets hurt, then come back for the base. Okay,” he said, agreeing with himself. “Dennis!” somebody squealed in falsetto, inside the tent. The sound of a hand muffling a mouth was audible, almost a slap. Dennis shook his head at Byrd. She stood aside so he could swivel the dolly. Out it went. He returned five minutes later for the rest and wrestled it out in his arms, swaybacked, legs wide apart to stay balanced. Byrd thought she should not tuck a twenty in his jacket pocket but put the money in an envelope and give it to him later, like a proper thank-you. They were both Southern. He knew she would do the right thing. She thanked him sincerely and promised to cause him no more trouble that night. “That all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun,” he stage-whispered over his shoulder as he left. She smiled, but couldn’t place it: Shakespeare? Dennis had recently been in an off-off-Broadway production of The Tempest. Or was it some nursery rhyme? She returned to her bedroom. When John wasn’t home, she never closed the blinds. She often looked at the sky from a horizontal position, so that its non-black, tinged with pink, gave the illusion of being contained in her windows. She was glad the girls were having their sleepover. It made her more sure that Jennifer wouldn’t jump into her bed in the middle of the night, which of course she never criticized her for. These nightmares tended to come on nights when she had a test in school the next day, Byrd had noticed. It would be another week before they could visit John again. This time they’d take the train—an adventure. (It also might inhibit Jennifer, who’d been hysterical returning to New York after the last visit—so much so that Byrd had had to pull off the highway twice. “It didn’t look like him. He’s getting fat. His face was a mask,” Jennifer had sobbed.) Quiet, quiet. Could they all be exhausted? Overachieving, self-absorbed Zoe? Insecure, immature Allison? Courtney, her assertiveness undercut by whiplash self-doubt? Jennifer ... how would the other girls see Jennifer? They might resent
They were both Southern. He knew she would do the right thing. She thanked him sincerely and promised to cause him no more trouble that night.
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her, because she was by far the prettiest. A pretty half orphan, Byrd thought. Because Jennifer’s mother had all but disappeared in Rome, and now her father had had to go away, which left her with only Byrd, who was nobody, really. Was that the way Byrd still thought of herself? That had been what she’d told her cousin Bruce, after the first amazing weekend she’d spent with John. She’d said, “We were in his friend’s private plane, flying to Aspen, and we had champagne and ice cream for dinner, and we all got in the outdoor hot tub. The bedroom was painted with black lacquer. What would he want with a nobody?” “Mrs. Hallaby?” came a voice at the door, lightly tapping. “What?” Byrd said, rising, her robe suddenly tied very tightly, so that she almost could not sit up at all, as if someone had tied a tourniquet around her. “Would you read us a ghost story?” It was Allison. Childish Allison. Or maybe mature Allison, making an effort to include her. If that was the case, she must certainly go out and read to them if that was what they wanted. The tent’s roof was covered with Allison’s not exactly radiant stars. The girls were all so thin—that was how so many could fit in one tent. The plan was to open the flap and have Byrd read a tale from Edgar Allan Poe. Not Stephen King? She was touched when Poe’s book was put in her hand. Poe was to Stephen King as diaphragm was to pill. The girls scrambled for comfort before she began. “Did you know that every year, on the anniversary of Poe’s death, a mysterious stranger leaves three roses on his grave?” Byrd asked. “No one sees the person come or go, but the flowers are always there. He’s buried in Baltimore. He was so young when he died. I don’t think anyone can say for sure what he died of, though he lived a terrible life.” Zoe’s eyes narrowed. Suddenly Byrd saw herself as Zoe must have seen her: yet another adult who wasn’t sticking to the plan, who thought she’d found a coded way to talk to them about what she thought was important. “I think I heard about that Poe thing on The Wire,” Courtney said, as Byrd opened the book and began reading aloud one of her favorites.
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ours later, Allison came to her door and turned the glass doorknob without even a modest tap first, to say, “Is Courtney here?” These sleepovers were always a pain: muffins made at 3 a.m.; cell phones ringing with music from Sweeney Todd in the middle of the night.
