60 cents buys you Paris and a cup of coffee
Here I sit on a recent Sunday morning at the Laurel Mills Store, quietly hunkered down at my favorite table, the only table, enjoying the bright January sunshine streaming through the windows. I’m happily penning my weekly Sperryville column. The establishment now enjoys internet, and so I file my copy in comfort. The wood slatted front porch door, in all its squeaking country style, is opening and closing as locals enter and exit to purchase their wares, while animated conversation takes place at the register over shared recipes for buttery croissants.
It could be a sidewalk cafe in Paris except for the buses and cars — there aren’t any — and lack of traffic jams. But the foot traffic is considerable and the clientele equally fascinating. Here the gatherings, while not made up of Parisian intelligentsia like in the days of Voltaire and Diderot, nor populated with writers like Hemingway and artists like Picasso, include farmers, repairmen, shopkeepers, craftsmen, butchers, folks who raise cattle and pigs and chickens, local politicos, retirees, and more.
Jokes are shared, some rather bawdy, to a good humored and receptive audience. Gentle laughter fills the air while fruits, vegetables, homemade biscuits, grass-fed meats, fresh eggs and country sausage, chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, jams and all manner of household goods are purchased. Money is laid down for the Sunday papers while a mere 60 cents gets you a good cup of coffee.
A local truck driver swoons over the owner’s own fresh cooked cinnamon streusel muffins and savors two of them while they are still steaming hot from the oven. The porch is populated with a jovial group, men and women of the country, who exchange stories and debate.
We may not have a Parisian style cafe in Rappahannock, but we do have the Laurel Mills Store, and that is as it should be.
Wesley’s gallery tour
When Denise Chandler of Rappahannock stepped down from her longstanding and highly successful leadership post as organizer of the annual Little Washington Christmas Parade I was honored that year to be asked to take her place. Hundreds of volunteers amassed, marshaling and harnessing considerable energy and time to orchestrate as always a decidedly rewarding event. Doves were to be released to fly to the heavens and home, while men and women resplendent in red coats astride magnificent horses surrounded by hounds were scheduled to walk the charming hamlet streets. The majesty and pure joy of the parade was awaited with baited breath and then the winter weather at the last minute cried foul. I remember I cried, too. Mayor John Fox Sullivan dubbed it the best Little Washington Christmas Parade that wasn’t.
So while Rappahannock Middle Street Gallery’s first major show of the year and its first in the new gallery space did not not involve the same manpower, nor did Middle Street members cry, the cancellation of the scheduled opening reception, due to practically the only inclement winter weather forecast this season, the ruling of a pending ice storm was nonetheless disappointing. While the Iceman ultimately didn’t cometh, Susan Raines, wise artist that she is, manned the gallery anyway, assuming some folks might still show.
A little tyke by the name of Wesley, escorted by immediate family, and who due to her inability to read at this time of her life, and not owning an email address, was blissfully unaware of the cancellation and showed up with abundant enthusiasm.
As you can see by the accompanying photo and little Wesley Doxzen’s beaming smiles, the works are fantastic and Susan Raines is a gracious host and artist. On behalf of my family, thank you Susan for giving us such an intimate, rich and colorful tour. We all enjoyed it and little Wesley was clearly inspired (and while I’m not sure she can color within the lines yet, I’m sure she will at some point).
The show runs through February 12 and the opening reception has now been rescheduled to Saturday January 28 from 3 to 5 p.m. As Gary Anthes writes: “You can see recent works by more than 30 artists from Rappahannock County and nearby areas as well as celebrate the official opening for the gallery’s new home — above the Before and After espresso bar and wine cafe at 31 Main Street in Sperryville.”