Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Advantages of Smaller

What a fun week! We don't usually pack so much into seven days -- but the fun started with Larry saying, "Let's go on a date." My reply was, "Gosh, when was the last time we did than?"

So last Saturday Larry and I went off to pick up our wine at Rappahannock Cellars. We joined their wine club to support the large home schooling family who owns it after attending a fundraiser last year for pro-life champion, VA state delegate Bob Marshall. One of the advantages of being a club member is using the members' only tasting room. We always take along some cheese and crackers and often another couple and just sit and enjoy a leisurely wine tasting before we pick up our wine. One reason we joined was because it "forces" us to have an occasional date. Although we hadn't picked up our wine since March so "rare date" is a more appropriate description. And the last time was during Lent and we'd both given up wine so we didn't taste that day. We walked out with a case of twelve bottles and pages of recipes to go with them. Yum.

We had dinner reservations at The Griffin Tavern in Flint Hill, but had time to spare so we followed the signs to Narmada Vineyards to try their wines as well. The location is lovely and the tasting room is large and attractive with a wall of windows and a beautiful deck overlooking fields of corn and the grapevines. The owners are from India. Narmada is the owner's mother. They offer an array of Indian food to tempt visitors. We couldn't resist buying two glasses with the tasting. They feature a little golden peacock (national bird of India) along with the name of the vineyard.

Then we were off to the Griffin where we sat on the front porch overlooking the gardens and had a delightful dinner. (No wine after a glass at Rappahannock and the tasting at Narmada.) Larry had an Asian style duck in a sweet soy-based sauce and I had salmon topped with shrimp and crab. Both were delicious!

During the week we went to the Shenandoah County Fair which is proof that small is wonderful. I used to attend the Fairfax County Fair because I worked at the pro-life booth. I hated that fair! Planned Parenthood and Whitman Walker Clinic (homosexual) both had fishbowls filled with condoms which they handed out indiscriminately to young kids. There were hundreds of exhibitors but it was like being sucked into the TV on the shoppers channel. The midway was larger than Shenandoah's fair, but how many rides and games do you need? The fair was so large that I often missed the wheat for wandering amid the chaff.

The Shenandoah County Fair is small, but charming. The livestock buildings have all types of farm animals and there is always a corner stall reserved for a sow with piglets. The judging ring includes explanations of what makes a prize-winning cow, goat, sheep, etc. The horseback riding and surry racing are always a treat and I love wandering among all the big tractors. We've never gone to the tractor pull or the demolition derby, but I always think about it when I look at the program. And I have interesting conversations with folks, many of whom left northern Virginia and agree that the pace of life and the charm of the people has improved their quality of life over Beltway madness.

.,On Friday night we had tickets for Wayside Theatre's Striking 12, an off Broadway show that's a combination of cabaret and storytelling based loosely on Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Match Girl. We weren't quite sure we'd like it, but the music was entertaining and the lyrics were clever and witty. Since it was a short show, the theatre interns sponsored an after-play entertainment with music and a trivia contest in the cafe attached to the theatre. We were two answers shy of the winners. How would you answer this question? Before the hairdryer, what common household appliance did women use to dry their hair? a) fan, b) iron, c) vacuum cleaner. If anyone wants to know ask in the comments section and I'll give you the correct answer.

Before the show we ate at the Irish Pub next door which is in a historic old building and very charming. Larry had fish and chips and I had the crabcake dinner and both were good.

We had time before the play and wandered down to the Wayside Inn. We'd never been inside before and were amazed at how large it is. The owner showed us around. It was built in the mid 1700s and is impeccably well kept. There are seven dining rooms in various parts of the house and lots of historical artifacts. I wish we'd thought to check Wayside out for our Shenandoah weddings because it is absolutely amazing! Well, maybe for our 50th wedding anniversary! 

When people say we moved out to the middle of nowhere I laugh. The Shenandoah valley offers museums (Civil War especially), vineyards, plays (Shenandoah University has a summer musical program that offers very professional productions. We took two of our grandchildren to see Oklahoma in July), restaurants (a lot fewer than northern Virginia but some quite good. The Taste of Thai in Harrisonburg is fabulous!). Then we have hiking trails, the Skyline Drive, river tubing and whitewater rafting, nice golf courses (I should take up the "sport"), auctions, antique shops galore, pick-your-own farms. I could go on and on. 

The city offers its own appeal for those who like it, but give me country living anytime. And everything here isn't small after all. I saw a 94 pound watermelon at the fair!