John Smith at Historic Jamestowne.  The yellow structure is the outline of the church in which Pocahontas and John Rolfe married.

We had a “45 minute presentation” for the condo this morning (7/14/15). Three hours later, we were able to head back for lunch before starting our day.
We opted to return to historic Jamestowne to see what had changed since our last visit. On our way in, we met Stephanie and her sweet family from California on their first trip. Mom and I were able to share the things we love about Jamestowne with them–a dear joy to each of us.

When they left, we headed into the museum to see what had changed there. There is a new display of Native American artifacts which were fascinating to see. My favorite was all the different materials used to make arrow heads.
It was also neat to see the museum’s version of Pocahontas’s wedding dress. We don’t know what she actually wore, but for the anniversary of her marriage to John Rolfe (Note: NOT John Smith), the museum used the pattern of a 17th century Falkland jacket, and 100 women spent over 1,400 hours embroidering the material with plants and animals from around Virginia. The wedding was held just after our last visit, so we missed seeing this in person, but definitely cool to see the costume up close!

Pocahontas's Wedding attire--Museum edition

Pocahontas’s Wedding attire–Museum edition

It was also neat to see the progress made on the church where Pocahontas and John Rolfe got married.

One of the reasons we keep coming back to Historic Jamestowne is because there is always something new going on. Archaeology is always revealing new information, and Jamestowne is continually working to make the area more like it was in 1607. It is fascinating to watch!  You can find out the newest finds at Jamestown here.

Since we only ended up with about 2 hours to spend at Jamestowne before it closed, we decided to explore a bit and see if we could find some eagles. We retraced our steps to see if Ginny was at her nest. No sooner had we relocated the nest then an eagle came swooping past, while I turned on my camera and said, “Load, load, load!” Alas, it took too long, so that’s a site we can just hold in our minds.

We had heard there were some eagles down by the glass blowers, so we headed down there to see if we could spot anything. As we drove up, we saw them soaring overhead, majestic and beautiful–and vultures, not eagles. Alas! But, as we walked down the path, we saw several land on a nearby tree.

Vultures in the tree tops

Vultures in the tree tops

I couldn’t help but recall the Jungle Book scene with the four vultures (who I learned in trying to find their dialogue were initially supposed to be the Beatles–there’s an audition recording of them!) So, mom and I quoted, “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” as we walked down to the glass blowers.



There were, however, no eagles to speak of–just more vultures picking apart the carcass of a huge carp. Captivating, but not what we wanted. Yet, as we headed back to the condo, we saw the nice surprise of a number of deer grazing along the road. I love deer, so that (and the Häagen-Dazs we got on the way home) was a lovely end to a great day of exploration.


Robert Frost Museum and Grounds

Robert Frost Museum and Grounds

We set out this morning (8/6/14) for Shaftsbury, Vermont, to visit the home of American poet Robert Frost. Last time we were in town, the museum was closed, so I was looking forward to seeing it. It definitely wasn’t up to my expectations. The Museum is, by admission of the curator, a “museum for adults.” I’d up the ante and say it’s a museum for scholars. Having grown up going to more museums than I can tally, I know the difference between a good museum and a bad one. This one is in definite need of a make-over.

Robert Frost quote in my classroom

Robert Frost quote in my classroom

Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets. His “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was the first poem I ever learned, while his “Road Not Taken” graced my classroom wall for 10 years. The entire scope of the museum consists of 3 pieces of Frost Furniture and 7 Panels with minimal pictures and TONS of writing. We knew something was up when the couple leaving the museum at 10:10 (The museum opens at 10:00) failed to answer when we asked how it was–but maybe they didn’t hear the question. The Museum curator stated that they desire to “Let Frost speak for himself.” That’s all well and good–if you like reading. For my mom, who is dyslexic (though does take the time to read everything), or many of my students, who either don’t like reading or struggle with it, Frost is not going to GET to speak. He will be “lost in translation.” We offered a few suggestions: podcasts, audio tours, QRL’s…, but it seems this museum is committed to staying a museum, with all the connotations that implies. My fear is it will become as inaccessible as Frost’s “Stone Wall.”

