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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Always Take Your Camera

Tuesday I took another day of annual leave to drive over to Richmond for a visit with my sister, who was making her Christmas trip to see our parents. She lives in WVa, works and goes to school full time so her visits are tightly scheduled. The last few times we weren't able to hook up but I was determined to do so this time. She's a consummate entertainer and she sang and danced and fiddled her way into the hearts of everyone at the AL place where Daddy lives. I, the family librarian, have all the old photos, letters, sketch books and stories from our parents' home and I wanted to deliver her share of them - lots of photos that I knew she did not have. It was a sweet visit and we made some interesting plans with Daddy for next summer.  

Mattaponi looking down stream
I've recently begun taking a different route to Richmond whenever I can. It's cross country through Caroline County and down 301 through Frog Level and Hanover Court House. It's actually shorter and quicker and there is almost no traffic on it at all once you get past Atlee Station. And it is absolutely beautiful. There's something 19th century about this meandering drive across rural eastern Virginia - what I am sure has to be the promised land. I admit it. I'm wildly partisan and secretly feel sorry for anyone who doesn't live in Virginia.There are quaint old farmhouses and mercantile crossroads that lie quiet now in our fast paced automobile-centric era, hearkening back to a time that, while not entirely unfamiliar to us, feels like it was sweeter, softer, slower. Like the Mattiponi, sluggish in it's winter coat of ice.

And if you are not in too big a hurry  and you were smart enough to remember your camera - you just mind find a surprise as you round the bend in the road. This flock was in no hurry to get out of my way and I didn't push. Instead, they just ambled along, checking out the scenery till something spooked them and they fluttered off into the woods.
A big tom and his hens
Pendleton Road 
This is my favorite little strip of Virginia road - Pendleton Road it's called and it's just west of the Sparta Fire Station. In summer it is the most cool leafy green tunnel, in autumn it's a cathedral of gold and red and in winter it's this beautiful dark and mysterious stream wending through the forest.

All it takes is sugar, corn syrup and grapefruit
Of course, Christmas isn't Christmas without Christmas Cooking - and in our house that includes Candied Grapefruit Peel. You get a surprising amount of treat from a single grapefruit and these Florida Crystals make the perfect sugar coating. But don't try to skimp on the parboiling. Gotta do it twice before you make the sugar syrup. This is one of the few candies I can actually over eat. Yum. 
Sweet and tart and citrus flavored 

I'm officially off now till 2011 - with lots of time to relax, to nap, to knit. LD will be here tonight, BH and her girls are expected on Christmas Day - It's the Hap Happiest time of the year. 

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