Christmas 2012

An incident packed Yuletide in the Blue Ridge Highlands in the South West of Virginia.

Published: 25 January 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Freezing Landscapes

Usu­ally, we head south to the Low Coun­try to escape the cold and wet around here at Christ­mas. In 2012, with memor­ies of a 3200 mile slog to and from Texas still fresh in our memor­ies, we elec­ted to seek out some place closer to home.

We had been impressed by the beau­ty of the Blue Ridge High­lands when we drove through them some time ago. It was an easy 300 mile trip through some lovely coun­try to get there. We found a prop­er­ty near Mead­ows of Dan in the far South West of Vir­ginia but high up on a moun­tain­ous ridge with a com­mand­ing 220 degree view. On a clear day one could see sev­enty miles away to the North East from the deck.

The house was lovely but the weather turned out not to be. We arrived in a storm raging down from the Arc­tic. The house was warm and wel­com­ing though with under­floor radi­ant heat­ing as well as forced air. We soon had the SUV unloaded and a Christ­mas tree col­lec­ted from a friend of our house’s own­er who farmed them nearby. By the time we had organ­ised ourselves, walked the dogs and dec­or­ated the tree, it was time for din­ner and a bottle of wine. Bed ensued earli­er than it usu­ally does.

After that, things didn’t go so well. The LPG gas tank that powers the heat­ing ran dry the next morn­ing. This was put right quickly but a fur­ther mis­un­der­stand­ing meant that the hot water sup­ply to the mas­ter suite wasn’t restored until the next day. None of it was life threat­en­ing but it all impinged on the ten­or of the hol­i­day.

Christ­mas Eve and Christ­mas Day were incid­ent free and fine but an ice storm in the early hours of Box­ing Day brought down a large tree on the access road to the prop­er­ty and we were stran­ded up there until that was cleared in the after­noon. As it grew dark, still in the grip of the ice storm, elec­tric­al power went down in the area. A stand­by gen­er­at­or provided some light and cook­ing but didn’t power up the gas fired radi­ant and warm air heat­ing units. So it was a good night to go to bed early.

Still no mains elec­tri­city in the morn­ing, so we packed up and headed for home a day earli­er than sched­uled. Once we got off the moun­tain, the roads were fine, so it seemed to take no time at all to get home. The hol­i­day wasn’t a dis­aster at all, we had a great Christ­mas and met some truly lovely people. We would go back to the area like a shot but per­haps try and choose a bet­ter time of year to be so high up there.

Christ­mas Din­ner

Gravy, cran­berry sauce and mus­tard to come.

We sat down to a scrump­tious din­ner on Christ­mas Day. Look at my plate­ful: tur­key, gam­mon, bacon wrapped chi­polatas, brus­sel sprouts, roast pota­toes and roast yams.

I men­tally recited the Selkirk Grace before I tucked in.

Some hae meat and can­na eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

The Selkirk Grace, attrib­uted to Robert Burns

For those unfa­mil­i­ar with Lal­lans (the dia­lects of South and Cent­ral Scot­land) it expresses thanks to God that we have both food and our health and can enjoy it.

With three in every twenty Amer­ic­ans on food­stamps and 17 mil­lion Amer­ic­an chil­dren reg­u­larly going hungry, I did feel lucky to be able to sit before such a meal and sad that so many would not be doing so too.

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