The Stone Cottage

The Stone Cottage

The information is great, however, for those who will take the time to read it. There were hand written notes, letters about his family’s 17 day 225 mile hike on which his boots only allowed him to hike 125 miles (I can’t imagine!) I learned about Frost’s own tragedy–his first son died at four. It shares his fears that he would be nothing more than a name on a gravestone (That ongoing longing to be remembered that I discussed in Search for Significance.) There are many fascinating jewels amidst the wall panels. As one who loves to “Stand on the ground,” it was amazing to stand in the room in which Frost wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

His "name on a stone"

His “name on a stone”

(I also learned he wrote it in June after being up all night.) So there are many fun facts for those willing to take the time to glean answers. My favorite gem was an interview Frost did in which someone asked the question, “How long does it take to write a poem?” His response: “Not long to write them, but it takes a long time to live them.” This reminds me of one of my favorite things about poetry–that every poem is a felt idea. Each one recollects some experience or idea of the author that he or she hopes will resonate with others. In this way, Frost truly does continue to connect with readers. One cool thing the Museum offers is a series of lectures on a variety of Sundays in the summer. These are free to the public and offer additional insight into the life of Robert Frost.

Since the Museum and grounds didn’t take us long, we decided to explore the area. We headed first to Bennington Battle Monument. I’m ashamed to say I do not recall having ever learned anything about the Battle of Bennington, which was a “pre-turning point” to Saratoga in the American Revolution. At 306 feet, it is Vermont’s tallest structure. So what happened at Bennington to make it worthy of such a monument?

Bennington Battle Monument and sculpture of Captain Seth Warner

Bennington Battle Monument and sculpture of Captain Seth Warner

Bennington was the supply station for the military. General Burgoyne (British) knew this and made it a target on his way to Saratoga to try to accomplish the “Divide and Conquer” strategy the British had to win the war. American general Stark, who had resigned from the military due to being passed over for promotions, came back to the field to lead, as long as he could take orders from New Hampshire, not the Continental Congress (who’d refused his promotion.) The legendary Green Mountain Boys (finally, I’m making the connection that Vermont is the Green Mountain State…) also played a large role in the War, but in this battle, just their captain, Seth Warner, came. These forces were able to soundly defeat Burgoyne, who then had to continue to Saratoga without the supplies he sought in Bennington. His men were also psychologically affected by the loss, which may have set them up for another loss in Saratoga. Apparently, Vermont has a tradition of playing a large role in military engagements. During the Civil War, 10% of Vermont’s population served in the military in the Civil War–the largest per capita of any state. They also made the machines that produced the gun powder used in the war, as well as the ore for horseshoes. This little state packed a big punch!
Bennington Cemetery--Flags mark Revolutionary graves

Bennington Cemetery–Flags mark Revolutionary graves

From the Monument, we went to the Old Congregational Church in Bennington. This church has the grave of Robert Frost, but it offers many other cool historical connections. It was on this location that 109 delegates, one from each county, met to vote to ratify the Constitution of the United States–103 voted yes. Additionally, the cemetery has a huge collection of Revolutionary War soldiers’ graves. It’s an incredible place to poke explore. Though we had had relatives who fought in the American Revolution–one even with the Green Mountain Boys–I don’t believe we had any buried there. It would have been fun to hunt down the stories of the men buried here. But, for today, we went to visit Robert Frost and journeyed on.

Jarvis Rockwell's piece

Jarvis Rockwell’s piece

Our next stop was the Bennington Museum, which is not closed on Wednesdays in the summer, despite that information on the website. This museum houses a large collection of Grandma Moses art, in addition to a number of other works of art and artifacts. First, though Grandma Moses is an American icon, she’s never been one of my favorites–I prefer realism and impressionism. Her work is a little too “modern” for me–meaning the people and animals vaguely resemble themselves, but more like what a fifth grader might do. Apologies to any of her greatest fans, she’s just not my favorite. But, there are a number of other really cool pieces of furniture, sewing machines, lace works, and other items that were really neat. There’s even a large collection of weaponry and a display explaining the Battle of Bennington. They also have a great genealogical library, where we looked up a bit of information on our relatives. One interesting find was a picture and wall designed by Jarvis Rockwell, Norman’s artist son I had just learned about! I’m still not a fan of modern art, though.

