Monday, June 11, 2018

As Dreams Make Way for Plans.

I can see the t-shirt now: I spent three days in Irvington and all I got was a lousy coffee mug

Except that's nowhere close to all I got during the time that Irvington - and my host with the most - were spinning their three-day charm offensive on me.

And I can say that even after slogging through a grueling Friday afternoon traffic jam on I-64 (the sign warned of a vehicle on fire at mile post 209, a vehicle long gone by the time I made my way past the mile marker) that turned an hour and 20 minute drive into a solid two hours, one hour of which was spent creeping along at 5 to 15 miles an hour happily listening to Paul Westerburg's "14 Songs."

On your mark
Here I am
I'm your spark
Runaway wind

I didn't mind a bit (windows down, sunny skies, weekend plans to look forward to) considering what (and who) was at the end of the journey. And while my new mug may be the only tangible souvenir (besides photos), I returned to the city with some pretty wonderful memories.

Like a trip to the River Market for picnic supplies where the affable and aproned owner Jimmy was kind enough to come from behind the counter to meet me and then extol the virtues of his hand-prepared food (the Thai noodles were stellar). He was invaluable in helping us choose our picnic fixin's for an evening at Good Luck Cellars sipping their Vidal Blanc and Petit Verdot while listening to a rather talented musician cover the discography of my youth.

Or like a mid-morning canoe ride on Carter's Creek accompanied by a who's who history of the houses, docks and boats we were gliding by. Electric boats? Who knew? And while I did do some rowing, there's also photographic evidence of me taken from the back of the boat that shows the paddle across my lap and arms leaning back on the sides of the canoe, that prove how easy I had it.

There was the second picnic of the weekend, that one at Belle Isle State Park on the Rappahannock, where a foreboding gray sky couldn't diminish the serious blues chops of the surprisingly young Tom Euler and his trio. Think John Mayer without the bad decision-making.

And speaking of decisions, I knew the performance was doomed when a park ranger stood nearby scoping out the thunder and lightening providing the light show. Only an hour into it, she told Tom that for safety's sake, they needed to stop the show. The trio obliged by playing the whimsical "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as picnickers packed up chairs, blankets and pic-a-nick baskets to head to safety.

But not to go home. If you know me, you know I love a good storm, especially on the water, which is how we ended up moving the truck to a better vantage point facing the river to watch the sky unleash its fury. Let's just say the drive home resembled nothing so much as driving through a monsoon with occasional roadside stops.

The after-affects of all that rain was on full display when my brilliant host suggested a walk at Hughlett Point Nature Preserve the next day. Whether walking on trails or a slightly raised boardwalk through forest and wetlands, we were surrounded by mosquito breeding pools standing water on all sides thanks to last night's torrential downpour.

But the payoff was emerging from that to - ta da! - a pristine sandy beach that fronted the Chesapeake Bay and had not a soul on it besides us. With nothing built anywhere nearby, it was like being on an abandoned island, with the warm waters of the Bay lapping at our feet as we walked.

There weren't even any footprints in the sand. When a small wave hit at just the right angle, it sent a drop of salty water flying into my open mouth, as if to make the moment completely unreal.

What we did come across was the equivalent of a sculpture installation: a dozen or so massive pieces of driftwood, most of which were still the size of full trees, albeit laying on their sides. It was unreal and beautiful, occupying almost the width of the narrow beach not long after high tide. A small part of the beach was closed to walkers because of nesting shore birds and the northeastern beach tiger beetle, whatever that is.

I have a new favorite place on the Northern Neck and I have my considerate host, ever the planner, to thank for giving it to me. Among other things.

There were breakfasts eaten on the deck overlooking Carter's Creek, a walk into town and a stop at The Local for drinks, a bagel sandwich (bacon and cucumber on an everything bagel, yum) and a look at local art, and more conversation than any other two people could possibly stand.

As for that mug, it now holds a place of honor on my desk, a reminder of a most memorable weekend and what could be considered my new life philosophy: "Keep calm and love an architect."

Nothing like stating the obvious. I mean, thanks, but both are already second nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment