Lonesome Dove Meet “Sophie”
By: Meg Mullery
Admit it. Spotting a celebrity is fun. A “meh” day turns exciting when you realize the familiar dude ordering a latte played Owen Wilson’s buddy in that movie about crashing weddings.
Not so in the village of Middleburg in rural Virginia where the sport of celebrity sightings is as common as the sport of polo. This tony enclave for the horsey set boasts a plethora of restaurants, boutiques, antique shops, wineries and upscale hotels, all serving as a magnet for the rich and famous for decades.
Jackie Kennedy could be spotted attending church in Middleburg and on horseback galloping through fields following a pack of hounds. Elizabeth Taylor shopped at the local Safeway when married to Virginia’s beloved Senator John Warner. Last year, the Boss himself cheered on his daughter, Jessica Springsteen, an equestrian show jumping champion and Olympic medal winner, at a prestigious horse show.
One exception exists. While generally adopting a blasé attitude toward celebrities, catching a glimpse of long-time resident Robert Duvall provides the jolt that enhances your day and makes you want to call a friend and say, “Guess who I just saw.” Mr. Duvall, fondly remembered for his award-winning portrayal of Texas Ranger Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove, is much like Gus. Gracious. Feisty. Funny. Genuine.
Mr. Duvall’s unique status notwithstanding, recently Middleburg’s typical insouciance toward celebrities has been subsumed by the excitement and anticipation of a sighting of another sort. Meet Little Yellow Sofa.
Named “Sofia”, at first glance she looks like just another pretty couch. But scratch her upholstery and discover a Little Yellow Sofa imbued with a certain je ne sais quoi combined with an aura of gravitas and, yes, even mysticism.
Little Yellow Sofa, silently, mysteriously and randomly, manifests herself in absurd settings. She makes cameos at the Middleburg post office, in the woods as a tiny but mighty fixture between towering trees, surrounded by hounds at a steeple chase event. Photos of these appearances, accompanied by a witty saying or motivational quote, appear on Facebook and Instagram. They inspire joyful comments from her legions of followers who express delight and appreciation for Little Yellow Sofa’s wisdom or silliness.
Serendipity, teamed with brain-storming among Natalie Fox and two friends, spawned the concept of Little Yellow Sofa. In an enlightened moment, the threesome brought Sofia along to their elaborate tailgate at a local point-to-point race. The reason: it was a ridiculous thing to do. But Sofia’s presence was such a hit and drew so much attention that the idea of a traveling Little Yellow Sofa sprang to life.
Natalie Fox, an artist and the owner of what used to be an inanimate object, is clearly blessed with the creative gene. Born and raised in Alexandria but soon to move to Middleburg, Natalie is a familiar presence in the arts community. She recently was named one of the “women to watch in Hunt Country” for her drawings and paintings, particularly of scenes depicting equestrian themes. Her realist paintings of horses demonstrate a passionate admiration for the animal. They often sell before the paint fully dries.
When asked the meaning of Little Yellow Sofa, Natalie returns to a quote of Lonesome Dove’s Gus McCrae: “The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.”
To be clear, Sofia has no plans to nudge Mr. Duvall off the celebrity pedestal. Her focus remains on bringing smiles and joy to her followers and, just maybe, provide a moment of reflection on life and what is truly important.
Sofia remains grounded despite an ever-expanding fan base. Her ego is intact.
Little Yellow Sofa harbors no ambitions to become a sectional.
About the Author: Meg Mullery is a contributing writer and Blue Ridge distribution “assistant” to the OTC and just a great all around person. She is a Middleburg resident and spends some of her valuable time selling real estate for Washington Fine Properties and volunteering at Sprout – a therapeutic riding program in Aldie.