Henry Bridge

Henry Bridge

We headed out of town to check out some of the famous Vermont covered bridges. My favorite was the Henry Bridge. It’s also the easiest to photograph, with the best pullout and even a picnic area. After taking a few pictures, we set off for the Apple Barn, one of my mom’s favorite places. This country store has a number of amazing products. We left with chocolate chocolate chip pancake mix, buy one get one free pumpkin butter, apple cider doughnuts, maple sugar, maple syrup, and peaches. As we were walking out, we noticed the blueberry patch behind the store. Mom went in and asked about picking some, and we were told we could pick some for free because of our purchase! So, we topped the day off with two buckets of blueberries!

Looking forward to heading to Plymouth tomorrow!

Westmoreland County Museum and Library

Westmoreland County Museum and Library

We set off this morning (3/27/14) in the direction of the birth places of Washington and Lee. Before heading to the Main Attractions, we stopped off at the Westmoreland County Museum and Library to pursue a few of our relatives. We have family lore of one of our ancestors was the executor of the estate of Nathaniel Pope and involved in the transaction of Mt. Vernon to the Washington family. Our quest was to discover the truth.

Pouring over the documents, we began to be of the opinion that the land in question might not be Mount Vernon after all, but rather Wakefield (Washington’s birthplace.) We were able to find documents mentioning our ancestors and their connections with the Pope family. One incredible story we unearthed was a pair of women who were able to rescue a number of our ancestral gravestones–they were on farmland, and the owner hadn’t taken care of them. These women went out and cleaned out the area and mended the graves themselves. As usual, one of my favorite discoveries was not in our family history at all. I had picked up a volume of George Washington’s letters not only to check out anything related to our family, but also because one of my novels has to do with George Washington. The first volume started simply with some of Washington’s school papers–homework, etc. But the next page was–wait for it–Poetry! Yes, our first president tried his hand at writing poems. You can read them here (Not half bad for a teenage kid): http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/prespoetry/gw.html.

Richard Henry Lee's Resolution

Richard Henry Lee’s Resolution

The Westmoreland County Museum and Library is indeed an incredible place to visit. Built in 1914 to house a portrait of William Pitt, it now contains (in addition to the documents we had examined) an impressive collection of portraits and artifacts from many presidents’ homes. I was particularly struck by one particular document on display there. On February 27, 1766, 115 men met in Bray’s Church to adopt Richard Henry Lee’s resolutions against the Stamp Act. This is over ten years before the Declaration of Independence. The Westmoreland Association, as it would become known, not only was a protest of the tax and the wrongs committed by King George III, but it also was a pledge to protect one another. Many elements of the Declaration are echoed here.

Stratford Hall

Stratford Hall

From Westmoreland, we headed to Stratford Hall. This amazing plantation makes me wonder why in all the times I’ve been to Virginia (easily 20), I had never even heard of it. The land is idyllic, the house is original, and the setting peaceful. Four generations of Lees lived in Stratford Hall, and the foundation is currently working to restore different areas of the house to represent each era of the Lee family. But the seemingly innocuous exterior hides some interesting details as well. The first is that the first home built here (farther out from the current location) was burned to the ground by the indentured servants. The family managed to get out by jumping from a second story window, but pregnant Hannah lost the baby she was carrying in the ordeal. Additionally, one of the servants died. One wonders what had happened to so incense the servants to burn down the house. Another of histories mysteries.

Stratford Hall and out buildings

Stratford Hall and out buildings

The second Lee house also experienced scandal because of Henry Lee IV. Apparently, Henry had an affair with his sister-in-law. When it was discovered, she was sent away from the home. Ironically, when Henry runs into financial trouble and is forced to sell Stratford Hall, it is purchased by William Clark Somerville, who will die four years later, leaving the house in auction to be purchased by Henry McCarty Storke–husband of the woman with whom Henry Lee IV had had the affair. She will actually live in the house for the next 57 years!

