When I took my trip to Virginia and North Carolina last month, I had a smile on my face most of the time. The natural beauty of the landscape had a lot to do with that. So did time spent with my cousins and the small shops I stopped in along the way. Quirky little storefronts held everything from hand thrown pottery to latter day “hippie” clothing to magnets decorated with unique phrases, like, “Question authority, but not your mother!” (You know I bought that one!)
One of the shops in Floyd, Virginia (mountain mecca of artists and musicians) displayed a small selection of watches that caught my eye. The face of one of the watches features a gentleman in a bowler hat, carrying a cane as he strolls along.
At first glance, I thought it was Charlie Chaplin. Then I realized the figure was a much more nattily dressed, slender presence. He was debonair to a fault, rather jaunty — and, I realized as I glanced at him several times over the space of a few minutes — decidedly silly-looking. In fact, I found out the watch is known as a Silly Walker. The man’s legs are the hour and minute hands and his cane counts the seconds. Sometimes (at five minutes to 10, for example) he looks like he’s in flight, with his legs kicking out behind him, slowly twirling his cane.
I couldn’t get the watch out of my mind, so my cousin, Mimi did a little research on it for me. She found it on Amazon, and guess what! It’s a Monty Python licensed product — of course it is. I came home with one. How could I not, when every time I check the time I smile.
Fancy Gap, Virginia yielded two Christmas presents that I can’t describe in too much detail, lest I spoil someone’s Christmas morning. Let’s just say they involve a very talented potter and the face of the Old Man of the Mountain. The face on one of the pieces has eyes that are looking to the right like the people on the Aflac TV commercials when they react to the duck. If those faces don’t make you laugh, you may not be human.
It’s that time of year when ghosties, ghoulies, and things that go bump in the night are getting ready to make their annual appearances. Kids large and small dressed in outlandish costumes make me smile every time. In keeping with the season, here’s a side dish or a dessert that’s seasonal, beautiful and fun, all at the same time (and boy, does it smell good). Try it and you’ll see what I mean.
JACQUES AU LANTERN COMPOTE
1 small pumpkin
2 cups tart apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry pumpkin. Cut off top (to be used as a lid) and scoop out inside.
Place pumpkin shell on pie plate. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour apple mixture into pumpkin and cover with lid.
Bake 45 to 60 minutes.
Serves six to eight.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at email@example.com.