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  • Writer's pictureJenny Dunaway

Cattail Express

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

Cattail Express off to a new adventure in the mountains!

For decades I have wanted to write a children's book about our canoe, Cattail Express. Perhaps now is the right time to begin...

I promised my sons that when we moved to the Northern Neck we would have a house on the water. I found an old cottage to rent on Tabb's Creek and it was perfect for this new chapter in our lives. Even though each room was added as an after thought, it had a country charm about it. The cottage was surrounded by a beautiful established garden that had wonderful surprises every season of the year. However, the best thing about the house was the picture window that looked out onto the head of Tabb's Creek in White Stone. It was just enough water for the boys to fish and crab and for Charlie Brown, our coon-hound-lab mix to swim. Instead of sand, our creek access had a salt marsh and black marsh mud. We always knew when it was low tide without ever looking. The sulfur smell of the detritus left us with no doubt. Coming from Poquoson, we were very familiar with that pungent odor. It didn't bother any of us.

The first weekend we moved to White Stone, the boys and I went to the local seafood/fishing shop, Captain's Choice, to get them a fishing pole. The nice proprietor of the shop, Kenny, helped Zach pick out one and he even gave him a galvanized minnow pot. It was a nice welcome to our new home. We attended White Stone United Methodist Church that Sunday. Though there weren't many children the age of my boys, the congregation was so kind and made us feel right at home. In fact, that afternoon Miss Ginny Edwards brought over supper for us. I knew picking up our lives and moving three rivers and three bridges north of Poquoson would be challenging but every person we encountered was gracious and made the transition a lot smoother than I had feared.

I joined a Sunday School Class and the choir at WSUMC , both filled with many interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds. One couple, in particular, stood out for many reasons. Hennie and "Mac" MacGoneagal both had beautiful voices and deep insights to the scriptures we were studying. They were two of the nicest and kindest people I've ever known. Hennie would invite me to go "junking" with her and I was in antique heaven. I remember she had a passion for glass Refrigerator containers, not sure why that stuck in my mind but it did. Mac was one of those handsome, older gentlemen who could smile with his eyes. They had a a lovely cottage down on Mosquito Beach Road, just down the road from house I later bought on Mosquito Creek. One Sunday a few weeks after a nasty nor'easter they asked me if the boys and I would like an old canoe. It had washed up on their beach during the storm. They had advertised it but no one had claimed it. We were thrilled!!! Mac brought it over in a truck and my boys were jumping with joy. Of course, it needed some repairs and I had to get life jackets but both were done in short order.

The canoe was dark green and likely was more than 50 years old when we got it. There was a hole in the metal bow and Zach inserted a cattail. He dubbed our canoe the Cattail Express on her maiden voyage into Tabb's Creek. So, the adventures of the Cattail Express began...

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