Monday, December 5, 2011

Middleburg Hunt & Marshall Parade

Saturday was a beautiful day and I was in Middleburg before 11:00am waiting with hundreds of others to watch the Middleburg Hunt come through. This has been a custom here for years and I'd heard lots about it so wanted to experience it for myself. As we waited the commentator asked all dog owners to keep a firm hold on leashes especially to any woofers that resembled a fox. The crowd roared. We couldn't have asked for a prettier day and as we stood on the edge of the road a cheer went up from the crowd as the hounds and red coats were spotted coming down Main St. They made a wonderful sight as the Masters crested the brow of the hill then suddenly camera shutters were clicking furiously, mine included, and hundreds of pairs of hands applauded wildly.
They trotted down the street while everyone still cheered with thundering applause. The English and American foxhounds behaved impeccably. There were about 80 of them and they sniffed happily along the road welcoming pats from outstretched hands. and then suddenly they were all gone. After waiting for about 40 minutes, the Hunt had passed through in less than 4 minutes but nevertheless had made a lasting vivid impression. I'll be there again next year.
Check out the dog's face on the right. Bah Humbug!
The street was lined with vendors selling hot drinks and homemade cookies while stores had doors open inviting folks in for more snacks and nibbles. The decorations were beautiful and will be something I'll arrive earlier for next year to photograph, but today I had to rush back to my car and drive home where the Marshall Christmas Parade was taking place. I got there just in time. I parked the car as the floats were applying their finishing touches and dance troops were practicing steps.
Everyone was smiling today and happy to pose for photos. I walked down a different Main Street and took up position for the second time today, chatting to locals as we waited for the first vehicles of the parade to show.
I always get a thrill from seeing a fire truck and especially when they're shiny, decorated for Christmas, sounding horns and flashing lights. It seemed this parade was all about making as much noise as possible and it was wondrous.
This float represnted Beauty & the Beast with the girl singing angelically as they passed by.
Marshall obviously regard this as a major highlight of the year. I was extremely impressed by the size of the parade and at the amount of time and effort that had been spent on this day. Even neighboring towns sent attractions to take part in Marshall's big day. There were emergency crews from Orlean and Warrenton along with a dance troop from Gainesville.
These girls were amazingly limber.
And a parade just wouldn't be complete without a tractor. I immediately noticed, quite happily,  that there were no John Deeres in sight, just a lovely shiny red MF, albeit it a relatively new one and not a tricycle, but hey, I'm splitting hairs now.
And last but definitely not least were Mr & Mrs Claus themselves in a wonderful old red truck.
The crowds dissipated as the parade finished and I walked back to my car again stopping to watch some local lads attempt to stay on a mechanical bull. Unfortunately it seemed Marshall would not be producing any rodeo cowboys any time soon. This beautiful wreath hung on a front door near the crossroads reminding me that I need to pull out my violin and start sawing again.
Because the day was so lovely I decided to drive past my house and continue on to Orlean where a few months ago I'd noticed a pretty shop that I had decided to put off exploring until a later date. So today I went there. It was beautiful and I could have spent a fortune on the wonderful antiques and gifts decoratively arranged.

This is Charlie, the resident woofer, half Cairn Terrier and half Border Terrier. He was very friendly and welcoming and slowly made his way over, his little stub wagging furiously. He seemed ancient until the owner informed me that Charlie was only 3 yet acted like an old man for some reason. Maybe an attention seeking ploy...  I purchased some Christmas decorations, do I really need more? and couldn't resist an old hurricane lamp which had been converted from oil to electricity. I'll post a photo of that later on my daily blog.
When I got home the temperature was starting to drop yet I had one more task before relaxing in front of the fire. I have always admired the Christmas tree that suddenly appears on the side of the road decorated by someone under the cover of darkness and thought one of the trees on Achilles Lane could use a similar treatment. Luckily Maggi's car was gone when I arrived and I noticed that none of the neighbors were out so I acted quickly. I had already pulled together the decorations I would use and got to work. It only took me about 20 minutes and nobody saw me as I strung tinsel and baubles over a Scots Pine on the edge of our lane.
Less than 30 minutes after arriving home I was parked in front of my fire warming up and smiling after a wonderfully enjoyable day.

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