Sperryville column for Dec. 8

Christmas in Sperryville

Sperryville’s Christmas spirit is alive and well, and you can celebrate with many of the local businesses on Dec. 17 as Copper Fox Antiques hosts its first-ever Old World Santa Event. It will be an open house from 1 to 3 p.m., with an Old World Santa who, I’m told, is “absolutely gorgeous.” They will offer drinks, cookies and reindeer treats. My kids are now grown but I remember that along with the classic cookies and milk left on a kitchen countertop for the expected annual guests, we also strewed raisins on the front lawn and told the kids it was reindeer poop. I can’t imagine Copper Fox’s Ashleigh Cannon Sharp will strew the front parking lot with such, but imagine her reindeer treats handed out to the kids will be delicious.

Sperryville’s River District is, of course, also a place where you can enjoy a shot of fabulous bourbon to warm your belly at Wasmund’s Copper Fox Distillery, or savor delicious craft beer at Pen Druid Brewery or go gift shopping at Flourish Root Florals, Wild Roots Apothecary, Ridgeline Jewelry Design, Living Sky Foundation, Heritage Hollow Farm store and the River District Potter ladies.

Following the Santa activities, join Flourish Root Florals and Wild Roots Apothecary for their Holiday Open House from 3 to 6 p.m. Enjoy treats, goodies and holiday cheer featuring herbal goodness, flowery things, holiday green creations and Kat Habib Ceramics in their little shared shop and studio space. They look forward to seeing you all and being able to wish happy holidays to the community!

Meanwhile, Santa will be at Sperryville Schoolhouse this weekend as Schoolhouse Antiques hosts demo antique games for kids to play both Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 10-11) plus product tastings, cookies, cider, coffee, preserves and chocolate. Santa will be in the house from 10 to noon on Sunday. For more information, contact Maggi or Nicole at 540-987-9750 or maggiandnicole@sperryvilleschoolhouse.com.

Mary’s wood works

A wall-mounted hat and coat rack by Sperryville woodworker Mary Panesis.
A wall-mounted hat and coat rack by Sperryville woodworker Mary Panesis. By Chris Green

I’ve always loved all things wood. The rustic mountaintop cabin I share with my handsome husband, itself built from trees harvested on our property is (I’m told) warm and inviting, and I’m sure that’s because it’s furnished with wooden everything, from figurines crafted in the Black Forest of Germany to many a hand-carved kitchen utensil, bowls and thick butcher blocks, carved hangings and more. So it was with great appreciation that I met with Mary Panesis, her woodwork a special craft. Her local business has grown exponentially and she will now take over Triple Oak Bakery’s roomy cafe space, which Brooke Parkhurst will no longer use. (They are in the process of sorting all items to make room, and will have an auction to sell off cafe tables and chairs, a three-door freezer and more to make room for Mary’s extraordinary creations. They will also have an office to rent.)

Mary Panesis champions reclaimed wood, which she transforms into unique pieces of art. Her footstools, with natural knot holes intact, are so beautiful that you wonder if your feet should even be rested upon them. Each piece is unique, based on the shape and size of the wood, or as she says, what the wood asks of her. She uses everything from barn wood to reclaimed flooring, discarded horse fencing to simple slabs of wood and even twigs she collects.

Every cut is individual, and her creations spontaneous and, if I may say so, very reasonably priced. Mary designs butcher blocks; some are huge and thick, depending on the cut of wood, and all show off  the shape and contour of the piece. To view some of her creative pieces check out shirehomefurnishings.etsy.com or search “shirehome” on Facebook.

Most important, Mary’s business has grown so much this past year that she’s looking to purchase more equipment and larger pieces of wood. She’s registered with Indiegogo, and, as of Tuesday, has reached 86 percent of her fundraising goal. She’s grateful for any contribution; even $15 is much appreciated. The site’s short video and explanation of her goals and mission is particularly informative; visit it at igg.me/at/help-the-shire.

Mary also welcomes any wood you might wish to dispose of and will happily give you a financial donation and also make something for you as a thank you. She’s a delightful woman, eloquent, warm and gracious, admittedly an introvert, a woman happiest when she’s tending to her family and her craft. Good luck to you, Mary!

Chris Green
About Chris Green 159 Articles
Chris Green (formerly Chris Doxzen) is an an executive recruiter by profession who enjoys exploring and writing about all things Rappahannock. Friends and neighbors with potential stories for her Sperryville column should email her at chrisdoxzen@gmail.com.