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“Go back to sleep,” Bird mumbled. “She’s not anywhere,” Allison said. “I got up to pee, and I can’t find her.” “She’s probably sleeping somewhere comfortable,” Byrd said. But by now she was awake. Her robe was on the bedpost, but she left it there. She pulled on one of John’s old shirts thrown on what was usually his side of the bed. She followed Allison out of the room. “She wasn’t in the tent when I got up, and she wasn’t anywhere else, either,” Allison said tremulously. They tiptoed through the living room. Byrd supposed that this might be one of those times that having a sevenroom apartment was not an advantage. There was a tiny room off the kitchen that Byrd thought Courtney must be sleeping in. It had been a pantry, but the shelves had been taken out when the kitchen was remodeled. Byrd had decided not to replace them, but to put a tiny desk in there. She could almost see Courtney curled up beneath it, on the super-thick rug. No Courtney. Next, Byrd pulled back the Marimekko shower curtain in the long, thin bathroom. She opened the linen closet, the one Marta was always saying needed rearranging. Courtney was not among the closet’s contents. She looked in Jennifer’s bedroom. She looked in the guest bedroom, where the broken grandfather clock sat next to the broken NordicTrac. Geodes sparkled from a little plastic shelf on the otherwise empty wall. There’d been an Alex Katz painting in the room, but it had sold a year ago at Sotheby’s. If she hadn’t known John collected geodes, how would she have known he drank at work? “She has to be here. She wouldn’t have gone with her sister, would she? Remember that she was—” Byrd thought to look at the chain on the front door. She almost ran down the corridor, an odd lightness making her aware of her ribs. Courtney had let herself out. She’d slipped the chain and gone. They’d been sleeping in an unlocked apartment. Well, thank God somebody was at the desk. She pushed the intercom button. “Yesssss,” came Mr. Egil’s sleepy voice. “One of Jennifer’s friends!” she said. “Did you see—” she lost her voice. “She’s asleep with RX,” he said. “She came down and wanted to talk. We took RX for a walk. Dr. Miller had an emergency and went straight from some party to the hospital, and Mrs. M. doesn’t want the dog in the apartment. Gosh, I’m so sorry, Mrs. Hallaby. I never thought you’d be awake at 4:30.” “She’s in the lobby,” Byrd said dully to Allison, who was biting her cuticles. “She’s with the doorman.”
Jennifer’s mother had all but disappeared in Rome, and now her father had had to go away, which left her with only Byrd, who was nobody, really. “Why?” Allison said. It was almost a wail. “Be quiet!” Jennifer said, coming into the hallway. “Courtney left the apartment and left the door unlocked, too. It scared the hell out of us,” Byrd said. “You know where Courtney thinks it’s okay to be? On the floor in the lobby, curled up asleep with a dog. She is never to spend the night here again, ever. Now go get her and bring her upstairs.” “I thought she was dead,” Allison said. “Don’t stand there with that expression on your face,” Byrd said. “I said to go downstairs, Jennifer, and bring back your irresponsible friend. Do you see how upset Allison is?” “Courtney’s pretty upset, herself, because she’s pregnant,” Jennifer replied. “I don’t care if she’s pregnant!” Allison shrieked. “She wants to make everybody take care of her all the time, she just wants to have whatever she wants the minute she wants it, and she doesn’t care about any of us, you either, Jennifer. She told me she was thinking about killing herself, and I thought she did.” Tears rolled down Allison’s face. “You’re the one who thinks she’s so great.” “Courtney is pregnant? Do her parents know?” Byrd said. “Her sister does,” Jennifer said. “You don’t have to go ballistic just because you got scared, Allison. You’re worried all the time whether Courtney likes me more than you, and she does, but so what? So what, Allison?” “Stop it!” Byrd said. “Jennifer, whatever is going on with Courtney, I’m telling you to go bring her back.” “Why, so you can be another adult who tells her she’s stupid? Is that what you think she needs? Lemonade,” Jennifer said, almost spitting out the last word. “What’s happening?” Zoe said, stumbling out to the hallway. “Zoe,” Byrd said, “Courtney left the apartment without permission, and she’s in the lobby. This is your sleepover, not the doorman’s. Since neither of her friends is willing to go get her, apparently, you can do it. Please,” she added,
a few seconds too late. “I should get Courtney? What’s really going on?” “Zoe, someday you will make a great lawyer, but please do as I ask. What’s really going on is that I want to tell Courtney how much her actions upset me, and then I want to go back to bed.” “I was the one who noticed she was missing,” Allison said. “Allison, you’re such a tattletale,” Jennifer said. She turned and stomped down the hall in her Snoopy nightgown. All the time she’d been talking, Byrd had been looking at Snoopy, on top of his doghouse, writing: IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT. “Jennifer’s mean,” Allison said to Byrd. “I don’t think it’s only Courtney who won’t come to a sleepover again. That will be impossible for me, too.” Jennifer was out the door. For once, Zoe had nothing to say. Which pleased Byrd, because she didn’t think she had it in her to say one rational, consoling word to the girl. Did she have the energy to thank Allison for having alerted her that Courtney was missing? As for Jennifer, she’d explain, once her friends had gone, that when she told her to do something, which she so rarely did, she expected her to do it. If Bryd wasn’t in charge, who was? Jennifer’s father? Who at that moment stood in the doorway, his shirttail hanging out, a key held between thumb and first finger: John, wearing ill-fitting slacks and a shirt Byrd had never seen, holding the hand of his daughter, whose other hand held the hand of a yawning Courtney. Nearby hovered Mr. Egil. John was unsteady, his bloodshot eyes glowing beneath a cut on his forehead smeared with dried blood. He raised his hand, touched his lips, and blew her a kiss. Even RX walked in, trailing his thick leash, drool at the corners of his mouth like melting stalactites. They continued forward, as if by fixing their eyes on her and staring her down they could arrest her thoughts: What is John doing here? What am I doing here? Who’s to take care of the fledglings?
