It’s officially summer here at the homestead, and not just because it’s been hot as all get out or because the calendar says so or because I’ve picked the first tomatoes and cucumbers in the garden. Edie’s bff Soph is home from Guatemala for the summer and we had our first (of many) river days with the Smiley clan, which is our official measure of the summer season.
Our Father’s Day plan this past weekend included a camp out on the banks of the James River, whereupon we were to wake up and watch the Batteau Festival float by. Unfortunately, the forecast of the remnants of a tropical storm passing over Saturday evening caused us to rethink those plans. We regrouped and decided that we could head down Sunday morning to the spot and spend the day. (For the record, I’m not opposed to camping out, but I can count the number of times on one hand that we’ve camped out in dry weather in the twenty-something years I’ve been with my dear husband. And having already camped out in a tropical storm on the Outer Banks a few years ago, I feel that once you’ve crossed that experience off your bucket list, there’s no need to revisit it.)
The spot in question was down in Appomattox County, at Rockcliffe Farm, a retreat and lodge. Joan and Hugh, the owners of the lodge, are some of Pat’s River Rats and had invited us to come spend the day with them and their family and friends, watching the batteaux float by.
Batteau are a shallow, flat bottomed boat that once upon a time, were the main method of transporting goods up and down the river. Every June, a devoted group of individuals spend a week traversing the James River from Lynchburg to Maidens Landing the old fashioned way (and many of them are in period dress!). As part of his job as the Upper James Riverkeeper, Pat knows many of these folks and their boats. Over the years, we’ve celebrated the Batteau festival up and down the river. Pat’s wish for Father’s Day this year was to spend it on the James, watching the batteau go by and since it was his day, we willingly obliged. As it turned out, the Smileys were nearby in Lynchburg and wanted to get together before they headed back east to their side of the state. And thus, the day was planned.
This visit was so impromptu with the Smiley’s that river shoes had to be fashioned with duct tape for everyone but Walker.
Also, as it turns out, Walker at the age of two knows how to pick up a paddle and use it when getting in a canoe with his father. Must be a third child thing, because it really doesn’t seem like that long ago Pat and Will were talking about the best way to introduce your child to a canoe – cautiously and on flat water, preferably a lake, where a short trip could be had.
It was, an absolutely perfect river day, the sort of spot one can only get to by four wheel drive, where both families piled in Pat’s truck at the end of the day to get back up the hill. Mollie reported this morning her family all slept on the way home and I can report, we got home and all promptly went to bed ourselves. It was that sort of a day – and many thanks to Joan and Hugh for hosting.
We’ll be heading to Scottsville on Wednesday for the next leg of the Batteau Festival, with plans to see the Smileys practically every week the rest of the summer. Oh summer, how we missed you.