Sperryville: Slow Down Therapy

© by Mary and Bill Burnham

Stonewall Abbey Cafe

Sperryville in Rappahannock County is just a stone's throw from Little Washington and it's very famous Inn, but offers a very different experience. Like Washington, you can walk almost anywhere, which we did, to dinner at the Thornton River Grille, morning coffee and Internet at the Stonewall Abby Café in a newly converted church, and to an art gallery and pottery studio.

The House on Water Street was our base camp for a wild foods walk and a waterfall hike in nearby Shenandoah National Park. Whether you're one person, or six, you get the entire house to yourself.

Photo by Ray Boc, House on Water Street

Inside, we found a charming, homey farmhouse, with wide wood floors and beadboard painted in cheery yellows and creams. There were fresh flowers in the living room, and bagels in the kitchen for breakfast. The sound of the Thornton River outside trickled through the windows.

The owner, Barbara Adolfi, can arrange massages, pottery classes, Reiki treatments, or a wild foraged foods evening, which we eagerly signed up for. We drove to Green Comfort, the home of clinical herbalist Teresa Boardwine. Inside a large yurt, a round tented building, she has all her medicinal concoctions lined up in colorful jars, all made from local herbs.

Wild Foods Walk

On a leisurely foraging walk through her woods, we learned of all the delicious and nutritious 'weeds' beneath our feet. We picked, and then prepared in the yurt:

Chickweed, chive and violet blossom butter; stir-fry of burdock root, ramp (a wild onion that's everywhere), and fiddlehead ferns; a pesto of garlic mustard (an invasive non-native that needs to be pulled up anyway!); and an infusion (aka 'tea') of lemon balm and mint.

Bill and I were lucky enough to have hiked with a morel hunter earlier in the day, so we contributed the prized mushrooms to the menu.

Sperryville Pottery

Morels are something of mountain cult, only appearing for a few days each spring in places locals are reluctant to divulge. (If you want to try them, local restaurants like Thornton River Grille have them on the menu when they can get them.)

After our meat-less feast of basically weeds, roots and mushrooms, we were surprisingly, but pleasantly full. We'll never look at our lawn quite the same way again!

For more on visiting go to www.VisitRappahannockVA.com .

Click to read about nearby hiking to Overall Run, Shenandoah's highest waterfall. You'll need the massage afterwards!

Sperryville is one of the many towns included in the Burnhams' upcoming book Backroads of Virginia.