The house tour was also great! At present, one of the top floors is undergoing construction so current visitors are able to see the changes the house underwent throughout the stages of its time with the Lee’s. My favorite story from the house is one of Robert E. Lee as a child. The nursery in the house contains a fireplace depicting two cherubs and the date: 1745. What makes this particular fireplace unique is a story of four year old Robert E. Lee. When the family was moving to Alexandria, they had everything packed and ready to leave but discovered they couldn’t find four year old Robert. At last discovering him, they asked where he had been. His answer? He had gone to bid good-bye to the angels.

Stratford Mill

Stratford Mill

I too would have loved to linger at Stratford Hall, but I will hope to return another time when trees have bloomed. Leaving the Lee House, we decided to visit the Lee Mill. On our way to the Mill, we noticed loads of cabins in the woods. We had been shocked when an employee told us they hadn’t had much traffic, since the place is a gold mine. Now, nestled in the woods were several guest cabins available for stay–I was already planning how we could do a Civil War reenactment to drum up support! We do realize, though, that commercialization comes with a price, so we were torn between wanting them to make use of what they’ve got, and yet enjoying the fact that it wasn’t crawling with visitors. Alas! (Now that I’ve let you in on one of Virginia’s best kept secrets, make sure to visit. It will be well worth your time!) The Stratford Mill, though, was originally built in the 1740’s by Thomas Lee, though the current one is a renovated version built on the original property. The mill is also in need of some loving care, as I was sad to notice the water leaking out instead of flowing through the trenches as planned. Hopefully, investors will realize the great value this place has to offer!

Memorial House with corner of Original foundations showing

Memorial House with corner of Original foundations showing

From Stratford, we rushed to Wakefield since they closed at 5:00, and we wanted time to linger with George Washington as well. This, as well, is one of Virginia’s best secrets. While this isn’t the original house which burned down in 1779, it is set up as a memorial to Washington’s Birthplace. Since the house burned to the ground, only two relics from the original location are displayed in the Memorial House: A wine bottle (called an onion bottle) and a tea table.
Original Wine Bottle

Original Wine Bottle

The original house boundaries are outlined beside the memorial house which is meant as a tribute to a man who would become known as The Father of our Nation. Our guide referred to the fact that, though many men were responsible for establishing our country, Washington is given this title because he is the one who kept sight of “untold generations” when planning our government. He was not consumed with what would keep the wealthy and powerful wealthy and powerful, but rather with what would establish a nation where his children’s great grandchildren for generations could thrive. One of the things I found most interesting in this spot was the genealogy of Washington. The description of Washington’s ancestors show he came by his good character honestly. The list of roles his grandfather played include: Justice of the peace, high sheriff, lawyer, trustee of estates, guardian of children, and captain of the militia. I particularly was struck by the title “Guardian of children.” I’m assuming it means he had taken in wards, but I like that the Grandfather of the Father of our Nation cared about others.

Washington Cemetery

Washington Cemetery

In addition to the house and beautiful grounds at the birthplace, a short jog down the road takes you to two delightful spots. The first is the family cemetery of the Washingtons. There were thirty-two burials that have been found on the spot including Washington’s father, half-brother, grandfather, great-grandfather and their wives. The cemetery is also beside the site of one of the original Washington houses, though nothing remains of the house. Still, it’s fun to look around and see the view the Washingtons would have enjoyed. Definitely a neat place to visit.

Beach at Washington's Birthplace

Beach at Washington’s Birthplace

A little father down the road from the cemetery, we came across a beach. I have rarely been in a place where at best, I was alone, and at worst, there was a handful of people around. I’m sure part of it has to do with the lateness of the hour and the coldness of the weather, but ultimately, it’s a beautiful place to visit. While you are only allowed to pick up sea shells (Not rocks, shark teeth, or artifacts), it is a lovely place to explore. Wandering the beach enjoying the peacefulness, I was reminded how much each of us–even a president–needs rest for his soul. And this is the perfect place for it.

Montgomery’s picture of her birthplace

Note: Photographs of L.M. Montgomery’s photos, journals, and scrapbooks are displayed courtesy of the L.M. Montgomery Collection, Archival Collection, University of Guelph.

Today (6/12/12), we got an early start and headed to the University of Guelph Library. After about a two hour drive, we arrived on the campus, paid the $10 flat rate parking ($2.00/hour or $10.00 for a day), and found our way to the McLaughlin Library.

