It’s funny how you can experience something for what feels like 100 times and not realize how truly special it is until you actually stop and take a moment to let it sink in. Since before I was born, my family has owned this tiny cottage in Surry County nestled up to a small pond. We endearingly call it the millpond. Growing up we went to the millpond for Memorial Day picnics, summer adventures, Christmas mornings, wedding showers and just on days when it felt nice to get away to a quiet place. I always loved my time spent at the millpond- playing with cousins, cannon balling off the dock, noodle fighting, swinging on the rusty swing set and playing family wiffle ball games are all dear activities that I have ingrained into my memory. However, growing up I don’t think I truly appreciated how unique and beautiful the millpond was or how dear it was and still is to our family. I associated the millpond with ticks, water that smelled like eggs, spiders- way too many of them, sunburns and overall a very long ferry and car ride. I definitely loved the millpond but wasn’t at the age to fully recognize how neat of a place it was.
My grandfather, John Sharp, build our cottage back when my mom was just a little girl. He was a quiet man but hardworking and extremely loyal. He loved anything that dealt with nature, so the millpond was his most favorite place to escape. He probably always thought he’d have a son to explore the outdoors with- go fishing, wonder the woods, climb trees but he was blessed with not one but three sassy daughters, my mom being one of them. My mom and her two sisters now look over the millpond, so you would think that I would go down there even more than I did as a youngest. I mean- I can drive, I love the ferry rides and I now understand the reasoning behind sunscreen and bug spray, so I can manage those nasty ticks but honestly I sat in Williamsburg, while the millpond sat alone in Surry. That was until this weekend.
This weekend myself and a few close friends decided to experience the millpond. I gave them a heads up that it is small, cobwebby, tick infested and located in the middle of no where but they still didn’t back down, so I thought-- bring on the adventure. We left Williamsburg around 11:00am, after stocking up on burgers, hot dogs, chips and plenty of sunscreen, and caught the Jamestown Ferry. For anyone who hasn’t experienced the ferry, I highly recommend it. It’s beautiful, free and gives you a great view of the Jamestown River. After crossing the river and a quick stop for lunch at The Surry House (again, highly recommend it- great atmosphere and food) we finally arrived at the millpond and begin to unload our supplies for swimming, sleeping and eating. I was thrilled to be there and realized, once I stepped out of the car, that I was really excited to share this place with some of my closest friends.
The day was a blast. We swam, listened to music, enjoyed boot rides, went for walks (other more dedicated folks went for runs), laid in the hammock and ate plenty of snacks, while just talking and spending quality time together. At some point it hit me- this is truly why my grandfather loved this place. He definitely loved being surrounded my nature but I think even more he loved bringing people together. He loved having a place where family, friends, individuals could go and honestly escape for awhile-- escape from their worries, job responsibilities, hectic everyday life and just be. As the night rolled in and we sat on the dock looking at the stars, I told myself quietly “this is beautiful”. How lucky I am to have a place that means so much and holds such dear memories and how thankful I am to have brought amazing people to share it with.
The morning came quickly. We packed up, said our good-byes and again made the trek back to the ferry. Upon leaving, I realized that the millpond hadn’t changed much from when I was an 8 year old version of myself running around and jumping in the pond. It was still old, dusty, out in the middle of nowhere and home to many bugs but I felt a new appreciation for all of its little kinks and quarks. I felt that for possibly the first time I realized how really special our millpond is. And I hope I hold on to that feeling for forever.