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The Premier Choice in Real Estate© mpressive Open Floor Plan on 4.58 Acres. Stop searching & come home to Barboursville. The main level is built for entertaining w/ a Chef’s kitchen that opens to a breakfast nook, family room & large Trex deck overlooking the spring. An office & formal dinning room w/ butlers pantry are on the main level as well. Family room is wired for surround sound w/ a 2nd zone wired to the deck. Upstairs you’ll find 9 ft ceilings & an extra large master suite w/ walk in shower, soaking tub & walk in closet. Three more bedrooms are on the 2nd floor including a guest suite. Natural light streams into the walk-out basement that opens up onto a covered stamped concrete patio w/ hot tub. Basement also offers a media room wired with Bose surround sound, large guest room w/ 1/2 bath & a great room. In the backyard you’ll find a firepit alongside the spring, providing a tranquil remote destination w/ no need to travel. $489,000
istoric Swan House, circa 1905-1910. Graciously restored & impeccably remodeled Greek Revival. Delight in the grandeur of expansive high ceilings, beautiful woodwork, hardwood floors, large staircase & plentiful natural light. New Energy Star HVAC, 4 porches/balcony, several bay windows, & chef’s kitchen w/ SS appliances. So much charm & elegance . . . A Must See w/ all of the modern day convenience yet keeping the historic charm and character. (25 min. from Charlottesville) Listed at $425,000
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Rockin’ on the Front Porch New music school offers “something special.”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE FRONT PORCH
By James Wilkinson
oll over, Beethoven—there’s a new music scene in Charlottesville. The Front Porch, a roots-music school inspired by the rich heritage of central Virginia, is offering classes, workshops, and concerts from its new home, a dark blue building on Water Street, just off the city’s downtown mall. “This is about people and community,” said Founder Emily Morrison. “The Front Porch was founded with the strong belief that music is a universal language that brings people together. It’s a bridge be-
tween our past and our future. It allows us to express ourselves creatively and to connect with others.” This nonprofit music school started small. In early 2015, Emily, her banjo-playing husband, John, and their daughters, Eliza and Anne Marie, opened their house to classes and jams. The school’s name came from the place where neighbors have traditionally met to play music together—the front porch. At the Morrison home, it was true; musicians and students were meeting there, and playing in their living room and kitchen and bedrooms as well.
“We knew early on we had come across something special,” recalled Business Director Cay Lee Ratliff. “The energy and interest in the community was remarkable.” In its first year, The Front Porch reached more than 250 students and involved over 1,000 people in concerts, potlucks, sing-alongs, jams, and dances. Partnering with area music organizations such as the Virginia Folklife Program and hosting sumSummer Front Porch events include an outdoor concert series at James Monroe’s historic Highland, located just south of Charlottesville.
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THE ARTS mer concerts at James Monroe’s Highland raised its profile. Successful grant applications funded music scholarships. As the school grew, it moved into a temporary space at a local school before heading downtown. After a summer of renovations made possible by the support of a local contractor, collaboration with city officials, and hundreds of volunteer hours, The Front Porch opened its doors in downtown Charlottesville in October. “None of this would be possible without the amazing musicians who call this area home,” said Jess Knicely, who manages the school’s schedule and day-to-day operations. Indeed, some of the area’s leading musical lights—songwriters Devon Sproule and Jesse Harper, old-time legend Left: Ukelele, voice and dance teacher Beverly Seng with students in the school’s Refugee Roots Music Program. Below: Founders Emily and John Morrison with daughters Eliza and dAnne Marie
ROOTS MUSIC The Front Porch focuses on teaching and sharing the traditional and folk music of central Virginia and Appalachia such as bluegrass, old time, gospel, and acoustic blues, and fostering the development of roots music within the community. Programming at The Front Porch also celebrates the sources of roots music that come from around the world, bringing together musicians and audiences to learn about African and European influences, as well as world music and jazz.
