Back to the Northern Neck

LocationNorthern Neck, Virginia, USA 

PublishedVirginia Living Magazine 

The marshy smell of the little canal running alongside the dock where fiddler crabs scurried in the mud. The eep-eep-eep warning cries of a mother osprey on high alert. The scratching of blue crabs piled atop blue crabs as they rustled about in bushel baskets.

These are the memories of the Virginia where I vacationed as I child, in the southern reaches of the Northern Neck. I am reminded of them every time I return from my home in Florida to visit my parents in the small town of White Stone in Lancaster County, where they retired from the hustle of the Washington, D.C., Beltway some 15 years ago. 

When I was a kid growing up in Northern Virginia, my family would make the 3-hour drive south at least once a summer to visit my great aunt in her creaky old Victorian house along the Rappahannock River. By the time we reached the intersection in White Stone, with its quaint pharmacy and farmer stand, the crush of Interstate 95 traffic was a distant memory. I’d roll down the windows and swear we could smell the bay. And the only thing more exotic than shaking the crab traps out on my great-aunt’s dock was watching her cruise atop her riding mower, well into her 70s, still sporting a bright pink tube top and tanned biceps.