And the spirits have retired for this year

The Wilderness Road Regional Museum for the past 3 years has had an afternoon/early evening event near Halloween, with two gorgeous Belgian horses pulling a wagon through the Museum property and streets of Newbern to be greeted by “spirits” of historical figures from the region, including 3 tiny, young kids portraying the Shawnee and an equally tiny Werewolf. The first year, I volunteered to help with tickets as no reservations were required that year, and to help with serving hot cider and directing some crafts for the kids in the outdoor kitchen, but the elderly woman who I had driven over to portray Mary Draper Ingles got cold very early and had someone take her home. I stepped in to do dual duty, helping to get the wagon loaded, then running in period clothing around the museum to be Mary on the opposite side of the property before the wagon got there, then back around to help prepare the next load.

Last year, I was asked just to be Mary and enjoyed playing the role of an anxious woman, fearful of getting caught out after dark. Then going into the museum and demonstrating spinning between the wagon loads.

When it was announced that they were going to do it again this year, with reservations and masks for all visitors, knowing that I was outdoors on the porch and in the front of the building, that I felt safe enough to dress in my period outfit, grab my shopping basket, and visit the spirit of the proprietor, Henry Hance, the founder of the town and shop keeper. We tweaked our part a bit to include more conversation between Doug (Henry) and me (Mary) and twice he caused me to turn to the wall laughing when he told Mary not to worry about the “Indians” that they were adorable. I didn’t set up to spin indoors this year, the museum part was closed to control the number of people inside, and to allow us to close off the old store for us to be able to safely go in as part of my skit sends me in while Henry finishes his part. This worked well, except for one “Karen” who felt entitled to come in with her group even after being told the museum was closed and the area we were in shut for our safety. She had donated something in that room and felt it was her right to bring people in to see it. Though she had to have a mask for the ride, none of them had them on in the museum. I stayed on the porch, wrapped in a wool shawl and masked between skits that occurred every 30 minutes for 8 wagonloads (about 70 people total).

It was good to get out and do some living history, see some of my living history friends again. I look forward to the day that I can return to more activities over there, to set up and spin, to work with camps and school groups on spinning and fiber usage during the late 18th and early 19th century.

Oops, Summer is back

Our cool days and chilly nights disappeared to upper 70’s days and warmer nights. It gives the garden a bit more time, and has provided some delightful days for walks on trails and the woods. I won’t walk our woods now because it is deer hunting season, but the Mountain Lake Conservancy is safe from hunting and has some delightful walks and hiking trails, only 4 miles and 2000 feet of elevation from us.

The roof through the trees, across the lake is Mountain Lake Lodge, aka Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing fame. When we bought our property, we stayed here for a few nights with Son 1 and his family and the lake was full. It subsequently went dry and has partially refilled. We have spent two New Year’s Eves there enjoying a lovely dinner, big party with favors and champagne toast, room for the night, and breakfast the next morning.

This was another day, the cut through the mountain for the old Huckleberry rail line looking back at the walking bridge next to where the old rail bridge was. No matter the heat outside, this cut is always delightfully cool.

This weekend is an event at Wilderness Road Regional Museum, the Spirit Trail with horse drawn wagon and “spirits” of the region interacting with the riders. Because of the pandemic, the number of riders will be limited, reservations and masks required. For the past two years, I have portrayed an older, slightly crazy version of Mary Draper Ingalls. According to historical accounts, after her the capture, and that of her sister in law, and several children including hers, the deaths of so many of her relatives and friends in their community, her escape and walk back from what is now Ohio to our region, she was probably very fearful of Native Americans and of the dark. Because I am up on the porch of the house/store, and since the wagons only come by every 30 minutes. I am going to dress in my living history costume and participate this weekend. I have missed my living history and though I usually go inside and demonstrate spinning between tours, I will remain on the porch, masked when not “acting.” I love that this event can be done safely and give me the opportunity to participate and support the museum.

