Hungry Mother State Park is woven into the fabric of my life, serving as a backdrop for many of my greatest loves.
It all started with two of the greatest examples of love I've ever known: my grandparents, Jim and Irene Angove. Their love resulted in 6 children, and as these children grew and started families of their own, Grandma and Grandpa realized the need for a time set aside every year for reestablishing family bonds. Our first few reunions lasted just a few hours, and were held at a local park in Roanoke. But that wasn't quite long enough. And not quite special enough.And so they asked their children to consider setting aside a whole week every summer for some concentrated family time in the beautifully serene Hungry Mother State Park.
My grandma showcasing one of her famous cobblers in 2002
Thankfully, my parents, aunts, and uncles embraced this tradition, and made every effort to bring their growing families each year. The tradition began in 1982, when I was just4 years old. And Hungry Mother has been the site for a lot of love in our family ever since.
Adult children havestrengthened their relationships with their parents over card games and fresh berry cobblers.
Brothers and sisters separated by many miles have rekindled their affection for one another over more card games, putt-putt tournaments, and roasted marshmallows.
Grandparents have cherished time with grandchildren, entertaining them with harmonica playing, scavenger hunts, games of Guess Who, and one memorablebug funeral.
Cousins have gotten to know each other, and have enjoyed playing together, swimming together, eating together,and participating in general mischief-making together.
My three children with their cousins in July 2012. This is the second generation of cousins to meet at the park every year.
Grandchildren have relished "living" just a few steps from their grandparents for a whole week, sneaking over first thing in the morning for glazed doughnuts and stolensips of coffee.
Grandpa playing his harmonica in 2002. His beautiful melodies echoed from the porch of his cabin to all those surrounding it.
Young people have nervously welcomed boyfriends and girlfriends to the park, anxiously awaiting their family's approval of the ones who had stolen their hearts. These and other friends have always been welcomed into the fold with open arms.
Many of these relationships (including my own)have blossomed into engagements, and then happy marriages.
And now the young cousins who grew up in the 80s look forward to bringing their own children to this much-beloved spot each year.
Three generations of women enjoying time at The Restaurant in July 2012. My Grandma, who started our family tradition, is in the center. My mom is on the far left, and I'm next to her.
In July 2006, we saw Grandma and Grandpa's love come full circle as we celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at HMSP.
Over the past few years, it has been heartwarming to hear my ownchildrenexcitedly begin the countdown to our time atHungry Mother…starting in October, just like I did (and still do!).Andto hearmy daughter lament that we only stay for one week, and wonder why we can't all stay for two weeks, just like I did (and still do!).
The Angove family at one of our very first reunions.
And most recently, it has been a particular joy to hear my son explain all about Hungry Mother to three children who are new to our home. Children who don't have the same traditions of family love and care. We're not sure whether these precious boys will be with us in July for our annual vacation at Hungry Mother. But if they are, I have no doubt that they'll find the open arms of love and family there…just like I have for more than 30 years — and counting!