The Front Porch 211 East Water Street, Charlottesville frontporchcville.org
If you’d like to explore more, check out the PBS series on Roots Music at www. pbs.org
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Old Time Ensemble • Bluegrass Banjo, Fiddle, and Guitar • Songwriting • African Drumming • Folk Dancing for Children • Music and Movement for Wee Ones
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THE ARTS Pete Vigour, mandolin virtuosos Jack Dunlap and Andy Thacker, and jazz musicians Matt Draper, Gina Sobel, and Dhara Goradia, among many others—teach and perform at the school. Singersongwriter Terri Allard is producing a Charlottesville Inside-Out segment for broadcast on public television. As it has grown, the organization has stayed focused on its core mission: fostering creativity, growth, and community-wide learning through music education, performance, and celebration of the region’s history and culture. Ensuring a living wage for teachers and continuing to reach out to underserved populations are top priorities for the school. “Every person who wants to learn music in a supportive community setting should be able to do so,” said Board Chair Angel Sands Gunn. “We’re committed to making our lessons and workshops affordable. We have a substantial financial aid program, as well as free programming to populations in need.” One early success has been the school’s Refugee Roots Music Program, a partnership with the area’s International Neighbors organization, which offers world music and dance classes for local refugee children. The program is partly funded by a scholarship grant from the Bama Works Fund of the Dave Matthews Band. The organization is also continuing to seek out new opportunities to celebrate arts and culture in central Virginia. In December, The Front Porch hosted a First Fridays art reception for master drummer Darrell Rose. Rose, an accomplished painter, teaches at the school. Master musician “So many people are helping make this or- Danny Knicely ganization a reality,” noted Emily Morrison. and friends “Come and join us. Take a class. Enjoy a con- performing at The Front Porch. cert. Grow your roots.”
GETTING INTO THE CHARLOTTESVILLE MUSIC SCENE The Southern Café & Music Hall www.thesoutherncville.com
Miller’s Downtown www.millersdowntown.com
The Jefferson Theater www.jeffersontheater.com
Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar: www.teabazaar.com
The Paramount Theater www.theparamount.net
The Prism Coffeehouse prismcoffeehouse.org
Sprint Pavilion www.sprintpavilion.com
Cville Coffee www.cvillecoffee.com
Blue Moon Diner www.bluemoondiner.net
LOCKN’ Music Festival www.locknfestival.com
Fellini's #9 www.felliniscville.com
The Festy Experience www.thefesty.com
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Birds of Winter
A year-round resident of Virginia 50â€ƒ PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Resources for Bird Watchers and Conservationists By Pam Owen
BY PATRICIA TEMPLES (FACING); BY JIM GEMMEL (RIGHT)
hether you’re an avid birder or just want to know more about what’s flying around your backyard, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has two websites that offer valuable resources. A world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds, the lab is a unit of Cornell University. I regularly visit the organization’s All About Birds (AAB) and eBird websites when I’m looking for information on birds for my nature column, “Wild Ideas,” and have also submitted my bird observations to the latter site. AAB (at allaboutbirds.org) focuses on the natural history of bird species, but also offers news about birds, birding basics, opportunities for “lifelong learning” about birds, and ways to help with bird conservation. The site has profiles of bird species that include identification information, life histories, range maps, and—through the companion Macaulay Library website—extensive recordings and videos. One of my favorite profile features, “Cool Facts,” offers interesting factoids. For instance, did you know northern cardinals share song phrases, though the female sings a “longer and slightly more complex song than the male”? Or that American crows are “crafty foragers” that sometimes stalk other birds to find out where their nests are hidden?
Female Pileated Woodpecker A year-round resident of Virginia and largest woodpecker in the state
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Male American Robin
A year-round resident of Virginia
THE GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT Want to help with bird conservation without leaving your yard?
A year-round resident of Virginia
Every year, people of all ages and walks of life help bird conservation through the Great Backyard Bird Count. Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, the GBBC is held every February over a fourday weekend—this year, February 17–20.
While many participants collect data on the birds at their feeders or in their backyards, participants can also report sightings at other locations. Check with the GBBC website for more information. gbbc.birdcount.org
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BY PETER DYRHOLM ITOP); BRUCE JONES (BOTTOM)
In 2016, GBBC participants in more than 130 countries identified 5,689 species on more than 162,000 checklists, with more than 100,000 people worldwide working together to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. The data from the GBBC is added to the larger bird-survey database accessed through eBird.
