Family Memories Come Together in The Fourth of July, Iceland and the Chesapeake Bay

The Fourth of July, Iceland and the Chesapeake Bay may seem like disparate elements for family memories so let me give you a bit of background.

Element #1  – After my father retired from the military he and my mother moved to Scientist’s Cliffs,  a small private community on the Chesapeake Bay.  The community  is composed of some 300 cabins and sits on 276 acres of the Calvert Cliffs, which rim 25 miles of the Bay’s western shore.

Element #2 – My mother was from Iceland.  She and my father met and married when he was stationed in Reykjavik and my brother and I were born there.  (Yes, I have dual citizenship.)  My sister, who came a bit later, was born in Richmond, VA.

Element #3 – My mother was born on the Fourth of July!

Now, put those three things together – plus my mother’s unabashed love of this country – and you have the beginning of a long, wonderful family memory.

For as many years as I can remember, the entire family gathered at Scientist’s Cliffs every Fourth of July to celebrate my mother’s birthday and the official birthday of the United States of America.  The day started early with games – sack races, an egg toss, turtle races, softball – and ended with the all important scavenger hunt.  It should be noted that the Bergin family took first place in the hunt at least 6 years in a row.

After lunch it was off to the beach or, if the jelly fish were too bad, straight to the swimming pool.  But the main event, and the one everyone waited for, was dinner that night.

Sitting on the back deck overlooking a glen filled with azaleas, rhododendrons and towering trees, the picnic table spread with newspaper, we tucked into bushels and bushels of steamed blue crabs.  It didn’t matter what else we had, the crabs were all anyone cared about.  It didn’t matter how hot it was or how annoying the mosquitoes, the crabs were irresistible and we picked until the last one was gone.

By then it was dark and it was time for sparklers, birthday cake, tucking little ones into bed and talking long into the night.  Even today, with family scattered to California, North and South Carolina and even Europe, the memory of our very special Fourth of July’s lives on.

Thanks to my daughter Taite, who with a simple entry on her Facebook page, sparked the reminder of what we all shared.  If I left anything out, or if any of you have spent time at Scientist’s Cliff, I’d love to hear from you.

Celebrate, enjoy and be thankful,

Michael