Through the year, counties in the Valley and nearby regions, have events to bring folks back to the home place and to entertain tourists. During the summer months, this is Firemen’s Carnivals and County Fairs. During the Autumn, this is craft fairs, and heritage festivals. Hardy County hosts its annual Heritage Weekend the last week of September. No longer being tourists, but never to be “from here”, we look at ways to to create our traditions. This year, we invited several relatives to join in.
The focus of these invitations were the “Three Sisters”, Linda’s mother, Emily, and aunts,Violet and Muriel. This is also an opportunity for the sisters, who live in three states, to get together. Of course, this involves including the cousins from the other Virginia. We had brought them all together for several years at Thanksgiving, but formal holidays strain everyone’s schedules for traveling and juggling which set of relatives to visit in what sequence. Time to move the date and change the occasion.
We had Emily and Violet fly in on Wednesday, to give us a couple of evenings to visit after work before getting into tourist gear. Friday, our friend Emma picked up Emily and Violet, while we were at work, and brought them to Harrisonburg, VA for dinner. We then headed to Staunton, VA for a production of “Hamlet” at the Blackfriar Threatre (http://americanshakespearecenter.com/v.php?pg=1128). Saturday was devoted to the Hardy Heritage Weekend events, and Sunday to a cookout with Muriel and Staff’s children and grandchildren. Monday was another day to stop at a museum or two between here and BWI airport… there are a few between here and there.
The range of activities at the Hardy Heritage Weekend (http://www.heritageweekend.com/) include the Quilt Show, Tractor and Auto Shows, crafts sales, self-guided walking tours, open house tours, music, and lots of food options. We focused our attention on the Quilt Show, a couple of 18th and 19th century homes, and the Banjo, Fiddle, and Mandolin Competition at the McCoy Grand Theatre (http://www.mccoysgrand.com/). Laura, Murial, and Staff joined us for the Quilt Show.
After an hour of viewing the quilts, admiring the quality of the hand and machine made styles, chatting with several of the quilters, and agonizing on which quilt to vote for as our favorite, we headed south from Moorefield to tour the Westfall Place-Cunningham House. The current owner has been dutifully restoring this mid-19th century home since he acquired it 30+ years ago. Several of his daughters and granddaughters greeted us in each room. Laura took her parents back to their cabin to meet up with the other siblings mid-day, as we headed down the along the South Fork of the Potomac to Stump Run Farms to tour the Stump Cabin, an 18th century log structure. Again the owners have been restoring and rebuilding this structure for the 30+ years that they have owned it, including exploring for old foundations to guide their work.
This brings up the phenomenon in this area of how populations and property ownership shift over time. Often, we drive by an older, apparently abandoned or at least neglected house or barn, and wonder who left the plow in the field. Meanwhile, outsiders, like ourselves, have the financial resources and interest to purchase these properties, and spend decades restoring them. In turn, who is local or not becomes blurred, until someone investigates the ancestral lines.
The Banjo, Fiddle, and Mandolin Competition included half a dozen youth musicians and half a dozen adults. Most of the competitors played two or three of the different instruments. The judges tally their scores to determine the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place players for each age group and instrument. The winners receive their trophies, and we all head home with tunes in our heads.
Sunday’s cookout had an advantage over Thanksgiving, in that the meal did not take days to prepare. While we certainly did some house and yard chores ahead of time, much of our preparation could be completed in the morning before guests arrived. My duties were to start with picking up ice for the cooler, then mowing the pathways. I had planned on doing this Saturday, but rain from the night before postponed this task to Sunday. All looked good at 7:45 when I headed down to the Corner Mart for ice, except that it started raining by the time I arrived. I vowed to be flexible and just not worry about the grass being a little long.
Of course, my next tasks was to start the fire in the fire pit, but I had a few hours before the guests would arrive. I took on dish washing and setting up the table, etc. while the ladies prepared potato salad and cole slaw, made dip for chips and vegetables, etc. The rain stopped, so I continued with the indoor tasks to let the area dry a bit. Ten a.m. was the latest that I could wait to start the fire. I donned my rain gear and muck boots, set up the wood, and went to collect some cardboard to get the fire going.
We had some mist as guests enjoyed the country bon-fire experience, and another heavy shower when I went out to grill the brat’s and burgers. At least, I did not bring on any bolts of lightening. A hearty meal was enjoyed by all, then more visiting and reminiscing before car loads packed up for the drive back to civilization. A friend from work, who had met several of the family members at other time, joined us, for the enjoyment of the meal and watching someone else’s family dynamics.
A quilt is the product of seemingly random strips of fabric being sized, cut, and arranged into patterns. Up close the details of the stitching and images of the quilt become apparent. From a distance, the greater pattern and abstractions fill one’s vision. A quilt should be appreciated from both vantage points. So, too, is a family. Random people forming different arrangements to reveal details and patterns, not always apparent to those of us bound together.