Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Back from Monticello

(Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden, very early spring)

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!


wayside wanderer said...

Love the sky in the photo. "I'll fly away" comes to mind.
Sounds like you had an inspiring trip! Your garden sounds fabulous! I hope you post pictures. A nap would always be my choice over the attic. =) Welcome home.

Melissa E said...

Glad you had a nice trip. BTW, I have been watching Downton Abbey! Love it! Our spinach from last Fall made it through the winter and is producing well now, I just transplanted them to another part of the garden. I planted lettuce's so nice to get working in the soil! Yay for Spring!

Tracy said...

I love historical sites like that. Miss Mischief and I went to the Molly Brown House Museum when we were in Denver. We adored it. you want to combine your garden produce with my cooking daughters??!!!! I have vegie garden envy this year.

GretchenJoanna said...

I am excited to hear about your garden. If the rain lets up long enough here maybe I can get to work on mine.

I loved Monticello -- especially the gardens -- when we visited a few years ago. But I was terribly frustrated by not being able to look more carefully at everything in the house; the tour guide just talked so much and so fast as she whisked us through...I should have bought a book about the place that I could read for hours.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Frances!
Your field trip sounds fascinating. I've never been there.
Thank you so much for lending me the EG book. I'll have it back to you soon. Still finishing a few of her others.
I wish we could dig around in the dirt here.

The dB family said...

"I was almost inspired to organize the attic, but at the last minute decided to take a nap instead." I literally laughed out loud when I read that! I totally get it and would likely do the very same thing.

I love learning about historical figures in their actual settings. It almost makes you feel a part of their life.

Your gardening endeavors had me thinking I should at least be thinking about what I'm going to plant this year. It's so hard to think about when there is still snow hanging on everywhere here. Hopefully the mild weather and sunshine will remedy that soon.


Gumbo Lily said...

What a trip! I think seeds sound like the perfect thing to take home from the gift shop. And inspiration. Are the seeds heirloom types?

The attic is always in the back of your mind, isn't it?


debbie bailey said...

I love Monticello! Jefferson was a true genius, wasn't he? I loved his bed. The only thing I don't admire about him is the way he chopped up the Bible by taking out anything he didn't like or agree with. That wasn't too smart!