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In This Issue

Spring 2015 Recipes

Purple Podded Heirloom Pea Soup with Edible Flower Blossoms and Brick Dough Crisps by Laurie Beth Gills

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Roasted Asparagus - Speck Wrapped with Crunch Fried Egg and Chive Oil by Laurie Beth Gills

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Lemon Butter Soaked Wild Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto Flash Fried in Avocado oil and Poached Egg by Brial L. Lichorowic

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Spinach Enchiladas by Carla Hogue

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Letter From Amissville: Spring 2015

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Piedmont

Raymond Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” provides the touchstone around which this year’s Oscar-winning film Birdman is framed. Which got me to thinking, if not talking, about love — specifically, what it is that people here in the Piedmont are talking about when they say, “I love it here.”

Are they ecosexuals?  That’s a provocative, new term to which I’ve just been introduced, a term that has recently gained some currency among both environmentalists and feminists. It’s a synonym for sexecology, another word I never knew existed. The “Ecosex Manifesto” — which in effect replaces matronly Mother Nature with passionate Lover Earth — reads in part:

“The Earth is our lover. We are madly, passionately, and fiercely in love, and we are grateful for this relationship each and every day. In order to create a more mutual and sustainable relationship with the Earth, we collaborate with nature. We treat the Earth with kindness, respect and affection.”

Combining ecology with sex — whether as in ecosexual or sexecology — conjures up, of course, the kind of love associated with romance or Eros. But there are at least three other kinds of love, as famously categorized by the Christian essayist C.S. Lewis:

Storge, or affection, describes the bonds we have as parents, children, siblings, and families. Philia means friendship. Agape is the unconditional, selfless love we feel toward God. Like Eros, all the names Lewis used derived from the ancient Greek.

To these, perhaps should be added a fifth love. I don’t have a clue what it would be called in ancient Greek, but if I remember my Latin right — to give it a suitably sounding name — Amor Terrae might do. That translates into “Love of the Land.” And that sounds somehow more appropriate, less salacious, than either ecosexual or sexecological.

Whatever it’s called, it is this love of the land that unites us, despite often heated partisan differences, here in the northern Piedmont of Virginia. It’s a deep love and sense of appreciation for the special beauty of our undeveloped, undulating hills, rolling timelessly toward the Blue Ridge. That love is what draws — and keeps — us here.

And this love of the land, more often than not, enhances and enriches all the other kinds of love:

Storge: For children growing up here, the landscape is just like family.

Philia: Friendship is deepened when enjoying the outdoors together.

Eros: Holding hands while watching together, as if one, the sun slowly sinking over the Blue Ridge brings lovers just that much closer.

Agape: No matter your religion, nature’s beauty allows a glimpse of God’s wondrous creation. Indeed, no formal religion is even necessary for the transcendental feeling, evoked by the Piedmont landscape, of touching the sublime. 

Piedmont farmers and conservationists sometimes have heated differences of opinions over such things as riparian buffers, but their mutual love of the land is undeniable. In the larger scheme of things, theirs is no different from a lovers’ quarrel, eventually to be put aside and then long forgotten.

Yes, Virginia is for lovers, especially it’s Piedmont in springtime.

Photo credit: The Bluemont Flats by Douglas Graham/ Wild Light Photos

The Piedmont Lace Guild

Photography by Jordan Koepke
Article by Anita Barry, Birgitte Hansen Tessier, and Pam Kamphuis

Throughout time, lace has always been considered essentially priceless due to the immense amount of time and skill involved in its crafting. It is, as it has always been, a treasured heirloom handed down through generations.

The Piedmont Lace Guild: Preserving the fine art of lacemaking.

A Brief History of Lace

History: Children in the Lace Industry

Getting Started in Tatting

Preservation of Heirloom Textiles

Following, find photos that were not used in the print issue!

Turning Swords into Plowshares

Returning veterans are drawn to the land.

By Marian Burros

Seriously wounded in Afghanistan in 2011, Capt. Marc Tucker expects to retire this fall from the Marine Corps and become a full-time farmer-in-training. He’s already interning one day a week in preparation for his next career — following the path of a steadily growing number of veterans, both men and women, who have decided that the life of a farmer is particularly suited to their experiences.

Tucker’s interest started as he was healing from surgery. No longer able to do the workouts to which he was devoted, he was told to take up gardening in order to stay in shape. After two years growing tomatoes and cucumbers, he was hooked but hadn’t yet realized what gardening had come to mean to him.

 “As I healed physically, I dedicated less time to the garden,” he says, “but found myself being upset. I had to deal with life-altering news. I had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury. That was huge for me. And I realized that working in the garden helped my mental health. There truly is a symbiosis in any type of farming through soil and animals and plants: there is something natural, holistic and pure. I had this awakening. There’s such a beauty in being able to create.” 

Through other Marines at Quantico, where Tucker is stationed, he learned about Spring Hill Farm, owned by Brian Criley and his wife, Kim.

Criley, a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, who had two tours of duty in Iraq, is running a 52-acre sustainable farm in King George County, near Fredericksburg. He has begun an intern program for veterans that will not only teach them how to farm, but also to help those having trouble readjusting to civilian life.There will be experts who can help them psychologically. Criley calls his plan “agra-therapy”.

I absolutely believe agriculture is incredible therapy for veterans. Most people who just garden are somewhat aware of the therapeutic aspects of it,  how good it is to have your hands in some dirt. I think a lot is elemental. You are doing something that has to do with creating, not destruction. That’s particularly helpful to veterans. Reintegration builds life skills to help you cope with all of life’s stresses, providing tools and strategies you may not have learned. 

--Captain Mark Tucker

Read the whole article in our Spring issue, available by print subscription, digital subscription, or at select newsstands.

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