A good number of years ago, family and friends had gathered together at Mt. Airy Farms, just South of Mount Jackson, to watch the biannual steeplechase horse races. Horses and jockeys came from all over the East coast, the quality of competitors impressive. Attendance at the races was never overwhelming like the big tracks, but consistently drew hundreds of fans. A good portion of the crowd were your Julia Roberts-types, dressed for show, eating strawberries and sipping champagne. Our group was from ‘the other side of the tracks’ and had made camp literally on the other side of the track.
A pickup truck parked backwards from the track served as picnic central, giving our site a Beverly Hills Clampett family atmosphere. There was ice-cold canned beer, delicious finger food because no one brought forks, and a portable TV to watch the Redskins football game. There was no wagering at these races, so a ball cap was passed around among friends with bets placed on horses unknowingly picked from the day’s simple program.
Later in the afternoon, as the thrill of the moment wore off and the attention of clan members turned to the football game and everyday chit-chat, my brother-in-law Scott and myself separated from the crowd for one of our bonding, introspective man-to-man talks. Which usually involved insulting one another and competing on who could complete the most disgusting, stupidest string of words using mostly English words, further boosting Darwin’s Theory and why neither of us should reproduce for the good of the species.
Full of ourselves, cheap beer, and shrimp salad, we leaned against the outside rail of the track as we continued our bonding time. Then came that moment of silence, not the uncomfortable type, but the one where you exhale a relaxed ‘Ahh’ and just smile, totally content. We had food, drink, football, gambling, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day weather-wise.
Scott broke the silence while pointing towards The Knob up on Massanutten Mountain.
“You know, if it wasn’t for that one little cloud over there, today would be perfect”
Today’s glorious, near-perfect weather reminded me of that day at the horse races. No matter what higher power in which you put your faith, give them a great-big heartfelt thank you.