Washington column for July 3

Maple Hill gathering

Warm weather signaled the start of picnics for the family gatherings. Today’s families, more than ever, need to relax and spend time together. And as kids grow, marry and go their separate ways over the years, picnics can be a way to bring everyone together.

On Maple Hill Road, Anna Clatterbuck and Mae Racer held a picnic for about 40 people at their home on June 21. Rain in the afternoon did not put a damper on the gathering, as the ladies simply headed for the tents.

Mae and Mary Gochenour were running around making sure everything was in place on the table, while Emily Dodson made sure everyone was mingling.

Melvin Gochenour and Cliff Dodson were flipping burgers and grilling hot dogs. Some joked the burgers weren’t big enough, so Mary and Mae decided they would let the guys pat out the burgers next time. Melvin asked the blessing on the food.

In spite of the small burgers, there was more food than everyone could eat and desserts that were out of this world. The talk of the crowd was Anna’s homemade German chocolate cake and Mae’s rice pudding. For Emily Dodson, that meant indulging her sweet tooth and trying a bit of every dessert.

Mae did not have to get “time out” by Emily this year. Believe or not she took her time carrying out the food from the house this time. Nobody fell! Everyone pitched in and brought several covered dishes and dessert, proving that family gatherings don’t have to cost a fortune.

In spite of the rain, everyone was still having so much fun that some of the ladies were making plans for a day trip to Pennsylvania to shop. At the close of the day, everyone could say that the day had been memorable — and that no one left hungry.

There are three things that one cannot recover: The stone after it is thrown; the word after it is said; and, most importantly, time after it’s passed. Remember, families don’t last forever. So bring back the family gathering and enjoy an afternoon with good food, family and friends.

Trinity news

Trinity Episcopal Church had an extraordinarily busy day on June 22. The traditional 8 a.m. service, the 10 a.m. service with a baptism, a 3 p.m. service with Rev. Susan Goff officiating, and the annual small group dinner picnic were held to the delight of parishioners.

Attending the always-fun picnic this year was the bishop who enjoyed a change of pace​ from a reception in the parish hall​. Each church in the Diocese of Virginia receives a yearly visit from one of three bishops. During ​these yearly visits, those who are being received in the church and those who are being confirmed are blessed by him. Traditionally, Trinity has a reception to welcome the bishop, however this year the visit coincided with the annual picnic at Greenwood, Nancy and Chuck Weitz’s welcoming farm.

The Weitzes provide bratwurst, hamburgers and hot dogs, while the parish provided the rest. The picnickers dined in comfortable attire while celebrating weather that seemed to be ordered for the occasion.

Birthday wishes

Birthday wishes go out to my brother, John Wayne Burke. He celebrates his special day on Saturday (July 5).

Tula’s new hours

On a sad note, Tula’s off Main has stopped serving their delicious breakfasts at 8 a.m. Instead they are opening at 11 a.m. (and staying so until 5 p.m.) Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; 11 to 9 Fridays and Saturdays; and 10 to 9 on Sundays (10 to 3 for brunch; 3 to 9 for dinner). On a upbeat note, Tula’s bar is finished and set to open tomorrow (Friday, July 4).

Independence Day

As we celebrate Independence Day, we are celebrating the 238th birthday of the United States of America. For some people it may be something special — or just another ordinary day. For me, it’s the birthday of the U.S. as a free and independent nation. On July 4, 1776, we proclaimed our independence from Britain and the American democracy was born.

Our American flag is a symbol of our freedom and we should fly it proudly. I am happy to say that I fly mine high and with pride every day. Independence Day fireworks are usually accompanied with the patriotic songs like “God Bless America,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” etc.

As we celebrate our nation’s birth and heritage, many of our thoughts will turn to enjoying the day, whether it’s at home with family, with neighbors or taking to the road to be with distant family and friends. Whichever it may be, remember to take time out and give thanks for our freedom.

Happy birthday to America!

Fourth of July Celebration

Rappahannock County’s Fourth of July celebration, to benefit the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department, starts at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, July 4) at Thornton Hill Race Course (4137 Sperryville Pike, Sperryville). The day-long celebration features music, amusements, food, tailgating and fireworks at dusk. Get your families and friends and head on down to Sperryville to celebrate, as a community, our country’s independence.

A friendly reminder for everyone that the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police will be out in force on the highways to make sure that everyone has a safe holiday. So watch your speed.

I wish all our readers a happy and safe Fourth of July.