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“A Good Day’s Catch” is the name of a John Barber painting that hangs in my office. It came from the old A.H. Robins Company that was headquartered in Richmond (and is now part of the long Pfizer lineage). One of Richmond’s most notable philanthropists and patron of the Arts, E. Claiborne Robins accumulated numerous prints and paintings of Virginia artists like Barber to display for the enjoyment of his employees and visitors at the home office — still a familiar landmark along I-95 just North of Richmond. Today, however, the building sits empty and mothballed. With no signage atop the iconic executive tower and no cars in the crumbling, grass-patched parking lot, the property is barely a shadow of its former days as a giant in the pharma industry. Fortunately, much of the art that adorned its walls can still be found across the Interstate at the company’s old R&D facility that was renovated and today serves as the home for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare’s Global R&D. The Barber painting on my office wall, depicting a deadrise fishing boat unloading its catch at the dock, reminds me of scenes like this one pictured here of the Miss Diane returning from a fishing charter to her dock on Broad Creek. On lazy weekends at the river, I sit on my boat and watch these charters returning in the late afternoon and wonder if the tired fishermen had “a good day’s catch”.
Specs: Nikon D7000, 195 mm, F/5, 1/1000, ISO 100
© R C Norman Photography, June 2012
On Father’s Day weekend, we had a big family gathering at my brother’s home in the country, where the shade trees are tall and the pace is slow. It was the perfect June Sunday afternoon for a feast of steamed crabs and shrimp, pork barbecue, chicken, hamburgers, and every side dish imaginable. After lunch, I grabbed my Nikon and walked down to the pasture to join the boys who were taking pictures of the horses with my old Nikon D50. I was enjoying watching them have fun snapping photos and wanted to capture the moment. I hoisted up my camera, zoomed in and took this shot. So, where are the boys? Look closely, they are standing there on the fence looking at this beautiful horse. They say beauty is in the “eye” of the beholder. Indeed it is.
June 17, 2012
Specs: Nikon D7000, 105 mm, F/5.6, 1/500, ISO 320
Here is a low resolution iPhone photo that my son took of his friend Zachary. It was not cropped. He just aimed and snapped. I adjusted the hue a bit in post processing, but that’s about it. While the photo is a bit pixilated, it still has a soft, soothing feel to it — a great depiction of the innocence of youth.
Old boat, chipped paint, barnacle encrusted underside. How can that be appealing? But it is….to me. When I paddled my kayak up for a closer look at the Shady Lady, my eye was drawn to her aft port side — telling me her story of age and neglect. I could have photographed her bow or pilot house or even her stern, which were not as revealing of her long days against sun, wind and salt water. But not this time. No. She deserved better. Her story was in her weathering. Her cracks and decay were a work of art. Her lines and shadows were pleasing in their simplicity. She was a grand old gal who was still hard at work earning an honest day’s pay. I snapped this shot, paid my respects, and paddled on. June 10, 2012.
Specs: Canon PowerShot, F/8, 1/400, ISO 80.
Recently, when Jenny and I were kayaking on Broad Creek, I photographed many of the old deadrise work boats. The Miss Carolyn is a beauty, and I liked the way she was sitting here with the dark sky and rusted tin roof of the boat shed adding some tonal variation to this sepia image. June 10, 2012.
Specs: Canon PowerShot, F/4.9, 1/500, ISO 80
I was recently stopped in a Deltaville coffee shop (Café by the Bay) and asked about The Dog and Oyster logo on my new, white, unstained ball cap. “Is that a new restaurant?”, the curious woman asked. “No, it’s a winery,” I said. I went on to explain how the former White Fences Winery just across the river in Irvington was recently sold and renamed, and we had just visited for a tasting the day before. My ball cap was an impulse buy when I was paying for two bottles to take home – a Chardonnay and a Merlot. Jenny and I had such a great time there that I wanted a memento of the occasion. I even gave the owner, Dudley Patterson, my old ball cap promoting a Richmond law firm where one of his attorney friends apparently worked – and I refused the quarter he was willing to pay!
