I went out for a sail and found myself in the middle of a family reunion. The fact that I was not part of the family did not seem to bother anyone. And the food was a delight.
Hot with light winds. There's more cloud cover and less wind forecast for the Elizabeth River so I head south to Elizabeth City, sailing away from the dock just as the bells of the downtown churches begin to ring. A breeze, steady if not strong, carries me downriver. Off of the old Machelhe Island, better known these days as the causeway, ospreys make their high pitched cries as they circle overhead. We tack south across the river past Hospital Point and into Forbes Bay, slipping in and out of the bay a couple of times, enjoying the tall shady trees on shore, the laughter of children playing in the shade, and the hum of the cicadas that seems to surround us.
At a pier near an old house at the very back of the bay my friend Claughton waves me over. I come alongside just to say hello but he says it's time for brunch and we needed to get up to the house. At first I say thank you, but no, but he won't take that for an answer, telling me it was a family reunion and they had more food that they could eat. I would only be helping them out by joining in. Soon we are in the magnificent old house, the smaller part being the original and built in the early 1800s, the larger part added on before the civil war. And there are people and laughter and dogs everywhere in the house, Claughton mentioning names as we walk from room to room, finally saying "they are all cousins, so just call them "cousin."" He describes me to them as the builder of a wooden boat that I sail from here to Florida and back, and I'm saying he's exaggerating to smiles from the cousins who seem to confirm it is not the first time Claughton enhanced a story for entertainment purposes. Claughton laughs, enjoying the exaggeration and pointing out it is a pretty boat. And then the food comes out. Smoked ham, shrimp and pasta, pastries and breads, heaping bowls of scrambled eggs and though I settled for a bottle of water there was champagne and mimosas to be had.
They are a wonderful group of people, all very kind to make me feel welcome on a hot, southern Sunday morning. What a treat.
Claughton walks me back down to Spartina and I thank him for his hospitality, telling him I'll come back when things are quieter, and he should join me for a sail.
Winds are lighter in the afternoon, cats paws walking down the river. I keep thinking that when the next breeze ends I'll head to the dock, but find myself enjoying the peaceful stillness of a breathless summer moment, and then the next breeze comes again.