Because my family and I are sticking close to home this summer, this is a repost from the archives. But reviewing these old posts has been difficult. Difficult because they revive memories–now bittersweet–of lazy, languorous summers spent playing in pools and going on picnics and visiting family. And I have to admit that it’s made me sad. I just can’t believe that I once took endless summer days–picking berries and reading in hammocks–for granted. If editing these older posts has taught me one thing it’s that I will never take time with family for granted again!

“A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law invited my family to a summer upper at Sudley Manor. Sudley Manor, a beautiful estate in the foothills of the Shendoah Mountains, is one of the homes owned by the Carter and Lee families, two of the oldest in Virginia.

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

Once we learned the invite included all children and dogs, we packed up the family and headed west, toward the Shenandoah Valley, excited to visit with extended family we hadn’t seen in a while. 

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with hugs by both family and a profusion of hunting dogs. Sudley Manor is a 17th century historic property that brims with both Revolutionary War and Civil War history. But since it was one of the hottest days so far this summer, and the humidity was a hundred percent (a not uncommon occurrence here in Virginia) my children and their cousins were more interested in hitting the pool.

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.
Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

The pool, hidden in behind the Kitchen Garden, had a beautiful view of the rolling Virginia countryside and the Shenandoah Valley. Lavender from the colonial-era garden filled the air and the barest breeze echoed with the hum of cicadas. Luckily for the adults, we were able to sit in the cabana at the side of the pool and freshly-squeezed lemonade while we chatted.

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

Although I was desperate to explore the property with my camera (despite the heat and humidity that fogged my camera lens), the kids decided to have a diving contest. Since they didn’t trust us to judge fairly, they wanted photographic proof. So I drank lemonade, laughed with the other adults, and caught images of children in mid-air. 

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.
Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.
Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

Oops! I got distracted by the amazing view!

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

After an hour, I snuck away to check out one of the walled parterre gardens (a staple of colonial-era Virginia properties). While most of the flowers hid from the intense sun, I caught a few brave petaled souls and an iron wood nymph tucked within a dry fountain.

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.
Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

But I was called back to duty when the “Divisionals” started for the final dive score. After tons of daredevil antics, the competition ended with back dives.

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.
Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.
Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.
Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

After a wonderful afternoon swimming, playing with dogs, and spending time with those we love, we headed inside for a supper of cold fried chicken, corn and bean salad, and homemade cookies. All served with ice-cold lemonade, of course! Although it was too hot to eat on the patio, we had an amazing view from the summer dining room window. (Yes, there are dining rooms for summer and winter–another colonial-era Virginia anomaly). We sat at the table until after ten p.m. eating ice cream and listening to stories about relatives who’d lived in the house and passed long ago. When we left, the sun was just starting to go down. That’s when I realized it was the Summer Solstice–the longest day of the year.

Sharon Wray's A Study in Summer remembers one amazing summer day spent at Sudley Manor in the Virginia foothills.

Finally, after many licks from multiple dogs, hugs between cousins, and promises to see each other before Christmas, we drove through the oak-lined path, secure in the promise that one day soon we’d return to Sudley Manor.”

What is a “Study in . . .”? A visual record defined by a single element, such as color, texture, or type.


Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Amazon bestselling Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.

Her bestselling debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife. It’s available at:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBoundKobo|  Google | Books-a-Million | Audible

Her second book, ONE DARK WISH, a passionate redemption of Othello with a HEA, is about an ex-Green Beret who must give up the woman he loves in order to redeem his honor and save the life of his men. It’s available at: Amazon |  Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million | iBooks |  Google | Kobo |IndieBound | Audible

Her third book, IN SEARCH OF TRUTH, is about an ex-Green Beret desperate to win back the woman he loves and save the men he betrayed, even if he must make the greatest sacrifice. It’s available at: Amazon |  Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million | iBooks|  Google | Kobo | IndieBound | Audible

Similar Posts