Only a handful of us could make the Sunday rendezvous and some of them are decidedly camera shy. We met at a spot where all the cars could be parked and where the big horse trailer could be pulled up and unloaded.
Max and Tim stood by like the pet baby darling cutie pies they knew they were, ready to give out horsey love. Cousin C got in the first pets
But TheQueen got the best horsey snogging.
The folks from Oakley Farm provided the transportation. Eric Oord has a collection of vehicles and some beautiful Percherons, a white pair and a dark one - black in the wintertime and brown with black manes beneath the summer sun. This carriage held all 9 of us comfortably and it's as spic and span as an Amish kitchen.
Driving at horse and buggy pace gives you an entirely different experience. BD and I love our auto-rambles throughout the Virginia backwoods but at this walking pace we could notice things, point out things and reminisce about things without ever missing anything. Oakley Farm is one of the old Pollard family homes (Cousin J) and of course Indian Neck is also the old Hutchinson family stomping grounds and since Pollards and Hutchinsons all married Hoskins - you know - it's FAMILY!!!
I guess we can even claim the Oords as cousins now - LOL - if they'll have us. Got that Debbie?
We were blessed, too with an overcast sky the whole afternoon. Tiny misty raindrops sort of coated our bare arms once or twice but it was a blissful temperature all afternoon. Perfect to go down long country roads ...
past abandoned homes ...
alongside ponds filled with lily pads ...
One beautiful old Hutchinson home, owned and loved by a favorite library patron was on our itinerary and we were invited to tour the magnificent yard full of the deep mystery of ancient cedars and enormous magnolias, the sighing sweetness of vine covered arbors and a lush green herb garden.
Dr. W and his late wife have been favorite library visitors for years. She was a great lover of history and an intrepid genealogy tracker. At one time she told me she'd bought the old store at Indian Neck and I told her our own connection with that store - how Cousin Eddy Hutchinson had let us keep all our things there when we first moved to the country, while we were still living in Pop's old WWII tent, before we even had our cabin in the woods.
The longer we chatted with Dr. W the more love and tenderness began to grow among all of us so that soon he was being swept up into cousinly hugs. Dr. W even whispered to me that it felt like having family around. He asked us if we would like to tour the oldest part of the house and we all said a resounding YES.
The oldest part has a tiny living room with the most quaint little fireplace in an angled wall, plastered white and smooth. There's a staircase tucked in one corner and a kitchen off the end, but along the side there is a tiny slender room that runs almost the length of the house. While everyone was peeking at the kitchen I stepped into that room and came face to face with ...
Yes! This is a painting my mother did of me when I was about 19. I was sure it was at Mama's house but when we broke that up and divvied up the paintings it wasn't among them. There was another enormous red painting of me that I have at TheCastle - but where this one was remained a mystery. But it's a mystery no more. Evidently this is one of the things that never got picked up from the store and when Cousin Eddy died and Dr.W bought it, they (or more likely Mrs.W) decided they wanted to keep this. So - no wonder we felt like family. He'd been living with my portrait for 20 years.
I swear - ya just gotta love Virginia and all those family connections.