Ewan and the boys

The collection offers ten L.M. Montgomery’s journals, four scrapbooks, newspaper reviews, short stories, the manuscript of RIlla of Ingleside, 1,273 of Montgomery’s own photographs, and several other artifacts.

Montgomery as a young girl

I began my research with Montgomery’s own photographs. Having seen a number of reproductions in Prince Edward Island, it was a rare treasure to be able to see so many of her own pictures. What a person chooses to capture on film says something about his or her priorities. To look through the friends and family, places and landscapes that had shaped Montgomery’s life and stories gave a bit of a window into her soul. It showed the high points–Ewan playing with the boys instead of dealing with the depression that made him withdraw in later life. It showed places that no longer exist, like her grandparent’s home. And, it showed her in happy moments: as a small child, sunbathing on the beach, and in her wedding clothes. It was truly a slice of her life.

Page of Montgomery’s journal

Next, I looked through Volume One of her journals. While her writing is difficult to decipher, selections of her journals have been included in The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterson. The neat thing about seeing the journals is that they are in Montgomery’s own writing, complete with photographs illustrating the work. While they do not put them within the pages like Montgomery does, many of these photographs appear in The Selected Journals.

Scrapbook page with Montgomery’s wedding clothes swatches

As our time was running out (The library closes at 4:30), we asked to see one of Montgomery’s scrapbooks. I was surprised that they let us handle them when they are so fragile and falling apart, but it was an incredible experience. Unlike the journals which only contained pictures, the scrapbooks include newspaper clippings, swatches of material, pressed flowers (including Montgomery’s own wedding bouquet), cards, and letters. Again, they were just another window into her world, which I am excited to have experienced.

If we have time to go back, I still want to see the Manuscript to Rilla of Ingleside, Gog and Magog, Montgomery’s needlework, and a few other things. All in all, it was an exciting day, despite the fact that I dislike being cooped inside at one task for so long.

Norval church and Manse

On our way home, we swung through Norval, which was another place Ewan ministered in his later years. Apparently, this was a difficult time in Ewan’s life and strained his relationship with the people of Norval. In Norval, Crawford’s Village Bakery houses the L.M. Montgomery Museum, which also has pictures, early book editions, and memorabilia. Norval also offers the manse the Montgomery’s lived in (private property behind the church), the church where Ewan ministered, and a garden dedicated to L.M. Montgomery’s Norval years. It was only a short visit, but still neat to see.

For those interested in seeing what else the University of Guelph Collection has to offer, check out: http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/resources/archival_&_special_collections/the_collections/LM_montgomery_collection.cfm

L.M.Montgomery's birth recorded in the Family Bible

It started out a typical rainy, gray morning (7/28/11), so I decided to head into Charlottetown to check out the Lucy Maud Montgomery Institute. After I finally located the library on the UPEI campus (not a small feat!), I almost despaired of being able to see anything–I’ve visited prisons with less security. But, I was able to see photocopies of L.M. Montgomery’s scrapbooks: 7 volumes containing the newspaper and magazine clippings of her short stories and poems. It was overwhelming to say the least. I ended up reading a few here and there and choosing several I liked and thought I could illustrate. I began to despair of seeing anything else, when a Japanese student asked the guard (man on duty) about the institute. He said it is only open by appointment, but if she had a few minutes, he’d bring a few things out. I told him I’d be interested as well. It was definitely worth the wait.

Flyleaf of Further Chronicles of Avonlea explaining the lawsuit

First, he brought out a kimono given to Montgomery by an admirer who’d been to Japan. He also brought her OBE (Order of the British Empire) certificate and medallion and her original poem book. Once he started bringing things out, the librarian warmed up, and we were able to see a veritable tide of L.M. Montgomery items. We saw her family Bible, a letter she wrote a friend at 15 which included a written copy of her first published poem, early signed editions of Emily’s Quest and Anne of Green Gables. We also got to see a copy of Further Chronicles of Avonlea which was the subject of a lawsuit with her American publishers, who had published it without her permission.

