Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Memories Of Our Past: Waterfront Living

Memories Of Our Past:  Waterfront Living -      Nautical living, life style and decor are not for everyone.    It takes a very strong personal demeaner to relocate and survive in this different rural and cultural environment.  Especially remembered is the river community that we tried to get used to.    I won't say we failed, however, it wasn't easy or a dream vacation either.  I know this sounds like a sad country song in developmental stages! However, please bear with me please, as I try to briefly explain my point of view with my memories of that time and with my primitive writing skills develop a storyline to match.
        When younger, my hubby and I often dreamed of buying waterfront property and living the nautical life.  Thinking it was a romantic dream come true, that we could finally retire and actually afford to buy a small piece of property on the river, we gingerly took sailing classes and purchased a boat or two.  We hoped to go sailing, fishing and crabbing at our leisure, gently rolling with the waves along the ocean blue...living our retirement years in a sunny, water-oriented paradise like indicated in brochures we looked at that depicted the area on the eastern shore of Virginia.      It was not to be !  We lived in the Westmoreland County's river community near Montross back in 2003.  It was great fun for a few years but the glamore faded fast and soon wore off entiredly.  We were tired of nautical life, lonely and broke.  Our failure to thrive so to speak was not entirely our fault.   We found out over a span of six years living our dream, that it just wasn't for us. 
     At first it was all great. However, as time went by, the glamore and fasicination of the nautical life wore off. Small things occurred i.e., grass needed cutting constantly, the riding mower broke often, two hurricanes hit and wiped out many of our trees, the bugs and black tar dust were unbearable. Further, the IRS decided we owed them more money in back taxes and would have taken our property gladly. Although, we had paid more taxes than the Obama's had the IRS wanted more and no justification was sufficient enough to stopp them except paying them off. Medical bills began piling up and creditors called day and night. Being retired wasn't at all what we had expected. No paradise here, just struggles to survive and have enough money left over to buy food and keep the water and electricity turned on. Speaking of which, the power went out for days at a time everytime it rained. Two major hurricanes caused electrical and water outages for weeks at a time. There was never enough money to do anything other than to barely make ends meet. Jobs were scarce and money was always tight. Even the locals seemed to always be penny pinching. It was not paradise.
             In addition,  there is not much to do for entertainment.  Uunless one works and/or gets deeply involved in churches, fishing, partying, drinking and of course volunteering there was only sitting around watching the rolling tides comes and go, as well as, watching the grass grow was relaxing at first.  Being a volunteer anywhere was viewed as a privilege versus actually picking and choosing your volunteer work. I refused to do the dirty work of some volunteer jobs and that got me shunned! What's up with that. I thought volunteering was just that. Maybe not. I could be wrong. Being a strong-willed female of color and a nonconformist to boot - did not sit well with many of the local groups. Men and women alike.
        We investgated several avenues of recreation and volunteering, however, we just couldn't find our nitch.  My husband, an old farmer from way back, did love the farms and would have fit in nicely with that group.  I on the other hand would not have fit it. I wasn't in to the farming wives' associations.   We joined the Moose lodge, however, they were vaguely interested  and mostly suscpious of us.  Unless one had lots of money to throw around,  "comer heres," were considered a nusiance, but a necessary evil for the local economy and townships survival.  Jobs were scarce and many of the young folks left after graduation for jobs in nearby cities.  My husband did find a job that he enjoyed, a purchasing job for a local company, but it took many months and applications to find it.  Most job entailed hiring of relatives and friends before comer heres.  
      Our married childred and grand kids, who usually visited on weekends, eventuallly stopped coming more than twice a year.  The expense of gas to get there was one factor in keeping them away.  Plus, they seemed to tire of the muddy waters and boating became a pain in the neck versus pleasure.    The association's rules took much of the fun out of camping or building camp fires on our own land.  We did have a beautiful dock built that so very grand.  The association frowned on that too and started a quest to change to rules of the club to entail not only what was placed on our property but what dimensions the docks would be, despite following the strick guidelines by the Wildlife and Fishing Office.      The coast guard took much of the fun out of fishing with an abundance of rules and ordnances where licensing and limitation were always in place.   We got tickets when the coast guard was around that were expensive.  We learned the hard way.  
        We did manage to enjoy our boat, dock and motoring across the coves visiting various restaurants.  The random SeaDo, boat or ship broke the horizon and caused some interest most days.  We wondered who they were?   Our crab pots we being vandalized by local fisherman who regularly took our crabs.  One minute we would fill the holding pot with 30-40 crabs go out fishing and by the time we got back - the crabs were gone - stolen ! Our neighbors were stealing them, not to mention locals wanting to sell them.  Our crab pots were regularly emptied  no matter who owned them.  Despite our names and license numbers being on the buoys, as stated by law,  that marked their presence in the water pots were vandalized.  That was a source of intertainment to some permanent residents.       In addition, we found out that unless you brought your own onterage, getting into the local clicques was not a cinch either.   The decor, landscape, smells, sights, sounds and populous of river county including the fish, animals, wildlife and culture made us feel isolated and generally not able to fit in.    I cannot include the people in this explanation, because they were great all over the county.  We'll never forget the kindness and warmth of the welcoming locals. Their sense of humor and hard tack personalities, especially my next door neighbors, kept us going for awhile, but those relationships faded as well.    On the other hand, the visitors that came there to get drunk and raise hell all weekend, then meander back to wherever they came from were something else.  Drinking all the time or doing other things like smoking were not in our forte - although both vices were a staple of some folks down there, young and old, retired or not - many folks seemed to be in some kind of personal pain that needed easing by smoking a joint. 
