It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Shad and herring are moving into the rivers to spawn. Air a nd water temperatures are starting to rise. With each passing day on the calendar, the threat of snow (though still possible) seems less and less likely. Yes my friends, Spring has arrived in “River Country.”
Along with taking care of my “honey-do” list, I like to think about places I have yet to explore and things that I have not photographed yet. My list of these is almost as long as my chores. Between my job and ministry, I know that I can’t possibly take an extra week off to paddle the Eastern Shore or camp at Westmoreland State Park. But, a little creative planning for a day off or two helps me make the most of my free time.
I like to find free public areas of any size. It can be somewhere as large as Buckroe Beach in Hampton or as small as an old, neglected boat ramp. Just like every person has a story, every shoreline has its pleasures. Not every public area is well advertised. So, you may have to stop in the town and ask some locals where to go. Then, I stop by a convenience store for a favorite snack and beverage and head for the spot. Take a mental note of the place as you may want to visit there again for a sunrise or sunset photo or maybe fish a right tide. If you have a pen and paper, you may even be moved to write a poem.
I work on most Saturdays and some Sundays after church. This allows me to take advantage of weekday excursions. Places that are busy and crowded on weekends turn into ghost towns on a Wednesday or Thursday. Restaurants are dominated by locals who don’t mind talking to visitors willing to listen. You get a chance to take your time and enjoy the charm of a place like Reedville or Urbanna rather than compete with other “come-hears” or “weekend people.”
That leads to a third thought, make a friend. Be ready to lend a hand to someone who may need one. I saw a waterman paddle his boat back to shore one morning. He forgot his cell phone and I had mine. Turned out we didn’t live far from each other. Within a couple of days, I found a cooler on my back porch with a pair of shad.