Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mount Vernon

While my heart truly and forever belongs to Chicago and the Midwest, I love living in Washington, DC. The access to history alone is enough to keep me busy for the next 10 years. I want to visit every monument, every battlefield, and every museum the city (region, eastern seaboard) has to offer.

A tall task, especially since my heart truly and forever belongs to Chicago and the Midwest. But I checked off another historical site on my ever expanding nerd list today with a visit to Mount Vernon.

Sitting a stone's throw from the Capitol and on the banks of the Potomac, Mount Vernon really is stepping back in time and pace. One foot in the gate and you can feel the second hand of the clock lag.

Armed with the Visitor Center's map and a full afternoon, my Dad and I laid out a plan. Wander down across the front lawns of the house, visit the blacksmith shop and the stables, hike to the grain storage bins and the far fields where the house grew everything from wheat to berries.

I am also just that brand of history geek where I love when the sites are living history sites. Volunteers from the area, eager to share all they know, dress up in period costume and roam the grounds. The blacksmith made nail after nail and answered question after question about the techniques used in that time. And the poor house maid had to deal with a million questions from my overly-time-period-committed father. Somebody get that made a three pointed hat, a walking stick, and call him James Madison.

The timing of this trip was also opportune for me personally. Aside from it being a beautiful, sunny summer day, I had just finished reading a biography about Martha Washington. The life, drive, and senses of her story can to life in front of me. Different facts from the book popped into my head as I collided my present with her past. This was her study where she managed the house during her husband's long absences.

George and Martha Washington were an extraordinary couple for their time and yet they were just the same as couples when we think of them today. It was truly a pleasure to be able to "step into their shoes" for an afternoon and wander the trails they knew so well.

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