        At first my hubby and I, definitely enjoyed everything possible to enjoy about the river shore area.  Taking in all of the sights and sounds and new environment was wonderfully refreshing and calming to our tired, just retired souls that longed for peace, tranquility and a change of sceneryy from the Washington, D.C., area of suburbia's politically oriented, traffic congested rush-rush area of Virginia that  we hailed from.  We truly enjoyed our experiences checking out the abundance of villages, local lime light, nautical decor, beach oriented sights, sounds, restaurants and sea-faring festivals.  We also enjoyed the quaint and small town feel of the place.  For whatever its worth, the fact that we had bought waterfront property seemed to give us a small step up in fostering new friends who always asked about this particular point for some reason or another.     
     There were nautical decorated driveways, landscapes, yards, mail boxes, businesses, parks and roadways along the riverfront communities that dotted the inlets, outlets and coves up and down the Potomac and Machocdoc Rivers, streams, and branches of tributaries that fed into them.   Boats,  docks  and river birds were everywhere.  More waterways than we could count.  Seems like hidden treasures of waterfront homes everyone up and down each country road you took.  The exception being in the farm fields of course.  Fields and fields of crops with their long irrigation equipment hovering over the rows of planted corn, soy, tomatoes, beans and alfalfa to mention a few blocked the landscape in the summer.  Winter showed a much different vast barren landscape just sitting waiting for spring planting to begin.  Some fields had winter wheat and hay.  The peace and quiet all year, especially in winter, afforded an almost excruciating silence most of the time, with the exception of  the screech of wildlife and constant song of billions of insects flying endlessly everywhere there was water near by.  Many ditches and properties did not drain off rain water very good.  Spraying was a must in the summer.  Winter afforded a little break from the insect world of mosquitoes, bugs and birds.  
      It almost seemed to us, that there were two totally different communities, Farming, business and fishing folks living together in harmony was so good to see.    What one group lacked, the other group made up for it as far as economy, volunteer work, ecology and general living well in a small town.   For example, the volunteer firefighters and rescue teams were made up of fishermen, farmers and businessmen alike, all working toward one goal, that of saving lives, earning a living, keeping up with the need to keep small towns and communities prosperous and well.
     One notable distinction between folks was whether you were a real fisherman (or crabber) in that line of work as a business; or whether you belonged to the sporting group that visited and pleasure-boated.   Then of course, if you just visited on weekends or vacation, you were among the  'comer heres' group of folks as the local natives called them.  At any rate, all the various groups of folks helped keep the economy going and business of raising a family, school, church, charity and politics etc., that it takes to run any community in America.     Real estate, construction, farming, sales, commerce businesses dotted the roads and progress could be seen in all directions. 
          Nautical items such as antique fishing tools, crab pots, shells, miniature lighthouses among lots of other bells and whistles were used to decorate houses, porches, yards, and boats everywhere.  Wow, we followed suit as much as we could in decorating our yard and inside the house.   The clang of metal masts hangers, steel against steel and ballasts was always a welcomed sound at first.   As were the abundance of sounds and sights in a variety of seagulls, herons, ducks, geese, swans, egrets, eagles, vultures, deer and other water-life creatures.  Ads for seafood restaurants and all types of boats, fishing equipment.and excursions were especially prevalent when driving towards Tappahanock, Deltaville and Richmond, VA. 
We traveled these roads often to see my sister, who bought a cottage and settled in  the beautiful and quaint town of Kilmarnoch located near the mouth of the Bay.  Further, there is a nice hospital in Tappahanock, the only one for many miles.  A variety of medical specialist that we needed to use a few times were located in Tappahanock but otherwise one had to go to Richmond to see any needed specialist. Of course my hubby, bless his soul, had to have a costly cancer operation among other health issues.  I had cataracks that needed to come out at great expense as well.  Our health insurances, we had two, fought over who would pay or not pay the bills.  We ended up paying many of them ourselves to keep the collection agencies with their high interest rates at bay.  
     Many stores, restaurants,  and antique shops can be seen that were older houses, with or without the owners or renters living in them, that had been turned into businesses.   The Carrott Cottage in the small town of Montrose had some beautiful displays of gifts including flags, lighthouses, boats  and  a large variety of the usual gifts people love to look at and buy in a gift store.  There were thrift stores galore and lots of yardsales and church events.  We had a lovely coffee shop one couple turned an old gas station into.   There were yearly fishing tournaments, organized activities, festivals, fund raisers in abundance.  In our particular community the association kept the club house busy with activities.  Not to mention parties and cookouts galore. 
     In summary, we did enjoy participating in and being involved in the feastivals and community events.  Most  were noteworthy and enjoyable.  We must applaud the special efforts of many fine folks and businesses who made those times extra special.  I did find time to write my one and only book. We had our doberman's, dogs and cats, chock berry trees, roses, hydrangeas and seagrass that we enjoyed so much.   Looking back, after we sold our land, moved back to northern Virginia,  the hardships, financial costs and negatives about the placedisappeared almost as quickly as they had come.  In fact we miss the swans and beauty of the place and its natural beautiful environment.  In our minds, it feels like nothing negative ever occurred during that time of our life.    Go figure?  
Keep the faith. 
Your friend Cooky :)