Many residents of Fairfax Station's Barrington community spend a lot of time going around in circles.
The 476 houses in Barrington are all on streets that connect to the community's "social circle," Braymore Circle, which is nine-tenths of a mile in circumference. Walkers and joggers often stop to catch up on news with their neighbors.
BOUNDARIES: The community is a network of cul-de-sacs off of Braymore Circle; enter via Old Barrington Drive from Silverbrook Road just east of Route 123.
SCHOOLS: Silverbrook Elementary, Hayfield Middle and Hayfield High schools. (New secondary school to open in fall 2005.)
HOME SALES: In the past six months, 19 houses have sold from $600,000 to $850,000, according to Shirley Mills of Re/Max Choice in Fairfax. There are no houses now on the market.
WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE: Community swimming pool, Lake Mercer, Burke Lake Park, South Run recreation center.
WITHIN 15 MINUTES BY CAR: Interstate 95, grocery stories, drug store, restaurants, Occoquan
Barrington is made for those seeking quiet streets and lots of exercise. Paige Robertory said her family enjoys the miles of biking and hiking trails surrounding the community. Paved paths through wooded areas connect Barrington to the nearby 43-acre Lake Mercer as well as to South Run recreation center and Burke Lake.
"Sometimes we just put on backpacks and go for an adventure," Robertory said.
Sometimes, they go by bicycle. It's three miles through the woods to Burke Lake from their house -- without crossing a street -- and five miles around the lake, so they might pack a picnic and make a day of it.
Being in a community with only one road in and out removes worries about through traffic. "It makes it easy to have parades through the streets," said Pam Jones, a resident since 1992. The numerous cul-de-sacs and pipe stems -- private driveways shared by two or more houses -- offer pockets of safe romping space for children.
"We have 15 to 20 kids on our cul-de-sac," said Susan Tesorero, a mother of two. "People open up their homes to each other. It's like an extended family."
Jones said: "This is the kind of place everyone wants to live in, but doesn't know it exists anymore."
Barrington is a social community with a love of acronyms. Many of its activities are organized by the MOB -- Mothers of Barrington -- and communicated through BOB -- the Barrington Online Bulletin. About 350 residents have signed up for BOB, where they learn about opportunities for community service, meet new neighbors, or give cheers and boos to local contractors.
The MOB is a casual women's group where popcorn appetizers are as welcome as salmon mousse and where keeping on top of regional issues is as much of a focus as sponsoring neighborhood celebrations.
Eugenia McGroarty, one of the group's founders, said the group's formal name -- everyone calls it the MOB -- is a misnomer because she doesn't have children and neither do several other active members. McGroarty describes the group as reflecting Barrington's diversity when it comes to family make-up and interests. While some members have no children, others "have babies, preteens, teens, young adults or grandchildren," she said.
Tesorero, a former Fairfax County teacher who is community service manager for the MOB, said that when her family moved to Barrington in 1999, the group offered her a quick way to meet people and get referrals for doctors and dentists. Since then, she said, she has found a generosity among her neighbors that amazes her.
"This is such a giving community," she said. "When the call goes out for help, this community comes through time and time again with tons of stuff."
For several years, residents have stuffed countless backpacks with school supplies for needy children. "I just imagine the students' faces as they opened those," Tesorero said.