Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Taj Mahal of Cottage Bunks

I could get used to river hopping.

Friday found me at my parents' house, where Spring was busting out all over, from the pink hyacinths (Mom asked me to cut a couple so she could enjoy their heavenly fragrance inside) blooming near the driveway to the weeping willow covered in the lightest of green leaves just beginning to unfurl.

The back 40 leading to the dock was still super-saturated from last week's Nor'easter, but I didn't let that stop me from traipsing through it to go down to the river, where the beach was littered with shells and the air smelled especially briny.

Back at the house, Dad surprised me by sharing that my friend, a member of the local sheriff's department, had stopped by for a chat the other day. Dad was incredulous that despite four (five?) years of friendship, I'd never let slip that I have five sisters. I explained that his wife not only knew how many sisters I had but had heard stories galore about some of my trials and tribulations with them.

Seems the two of them had bonded, both being men's men with the kind of softer side that allows them to openly worship the loves of their lives. They apparently hit it off so well that I think we all know there will be future chats between them.

And just for the record, it's not as if my friend had just randomly shown up at my parents' house, either.

He'd been checking on a security system alarm across the street caused by a window blown in by that same Nor'easter and figured as long as he was in the neighborhood, why not finally meet the man who'd produced me? He'd certainly heard enough stories about him and Mom and it's not like I hadn't told him where they lived. In fact, just the other day, he'd sent me a photo of a flooding in a yard very near my parents' house and I'd forwarded it to my folks.

By mid-afternoon, I was bidding my parents farewell because I had an interview to do with - wait for it - my sheriff friend. When I'd called to set up the chat, his beautiful wife had gotten on the phone and insisted if I was coming that I stay the night at their cottage. Actually, she wanted me for the entire weekend, but I had plans Saturday.

For the record, the sole time I have not spent the night with these friends was the night of our first meeting and then only because I hadn't known what a perfect place I was walking into. Since then, I return regularly to soak up their happily-ever-after vibe and partake of their stellar Corrotoman River views. They're the ones who introduced me to sailing.

So I left the Rappahannock River and my parents behind to work (not that interviewing a friend is work, not really), dine and spend the night with the happy couple. It was notable mainly because it was my first winter visit so I wasn't going to be able to sleep in my usual spot, the screened in porch on the guest house. That's okay, I was ready for a new experience.

Settling into comfortable chairs for the interview, we journeyed back through his life - the MCV blood bank in the '70s, his carrot cake-making days in the Fan, his absolute luck in marrying the woman of his dreams - as I teased out the information I needed for my article and got the scoop on so much of what I hadn't known about him before.

More than a few times, we found ourselves completely distracted by a sailboat out on the water on a chilly day. It originally caught our attention because it was heeling so far over we were convinced it was going to capsize. Only when it changed direction could we see its sails only partly unrolled and understand that it was following a wind pocket unusually far in.

I didn't wish I was on it - too chilly - but it made for some spectacular viewing from our cozy perch.

"That's the most we've ever talked!" he, an introvert, observed. I didn't point out that actually, it was just the most he'd ever talked with me. A shame because he's a great conversationalist, funny and with a near perfect memory.

It wasn't long after we finished the interview that my girlfriend got in from work and the full-on fun could begin. Our first topic was an agreement: I will no longer be just a winter friend and am expected to visit year round from here on out. Can do.

First she poured us wine, then we settled down to catch up after  six months. So much to talk about in both our lives. Turns out we've both had a sharp turn for the better with people very close to us.

But since woman cannot live on wine and girltalk alone, her husband eventually rounded us up and drove us to The Corner, notable because the last time she and I went there, in bathing suits and still damp from the pool, the owner expressed interest in getting to know me better.

When we pulled up, it was clear the place was rockin' on a Friday night, with cars everywhere and a crew of smokers on the front porch. Inside, two birthday parties kept the jukebox fed and a continuing stream of new arrivals incoming.

We scored a table in the center of the madness and an adorable young server my friends knew by name (likewise, she knew their beer orders without asking) took our food order while chaos swirled around her. When she brought my wine, she asked, "So who are you?" without a trace of hesitation.

Best she learn my name and order if I'm going to be a year round regular.

The very first time I'd gone to The Corner had been for an interview with a guitar-maker and he'd told me that his wife said the crabcake was the best in the state and I hadn't ordered it (the cheeseburger had been calling my name). Tonight I rectified that and I'd have to say that the woman I never met (and who since left him, a fact I know only because he asked me to dinner as  result) knew her crabcakes.

Once back at the cottage, it was blowtorch time because my hosts had made creme brulee using Matt Lauer's recipe and, I think, because the man of the house likes desserts that involved open flames. You have to love friends who make dessert because they know you're coming.

My girlfriend teased me about how whenever I blog about their cottage, I get effusive. "You made our outdoor shower sound like the Taj Mahal of showers!" she joked and I reminded her that it is extraordinary. It's just a shame that it's March and I can't use it.

For the first time ever, I slept in the bunk room, a slender room fashioned out of a former bathroom with a nautical theme and two single beds mounted on the wall. I saw no reason to climb the ladder to the top, instead burrowing into the lower bed and sleeping like I was on a boat.

In a related note, my host had suggested that one of these times I sleep on the sailboat, so it looks like I've got another first time experience to look forward to.

Who am I? A woman with fabulous friends and a happier outlook than I've had in months. Only now we know I can hold my own at The Corner.

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