Wednesday, August 4, 2010

southern comfort

it was the lovely miss angela's birthday last weekend and we figured the only way to really celebrate was to hit the road, so we fled south to monticello on saturday. this was, hands down, the best idea i have had in a while.

honestly i would not do one single thing about the day differently. not even leave earlier so we didn't hit literally hours of traffic on our way out of the city. because being stuck in literally hours of traffic with miss angela just flies by.

not to mention that monticello is simply stunning and the day was perfectly mild with that romantic, gray sky that could pour down on you at any moment (but luckily waited until we were inside the house).

a few fun facts. monticello covers 5,000 acres, three thousand of which were gifted by the king of england. (so sorry about that whole declaration of independence thing, you know?) there is still a large and charming working garden on the property, and everything harvested from the garden is divided up among the monticello employees.

the house itself was added onto sort of endlessly, with the last room being built for the madisons so they had a place to stay when they came to visit. all the beds are stashed between walls, they think because thomas jefferson's family home burned down when a bedspread caught on fire, and he was afraid of placing furniture too close to the fireplace. thomas jefferson's private rooms were known as the sanctum sanctorum and were entered by his grandchildren only twice a year: on christmas and their birthdays. dinner at monticello lasted for three hours and there was a special pulley/dumbwaiter system to bring bottles of wine from the wine cellar downstairs to the dining room.

if you are wondering how such an accomplished and well-known man dies hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, it might be worth remembering that thomas jefferson single-handedly supported a household of 32 people at monticello. he freed five slaves in his (sort of) lifetime, two while he was alive and three in his will. those three came back to monticello and bought back as many members of their families as they could.

my favorite thomas jefferson quote: "law was my second, my last and my most unfortunate profession."

there are about 1,000 direct descendants of thomas jefferson living today, and they come to monticello about once a year, which sounds like the hottest family reunion ticket around. direct descendants can also be buried in the family cemetery on the property, right there with jefferson himself. there are between three and six burials there a year.

i was seriously captivated the entire day. i never wanted the tour to end. and i sort of want to marry someone like thomas jefferson (slaves and massive debt aside). i mean, come on. the man taught himself spanish by reading an original copy of "don quixote" and used a writing machine that made a duplicate of all his letters. dreamy.

for now, though, i guess a return trip to monticello will have to do.

1 comment:

Susan said...

garden pictures! love them.