Male American Goldfinch A year-round resident of Virginia
BY PETER DYRHOLM (TOP); JIM GEMMEL (BOTTOM)
Female Northern Cardinal
A year-round residents of Virginia and the state bird
Male Northern Cardinal PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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WILDLIFE Male Dark-eyed Junco
A common winter bird in Virginia known as the “harbinger of winter”
Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Winter bird in Virginia
Winter bird in Virginia
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BY BYJIM GEMMEL (TOP & CENTER); PETER DYRHOLM (BOTTOM)
American Blue Jay
AAB is user-friendly, offering a lot of information “at a glance” using photos and graphics along with more details for those who really want to dig in. The site also acts as an online portal to eBird and to the lab’s other citizen-science wildlife mapping projects, bird cams, and much more. eBird (at ebird.org) is where users submit their data and view analyses of the data, such as lists and maps updated in near real-time. The interactive aspects of the website, which give the broader picture of bird populations nearby and around the world, are part of what enticed me in 2015 to submit my observations as part of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), cosponsored by the lab and the Audubon Society (see sidebar). The lab also sponsors other citizen-science data-collection projects, including Project FeederWatch and NestWatch, which can be accessed through the other lab websites. eBird’s extensive maps of sightings can be brought up by searching a species, place, or time. It’s amazing to see the maps fill up, especially during the spring and fall migrations. Data for particular regions—down to the county level in the United States—is also accessible by navigating through the data exploration feature. Along with maps, eBird has bar charts, line graphs, and a host of other ways to view the data. Participants can download, print, and email their data to share their findings with friends. Submitting bird observations requires registering at the site, which is free, and eBird provides easy-to-follow instructions for data submission. Expertise in bird identification is helpful in collecting data, but is not required. A host of print field guides and websites can help ornithological amateurs, including All About Birds, which I find particularly useful when trying to sort out species that are similar. It offers not only photographs of similar species, but also identification “points,” such as beak color or bars on wings, for distinguishing between them. And now there are also apps available that help with identification in the field. I use eBird’s and the Sibley eGuide to Birds, based on David Sibley’s print guide, on my smartphone and tablet. Data from various organized counts and ad hoc submissions are compiled by eBird in several ways, including when a species is first or last seen in a particular period, frequently spotted species, and the number of checklists submitted by a participant. To set up a site, participants can submit GPS coordinates or an address, or find their location on an online map through eBird’s website. That information, along with the participant’s name, is included in the list of their sightings. Participating in the various counts can bring out the competitive instinct. Seeing the data of the other GBBC participants in my county (most of whom I know) made it hard not to compare theirs with mine, especially in terms of who counted the most species. Competition aside, it’s great to see how many bird species, and which ones, are being sighted locally and across the world—and to see so many other people contributing their observations. Not only does submitting data help in wildlife conservation, participation in such surveys is a great way to learn more about our wild avian neighbors.
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PROVIDING WINTER HABITAT FOR WILDLIFE By Celia Vuocolo, Habitat and Stewardship Specialist, PEC
You may think your garden or yard is inhospitable during the cold winter months, but many of the Piedmont’s native fauna use it as shelter and for foraging. There are a number of things you can do that will help our critter friends make it through the more frigid and snowy days.
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RATE APPLICABLE TO NEW YANMAR COMPACT TRACTOR EQUIPMENT. RATE INFORMATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER OR EXTENSION OF CREDIT. ALL TRANSACTIONS ARE SUBJECT TO CREDIT APPROVAL AND SUCH OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE. MONTHLY PAYMENT PLAN BASED ON RATE OF 0%. ACTUAL RETAIL PRICES ARE SET BY DEALER AND MAY VARY. TAXES, FREIGHT, SETUP, AND HOLDING CHANGES MAY BE ADDITIONAL AND MAY VARY. MODELS SUBJECT TO LIMITED AVAILABILITY. OFFER IS NOT AVAILABLE WITH ANY OFFER. ***See your local dealer for limited warranty details and information. Certain restrictions apply. Engine Manufacturer specifications and programs are subject to change without notice. Images may not reflect dealer inventory and/or unit specifications.
1. Leave the leaves Species such as box turtles and toads use leaf litter and soil to hibernate. It’s nice to have toads around during the warmer months because they eat roughly 10,000 insects in one summer! Leaves also provide a natural fertilizer and suppress weeds in your garden. 2. Leave some woody debris If you want a tidy-looking yard and garden, you could pile some wood debris and leaves off to the side. Broken branches can host insect larva, which is the perfect winter meal for birds. The black-capped chickadee’s winter diet is 50 percent insects and 50 percent seed and berries. 3. Plant native trees and shrubs. Native evergreens and winterberry are useful additions to your yard for wildlife. During the growing season, native evergreens can be pollen sources and larval host plants for caterpillars, in addition to producing berries or seeds that local wildlife feed on. As it’s name would suggest, winterberry is a good winter food source. More than 48 species of birds feed on the shrub’s ruby red berries. The best time for planting is in the fall, since cooler soil temperatures help to prevent root shock and dehydration. A good resource for finding local businesses that sell native flora is “The Go Native Go Local Guide,” published by the Piedmont Environmental Council.
