Growing up in neighboring Fauquier County, I always knew when spring had finally sprung. The awareness lay not in the sweet scents and soft pastels of dogwoods and shad blossoms — but in the bright colors and pungent smells of Saturdays at the races.
That rite of spring continues here in Rappahannock County on the Easthams’ farm at Ben Venue next Saturday, April 9 — the Old Dominion Hounds’ Point-to-Point Races.
The property is uniquely suited for a splendid day at the races: properly hilly, softly undulating; mowed but not manicured; punctuated with ancient trees; carefully constructed fences; and with a lay of the land that allows onlookers actually to see the horses and their riders — and not just socialize and party. (But that’s fun, too!)
It used to be that another early spring race happened here at the Fletchers’ Thornton Hill Farm near Sperryville — the Rappahannock Point-to-Point. You didn’t need a calendar to plan ahead; it always happened the first Saturday in March — just like the Virginia Gold Cup, in Warrenton and then Great Meadow, always happened on the first Saturday of every May.
You don’t need a compass (or GPS), a watch, and a calendar to know where and when you are. It’s springtime in Rappahannock.
When man’s rituals and nature’s rhythms are in harmony, there’s a certain goodness in that — a time and place to cherish and always remember.