For me, a trip to the lower Rapphannock now entails a stop at Merroir. It’s a requisite ritual reward, a local Mecca for oyster worship, a station of the cross whereupon to leave an offering when I visit the Church of the Sea. This is the first time I’ve brought Terri, however – a duty I have neglected for several years, and of which she has reminded me repeatedly.
They’re busy tonight, as always, but we get a table by the water where the breeze carries away our own fragrance of salt and sweat, replaced with those of salt and marsh. Not that different, actually. And we note fellow diners have also clearly just disembarked, sporting windswept hair and sunburned faces.
The waitress says she grew up nearby, moved away for a while and came back. It’s fun talking with her about what has changed and what hasn’t, things we remember in common from decades ago. The water tastes like sulphur, and the flavor takes me back immediately to summers at Windmill Point.
Terri and I skipped lunch and are famished, so order enough for two meals each.
From the table we have a view of the mouth of the creek, which is broad and bounded by low islands and marsh. Deep keel sailboats coming in from the river navigate a sinuous invisible channel, winding back and forth, making sharp turns for no obvious reason – in synchronized steps, dancing to music only they can hear.
As the sun goes down a full moon rises over the water, shiny and yellow like a giant pearl.
We shut the place down. We’ve heard from the waitress the staff are gathering at another watering hole we know across the river, the Trick Dog Cafe. They waste no time closing up after last call. We linger on the docks long after the lights are out and the place is deserted.
Now Terri is a convert, as well.