July 8, 2013

Work, work, and more work....

It's Monday morning and time to return to work after a perfect four-day weekend.  If only I could figure out how to work three days a week and have four days to enjoy, wouldn't that be lovely?!  But since that isn't going to happen anytime soon, I relished my "mini-staycation".  My workplace gave us both the 4th and the 5th of July off, and since my husband's employer did the same, we had four days in a row for all the fun we could rustle up!  And let me tell you, we are good rustlers.
We grilled out on the 4th, enjoying time with our sons and daughter and her fiance'.

We topped off the evening with a personal fireworks display in our backyard,
watched the Capitol 4th on PBS ( hate to say it, but did anyone else think Barry Manilow seemed...stiff?)
and enjoyed our special recipe for Good Times Pound Cake with ice cream and fruit compote. (  "[upon receiving a bundt cake from Mrs. Miller]  Maria Portokalos: It's a cake! I know! Thank you! Thank you very, very much.[whispering to Aunt Freida] Maria Portokalos: There's a hole in this cake!" (hopefully you've all seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding...!)
The rest of the time I worked on a special garden project (to be revealed here soon!), read a couple of books, worked on two cross stitch designs, saw several movies at home plus White House Down at the movie theater, enjoyed a date night with my husband, and spent marvelous hours sitting on my back deck just doing...nothing.  I very seldom get the chance to do nothing.  Wow, it feels wonderful!
Coming on the heels of Independence Day, it seems like the perfect week to visit Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum as well as a private foundation representing the historic district of the city of Williamsburg. The 301-acre historic area includes buildings dating from 1699 to 1780.

Early in the 20th century, the restoration and re-creation of Colonial Williamsburg, one of the largest such projects in the nation, was championed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the patriarch of the Rockefeller family, along with his wife, to celebrate the patriots and the early history of the United States.  While initially the town was worried about how it would affect the community, it has grown into an amazing place to visit and learn more about our country's beginnings.  Let's start with a stroll through a typical early 18th century farm before we enter the city proper. Or even better, let's get in the spirit with more appropriate transportation...buggy ride, anyone?
Our first stop is at Great Hopes Plantation, which is a far cry from what you might expect a "plantation" to look like--it doesn't like a thing like Tara or Twelve Oaks!  According to Williamsburg agricultural specialist, Wayne Randolph:  "The chief quality of life on a Virginia farm in the 1700s was work, work, and more work." Work ebbed and flowed with the seasons, but it never stopped. From tending crops to butchering livestock to cooking, cleaning, or mending fences and tools, there always was something to be done.  Huge plantations, like Berkeley (which we will visit later) had armies of laborers, but small to middling plantations like Great Hopes covered about 200-800 acres and used a workforce of approximately ten adults.
Work, work and more work....
Thomas Jefferson admired these Virginia farmers for their skill, sobriety, industry, and contributions to their communities. He had them in mind when he wrote, "Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God."  Eighteenth-century farms had no machinery in the sense that we think of it. Laborers used simple hand tools. With them, eighteenth-century Virginians focused their greatest attention on three cash crops—tobacco, corn, and wheat.
Besides cultivating the cash crops, farmers grew peas, beans, oats, potatoes, turnips, pumpkins, cabbages, carrots, melons, and other fruits like apples and peaches. They also raised cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry. These foodstuffs were consumed on the farm, although some surplus might be sold locally or exported. 
Kitchen at Great Hopes
Slave quarters, exterior and interior

Tomorrow we will visit the Governor's Palace and meet some of the local citizens, who were quite miffed the day we were there about taxation without representation.  A local hothead, Patrick Henry, got the crowd pretty stirred up!  This week I am going to share a few of the poems that Thomas Jefferson chose for his own personal scrapbook.  As I mentioned earlier, he was an avid reader and book collector, and all his life he clipped out essays and poems he especially admired and pasted them into a scrapbook.  The scrapbook is now a book titled Thomas Jefferson's Scrapbooks, Poems of Nation, Family, and Romantic Love.  Here is one of the three poems he included that celebrate liberty.  The poet is unknown.

Hail Liberty

Hail Liberty! supreme delight
Thou idol of the mind;
Thro' every clime extend thy flight,
The word range unconfin'd.

Tho' all the Tyrants in the world,
Conspire to crush thy fame;
Yet shall thy banners be unfurl'd,
Eternal be thy name.

Then let mankind in one great band
Of glorius unity,
Drive Despotism from each land,
Or die for Liberty.

Columbia's sons! how blest are ye
Safe from tyrannic sway;
Maintain your rights, live ever free,
Drive discord far away.

1 comment:

  1. I love seeing all the historical detail in the photos - look forward to more :-)