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After a fire in 1992 destroyed 100 rooms in Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth called that very difficult year for her family “annus horribilis” or a horrible year. Sadly many Rappahannock residents in 2020 with COVID-19 have also had a horrible year. Let all pray, hope and wish that 2021 will be a “annus mirabilis” or wonderful year.
So how to celebrate a Rappahannock Christmas and embrace the coming New Year? I would like to gracefully add a few suggestions.
But first children always have the desire to pray for a white Christmas, which is magic for them but remember a little prayer goes a long way, so please children no gridlocking blizzards on our mountain roads.
If getting a glass of wine, beer or something stronger and reading a good book is your thing, then for wine I am loyal to a fellow Marine aviator’s Quievremont winery. Anyone that can fly combat in the USMC can make a good wine and that is my story and I am sticking with it.
For wonderful craft beers it doesn’t come any better than Pen Druid Brewing, which recently moved to an incredible scenic location and is such a beautiful place to visit that I suspect in the summer hundreds if not thousands of visitors will drive down from DC because it is simply great beer in a special place.
For unique American whisky visit Copper Fox; “founded by Rick Wasmund, with the idea of making whisky differently. The first North American distillery to build a traditional malt floor and kiln since the repeal of Prohibition.” Way to go, Rick!
Local good books will abound in the coming year. The first is a thrilling insightful novel of 9/11 written by James Reston Jr., and published locally by Al Regnery’s “Republic” label titled “The 19th Hijacker.”
The second is a personal non-fiction work by the legendary former director of “The President’s Own” —“Play On: A Marine’s Musical Journey From Bayou to the White House.”
“Colonel John R. Bourgeois, USMC (Ret), was the 25th Director of ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band. His acclaimed career spanned nine presidential administrations.”
I am sure Colonel Bourgeois would honor that in American music history he was standing on the shoulder of a giant, the former Marine Band Director John Philip Sousa, but generations from now Colonel Bourgeois's legacy will endure in his own right and his book is much anticipated.
Capturing the pictorial beauty of Rappahannock in a lasting work is Ted Pellegatta’s collection of photographs reproduced in his book “Virginia’s Blue Ridge.” But proving that not only does Ted have a photographer's eye he has a poet’s gift with words in his recent work, “Lyric: Words on a Page.”
If the theme from the long running TV show “Cheers” motivates a trip to a local pub or tavern say no more:
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
A visit to Headmaster’s Pub is just the place to go, between the delightfully creative kitchen, the very attentive staff and management and the really fun ambiance, if one cannot have a great time at Headmaster’s then you probably need therapy.
Griffin Tavern and Restaurant also deserves special mention. It also has a great staff and wonderful kitchen and in a very creative way the owner created a brilliant act of defiance against COVID-19. Griffin Tavern offered a mason jar for your drink with their artistic logo on the front and COVID-19 - 2020 on the back. Years from now I suspect that will be treasured as a collector’s item showing that Rappahannock County can, as often said, not just endure but prevail, and life will surely get better.
If all else fails then cheer up by visiting the Sperryville Corner Store and buy a fresh baked Park Ranger Cookie. Certainly with one bite life will be better.
One last Christmas issue of helping others and recognizing the sanctity and beauty of protecting life on earth today, one should visit the Living Sky Foundation web page. I dare anyone after seeing such joy depicted by the Living Sky Foundation to say bah humbug this Christmas.
And a final line for a happy Rappahannock 2020 Christmas and better 2021 comes from Robert Browning’s lasting poem, “Pippa Passes.”
God's in his heaven —
All's right with the world!
— The writer lives in Castleton.