In the Neighborhood

Zippy dog welcomes everyone in the holler.

Zippy dog welcomes everyone in the holler.

We’ve been in Virginia for a year and a half now, and one of the most amazing things about this move south for us has been the people we’ve met in and around Charlottesville, and our “neighborhood,” or holler here in Free Union. And one of the best parts about the holler has been the other “transplants,” folks much like us who moved from the city to the country – as apposed to the Mennonites who dominate the community here, or the mountain people who have lived here forever. Gay and Josef, our transplant neighbors, who live a few hundred yards down the road from us, have made moving here a great thing, and it’s not just ’cause they have wireless internet, I swear.

Josef and Gay check one of two chicken houses they have.

Josef and Gay check one of two chicken houses they have for eggs.

Josef Beery is an artist, tinkerer, and bon vivant, with more knowledge of the local flora and fauna than I can ever hope to acquire. Josef recently relocated his studio and printing press into a new addition on their house, doing all the work himself.   I’m jealous of his handyman abilities, and I can’t wait to photograph him in his element.

Josef tending his garden.

Josef tending his garden.

Recently I found Josef building a contraption he is using to breakdown flax that he has grown, and let sit for over a year, and will eventually be made into paper that he will then use in his print making process and book binding. The process, years in the making, puts a twinkle into Josef’s eye as he explains it to me, where many of folks would rather poke their eyes out than be forced to do it. That commitment and passion to his craft is beautiful and exciting to witness.

Gay composting while Josef checks for eggs.

Gay dumps out some water, while Josef checks for eggs.

Sometimes the chickens aren't cooperative.

Sometimes the chickens aren’t cooperative, laying eggs out of reach.

Gay, equally passionated and committed to her own diversions, is a chef and owner of A Pimento catering in Charlottesville, and everything you ever wanted in a neighbor.  Back in March when we had a wicked late season snow, and lost power for two days, Gay invited us over for a delicious chicken and dumplings dinner cooked over a wood stove, which also staved off the cold that evening.

Neighbor love is a good thing.

Neighbor love is a good thing .. sharing a kiss under a fruit tree

Because of my interest in food, and some culinary knowledge from spending so much time in kitchens, Gay has given me the opportunity on various occasions to work in the kitchen of her catering company, helping out where I can, and also learning from her and her stellar staff.  Nothing like spending eight hours under a tent at a wedding, slinging food to teach you about what really makes up good food.

Gay and Josef checking out one of many nests they have.

Gay and Josef check out one of many nests they have.

Blue Bird box with little ones near their garden.

A Blue Bird box with little ones near their garden

The funny thing about living here in the holler has been that even though we are surrounded by less people than we were back in Massachusetts, we actually have more contact with our neighbors than we ever had before, and having Gay and Josef right next door has been a blessing for sure.  From dinners together, to internet access, and fresh eggs and some work once in a while, I’m not sure we’d be in Free Union today without our neighbors.

Sharing a laugh and a cocktail on the front porch.

Sharing a laugh and a glass of wine on the front porch

Thanks for reading along, and go out and visit with your neighbors. You might not be as lucky as we are, but then again you might be in some other way, but you’ll never know if you don’t go visit them.

Remember, F2% Because Heavy Cream is Always Better!



2 Responses to “In the Neighborhood”

  1. jan says:

    Lovely. I’m a great fan of Gay and josef!

  2. Connie says:

    I don’t know Gay, but have met Josef through art related items. I am sure they are the most wonderful neighbors one could have! I’m jealous!


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