Where the World Gets a Little Smaller

A rainy day on vacation is typically seen as a wasted day, but this wasn’t a typical vacation. On the morning that we had planned to hike, we sat on the back porch before breakfast contemplating the weather forecast. In Hartfield, VA, there is a chance of rain and thunderstorms almost every day this time of year with the occasional downpour in the afternoons. Sometimes it is simply an overcast day with rain showering another town nearby. We thought we might still have the chance of an early morning hike before it rained but Uncle Dale had a strong feeling that something was brewing our way. As Molly finished her morning walk to the dock, it wasn’t long before distant grumbles grew a little louder and the rain came soon thereafter. Oh, how it rained! Bucketing down like hammering nails that saturated the pine needles in puddles of boiling water. The white noise of “raining cats and dogs” faded to the background as we cracked open our books for a while before breakfast. 

There is always a chance of plans being interrupted by bad weather, but it didn’t seem to bother us as we slowly got ready for the day. Derek began putting together a puzzle and I immersed myself in my book while listening to the rain. By late morning, we decided to have a town day and go into Mathews, VA for lunch. Dale and Ginny took us to their favorite used bookstore at the Friends of the Mathews Memorial Library where we took shelter from the rain to peruse the aisles. I took notice of the many photos taped to the bookshelves of “well-behaved” pets visiting the shop and the old couple behind the counter eagerly pointed out the more unusual species who came in with their owners from the collection. 

We walked from the bookstore to the Mathews Visitor Center at Sibley’s General Store with a look through the educational exhibit dedicated to Gwynn’s Island Lighthouse at the back of the shop. Hand-crafted gifts made by local artisans were on display alongside historic photos and postcards. Derek liked the bathtub filled with flowers on the front porch. From there we strolled down Main Street to the Bay School Community Arts Center down the block where we admired the local Mathews art scene. It seemed like the rain would lull while we were inside a shop and pick up each time we headed back out! 

In the second smallest town in Virginia at just 84 square miles and roughly 550 people, there wasn’t any traffic or rush on Main Street as we crossed the road to Southwind Pizza with the tagline, “Where the World Gets a Little Smaller.” This was the one place that Dale and Ginny said gets busy in town as people flood to hear live music play in the evenings in the intimate space of the former Lee Miles’ General Store from 1924 to the mid 1970’s. Known for their hearth-baked pizza and drinks on tap, the decor features relics from the town’s history. 

A true Chesapeake Bay town would not be complete without its seafood. I ordered the “Fisherman’s Island” personal pizza with crab, shrimp, and scallops on Alfredo sauce with fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese. I normally only like to eat pizza with marinara but when in Rome, eat as the locals do! The hand-tossed crust was crispy with a soft inside and the flavors of the sea were mouth-watering. I thought I had my fill but Ginny convinced us to sample their desserts since Southwind Pizza is also famous for their cakes. Derek and I thought we might take a slice of carrot cake and coconut cake home with us but we ended up polishing them off before we left! 

While it wasn’t the best weather for a hike in the woods, we made the most of it by milling about a tiny, quaint town on a relaxing afternoon. We would have to come back again someday but for now a rainy day in Mathews was just the perfect type of day for this vacation. The River House trip was made of moments like these when we simply enjoyed being together, off the grid, where time slowed down.

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