Morning at Popes Creek

Two hundred and eighty years ago this month, a first boy child was born to a young wife—the second spouse of a middling farmer—at a place along Popes Creek in Virginia’s Northern Neck. Today I stood on that ground and watched a rosy sunrise spread color across lightly rippling waters as honking geese stirred to greet a chilly winter morning. The scene unfolding before me was much as it appeared three centuries ago and I tried to imagine in the quiet dawning of the day the first thoughts of this colonial woman. What did she see as she stared into the face of her healthy infant? Would that morning’s auspicious sunrise, or later that year as the child took his first bold steps outside the kitchen door, suggest to the young mother that her son–this one life–would change the world? That is doubtful. Her days, like the days of all the people living at Popes Creek would have been so filled with work securing food, water, heat, and clothing that dreaming of a glorious future for her first son seems unlikely. On February 22 we celebrate the birthday of “the Father of our Country”—George Washington. He is remembered as a god-like figure whose likeness can be found world-wide. But his beginnings were here at Popes Creek.

The National Park Service has preserved this place so that you can stand and walk in his first footsteps, and in this inspiring scene, take a moment to imagine a glorious future.

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