Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Back from Monticello
Ah, it was grand. Chilly, windy, but grand all the same. We toured the house, which was lovely and filled with interesting things, as Thomas Jefferson was a man possessed of an interesting mind, and then we toured the grounds. Not much in the way of flowers this time of year, but the early vegetable gardens were inspiring. On our way out, we stopped at the gift store and bought packets of seeds.
You leave Monticello feeling larger than when you came. Maybe that's what happens when you've spent time in the presence of genius--or, in this case, genius preserved. What I love about Jefferson is that he was a man who invested his considerable intelligence and passion for life in everyday things. He cared about food and he cared about gardens. He thought--and thought and thought--about houses and rooms and windows. He worked on Monticello, which he designed and redesigned, his entire life.
Of course, it's impossible to tour Monticello and not think about the slaves, who were the ones who cooked Jefferson's famous French cuisine (he took one of his slaves with him to Paris--James Hemings, I think--so he could learn the french style of cooking) and built and rebuilt his house and worked in the garden. Maybe that's why the slave quarters were to me the most fascinating part of the house. That's where the real work of the house got done. And everything was done--cloth was woven, buttons were made, butter churned, nails forged--right there. Monticello was a world unto itself.
When we got home, the Man and I spent the weekend expanding our garden plans and ordering blackberry bushes and planting seeds in peat pods. I was almost inspired to organize the attic, but at the last minute decided to take a nap instead.
It is a gloomy Wednesday. We've had a beautiful 2011 so far, lots of clear skies and warm days, but the last week or so the more typical late winter weather has set in--cool temperatures, cloudy skies, rain. We need the rain, so I'm trying not to get too mopey about it. Besides, tomorrow it's supposed to be sunny and 70 degrees. Help is on the way!
In my garden, the sugar snaps, green peas, spinach and lettuce are all popping up, and we've got six or seven varieties of tomatoes under the grow-lamp in the kitchen. It's all very fecund around here. Birds everywhere. Sentinels of spring, I hope!