Friday, June 22, 2012

Chasing Chickens

Our family is of two minds regarding family vacations.  My son, Jacob, has wanderlust.  He has a passion for language, and not just English.  This child drools over Instagram photos, and his mind churns with plans for visits to faraway places like Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia and Monaco.  I, on the other hand, prefer the back roads and byways of Virginia.  I long to explore those off-the-beaten-path shops and diners, small museums and churches.  My passion is in seeking the pictures to tell the story. I like to be home in my own bed by the day's end.  My husband, Dave, is so easy going, he will go anywhere (except shopping).  So, we reached a happy compromise.  First, my trip to Westmoreland State Park right here in our own backyard (practically).  Next will come a trip to New York City by train for Jacob.
Our little getaway began with a visit to the Home Place, Grandma Fenwick's home, down Tetotum Road in King George.  Grandma passed on years ago, but her pioneer spirit lives on in this place. This tiny dwelling was home to Grandma, Nannie Mae, and PaPa, John, and their five children.  A wicked storm brought the beautiful tree that shaded the home crashing down on the front porch.  The house is empty now and kind of sad and lonely.  But the river view is still spectacular and there is beauty of the kind that needs no tending or care, it just is.

Collage of Grandma Fenwick's home

By afternoon it was time to check-in to our housekeeping cabin in Westmoreland State Park.  We specifically requested Cabin 24 as recommended by my friend, Candice Ransom.  She is an incredibly talented author and has the ability to make a speck of dirt seem interesting; this may or may not be a positive attribute when giving reviews.  But we were pleasantly surprised by the homey accommodations.  Our cabin was well-equipped, clean, air-conditioned, and the perfect outpost for a little adventure.

State Park Cabin

The wildlife was abundant, though too fast for me and my camera.  We hiked to Fossil beach and down to Rocky Springs Pond.

hiking scenes

With the views of the sunset along the cliffs on the Potomac River, I finally relaxed and let go of my go-go-go self.  I am a do-er, and sitting still does not come easily for me.

fishing at sunset
me on the beach at sunset

We ventured out to Wakefield, George Washington's birthplace.  Dave and I were married there 31 years ago this July.  At this very historic site, we mostly just laughed.  Jacob and I were determined to take at least one picture of some form of wild life on this trip.  We quietly trailed along behind these hens.  We kept our distance, respecting their territory, but at some point the chickens had enough of us and flew the coop.  The chickens tried to fly.  Feathers were flying, their bodies bounced along like jets on a runway, and we scurried behind them flapping our arms and clucking, too!

chicken strip

Along the road to the picnicking area of Wakefield, we spotted this gorgeous barn.  I know I have a romantic view of farming.  As I  have taken pictures for the Miller Farm Family I've seen first-hand just how much work and heartache goes into bringing forth food from the the earth.  In my own little garden, I'm trying to grow radishes, which are supposed to be the easiest of all veggies to grow.  The seed package even said, "the perfect plant for a young child to grow."  My radish tops are wilted and there are no radishes in sight.  But the graceful barns, built for function and weathered with peeling paint and rusty hinges, stand as testaments to a way of life where there is gratitude without promises or guarantees.


One last taste of country life before returning to the city, a visit to Westmoreland Berry Farm.  June brings the pleasure of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries steadily ripening in local fields, and also the chance to enjoy glimpses of my favorite wildlife visitors - butterflies. We were lucky to hit the berry trifecta!

berries on picnic table

Summer days out and about are unique for me.  They are some of the few days where I am conscious of the memories we are making, present in the moment, and content, even if only for a few days. The story of chasing chickens will be re-told with embellishments and dramatic effects and perhaps, we will add a peacock to the story.


  1. Felt like I was right there with you! What a beautiful memory!

  2. These photos belong on jigsaw puzzles to cheer us on gloomy, rainy days! I love NOT camping, but your pics are pretty tempting...

  3. Lord have mercy, I'm ready to move to Grandma Fenwick's house on Teetotal Road (I know, couldn't resist). LOVE that storyboard. Print me a card of that red chair and those hydrangeas! Your trip to Westmoreland was much more picturesque than mine, maybe because you actually left the cabin for something besides food. Wildlife pictures were hard to come by for me, too. Owl? Pffft! Deer? Gone! And if you want pictures of chickens, bring them something to eat!


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