Friday, November 25, 2011

Cobblestone, brick layed, cedar shakes so old.

Hello All,

So follow up on my last post I’d like to tell you a bit about our excursion into Colonial Williamsburg Virginia. First I have to tell you that I’ve wanted to travel there since I was a little girl. I have always loved old things, whether they are homes or clothing, tools or heirloom vegetables I love them, and they draw me toward them inescapably. So to venture back into time where everything was so beautifully handmade, where horses ruled transportation and so did feet, there is within me still that excited little girl. I was lucky to have a mother who sewed me beautiful colonial style dresses and who found a hoop skirt for me as Christmas present one year. We used to take trips to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, a living history museum complete with buildings and people in period costumes inhabiting them. This appreciation stems from the love of the handmade, from a father who works with his hands to build furniture and homes, and both of my parents together had a vested interest in showing me how the things we use everyday are made.

To start our visit we arrived late in the afternoon and decided to take a look around the City of Williamsburg. You can walk throughout the historic town on public streets, but a ticket is required to enter many of the buildings where exhibits of colonial businesses and homes are taking place. Costumed interpreters in period dress roam the streets making conversation with one another and with visitors. All of the the tradespeople in the shops are practicing their work for real application within the city. For instance the wheel wright makes wheels for the carriages that carry people around the city. The cabinet makers are building furniture for buildings on the site.

We walked around till dusk and decided to go to one of the evenings many events, a ghost walk! Led by candlelight to various buildings throughout the city, we sat within the walls of history and listened to the ghost stories from people portraying actual old characters. It was neat being able to see the city from the inside at night. From a woman who was haunted by the death of her young son and passed away in England thousands of miles away who still haunts the local Matthew Whaley School, to a nurse who could have been the culprit in burning down the Governors Palace, it was a great blend of history and story.

On Wednesday we started our day with another walking tour, this time focusing on slavery in the city of Williamsburg. The one aspect of the city that seems only partially portrayed is that reality of slavery and how large the population of the enslaved really was.. Our guide led us to several buildings, first to the church which was used as a tool to justify the treatment of slaves, to the courthouse to speak of the punishments slaves would receive for hardly any infraction of their station, and finally to stand beneath a large oak to talk about unearthing these injustices so that we can all know the reality of what their lives meant to our culture and history. Pat and I always enjoy the back story behind history and politics and that the truth of our country usually lies within the stories of people that as our guide said “Have been erased out of history.”

We also went to the De Witt Museum that houses several exhibits including colonial era furniture, old coins and money used in the first colonies. Right now there is an exhibit on 18th century maps from different areas in the world, written and drawn up by different explorers, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and a dollhouse that was in the store windows of the F.A.O Schwartz toy store in the nineteen thirties.

During our stay in town we also visited the cooper, the blacksmith, the cabinet maker, and the magazine which housed the weapons and ammunition for the city. My personal favorite was the farm! Complete with pigs horses and working cattle, a smokehouse, a tobacco barn and small dwellings where the slaves would have lived. I think it’s the prettiest part of the whole time, not surprising as I love and have worked on farms and have a big interest in agriculture from a simpler time.

All in all we’re loving our entry into the south, we’ve both been here and like the slower pace and friendliness of the people. It was fun to see the eastern part of Virginia where neither one of us have been to before. Many steps back into the past and now onto who knows what! To follow are some more pictures.

Till next time


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