Of Things Old

Old is a number. By number, I am old, but still active, healthy in habit, and fairly strong. I am older than my Mom was when she died by almost a decade. Old here in the mountains seems to be a lower age than I have reached, but I’m from a long lived arm of the family paternally. My great grandmother lived to 94, my grandmother to 88, my father to 92.

I love old things, but I’m not an antique collector. My parent’s home had many antiques when I was small, but most of them were replaced during the two years my mother worked outside of the home when I was in 7th and 8th grades. A few pieces were saved and a couple of those pieces have come to me. Two simple tables, hand built by past generations and kept in the family. One is a small table with three drawers that was in a kitchen long ago. When the top right drawer isn’t pushed tight shut, there is evidence of a mouse gnawing it’s way into the drawer, a small oblong hole and a keyhole with no lock.

My Dad cleaned this beautiful little table of paint and put a wax coat on it, it is repurposed as a side table in our living room.

I don’t know the history of this one, except hearing the story that my parents felt it was too tall, the legs had the same flattened ball shape turning at the bottoms of the legs and Dad cut them off. When it was given to me, the top was loose with nail holes in it, the finish damaged. It too had evidence of having been painted and the paint removed. I stripped the table, put L brackets under the top hidden by the drawer to tighten it and refinished it. It is the table between our chairs in the loft, where we put our beverages and my spinning bowl. It too is from my mother’s family home.

This cedar chest was in the hall at the top of the stairs of my in-laws home. When my Mother -in-law passed and their house was sold, we got the brass accented cedar chest. It smelled of mothballs and is full of old family photos and home movies from hubby’s side of the family. It serves as our living room coffee table.

When I was pregnant with our first child and we were moving from the duplex that I co owned with my parents into a larger home in which to raise our family, we bought me a Boston rocking chair for the nursery. It was used in the nursery for the older two children, but when we moved to a larger home in a nicer neighborhood prior to child three, I found this 1700’s pressed wood rocking chair in a shop where I bought the reed I used to make baskets. The gentleman caned chair bottoms and had begun making the pressed leather pieces that adorned some chairs from that period. This rocker came home to be in the nursery for the youngest.

Because of it’s age, it was used, but used gently. When youngest was about 3 or 4 years old, we elected to down size to a townhouse that we could afford on my salary as a school counselor so that hubby could open his own Law Office, knowing that it would be a while before his fledgling business would be solvent. Since the boys had to share a bedroom, the chair was put in the living room. Our children knew that if they used that chair, it was to be used gently. One Thanksgiving while we were living there, I hosted the meal for some of the extended family. One member, a large man sat in that chair. Son 1 suggested to him that maybe it wasn’t an appropriate choice just prior to him leaning back and snapping the back right off the chair. There was an antique repair shop that put dowels in the broken spindles and re glued the chair so that it looks okay, but it is now just a decorative piece. The seat is sound, and it is probably safe for gentle use.

Somewhere in our life history, a good friend purchased this antique treadle sewing machine at an auction. My husband purchased it from her for me as a gift. It has been in several locations in our homes, but fits nicely in this corner of our hallway and holds a landline phone that we must keep to have internet. The brown rectangular box basket on top is my great grandmother’s sewing basket. The machine has a leather drive band and still works, though I think it needs a good cleaning and oiling.

There are a few other small items, a child’s chair that is from my Dad’s childhood, another child’s chair that belongs to one of our Daughters in law, a bentwood doll’s chair made for my mother, and a small pottery jug that came from my mother’s family home. And in our loft, the large Walking Wheel seen in the header photo. That wheel, a gift from hubby a few years ago, purchased in an antique shop in Front Royal, Virginia on a visit to Son 1’s family. It is a functional wheel and knowing now what I didn’t know then, we paid about twice what it is worth, but it is beautiful and I love it.

Whether these pieces stay with our children when we are gone or not, this is so they know some history. I have thought about putting the history of each on a card and tucking the card in a drawer or under the lid. They haven’t all “fit” in some of our homes, but they are all perfect for this log home in the middle of a farm.