Fourth of July. Family Reunion time.
It felt surprisingly familiar to be back at The Tides in Irvington, Virginia. It’s been four years since we were there last, the 14 of us. But time seems to stand still at The Tides, in the most graceful way. The rooms are still gracious and welcoming, with touches of luxury. The grounds are lovely: the winding drive through the Par 3 golf course is still bordered by American flags, Fanta-orange lilies blaze in the sun along the croquet court,
and the sparkling turquoise pool can still be glimpsed through fuchsia crepe myrtle trees.
And the water, the ageless river – Carter’s Creek stretching out to the Rappahannock – encircles everything.
There’s always a warm welcome at the front door, the meals are local and generous – with cheese grits and biscuits among the offerings at the breakfast buffet, and Southern Fried Chicken at dinner. Yes, they still offer lemonade and cookies under the front portico on summer afternoons.
What’s new? More bikes for a lazy ride through town,
and along back roads through wildflower filled fields.
and pedal boats, for a self-propelled tour of the creek. And an enormous chessboard on the lawn, which totally transfixed several generations of the family, and resulted in prolonged, hotly contested, and laughter-filled matches into the evening.
And we were new. Sort of. Because we all came back at different ages. Especially the grandchildren.
The youngest was 8 in 2010; she’s 12 now. Still full of dance and laughter, and a little snark. The eldest grandchild is 31. The majority of them are out on their own. They have always been wonderful, but four years have allowed them to flourish. They are fascinating. Grown, fully themselves, yet elusive as adolescents and young adults can be, to adults, to us ‘grownups’. I determined to get to know them all better. (Even my own children, if given the chance.)
So I sought out conversations over the breakfast table, or around the fire pit in the evening after dinner, about their burgeoning careers in law, finance, and real estate. Their ambitions for college, or for graduate school, a mention of a girlfriend. At first they might have been surprised I asked. That may be my new role, listening.
So bike rides, kayak trips, Par 3 golf
(we rechristened it Par 7, which gives you some idea of the mixed skill levels…),
the Fourth of July Parade,
fireworks, the beach,
chess matches, music by the pool, visit to the local vineyard for a wine tasting,
drinks and meals at The Tides, and out along the Rappahannock.
Family Reunions. So great, so sad. Just when you get really comfortable with each other, it’s time to go home.
Red, white & blue.