Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wandering Afar (Saturday, Oct. 9)

After we arrived in Williamsburg on Thursday night, we got a call from Kara telling us that two of the three older hens had not come back to the coop.  It had been dark for hours; she and the farm-sitter had checked many times, but she feared the girls were missing--and of course, presumed dead.  Kara wasn't sure which chicken had come home, but I was pretty sure it was Gypsy.  Esmerelda and Victoria (in photo) were a twosome and never far from each other.  We could only conclude that whatever trouble they had found, they had found it together.

Imagine my astonishment when Kara called again on Friday night to tell me that the two wanderers had returned home!  What I didn't find out till later was that, whatever pilgrimage they had been on, Gypsy went the same way the next day--disappearing for 24 hours and then returning home.  There must be some Chicken Mecca out in the hunting preserve that was on their Bucket List!
We four humans in Virginia began our wanderings on Saturday with a drive around Jamestown Island, the presque-ile where the 104 original settlers landed in 1607.  It was a beautifully cool morning with few people on drive around the island, and we drove with our windows down, enjoying the scent of the pines and the rustling breeze in the trees.
Next we visited Historic Jamestowne, the National Park which exists on the actual site of the Jamestown settlement.

A docent played the role of John Rolfe, a later settler who married Pocahontas, as he gave a rather long discourse on the history of the settlement.  This shot shows just about the exact site where the ship landed and was moored to trees on the shore.  Other than the ruins of a church and a few small replicas of shelters, there is very little to see, but the sense of history is palpable.
Pocahontas, Powhatan's daughter, did indeed secure peace for the settlers--but not by covering John Smith's head with her body.  She was 10-12 years old during his brief sojourn in Jamestown, and the legendary romance between them never happened!  Ahh, the loss of another childhood belief, along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny!  Instead, Pocahontas married John Rolfe and accompanied him to England with their son, where both she and the baby died.
While we wandered in the past, Jenny and Jean-Marc went home and made a picnic lunch for all of us.  After we had refreshed ourselves with sandwiches and beer, we continued our explorations.
Next to the National Park Service site is the Jamestown Settlement, not the real settlement, but a living-history museum.

We started with the Powhatan Indian village, which is authentically recreated, even down to costumed docents who sit cross-legged weaving baskets or making arrowheads.  Interestingly, they use flint for their arrowheads for the very reason that the Powhatan Indians did not!  They purposely avoid misleading future archeologists who might excavate the site long after they are gone.
Stepping inside one of the lodges, we truly felt transported back to the quiet (and relatively peaceful, since Powhatan ruled all of the East coast) time before the ships sailed up the river, changing the Indians' existence forever.  The skin-covered platform beds may look inviting, but after pressing my hand on one, I'm just thankful I didn't have to sleep like that!

We all had a chuckle over one of the docents' lack of humor.  We asked about the animal skins, which obviously came from real animals, and she said most of them are donated.  I commented that I supposed they couldn't go out and kill the animals or they'd have PETA after them.  "PETA has no authority here!" she declared sharply.  I guess I hit a sore spot!
Our next stop was the pier where we toured life-size replicas of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.
This "settler" described the four-and-a-half month voyage, with 104 men and boys confined to the hold, camped atop baggage stowed halfway to the ceiling.  They used a communal chamber pot which was emptied overboard daily by a seaman.  Guess which end of the ship it was dumped over . . .  Well, you're wrong!  It was dumped off the front!  He reminded us that the wind that pushed sailing ships came from behind and blew towards the front.  You would not have wanted to dump the chamber pot off the back!  My question is, could that be where the term "poop deck" came from?  :)
The reflections of the water on the side of the ship and the taut lines mooring it caused me to reflect, too, on what it must have been like to cut all ties with home and loved ones to sail away into the unknown.  So many hundreds of the first settlers died of illness, starvation, or at the hands of the Powhatans.  They came for economic reasons, arguably less noble than the religious freedom sought by the Pilgrims, but we as a nation owe them a great debt, nevertheless.
Finally we reached the stockade enclosing the Jamestown Settlement.  Once again, costumed docents were busy about their daily activities, giving us a real glimpse back into history--and thoroughly disabusing us of any romantic desire to go back in time and be settlers!
This is a "hands-on" museum.  We watched a docent coach a young boy who was trying to help chisel the bottom of the dugout canoe she was working on.  They only make one a year because it is so labor intensive to burn and dig out a huge log, and we were quite anxiously watching this boy pound his chisel almost straight into the wood, threatening to gouge a hole right through the bottom!  When we couldn't stand the anxiety any longer, we tried out last year's model, turning "hands-on" into "bottoms in!"
It seems fitting to end this day's wanderings with a visit to the church and a photo of the Apostles' Creed.  These settlers may have come to Virginia to found a colony in the hopes of getting rich, but they definitely worshipped God! 

Not having the stamina of a settler, I conked out and ended up sitting in a movie theater in the museum to rest my weary bones while Herb, Jenny and Jean-Marc throughly explored the fascinating exhibits.  Like them, I would be glad to spend an entire day in the museum alone.  I guess that will be part of next year's wanderings!

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