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The Stones Shall Rise Again And some there be, which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been. By Kit Johnston and Kristie Kendall
n 1928, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Public Park Condemnation Act, which allowed the Commonwealth of Virginia to exercise its power of eminent domain to acquire private land to create Shenandoah National Park. Some landowners voluntarily sold their holdings while others refused and had their lands condemned. Landowners who had legal title to their property were compensated for the land and improvements. In the end, some 2,000 men, women, and children left their homes and their lands. Some homes rotted, with only stone foundations and chimneys standing as mute 56â€ƒ PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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reminders of what had been. Some homes were burned to the ground. After the federal government accepted the donation of park land from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1935, 43 residents, mostly the feeble and elderly, were given lifetime tenure in the park. The rest made their way to resettlement communities established in the eight counties surrounding Shenandoah National Park, moved in with nearby family, or left the area entirely. Meanwhile, the Great Depression ground on. When surveyors cut a zig-zag to form the parkâ€™s eastern bound-
“For so many years, there was a stigma attached to being ‘from the mountains,’ but we are working to bring pride to the families of the former residents and to preserve and pass along the culture and heritage of the people.” ary, part of Lisa Berry Custalow’s grandmother’s property on High Top Mountain was destined to become part of the park’s Skyline Drive. When the family refused to sell, the property was condemned, and in 1936, everyone, including Lisa’s mother (who was four at the time), was told to move out. “Mom wouldn’t talk about it. All she would say is the government condemned the land, we had to move. I wanted to know more, but if I pestered her for more, she got real quiet. It was like the fight had gone of her. But I was ready to fight.” And so Lisa and her husband-to-be, Curtis Custalow, launched a group to advocate for the displaced and their descendants. Lisa named it The Children of the Shenandoah (COS) and held its first meeting in the spring of 1994 at Greene County’s William Monroe High School. COS would go on to meet nearly every month for another eight years.
Opposite: Albemarle Memorial at Patricia Byrom Preserve in Crozet, awaiting its dedication day. COURTESY OF LARRY LAMB
Above: Missy Breeden at her home at the Upper Pocosin Mission in Shenandoah National Park, one of the individuals given lifetime tenure. She died around 1949. COURTESY OF LARRY LAMB
Left: Missy Breeden’s home at the Upper Pocosin Mission today. BY KRISTIE KENDALL
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Above: Jim Lillard at Madison County’s Memorial Dedication on November 8, 2015. BY KIT JOHNSTON
Right: Madison Memorial on Old Blue Ridge Turnpike in Criglersville. BY KRISTIE KENDALL
“We drew 35 or 40 on a regular basis,” Lisa said in a recent interview, including news reporters “who would just show up.” COS had many demands to make of the park, ranging from cemetery maintenance to archives access. But the main goals were to get the park to change its message to the public about how it was created, including changing the content of a short video entitled “The Gift,” regularly shown to millions of visitors each year, as well as reworking how former mountain residents were depicted in the park’s main exhibit at the Byrd Visitor Center. It was about this time that Germanna Community College history professor Suzanne Crane challenged her students with an assignment to examine the story of the park, as told in “The Gift” and in the exhibit, against interviews with those displaced and still alive. What happened next was pretty astounding: In November 1994, after meeting with COS representatives, SNP’s then-Head of Interpretative and Educational Services promised that the students’ interviews “will become part of the process of reviewing and revising interpretive media.” Furthermore, the National Park Ser-
“The stones of mountain homes are rising again at memorial sites as in the time of Jesus when as he approached the Mount of Olives, he observed “even as the people were silent … the stones… cried out in praise.” 58 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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vice authorized a $100,000 remake of “The Gift” and gave it a new title, “Shenandoah: The Gift.” Released in 2001 and still in circulation, this version wholly acknowledges the sacrifice made by the thousands displaced to accommodate the park. The Children’s next victory was the day the park assembled “a dream team of researchers, natural resources specialists, designers, and interpreters [to redesign] the old visitors center exhibit,” as Sue Eisenfeld describes it in Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal. Park staff initially told the story of the mountain communities through a series of revised wall panels that served as a temporary exhibit and hosted focus groups with local organizations to get feedback on necessary revisions. Helpful to the redesign were comments from descendents, local residents, and cultural scientists, including park archeologist Christine Hoepfner, who had served as COS president, as well as another archeologist, Audrey Horning, who worked with the park to unearth and reveal the socio-economic diversity that once marked the park’s people and their communities. The new exhibit debuted in 2006 at a cost of $250,000, according to Shenandoah National Park. To this day, it allows visitors to see the incredible diversity among former residents of the park lands and dispels former misrepresentations. As Shenandoah National Park Interpretive Specialist Claire Comer noted in a recent interview, the park continues to improve its interpretation of the
