Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What We Saw at Mt. Vernon

We saw a great deal of historical stuff whose subject is not particularly pertinent to the theme of this blog, so I will only say that it does feel a bit disorienting to be simultaneously barraged with short films, placards, and docent speeches extolling the magnificence of George Washington as a giant (in so many ways) among men—one of those solitary Hero Figures America loves so much—and also be faced with information attempting to make more visible the lives and existence of the hundreds of slaves who worked on his estate as shoemakers, chefs, and farm- and house-workers, supplementing their daily half-ration of food with whatever wild game they could catch in their copious spare time.

Although we ourselves didn’t see any wild game, we did observe some animal life, including an enormous number of butterflies of many species (I recognized monarchs, cabbage whites, and swallow-tails, and that’s where my knowledge of insects ends) and a majestically circling turkey vulture that seemed rather disappointed that we were alive. We also saw all sorts of little warblers flitting through the gorgeous old trees—or, rather, I saw lots of warblers and insisted on pointing them out to Annie and our friends, who were very polite about it.

[look--it's a warbler!]

But, finally and perhaps most importantly, we saw sheep! Cute fun-size sheep with adorable curling horns and, best of all, some interest in coming over to see us as we crouched by the fence.

This particular sheep even appeared to enjoy being petted—all while I told it, in typical inform-cute-animals-of-the-obvious fashion, “You’re just so woolly! And you have such interesting pupils!”

History I can take or leave. But ovine bonding moments deserve to be cherished.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


biobabbler said...

aw.... mammals are terribly appealing. =)

When we were at Mt. Vernon it was CRAZY cold (just after Christmas) and the line to go IN the house was super long, so we just cruised around the farm, which was super interesting. I'm more interested in how folks ran a farm long ago than what sort of sheets they slept on.

No non-human farm animals around, but interesting stuff, nevertheless, and some very hearty kale was representing. Suited me, bio-geek, as it turns out, and great view of the river, jeepers.

=) Have lots of friends who are historians and history interpreters, but I'm a real fan of running around outside. =) I think Bear would have been right there with you re: petting sheep. =) Fun!

Anca said...

So, what's with not photographing the general's teeth? Very cute sheep, but that Blackburnian (first winter) warbler is a great shot!

Good Ol' Ant said...

I hope you didn't get into trouble because isn't there a sign next to the "Please do not photograph the General's dentures" sign that says "Please do not photograph the sign that says 'Please do not photograph the General's dentures'"?

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