Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mount Vernon


My brother and sister-in-law live in Alexandria.  We keep inviting them down here and they keep inviting us up there.  Unfortunately for them, I took them at their word and went up for a visit.  They have a big, beautiful home in Alexandria and I went up there with a friend for a few days. 

Lee got to stay home, work tirelessly in the basement on the electrical system and take care of the pets.  He worked tirelessly until his wrist gave out, so now he is watching football tirelessly. 

Roland and Jane (the previously mentioned bro and SIL) live close to Mount Vernon and I had never been, so we spent a day there.  I love that people have preserved these homes from the past.  I have been to Jefferson's home, Monticello and we have plans to visit his Poplar Forest home soon.

You can get a glimpse of what lives were like back then.  It is also important to recreate the slave quarters.  The dichotomy of these great men who gave selflessly to their new country and wrote a Bill of Rights that allows the freedoms of today, against the horrible backdrop of slavery, is hard to grasp. 


So I had to push those thoughts to the back of my mind and concentrate on all the fascinating vignettes of their lives. 


The kitchen garden looked wonderful.  I wish I had espaliered fruit trees for easy picking! 


I took several views of the house using my fancy camera and all the fun things it can do.


The back of the house is the front of the house from the river view. 

We walked down to the threshing barn where they separated the wheat from the chaff. 


There were sheep and cows around and I was told at other times there were mules, so even the smells were appropriate to the day!

They were able to take over a million fish from the river each year.  With all the gardens and fruit trees, wheat and livestock it was a self sustaining enterprise.  They even made a profit selling back to England.  Of course the import duties on tobacco and the tax on tea changed a lot of that!


Mount Vernon has a blacksmith working there to make all the metal bits needed to keep the house and dependencies in good repair and authentic.

I was not aware that Martha Washington was a wealthy widow and had two surviving children when they married.  I love a fun day when I learn something. 

And here is what I have to say about teaching kids history.  Teach them the hows and the whys and use the dates to just orient them to the right times in history.  I hated, and was bad at, learning the dates.  So I tuned out on a lot of the facts and ended up learning more about history from historical novels I read as an adult than I ever remembered from history classes.  And that is the way it should be taught.  The dates aren't as important as what happened and why and that should be the emphasis.  Pardon me while I step off my soap box.

There are so many interesting and historical things to visit here in Virginia.  We kind of forgot that as we went about our daily lives and while both of us worked.  Now that we are both at home, I want to plan a lot more trips.  It is one of the reasons we chose Virginia for our retirement and now we have to get out there and see it!

 And while I love kids, even large groups of them, I recommend NOT going to visit historical sites on the same day that many (many) bus loads of school kids are doing the same thing.  Just sayin'.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Rebecca for the background on Mt Vernon, a place we have never visited (yet). I sort of remember hearing about Martha W. being a woman of means. And I agree with your statement about avoiding these visiuts when busloads of kids are doing the same...just saying too.