mountain residents, their story, and their experiences. New outdoor exhibit panels along Skyline Drive expand visitors’ opportunities to connect with the stories of the park's founding. The park also plans to launch a web-based curriculum targeting middle and high school students that, in alignment with the state’s standards of learning, covers eminent domain and encourages discussion and critical thinking about the park’s establishment story. Today, many of the Children’s key players have moved on to Gloryland, including Lisa’s husband. Yet Lisa soldiers on with a new focus now initiated by someone who attended nearly every COS meeting but never said a word, not even his name. The Children called him “the hiker.” His name was Bill Henry, and with Lisa’s early help he went on to create a new group, the Blue Ridge Heritage Project (BRHP). Incorporated in 2013, the BRHP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to continuing the work of honoring and preserving the culture and traditions of the mountain people. For more than three years, BRHP and its board of directors have helped the eight counties where land was acquired to create the park to plan memorial sites to those displaced in each county and exhibits and demonstrations to
tell and show visitors the cultures and traditions of the Blue Ridge. The first fruit of BRHP’s labors came in 2015 as the result of retired VDOT bridge inspector, local historian, and descendant Jim Lillard and his late wife, Linda Yurinak’s, hard work. The pair worked with BRHP and the Madison County Historical Society to get the Madison County Board of Supervisors to allow a temporary memorial on an old Madison school property in Criglersville. Contributions began to pour in from local residents, providing enough funds for the society to design and construct a permanent memorial on the same site. On November 8, 2015, a stone chimney listing the names of 125 displaced Madison families was unveiled and officially dedicated to a crowd of some 300 Madisonians, many of them descendants of the displaced. “The Blue Ridge Heritage Project is giving long-overdue recognition to the people who were forced to give up their homes and lands to make Shenandoah National Park possible. For so many years, there was a stigma attached to being ‘from the mountains,’ but we are working to bring pride to the families of the former residents and to preserve and pass along the culture and heritage of the people,” BRHP founder Bill Henry said in a recent interview.
On the heels of Madison County’s successful memorial to the displaced families many other counties surrounding the Park have taken action: Albemarle Dedication of Albemarle’s stone chimney memorial took place November 5, 2016 in Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park in Blackwells Hollow on Route 810 in northwest Albemarle County. Fundraising is underway for the second phase of the project, which will include a shelter for educational displays, cultural events, and exhibits. Augusta Interested individuals are needed to form a county committee. Greene Local town council and county supervisors have approved locating their memorial in Greene’s county seat of Stanardsville. Stone from a former chimney has been donated for the project. Construction of the stone chimney is expected to begin in the spring of this year. Page The county committee expects to select a memorial site soon. Once a site is selected, local stone mason and descendant Clyde Jenkins will build the Page memorial with rock donated from his land. Fundraising is underway with the hope the memorial can be completed by the end of this year. Rappahannock Construction of a stone chimney memorial is underway on the Thornton River Orchard property, off Route 211, west of Sperryville. Once completed, the memorial site will be donated to Rappahannock County.
View of the memorial site in Rappahannock County, just west of Sperryville along Route 211. BY KRISTIE KENDALL
Rockingham Two sites for a memorial are being considered. The Heatwole family plans to donate chimney stones from the circa 1700’s Peter Wyant home that once bordered the park in Beldor Hollow. Warren A steering committee seeks those interested in a memorial effort. For more information, including contacts for county committees, visit the Blue Ridge Heritage Project website at www.blueridgeheritageproject.com
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Snapshots from the end of the day
Virginia film festival Charlottesville
Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker, and Paul Begala at The War Room BY JACK EZRA
Colin Firth at the Loving Press Conference BY JACK LOONEY
Claudrena Harold (UVA) at I Am Not Your Negro BY RYAN KELLY
Werner Herzog and Shirley MacLaine BY JACK LOONEY
Festival Director Jody Kielbasa, VA Governor Terry McAuliffe, and UVA President Teresa Sullivan en route to Loving BY TOM DALY
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Werner Herzog BY AMANDA MAGLIONE
Snapshots from the end of the day
Mosby heritage area association Heritage Hero Awards December 6, 2016 at the National Sporting Library and Museum
BY DOUG LEES
Kevin Pawlak, Richard Deardoff
2016 Mosby Heritage Area Association Heritage Heroes: Chairman of the Board MHAA Wendy Bebie, Hero recipient from Clarke County Mary Thomason-Morris, Heritage Award recipient from Loudoun County Al Van Huyck, Educator of the Year Award winner Richard Deardoff
