Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flying Solo, Day 2 by Kathleen Delaney

Flying Solo Day 2

It looked like rain. The radio said rain. But I had so many things I wanted to see, I decided to try positive thinking. I don’t know if it worked, but it didn’t do anything all day but spit, and be cold.

Today was to start at the Payton Randolph house. I had talked to the Food-ways director who said I could stay as long as I wanted in the kitchen and ask as many questions as I could think of. I started off, across the green, pushing my wheel chair and carrying my question list. Wheel chairs come in handy for more than sitting. They can carry your purse, your tote, and your jacket. They also are good when there is no bench free.

Payton Randolph was a very wealthy man and his house showed it. It’s beautiful, and except for the lack of indoor plumbing and a gas stove, I could move right in. Oh. And I’d need a vacuum cleaner. After the tour of the house, I headed for the outbuildings, mainly the kitchen. It is attached to the laundry, not a common thing, but it makes sense. In between loads of laundry, it could accommodate loads of dirty dishes and pots. It took days to do laundry, washing, scrubbing, boiling, rinsing, and then, drying. Everything had to be ironed. And they heated the iron on the fire. It probably didn’t stay hot very long so it wasn’t a fast process. I think I’ll add my washer and dryer to my list of things I’m keeping.

The woman in the kitchen was great. She was making what we would call French toast. She took slices of day old bread, and back then day old bread was pretty dry, dipped them into a bowl that contained white wine and then into beaten eggs, and fried them in melted lard. They smelled delicious. I asked where she got the lard, afraid I already knew the answer. Yep. She’d made it. If you really want, I’ll send you directions, but I’m not going to try it. She was also cooking a fish on a plank in front of the fire. Butter was the only thing she used to baste it with, which, of course, she’d churned. I don’t think she milked the cow, but probably most women did. I have. I’m not doing it again. All of the food turned out in that kitchen looked and smelled wonderful, even the baked goods. But how they knew when the cake was done is beyond me. Then she pulled some coals out of the fire onto the brick hearth, put a trivet over them, and a pot on top of it, and started another dish. I’ll never complain again about how much work Thanksgiving is.

The afternoon was spent in the barn. The horses are spectacular and so beautifully taken care of, and the carriages are awesome. They have old breeds of chickens, sheep and cattle. They have quit breeding the horses, mainly due to lack of pasture area, but we had a great time talking about them, and I learned a lot.

Benedict Arnold arrived at the capitol building in the late afternoon and raised the British flag to the boo’s of the towns people, helped out by the rest of us, and George Washington road into the armory right behind him and retook the town. We all cheered like crazy and the fife and drum corps played and the muskets were fired in salute. By that time it had started to drizzle, and it was getting cold. It was time for a glass of wine.

I finished the day by dining in the Regency Room in the Williamsburg Inn. The epitome of understated elegance. No wonder Queen Elizabeth elected to stay there.

The weather report was for rain. Lots of it. And I planed on leaving in the morning for Mt Vernon.

I was afraid my positive thinking had just run out.

No comments: