Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Lily of the Valley Ending

The standards have changed at the little yellow river cottage I so enjoy.

How else to explain a call from the man of the cottage asking if we could delay our arrival until after 1:00? Mind you, the missus - aka my girl crush - had already said to arrive mid to late morning, preferably with a Hanover tomato in hand. Now he was saying they needed more time?

More time to what? They've both told me repeatedly that I'm not a guest, I'm family. When my visits are in the same month, I ask that they don't even change the sheets on the screened porch bed between visits. The guest cottage requires no upkeep for me beyond opening the windows and making sure there's toilet paper.

Turns out the uptick in housekeeping standards had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the man who was driving the car toward the cottage. For him, they were putting in extra effort on chores. I know because after handing over the Hanover tomatoes, I asked if they'd have warned me off if it had been just me.


And while I could be insulted, I prefer to think that it's just an affirmation that I'm like the mint planted in the toilet in the yard: no more than another cottage fixture.

As always, they were the host and hostess with the mostess, taking us for a leisurely power boat ride on the eastern and western branches of the river for the shank of the afternoon.

We admired older river houses built with windows for ventialtion, checked out new construction (including a house on stilts seemingly built right at the water's edge - WTF?) and scratched our heads over waterfront houses without porches facing the view. We spotted an old boathouse out in a cove, the pier behind it long gone and the boathouse now sitting at a precarious 45 degree angle as if it were returning to the water incrementally.

Atop channel markers and buoys, we saw empty nest after empty nest where just last month young ospreys had been learning to fly under the parents' tutelage. They'd since left home and the captain was already missing their distinctive sounds in the neighborhood.

The helmsman turned the conversation to how thug-like ospreys were and yet how noble eagles were, casting them as members of opposing gangs. From there, it was a short leap for the two fans of show tunes to begin snapping their fingers a la the Sharks and the Jets.

We got back just in time to change clothes before the dinner party guests began arriving.

There was the judge and his wife, whom I'd met over dinner last spring. There was the couple next door who'd been invited by text while we were out tooling around on the boat (ah, technology). Then during dinner on the deck, when they saw their other neighbor busy doing yard work (and without his family), they called to him and he joined the party.

After dinner and the judge's wife's Atlantic Beach pie - notably with a Saltine crust - we watched the moon rise over the Corrotoman River, debating whether or not it was full (turns out it wasn't) as it cast a long, shimmering reflection across the barely rippling water. The captain had his fingers crossed that a breeze would pick up overnight.

I've had many a wonderful night sleeping on that screened porch, but I can't recall one with such magnificent moonlight bathing the turquoise floor and the single antique bed.

Sunday dawned just as blue sky-beautiful but definitely hotter. After checking the readout for the weather station atop his boathouse, the captain decided that although it was rather still on this part of the river, it looked to be breezier toward the bay. As always, when he inquired who wanted to go sailing, I was the first to raise my hand.

Then it happened again. My girl crush tells me that they're going to go ahead to the marina and tidy up the boat and we should follow along in 15 minutes. I looked at her like she'd grown another head. Since when don't I go along with you to the boat? Since never.

Wait, was this about cleaning up the sailboat before you-know-who saw it for the first time? Well...

Holy cow, they were doing it again. Just to be sure, I inquired if I'd be going with them if I had come alone. Sheepish looks all around.

Insisting that he could handle meeting the boat no matter how she looked, I said we were coming with them. Riding to the marina is when the boating party gets started, what with anticipation of the adventure, joking around and miscellaneous information shared along the way. With a lawman in charge, there's no booze, but there is a whole lot of smart-assed repartee.

It wasn't our best sailing day in terms of wind, although the new helmsman did manage to heel over a few times and give the girl crush and I - lounging on the bow of the boat in our legless seats - some cheap thrills.

Or, as she likes to put it in her raunchiest voice, "Yea, baby!"

Coming up under the Whitestone bridge near the bay, we admired how the new coating of sky blue paint really does melt the bridge right into the sky when you're moving under it. Which, considering the never-ending construction, is a far better place to admire it than on top with the hot asphalt and Port-a-Potties.

It was a slow but steady trip back with only a little of the time under sail power, with the captain pulling the technology card to snap a photo of his crew to document the momentous occasion. Fortunately, he was not around for the pre-journey home, but oh-so important, final outdoor shower of the weekend. Because what happens in the finest shower on the river, stays in the shower.

Yea, baby.

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