Thursday, April 26, 2012

Draft Day

This evening starts a three-day stretch that's the apex of the hot stove league for professional football. Even though the season runs September through December (through January if you count the playoffs) and late April is pretty far removed from the action on the field, this is when NFL teams select 620 of the top players coming out of college, giving them a chance to compete for roster slots. In the world of football, today is known as Draft Day.

It's also the day I drove from Carrboro NC to Floyd VA—a four-hour jaunt spent mostly on interstate highways where I frequently drafted behind semis amidst intermittent rain. The final 30 miles was spent winding along US 221 as it snaked northeast along the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

At an elevation of 3000 feet the air temperatures were in the 50s even at midday and a few houses were sporting wood smoke curling out of chimneys. I noticed that they seemed to be drawing well, which is something you can't always count on in springtime. If the chimney stone (or brick) is colder than the air temperature, you get an inversion which can result in a smoke-filled room. While that may be normal and expected in political caucuses, it's an altogether unpleasant surprise in one's living room. Fortunately, the chimneys appeared to be drafting well today. 

As I cruised past Fancy Gap, Galax, and Dugspur (I'm telling you, they have a flare for names in the hills and hollers of southwest Virginia), it was delightful to see the vibrant greenery interwoven in the rolling terrain, dotted with well-seasoned barns and colorful livestock—mostly cows, but every now and then I'd glimpse a flock of sheep, or a draft horse or two.

After dodging raindrops (and truck spray) for a few hours, I was grateful to pull into Annie's yard circa 2 pm. (Though I was still 125 miles southwest of Stuarts Draft VA, that was as far as I was driving today.) Luckily the rain had let up and we were able to tour her garden and new hoop house. Like many of her Floyd County neighbors, Annie had lit a small fire in her wood stove this morning to take the chill off. Afraid though that she might have overdone it, she had opened an upstairs window in the late morning before going out to putter. The first thing she did upon entering the house with me was to race upstairs and close the window, to stop the cool air from creating too much of a draft in her bedroom.

Now that I'm settled in for a two-day visit (I brought some wine, olives, and cheese that are open on the counter, plus a few bottles of draft beer that are cooling in the fridge), it's time to puzzle out a theme and start drafting today's blog…  

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