So, why the name? According to Dudley, the first half of the name honors the half dozen or so rescue dogs that were offered a good home at the vineyard along with a job – protect the grapes! Deer can wreak havoc on crops, including grape vines. Larger vineyards just factor those losses into the expense of wine making. Smaller vineyards, like this one with only six acres of vines, can’t afford crops damaged by deer and other pesky animals. The dogs, mostly beagles and hounds, prevent that from happening. The second half of the name honors the bivalve mollusk considered to be one of the tastiest delicacies of the Chesapeake Bay and perhaps the greatest asset of the Northern Neck region, where The Dog and Oyster Vineyard is located.
Probably the most notable feature of this vineyard are the two 40-foot cork screws that flank the entrance. Whether they are the largest in the world is still unconfirmed, but I would love to see the bottle these could open!
The tasting room is small, but charming – a white frame building with a big screened porch that sits in the middle of the vineyard. When we arrived, Dudley was just starting a rotation with a few other couples sitting at picnic tables on the porch. He called to us through the screen to come and join them. In between tastings, he told stories. I’ve already shared the one about the dogs. He shared another story about how the region is very similar to Bordeaux, with sandy, rocky soil and a high water table that needed an underground drainage system before the vines could be planted. The tasting was friendly and relaxing, and the wines were very good.
The Dog and Oyster has partnered with Ingleside, one of Virginia’s largest wineries and likely the best known on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. Four of the six wines offered in the tasting were Ingleside labels – 2010 Pinot Grigio, 2008 Sangiovese, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 2007 Petit Verdot (my favorite). I like the bold wines, and this one was intense with a deep garnet red color and elegant aromas of vanilla and oak. The other two wines carried The Dog and Oyster label – a Chardonnay that was light and crisp, and a Merlot made in the European tradition with flavors of black cherry, currant and tobacco. We took home both of these.
Dudley and his wife Peggy also own the Hope and Glory Inn just up the road from the vineyard. This highly-acclaimed boutique hotel of six rooms and 10 cottages is touted as one of the best small inns in America and continues to score high marks from Fodor’s and Frommer’s Travel Guides and numerous other publications. Jenny and I have added the Hope and Glory Inn to our list of places to visit.
Dudley says future plans for The Dog and Oyster include food stands serving up – you guessed it – oysters and gourmet hot dogs, complete with wine pairings. So, if you’re in the region and want to visit a dog-friendly, Chesapeake Bay vineyard with tasty wines and good stories in a relaxing setting, check out The Dog and Oyster in Irvington, Virginia. We’ll certainly be back soon.
– Rob Norman
I remember when my son was small enough to ride on my shoulders. At 14, those days are long gone. I think seeing this father and son taking a stroll on the dock at Locklies Marina last weekend was a nostalgic moment for me. Jenny and I were enjoying a late lunch of roasted oysters and crab cakes, sitting at the so-called “slanted table” under a shade tree at Merrior, a casual outside restaurant with great views of Locklies Creek and the Rappahannock River. I was admiring the Charlotte D deadrise boat (in the background of this photo) that had just returned from a fishing charter and the skipper was washing her down, when this father and son crossed my view. I put down my beer, grabbed my Nikon and snapped off three shots. The first one shown here captured the moment. Maybe this little boy, still in diapers, will grow to appreciate old boats and backwater marinas as much as I do. Just maybe. June 9, 2012.
Specs: Nikon D7000, 105 mm, F/5.6, 1/800, ISO 200
Here’s another shot from my kayak adventures with Jenny on Broad Creek last weekend. This small wooden boat, a miniature deadrise, made the perfect subject for this somewhat symmetrical shot comprised of wood and water. While the boat is center frame, the boathouse door provided the imbalance to make this visually interesting. I’m a huge fan of the old, wooden deadrise boats, and this shiny little replica offered a stark contrast to the usual work boats I normally photograph. I enjoy shooting from my kayak, but am limited to my Canon PowerShot since I’m not inclined to take my Nikon DSLR in a one-man vessel that can easily capsize. June 10, 2012.
Specs: Canon PowerShot, F/9, 1/320, ISO 80.