Henry G. Plaster, Chairman, Preservation Committee, MHAA
President of the MHAA Childs F. Burden, Mary ThomasonMorris, Chairman of the Board MHAA Wendy Bebie
Terrie Sheaffer of the Clarke County Historical Association
Executive Director National Sporting Library and Museum Melanie Mathewes, Childs F. Burden
Nathan Stalvey, Clarke County Historical Association
Childs F. Burden, Al Van Huyck, Wendy Bebie
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Snapshots from the end of the day
Piedmont Foxhounds Opening meet
Piedmont Foxhounds huntsman Jordan Hicks leading the field
Piedmont Foxhounds running a fox
Virginia Fall Races
Gerard Galligan, winner of the Bon Nouvel hurdle race
Jockey Kieran Norris ended the season with the most wins
Large field of horses turning for home in the Nelson C. Noland Training Flat Race. Winner All The Way Jose, third from right
International Gold cup
BY DOUG LEES
VHBPA Open Flat Race: Rum Tum Tugger—4th, Set To Music—5th, Mutasaawy—1st, Unsinkable—2nd, Whitman’s Poetry—3rd 62 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
Old Dominion Turf Championship: Cryptos’ Holiday—1st, Hooping—2nd, Balistes—3rd
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Champion Swagger, owned by Vernon and Kelly Kirby
Snapshots from the end of the day
Montpelier Hunt Races James Madison’s Montpelier November 5, 2016
Betsy Mead, owner of So Far Away
Noel Laing Stakes winner Cul Baire, owned by Michael Smith and ridden by Paddy Young
Brendan Crowley, jockey of the winner of the Montpelier Cup So Far Away, and trainer Doug Fout
Michael Smith greets his Noel Laing winner Cup Baire in winners circle with Amber Hodyka handling horse for trainer Jimmy Day
Casanova opening meet
BY DOUG LEES
The Reverend James H. Cirillo blesses the hounds
Joyce Fendley, MFH, Tommy Lee Jones, huntsman
Joyce Fendley, MFH, following hounds running a fox from a cornfield
Cole Clark, Haylee Choby, MFA Jeanne Fendley Clark, Honorary Hunt Secretary Amanda Fendley Choby PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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LIFE IN THE PIEDMONT
Of Time and the River
When my daughters were young, floating down the Rappahannock was our rite of spring. By Walter Nicklin
e would put our young artillery officer home canoe in as far Robert E. Lee called “my galupstream, near lant Pelham,” killed at Kelly’s the source at Ford. And stories, of course, Chester’s Gap, as of Stonewall Jackson, misthe snow melt or takenly shot from his horse thunderstorms allowed. The river is by his very own men among so narrow here that a single fallen tree the dense spring foliage and or a cattle farmer’s possessive fence underbrush near the river at necessitates a portage. Such obstacles Chancellorsville, felled at the form part of the adventure; we are goprecise moment of his greating exploring. est victory. Each bend in the old river brings For this was the bloody something new; if we are quiet, even Rappahannock line that disurprises: whitetails bending to drink vided Lee’s Army of Northern from its waters, turtles sunning on a Virginia and the multi-headHeadwaters of the Rappahannock River rock, as a snake entwined in an overed Army of the Potomac, the Monotype by Tucker Hill hanging branch, a duck fluttering line that served to separate vulnerably to distract us from her offRichmond and Washingspring. Had it not been for the Rappahannock, my own children ton. In some senses it was an artificial line—the rolling Piedmont might not be here now. They were born from a love for a woman estates north of the river were just as “Southern” as Lowcountry whose family lived downstream at the mouth of the Rappahan- plantations. Yet the natural barrier of the Rappahannock, forcing nock, where it enters the Chesapeake. armies to ford and flank, was as real as a fault line running through Fate needn’t lie in the stars but in currents right here on earth. the heart of the nation. As the children became toddlers, they would float messages in Onto the campfire, you throw another piece of driftwood. Still bottles down the river toward their grandparents. It was an explo- damp, it wheezes, and you hear steel teeth on bone. Before he died, ration into the forces of nature—gravity, displacement—and of Jackson’s left arm, shattered by the furious fusillade, was ampulove. Now, as evening falls over our sycamore-embowered campsite tated, you remember, and you cannot sleep. on a midstream sandbar or in a daisy of a meadow right at river’s There are other ghosts. Your own. Lost youth can become a edge, ghosts become liminal. demon. The betrayal is as unintentional as the shots that mortally Yes, ghosts: Amid the murmuring ripples, pulsing frogs, and wounded Jackson—and just as deadly. That my professional life singing katydids, you can discern the soft breathing of sleeping became devoted to words, and (as a publisher) finding the money soldiers, blue and gray, tens of thousands of them. In the still-hot to print them, can be traced to the Rappahannock. The very first evening breeze, you can feel the presence of these fathers—if not story I ever wrote was about whitewater canoeing. It was published their actual bodies, the stories they told. I repeat them, the stories in Boy’s Life. I was 13, the same age as my younger daughter, now they told. sleeping by the campfire on the river. I could be she. Or she I, a Stories of that apparition in his own time, John Singleton third of a century ago. Mosby, “The Gray Ghost” who used the landscape carved by the And when she is my age now? I’ll no doubt be a ghost … if I’m river’s upstream tributaries to elude the Northern intruders. Of the lucky. Will I haunt the Rappahannock? Will it have me?
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