Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Visit To The Island Plantation of Hibernia

We have family in Florida; in several places, actually.  But my brother's wife's brother, my brother's brother-in-law (yes, I did that on purpose) Andy lives here and we've never been to his house.  His old house or his new house.  So I did what anyone who hasn't seen someone in ten years would do - I stopped by unannounced. 

Fortunately, I have in-laws who are awesome and we were welcomed with open arms.  It actually didn't start out as an unexpected drop-in, we were only planning a creepy, stalkerish drive-by.  I know, that doesn't sound much better, but we just wanted to drive by and see the house. We were so close.

The company we're leased to is located in St. Augustine, Florida and before our class started, we had to find a police station to get our fingerprints done. We found a place about ten miles from where our terminal is located and headed out.  Five dollars each later, we were done with the prints and Ed was itching for a place to eat. We found a Puerto Rican restaurant in Orange Park and on the way there, I figured I'd look up Andy's house because I knew it was in the area. Well, it turned out we were going to pass right by his road. How could I not stop?

So I got the iPad out and we started into his neighborhood, which is located on beautiful Fleming Island.  We drove through streets lined with old growth oaks, dripping with Spanish Moss, past beautiful homes decorated for Christmas, and down toward his house, where upon approaching it, got a glimpse of the St. John River. 

Hibernia (the Latin name for the island of Ireland) was the name given to this island by George Fleming, who settled here in the late 1700s.  His second wife, Margaret Seton, had a dream to see a church built on the banks of the St. John's river, which was completed, but unfortunately the first service held there was her funeral. The church still stands and is just down the road from Andy's house.

So back to Andy.  We pulled in the driveway, just intending to take a peek at the house, but saw that the garage door was open and the car was in it.  "I'm going in." I said to Ed.  We both got out of the house and headed towards the front door.  Through the large leaded glass door, we saw Andy and his wife approaching.  He opened the door with a smile and said, "Nee!  What are you doing here??"  (Nee is a name given to me by my brother when we were kids, and which is only used by family.) 

They were on their way to his son's soccer game (they have three boys ages 6-13), so we chit-chatted for a bit and made plans to get together by the weekend since we knew we'd still be here.  We exchanged cell phone numbers to make sure we still had the same ones, and Ed and I left to go have dinner, and they went back in the house to get ready for the game.  That night, Andy texted and invited us to dinner the following evening.  We were super-excited!

Long story even longer here, we showed up the next night, greeted with the overwhelming smells of a homecooked meal.  We had heard from my brother that Andy's wife was a phenomenal cook, so we knew we wouldn't leave unsatisfied.  She made an incredible pork shoulder roast (which she said cooked for 5-6 hours!) that produced meat that just fell off the bone.  On the side was rice, black beans sautéed with onion, and chopped kale that she must have waved a magic wand over because there was no bitterness to be found.  AND, she baked an apple pie! 

As someone who cooks, I know what it takes to spend that long on a meal and to make everything from scratch.  To plan ahead and make a meal that needs to be slow roasted for six hours means more to me than if you took me to Le Bernardin in New York City.  And fresh baked desserts complete the picture.  The food was fantastic, their children were gems (I'm taking the youngest one home with me!), their house was gorgeous (and huge!), and the 300' long dock that jets out into the St. John's River, complete with speedboat and seating area at the very end, were just the icing on the cake.  We had a great time.

And to top it off, I was loaned a book called Margaret’s Story, which is the third in the Florida Trilogy written by Eugenia Price, set on Fleming Island, and tells the story (fiction based on fact) of George Fleming and his wife, Margaret Seton.  I can't wait to delve in!

Now that we know where they live, it won't be another ten years before we visit.  Especially if there's five-star food being served!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: Now They Are Heard And Not Just Seen
2010: By Request
2009: The Reason My Ass Is Not Getting Any Smaller
2008: Out Of This World Outport Life
2007: Max Says To Go Placidly, As It Is Still A Beautiful World
2006: Dangerous Beauty
2005: Big Bad Cherry Peppers


june in florida said...

My son Chris lives in Orange Park with his family and i cross St. Johns River on the way to his house.It is such an awesome sight and is 3 miles across at some point.

The Daily Rant said...

June: I was amazed at how wide it is! When you're crossing it, it looks like a huge lake, and even at Andy's house, sitting on the dock, all you see is don't get the feeling that it's a "river". And I understand it goes out to the ocean...the idea of which thrilled Ed to no end! LOL