Christmas 2012

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

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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