Japanese illustrations of Green Gables

Finally, he brought out some other editions of Anne of Green Gables including many Japanese Editions, Italian, and Swedish published Arabic editions. One thing he pointed out was the amazing artistry in the Japanese edition. They actually took the time to visit the Island and capture the scenery, while the publishers from New York and Toronto (substantially closer) didn’t bother. In the end, he gave me his card and told me to contact him when I’m coming back and he can pull out a few more things to show me, so we’ll see how that goes.
After a late lunch, I got the girls dressed up and headed out to take some scenic shots with them, we started at Dalvay by the Sea and worked our way back in time for sunset on our own beach, which was quite nice. Tomorrow, I think we’re heading to Avonlea Village.

Catch the sun

A number of days here have begun rather drearily and cleared up, but today (7/27/11) was a rainy day. We took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in and catch up on a number things around the house. Then, we set out for the Fisherman’s Wharf which boasted a 60 foot salad bar and a number of seafood opportunities. We had a great lunch then drove around to take a few pictures with a gray sky. We took a few bay pictures, then went stopped to take some hay bales. I was looking for some illustrations to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s poem “In Haying Time,” which begins:

“Wide meadows under lucent skies
Lie open, free to sun and breeze,
Where bird and bee and rustling leaf
Blend all their air-born melodies
In one sweet symphony of sound
The lush green grasses bend and sway,
And fleet winds steal from new-mown slopes
The fragrance of the clover hay”


We’ll have to take a few pictures of the hay on the ground, but didn’t see new plowed fields today.

Then, in the evening, we went to our second “Evenings with L.M. Montgomery at Bideford Museum. We read two of her short stories. The first was entitled “The Jest that Failed” from Tales of Correspondence. It tells the story of two freshmen girls who are trying to get a new girl to understand that she will never fit in with them, so they write a letter to her inviting to the prom with the most popular senior. When she responds that she’ll be delighted to attend, he is surprised, but chooses to go with her instead of humiliating her. So, instead of embarrassing the girl, the joke ends up making her the most popular girl at school.

In the second story, “Charlotte’s Ladies” found in Akin to Anne, a young orphan girl discovers gaps in the fence that shows her two ladies in their daily routines. One she christens “The Pretty Lady,” while the other is known as “The Tall Lady.” Eventually, she strikes up a relationship with both and both come to adopt her. The ladies turn out to be estranged sisters, and Charlotte is able to mend their relationship.

The thing I most enjoy about the “Evenings” is that the Hostess assigns parts to willing participants, and the stories read like a reader’s theatre. All of us had parts this evening, and I think it really makes the stories come to life. After the stories are finished, people discuss different points from it. One lady shared about having to take sulphur and molasses–a remedy that was mentioned in “Charlotte’s Ladies.” It was a fascinating evening.

Green Gables

Anyone who’s read or watched the classic tale Anne of Green Gables feels like it is a real place. In actuality, it was based on a collection of real places. Today (7/22/11), we went on a journey to discover a number of those places. Today, we started off at the Green Gables house, which belonged to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s relatives. Since the house is so central to the books, the proprietors have decorated it the way it is described in Anne of Green Gables, complete with the amethyst brooch, a dress for Anne with puffed sleeves, Raspberry Cordial (No red currant wine since Diana drank it all!), and the broken slate Anne broke over Gilbert’s head.

Green Gables' Gardens

Outside the house, the gardens are gorgeous! Additionally, they have the basis for “The Avenue,” which was “Lover’s Lane” in actuality, and “The Haunted Woods” where Anne falls down the well in Anne of Green Gables. Each walk takes between 25 aqnd 35 minutes, depending on how fast you walk.

From Green Gables, it’s only a short jaunt to her grandparent’s house (Of which only the foundation remains), so Maud walked to this house often. Her school is located between Green Gables and “The Cavendish home.”

Foundation of the Cavendish Home

After the Green Gables experience, we decided to drive down the coast to decide where we want to stage pictures for later use. We found a number of cool beach shots despite the rain, culminating in a visit to Dalvay by the Sea, known to Anne of Green Gables lovers as The White Sands Hotel. Finally, we came home since it was raining. Another great Anne day!

Dalvay by the Sea (White Sands)

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