Here’s one for the bucket list: cut down your own Christmas tree at FoxFire Farm in Howardsville, VA. On the day after Thanksgiving, three grown ups (friends M and B) and S the dog piled into M’s little car and headed down Route 20 in search for the perfect Christmas tree. We stopped for coffee, we had on plaid flannel shirts, we were ready.
Route 20 south of Charlottesville is incredibly scenic. Rolling hills, wooden fences reaching out to the horizon, and a few driveways with enticing signs for local wineries, all under the bluest of blue Virginia sky.
FoxFire Farm is tucked away in Howardsville, upriver from Scottsville on the James river. A handpainted sign welcomes all. After arming ourselves with a bow saw, a cart, and a pair of two left gloves – I guess I didn’t dress Virginia country enough to pass for a local – we walked among the Douglas Firs under the warm sunshine. We found our tree. M and I cut it down with the seamless efficiency that springs from the truest of friendships. We trimmed a few branches and loaded the tree onto our cart. S the dog was unimpressed by our handiwork. Then, M suggested we lay down and soak up some sun. That’s M, always aware, always able to see the perfect moment and seize it. So we laid there, where our tree once was. The grass was soft; the breeze gentle. The sun was warm, that special warmth that hovers under your jeans and starts to melt your bones a little. We laid there for a only few minutes, but it felt like hours.
On our way back to Charlottesville, with our tree strapped to the roof, we stopped at the Howardsville General Store (3340 James River Road, VA 24562). Virginia country stores are full of treasures and this one was no exception. From the inviting sun-drenched wooden bench on the porch to the makeshift deli and the generously stocked book shelves on the back wall, this little store was full of soul – and full of bright orange hunting hats, photographs of children proudly holding fish bigger than their little bodies, and cases of beer stacked on high). For $3.99, I had a chili hot dog, a real Coke (in a glass bottle), and a full heart. B got the biggest turkey club sandwich known to man. We took our harvest to the James River, sat on the boat ramp, and celebrated a perfect day with chili dribbling down our cheeks.
Virginia is for lovers